Timbavati Game Reserve
This is a typical terrain and home to the big 5, not least because the huge tracts of land that make up the Timbavati Game Reserve have only ever been very lightly inhabited and have thus remained largely unspoilt and wild. The Game Reserve has never had to resort to restocking its wildlife.
The other famous fact about the Timbavati is its association with the white lions, known as the ‘white lions of Timbavati’. Timbavati in ancient Sangaan means ‘the place where something sacred came down to earth from the heavens’ and refers to these genetically rare specimens that are not albino lions but are actually listed as a subspecies of lion.
Chris McBride first spotted two white lion cubs in the Timbavati Reserve back in 1975 and today there is a whole pride of white lions in the greater Timbavati area. People come from all over the world to spot them, and they’re the stuff of legends.
Major Attractions: Timbavati is known for its large herds of buffalo, while lion and elephant are found in good numbers as well. The park’s claim to fame is its white lions, but pure white lions haven’t been seen for a long time. You might be able to see some very pale individuals that carry the gene.
Wildlife: Timbavati is part of the Greater Kruger ecosystem, where animals roam throughout the different parks without fences. This means all main safari animals can be seen in the park. Timbavati is the closest competition to the better-known Sabi Sand Game Reserve, but it is a bit quieter and wilder. All of the Big Five can be spotted, and sightings tend to be of the highest quality. Cheetah and leopard are seen less often than in Sabi Sands.
Getting There: Those intending to visit Timbavati from abroad fly into the O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) at Johannesburg. A connecting flight to Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit is the next step in getting there. The reserve is about 15km/9mi from the airport, which makes a transfer to the reserve very easy. Alternatively, you can fly with Federal Air (see below) from Johannesburg directly to Timbavati.
Renting a car in Johannesburg and driving to Timbavati is another option. The park can be found on the R40 near Hoedspruit, and west of Kruger National Park. The 450km/280mi drive takes nearly 5 hours.
Where To Stay; Timbavati Safari Lodges offers a selection of chalets and rondavels painted with unique Ndebele traditional artwork, all with en-suite bathrooms and fitted with mosquito nets. The rondavels and chalets, set amidst beautiful shady trees, have been designed and situated to convey an atmosphere of happy relaxation and peacefulness in a true African ambience.
Most rooms feature double or twin beds, with some rooms offering additional third and fourth beds. Some of the chalets rooms are also connected through inter-leading doors to allow for families and guests that would prefer to be close to one