A favourite game reserve or national park is an oft-unresolved debate here at Rhino Africa. With so many places to see, things to do, and one-of-a-kind experiences to be had, answers often vary in surprisingly different ways.
But, in truth, it’s hard to single out one definitive favourite portion of Africa’s expansive wilderness because so many reserves and parks hold a special place in our hearts for so many different reasons.
Rather than listing destinations or equating apples to oranges, we prefer to look for the best of the breed in different categories.
The best-in-class of African travel
For instance, if water views and lavish panoramas are what you’re after, it’s impossible to top Botswana’s Okavango Delta. For wild isolation, we prefer the lesser-visited Kafue National Park in Zambia or Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park in the Lower Zambezi Valley. And for sheer spectacle, it’s hard to beat Masai Mara and the Serengeti during the Great Migration.
However, if an all-round, high-quality game viewing experience is your thing (and let’s face it, if you’re here reading this, it probably is), we’ve found it hard to go past the Timbavati Private Game Reserve on the western edge of the Kruger National Park.
A treasure trove of wildlife
Unlike its more densely vegetated southern neighbour; the Sabi Sand, Timbavati has that open-plains feel about it, similar to the game-rich golden grasslands residing towards the eastern section of the Kruger National Park.
By all-round, high-quality we really mean just that: a traditional Timbavati safari traverses Big 5 territory. Travellers can look forward to sighting every member of Africa’s apex family, as well as a diverse variety of other wildlife, including giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and a prolific 360 different bird species.
Along with this wealth of animals, Timbavati is also home to two of the most well-known and much-anticipated inhabitants of the African wilderness; the endangered African wild dog and the unique and rare white lion – with the Timbavati being one of the only places in the world where these majestic mammals can be seen in their natural habitat.
Lavish bush living
The collection of luxury lodges at Timbavati caters for all varieties of traveller looking for a touch of class. For families with young children, we suggest Ngala Safari Lodge or Simbavati River Lodge. For honeymooners and romantics who want to splurge on a secluded couple’s retreat, we love Makanyi Private Game Lodge and Ngala Tented Camp. And if you’re travelling as a group or large family, Tanda Tula Safari Camp, Kings Camp or Machaton Private Camp would be wise choices.
Regardless of your decision, however, each style of accommodation provides the ultimate in luxury. Best of all, they also offer their own unique spin on what five-star accommodation means, and coupled with their finely-curated, tailor-made service, your every need will surely be met.
After all, your quintessential African safari need not be without the finest spa treatments, gorgeous private pools and five-star cuisine the movies promised you would have.
In our opinion the Timbavati forms the zenith of the Greater Kruger National Park’s diverse and wild landscape.
Whether it’s seeing a journey of gangly giraffes galloping off into the distance at one moment, stumbling upon the most playful pride of the area’s lions the next, or getting cornered by a cheeky crew of way-too-curious rhinos just before sunset, Timbavati’s varied nature is undoubtedly the gold standard. And that is exactly why it sits atop our all-encompassing ‘best-of’ list.
Add to that a fantastic range of luxury accommodation to suit all tastes, uncrowded game viewing and highly exclusive off-roading capability, and the classic African dream safari is born.