Overall I give this camp a 4.5 out of 5 stars and I would definitely recommend this camp for those visiting South Africa and the Kruger area. Having said this, let me say I consider myself a rather seasoned safari traveler having done 6 month long safaris since 2004 to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia. South Africa is wonderful for a first time safari, however for those more seasoned and used to safaris in Botswana and Zambia - the "purists" and traditional safari persons - this may be a bit disappointing as far as safaris go. But if you have to do a safari trip to South Africa, this camp will not disappoint.
Tanda Tula is quite a lovely camp. The camp tries to maintain the "feeling" of a real luxury bush camp (albeit with electricity and more modern conveniences than many true bush camps I have been to). The grounds are immaculately cared for and abundant in a wide variety of flora. The camp is surrounded by an electrified fence to keep out the larger animals (ie elephants) but you will find warthog, nyala, bushbuck etc... walking around the grounds and allowing you to get very near in proximity. The pool area is lovely. The pool is a good size (albeit it icy cold, but it feels great on a hot afternoon), there are plenty of chaise lounge chairs around the pool to relax on, try for one under an umbrella as the sun can get intense. From the pool you can see the waterhole in the distance and we were able to watch giraffe and impala and kudu coming to drink in the afternoons while swimming in the pool. The staff is TOP NOTCH!
Common Areas: The lounge and bar is typical of what you find in the african luxury bush camps. Sofas and oversized chairs often of leather and plenty of seating, books to read, and a well stocked bar area with a great bartender :-) - Ask them if they remember how to make a "white lion" (a drink created by a regular guide brought in to help named Martin) it is awesome! Dinners are served with all guests together in the Boma area and always a joy. Lunch is usually a buffet served in the main common area at individual tables organized by tent or "groups" traveling together (I was at times the only one at my table - I had no problem with that as I traveled by myself to the camp - however other guests "felt bad" for me and invited me to eat with them, as a result I met some lovely people at camp). Breakfasts began to be served in the dry riverbed when I was there as the season permitted it, it was a typical american style buffet breakfast with eggs and bacon etc... being prepared as they were ordered at the fire (see my picture).
Tents: The tents are in one word, luxurious. Large and spacious with a writing desk and a separate dressing table and mirror in the main tent area. They provide you with all you need (and yes sadly there is electricity for those who insist on using a hair dryer etc..). Your bed is large and very comfortable and there is even a heated mattress pad on it for those really cold winter nights. There are electric fans to cool you in the heat of the day. They supply you with some lovely liqueur in the room in case you don't want to trek over to the bar and lounge area. Writing and sketching tablets and pencils are also provided. Linens are top quality and the rooms are immaculately maintained. A turn down service is done for you, and often a small chocolate can be found on your pillow (or in my case on the floor as a squirrel decided to break into my room and nibble on it and was frightened away). I do not recommend having ANY food in your soft sided luggage in the room, as the squirrels will gnaw right through the luggage to get to the food (welcome to Africa). Management was so sweet they offered to pay to replace my duffle bag, which I found unnecessary, as the fault really was mine having had the snacks in my bag. The bathroom is separated by a curtain and is very spacious. There is an open closet and small safe for your valuables (and food stuffs) and a wonderful ball n claw footed bathtub for a nice long bubble bath after your morning drives. Your shower is located through sliding glass doors outside underneath the trees and overlooking the dry river bed below. By the way watch out for the monkeys in the trees, they don't always like it when you shower underneath them and they may throw things at you. On your private viewing deck in front of the tent are 2 chairs and a table overlooking the dry riverbed, you can sometimes see hyena and nyala impala kudu etc... walking in the river bed or crossing it. Be advised also do not leave items on your deck as the monkey like to run away with them! (This is Africa).
Food: Yummy! Thanks to everyone in the kitchen staff food was delish and plenty of it.
Game Life: Hmmm this is a tough one. Timbavati is known for its white lions, that was in part why I chose this camp to end my month long trip (sadly they had not been seen in some time when I was here, in fact they had moved on to the north). Game around the camp seemed sparse, but please understand game goes where it wants and at times there may be an abundance and other times they might move on, this is in no way a reflection on the camp itself. The really great thing about Tanda Tula is they have traversing rights with a few other "responsible" camps in the area and between ALL the camps there was great game viewing! Although there were a definite lack of ellies in this area (I had seen more than enough in the Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and Hwange already this trip) there was still plenty of other game. I spent 4 nights here at camp, and saw the wild dogs twice (2 different packs one with its 3-4 month old pups), 2 rhino sightings - one while chasing the dogs. And of course abundance of giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, birdlife galore, a couple of lion sightings (no cubs or entire prides but a few males and 1 female) and a couple of leopard sightings. Oh and I should mention as a bonus en route to the airport 2 cheetahs just happened to cross the tar road in front of us and rest up under a tree... a great sighting.
Recommendations: Ask for Scotch if you are an avid birder. The man knows exactly what page every bird is found on and what number the bird is in the book, he is amazing. He also has a knack for spotting all kinds of things! (It is instinct for him).
Negatives: Sadly they overload the vehicles with guests. At times we were 3 across in every row and a person was forced to sit in the front with the driver (a poor viewing platform IMHO). I am not used to this and this is really the only negative thing I would have to say as far as Tanda Tula goes. This is why I only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Maybe this is one area they can improve on for next time.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the heart of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve bordering the Kruger National Park, offers a five-star personal wilderness experience in ultimate luxury. Here, in your own private piece of Africa, you will come face to face with nature as it always was, with not a fence in sight to inhibit your freedom. Set on the banks of the Nharalumi riverbed, Tanda Tula is shaded by stately trees and overlooks a water hole that attracts a wide variety of game from dawn to dusk. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tanda Tula Safari Camp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
- Tanda Tula Safari Camp South Africa/Kruger National Park