Firstly, apologies for the delayed review (we visited back in July 2013) but this review needed a decent amount of time to write, to do Umlani justice! This was our first safari experience and it was unforgettable! And if you cant be bothered to read the whole of my long review....just take my word for it and book!!! :P
I'll start with the camp itself...as you've probably guessed there is no electricity...at all! (even the refrigerators in the kitchens are solar powered!! - talk about green! :D ) This doesn't mean that the camp isn't comfortable though. With oil and solar lamps, hot outdoor shower and fully functional bathroom with lots of running water your little individual hut has everything you'll need. The beds are comfy with mosquito nets and lots of storage for luggage. The whole camp is small, rustic, charming and full of proper South African character. It blends in with the natural environment perfectly...because after all WE are the visitors in the bush!
If your looking for luxury with all the mod-cons this isnt for you....but if you want to immerse yourself into the safari experience through great game, people and atmosphere then Umlani is it.
The game drives are amazing!!! We visited in winter time when it was very cold in the morning and evenings but there were blankets provided in all the game vehicles for when the wind got abit chilly. (I would recommend lots of warm layers if your visiting in winter - but upside is there are no bugs!) We saw looooooads! All the big 5 plus tonnes more!
The drivers and trackers are really passionate and knowledgeable about the bush and wildlife - and have incredible senses to spot some of the animals. Elvis is brilliant! He is funny, engaging, and makes every game drive something to remember! Thank you Elvis for finding all the cute baby ones for me! :)
All of the viewings are really private and the drivers communicate with all the other camps' trackers so that you will never miss a viewing and they will never be too crowded.
I cant put into words how exciting it is to see such beautiful animals in their natural habitat!!
We booked a private walk with Elvis one afternoon which was another great experience - giving us a chance to see everything at ground level as opposed to in the jeeps. Elvis was fantastic - getting us to touch, taste and smell different plants, showing us tracks and even seeing wildlife....soo exciting!
We also stayed for a night in the tree house - which is a once in a lifetime!! Not for the faint-hearted as you get dropped at the treehouse at night (good 5mins drive from any camp) and left with a torch, a radio and a bucket. Haha! It was the most incredible experience to lay under the stars (which are unbelievable) and listen to lions calling, hippos splashing in the water hole etc. Just give it a go! - if you decide you dont like it you just radio back to camp and someone will pick you up. We woke up the next morning very cold and wet due to mist and fog and we got picked up so we could change into something dry for our morning drive. Elvis was there in minutes.
Even sitting and reading a book in the bar area whilst watching the waterhole can turn into an exciting viewing. With wildlife frequently visiting you could almost not bother getting in the jeeps!
Your stay would be all-inclusive - inc food, drinks, game drives, private walks, treehouse. You need not worry about getting your wallet out whilst at Umlani! Open bar is accessible at all times of day. The food is delicious - all fresh and local produce - Ruth and her team do an amazing job. Dinner and lunch are buffet style with hot breakfast to order.
Umlani felt like a home from home almost immediately! David, our host, was lovely - greeting us after every game drive; sharing stories and facts over dinner and drinks. We also had the absolute joy of spending alot of our stay with the owner, Marco's, family. Margaret & co were so welcoming and friendly it was a delight to join them on nearly all of our game drives and they were even kind enough to invite me and my boyfriend to join them for pre-dinner drinks. Lovely family that just reflect the entire ethos for the camp! We hope you are all well and hope to be back soon!
Emily & George x
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Umlani Bushcamp, a rustic yet exclusive lodge, accommodates guests in cozy en-suite reed and thatch rondavels. Early morning and evening game drives are in open four wheel drive vehicles accompanied by experienced rangers and trackers offers exceptional game viewing opportunitys. Umlani makes the whole event personalized and specializes in escorted walks into this unspoiled wilderness. Umlani, meaning Place of Rest, was established in 1990 by Marco and Marie-Louise Schiess, in the central section of the Timbavati Nature Reserve, which is part of the greater Kruger National Park. Umlani is the perfect nature lovers choice. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Umlani Bushcamp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
- Umlani Bushcamp South Africa/Kruger National Park