Comfortable egg chairs invite lazy afternoons watching wildlife right from the guest deck at Ngala Tented Camp.

Ngala Tented Camp | Timbavati Private Nature Reserve Luxury South African Safari Lodge

The clean lines and uncluttered style of South Africa‘s Ngala Tented Camp mean that there are very few distractions from the ultimate luxury – spending time in the wilderness and enjoying close encounters with phenomenal wildlife. The designers knew just what to retain to ensure your comfort; everything else is about the bush.

The place

Ngala Tented Camp takes its name from a local word for lion, and given that the private game reserve it’s in shares an unfenced boundary with Kruger National Park, big cats are much in evidence. As we’re about to arrive at the camp, our tracker Dennis demonstrates his uncanny skills by pointing out lion spoor alongside the road – from early this morning, explains Grant, our guide. We’re still digesting this thrilling news when we hear the first warm calls of greeting from the assembled staff. The main area of the lodge gives us our first views of the Timbavati River, with the shape of the camp mirroring its serpentine curves. The lap pool shadows the river, in tune with the flow of wild energy. A row of white egg chairs beckons and right on cue, two spindly-legged storks step out from between the reeds as the breeze stirs the leaves above us.

Ngala Tented Camp takes its name from a local word for lion, and given that the private game reserve it’s in shares an unfenced boundary with Kruger National Park, big cats are much in evidence.

As we’re about to arrive at the camp, our tracker Dennis demonstrates his uncanny skills by pointing out lion spoor alongside the road – from early this morning, explains Grant, our guide. We’re still digesting this thrilling news when we hear the first warm calls of greeting from the assembled staff.

The main area of the lodge gives us our first views of the Timbavati River, with the shape of the camp mirroring its serpentine curves. The lap pool shadows the river, in tune with the flow of wild energy. A row of white egg chairs beckons and right on cue, two spindly-legged storks step out from between the reeds as the breeze stirs the leaves above us.

The room

As we step into our room, I’m reminded of an old quote: a designer knows he has achieved perfection… when there is nothing left to take away. We’re both struck by the elegant, pared-down simplicity of the room; it contains only what is necessary for our absolute comfort. This leaves plenty of space for cool currents of air to dance around us – the wraparound gauze panels giving us an unimpeded view of the river. Our butler, Stephen, told us that the name of the river meant ‘sacred’ in his father’s language, and we can see that spending time here could easily be a spiritual experience. Without the distractions of everyday life, we’re free to enjoy each other’s company, and to meet new friends – both human and animal. Sensing that we’d want to spend our first few moments at Ngala Tented Camp alone, Stephen had brought us lunch platters to enjoy on our viewing deck. I resist the tapas-style meal for a few more moments as I check out the outdoor shower and the smooth shape of the bathtub ensconced between rock walls. As we eat, a busy squirrel dashes across the deck; in contrast, our relaxation is total.  

As we step into our room, I’m reminded of an old quote: a designer knows he has achieved perfection… when there is nothing left to take away. We’re both struck by the elegant, pared-down simplicity of the room; it contains only what is necessary for our absolute comfort. This leaves plenty of space for cool currents of air to dance around us – the wraparound gauze panels giving us an unimpeded view of the river.

Our butler, Stephen, told us that the name of the river meant ‘sacred’ in his father’s language, and we can see that spending time here could easily be a spiritual experience. Without the distractions of everyday life, we’re free to enjoy each other’s company, and to meet new friends – both human and animal.

Sensing that we’d want to spend our first few moments at Ngala Tented Camp alone, Stephen had brought us lunch platters to enjoy on our viewing deck. I resist the tapas-style meal for a few more moments as I check out the outdoor shower and the smooth shape of the bathtub ensconced between rock walls. As we eat, a busy squirrel dashes across the deck; in contrast, our relaxation is total.

 

What sets it apart

This luxury South African safari lodge perfectly fuses the natural decadence of time in the wilderness with some very human comforts: great food and wine, contemporary design and attentive, discreet service. Sleeping under canvas gave us a thrilling sense of being explorers in Africa; hearing a lion roar from across the river as we drifted off to sleep hit exactly the right note between spine-tingling and deeply satisfying. Our romantic riverbed dinner will stay long in our memories, and we were equally struck by the respect our guide had for the wildlife he found for us, and their habitats. Our morning spent on an interpretive bush walk was fascinating, as was our time spent tracking with our incredibly knowledgeable tracker.

This luxury South African safari lodge perfectly fuses the natural decadence of time in the wilderness with some very human comforts: great food and wine, contemporary design and attentive, discreet service. Sleeping under canvas gave us a thrilling sense of being explorers in Africa; hearing a lion roar from across the river as we drifted off to sleep hit exactly the right note between spine-tingling and deeply satisfying.

Our romantic riverbed dinner will stay long in our memories, and we were equally struck by the respect our guide had for the wildlife he found for us, and their habitats. Our morning spent on an interpretive bush walk was fascinating, as was our time spent tracking with our incredibly knowledgeable tracker.

At a glance

  • Luxury safari lodge with nine spacious air-conditioned tents under vast canvas roofs, nestled beneath a shady canopy of indigenous trees and overlooking the Timbavati River. A sinuous lap pool, shady viewing decks and a massage sala complete the camp.
  • Private reserve, butler service, private dining, private vehicles available (additional cost) and flexible schedules.
  • Game drive, night drives, interpretive bush walks, walking safaris, tracking (additional cost), photographic safaris (additional cost), rhino notching (additional cost) and swimming.
  • Children 12 and above are welcome (minimum age of 16 for walking safaris).

  • Luxury safari lodge with nine spacious air-conditioned tents under vast canvas roofs, nestled beneath a shady canopy of indigenous trees and overlooking the Timbavati River. A sinuous lap pool, shady viewing decks and a massage sala complete the camp.
  • Private reserve, butler service, private dining, private vehicles available (additional cost) and flexible schedules.
  • Game drive, night drives, interpretive bush walks, walking safaris, tracking (additional cost), photographic safaris (additional cost), rhino notching (additional cost) and swimming.
  • Children 12 and above are welcome (minimum age of 16 for walking safaris).

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

This is the Southern Hemisphere summer and autumn. In the Greater Kruger area, this means higher temperatures and most of the year’s rain. Rainfall tends to be short and sharp rather than prolonged, with exciting electric storms. A cool, post-storm afternoon game drive is a genuine highlight: with the dust knocked out of the air, the light has a limpid quality, and trackers are in their element, with a blank canvas to work from. When it’s green like this, the bushveld at its prettiest, and full of new life.

The cooler winter months are almost entirely rain-free. This means that the vegetation dries and becomes sparser, making it easier to spot wildlife. Short grass and bare branches let the Greater Kruger safari guides use their spotting skills to the fullest. Game begins to concentrate at dwindling waterholes, and this attracts the predators. Be prepared for spectacular sightings, but also pack a safari wardrobe that can cope with both the very fresh early mornings (especially on an open game-viewer) and then warm days peaking at around 23°C.

Get an expertly planned safari trip proposal

Our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.

Enquire Now

Looking for inspiration?

Sign up for our occasional newsletter and we’ll feed your imagination with exciting safari ideas.

Get an expertly planned safari trip proposal

Enquire Now

Want to get in touch?

Contact Us

Creating your canvas!

By clicking on the heart, you’ve just added your first safari item to your canvas, which is where you can curate your personal collection of luxury safari inspiration. View and save your canvas by clicking here, and you'll be able to access it at any time by tapping on the heart icon in the menu bar.

Got it