2020 TIMBAVATI (Greater Kruger)
We often refer to this as the “Big Cats Africa Safari” due to the frequent sightings of leopards and lions at this location.
Cost of the Trip: $5,495 per person based on double occupancy
Number of Participants: 12
Dates of Trip:
- Trip begins in Johannesburg on May 22, 2020
- Trip concluded in Johannesburg on May 30, 2020
Included in This Trip:
- One arrival night in Johannesburg
- Flights to/from Timbavati Lodges (HDS)
- All ground transfers within Timbavati
- All Meals and lodging
- Tips for Lodge Staff and Rangers
- That’s right, we include tips! Over the years, we have noted guests are often uncomfortable regarding tipping customs. Since we have stayed at these lodges numerous times, we have a great handle on service quality. This is supposed to be a low stress vacation, so we’ve just made this trip a little bit easier for you. Of course, if you want to give a supplemental tip for good service, feel free, but now it truly is an option.
This will be our sixth trip to Timbavati Private Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park System. There is a good reason for this. Timbavati has been extremely dependable for us on seeing leopards and lions, hence the safari nickname “Big Cats”. While this is not a zoo, we often see both leopards and lions on a daily basis in Timbavati.
We also expect to get great sightings of the other members of the Big 5: elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. We often see other predators including hyena, wild dog, cheetah. In addition, expect to see impala, waterbuck, kudu, steenbok, giraffe, zebra and other species throughout our day.
This trip is designed for both photographers and lovers of nature that want a special opportunity to be close to the wildlife. We negotitated the use of two private vehicles for our group. While typical safari vehicles are designed for 3 people per row, we have made special provisions so that we will have a maximum of 2 people per row. This extra space also means unobstructed viewing. Also, part of the Timbavati experience is the opportunity to go off-road tracking wildlife and Timbavati allows our vehicles to off road track lions, leopards, wild dog, rhinoceros, elephants Cape buffalo and cheetah as well as any other special sightings. If you love wildlife you will love this experience!
Our Lodges While in Timbavati:
Kambaku Safari Lodge, Eastern Timbavati
For this safari, we have booked the entire lodge for 4 nights. We initially visited Kambaku in search of the white lions. Timbavati is world famous for the ‘White Lions of Timbavati’. The white lion are not albino, but are a rare color mutation. More specifically, the lions prides that patrol this section of eastern Timbavati carry the white lion gene. While we are not guaranteed that we will see them, most of the sightings over the last few years have been in and around the Kambaku game drive area. We were luck enough to photograph the white lions in 2017.
Yes, the white lions are what brought us to Kambaku and yes, we have seen them; however, that is no longer our only reason for using this lodge.
- First and foremost, is the staff of Kambaku. The management team is incredibly friendly and helpful and the entire staff goes out of their way to pleas the clients.
- The guides of Kambaku – Having stayed at this lodge numerous times we know the rangers and trackers and have come to respect their skills and attitude. Furthermore, several of the rangers are excellent photographers in their own right, which means they know exactly how to position our vehicles to get the best view and the best shots.
- The Kambaku Safari Lodge itself – Kambaku Safari Lodge is a smaller, boutique style lodge with individual chalets for guests. Being a smaller lodge enhances that feeling of being remote to the outside world and also allows us to customize the overall experience. The chalets are spacious and have recent been upgraded with new en-suite baths.
- Game Viewing: This terrain is excellent for zebra and giraffe. Wild dog, rhino and leopard are also commonly spotted on game drives. The lodge is located at a water hole and game can often be spotted in the evenings and when we take our mid-day break.
Simbavati River Lodge, Western Timbavati Private Reserve
We have been going to this part of Timbavati for years. In this region, we find Marula and Mopani trees. These trees are the favorite food of elephants. This setting is also preferred by kudu and se see large herds of impala and Cape buffalo. The leadwood trees provide excellent safe havens for leopards. As a result, this region is unusually rich in leopard sightings and has many elephants and Cape buffalo. Of course, when you have a lot of buffalo, you also commonly have a number of lion prides and that’s definitely true for this area. In addition to the predators, there are a large number of antelope species in this region also including kudu, Nyala, waterbuck, impala and Steenbok.
Like Kambaku, Simbavati is a lodge that has an excellent staff and experienced rangers. Simbavati River Lodge is also a favorite because of:
- Positioning along the river – A special moment during our last trip was watching a large elephant breeding herd cross the river right in front of us while we had our mid-day meal.
- The food is simply amazing. The variety amazes and the presentation by the chefs is a joy to the senses.
- The Chalets – The Magnum Excursions team was pleasantly surprised when we learned that all of the chalets had been totally replaced with new units that included excellent lighting, increased space and ultra-modern En-suite baths. Simbavati lodge is located on the banks of a beautiful river.
Cost of the Trip: $5,495 per person based on double occupancy. There is a supplemental charge for singles of $1,200. If you are a single and willing to share a room, we will make best efforts to pair you up with an appropriate roommate.
Group Size – Maximum group size is 12
Deposit and Payment Schedule:
- A nonrefundable deposit of 30% ($1,650) will be required to secure your spot(s),
- The remaining payments will be split into two equal payments, one due September 30, 2019 and the other due January 30, 2020.
Cancellation Policy: Provided upon Request
Dates of Trip:
- May 22, 2020 – We will all meet up in Johannesburg. We will fly into Timbavati early the morning of May 23 for transfer to Kambaku Safari Lodge
- May 27, 2020 – After the morning game drive and breakfast, we will transfer to Simbavati River Lodge
- May 30 – After our morning game drive, we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg, where you can easily make connections back home on this day.
What is included:
- All meals at the lodges
- Two game drives per day plus night drives after ‘sundowners’ (remote evening snack and drink) at both Timbavati resorts
- Maximum two people per row (versus standard 3 per row on safari vehicles)
- All park gate and conservation fees
- Round-trip airfare to Timbavati
- All ground transfers to lodges and between lodges
- 1 night lodging upon arrival in Johannesburg
- 4 nights (5 days) at Kambaku
- 3 nights (3 1/3 days) at Simbavati
- Tips for guides and lodge staff
- Optional image review to improve your photography
What is not included:
- Visa or passport fees (no visa required for U.S. citizens)
- Laundry (available at all lodges for slight fee)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Flights from the U.S. to Johannesburg, South Africa
Trip Advisor Reviews of Destinations:
Frequently Asked Questions:
- I’m not a photographer. Is this trip for me?
If you love nature and wildlife, this trip is for you. Yes, it’s a photo workshop, but on game drives, what that really means is that you will have more room and a better view. Furthermore, you want be as rushed to get to the next sighting. In the evenings, you’ll have the option of see some of the photos taken by others during the trip. Additionally, beyond the wildlife, the lodges have swimming pools and often have spa options. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day there is plenty of time to go on a walking safari, read a book or just enjoy the sounds around you.
- I’d like to bring my spouse who is not a photographer. Will they enjoy the lodge activities?
At least a third of those traveling on safari with me in the past have traveled with a non-photography spouse. I believe all of these non-photographers have had a great time seeing wildlife. Beyond the wildlife, the lodges have swimming pools and often have spa options.
- I’m traveling alone; can you help me find a roommate for the trip?
If you are traveling alone and want to avoid the supplemental fees charged for non-sharing rooms, we will make our best efforts to pair you with other singles.
- How large of lens is required to get good shots?
On this safari, we will be able to track wildlife off road. This allows us to get very close. A zoom of up to 400mm equivalent on a full frame camera is plenty of lens for all of the major animals. Those that are seriously into birding may want to have more lens capability. This is a broad subject and hard to cover in a brief note. I will send more info on this prior to the trip; however, feel free to contact me via email (Buddy@MagnumExcursions.com) or by phone [(610) 751-7259] to further discuss your specific photo goals.
- Will we be advised on what photo equipment to bring? Will you advise us on what to pack regarding clothing, medications, etc.?
Yes, regarding photo equipment as well as general packing. We always get excellent feedback on our pre-trip preparation materials. We have checklists we will provide with key items highlighted.
- How is the weather? Are there bugs?
A large reason we go at this time of the year is related to the weather and insects. June/July is winter and the dry season in the southern hemisphere. The last rains fell in April and it is very dry. This leads more game to the water holes for excellent viewing. This cooler weather and dry conditions also lead to a bug free time to be on safari. Mornings are quite cool (mid-40’s to mid-50’s at sunrise) but heat up fast with expected weather in the high 70’s or the 80’s by 10 a.m. The key is to dress in layers which one can shed as the day warms.
- This trips for me, what do I do next?
Get that deposit in! We accept check or bank transfer.
If you have questions, we can be reached at (610) 751-7259 or via email at buddy@MagnumExcursions.com.