The privately owned Olifants West Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger encompasses an impressive 9000 hectares of diverse terrain across the Olifants River Valley, just west of the Kruger National Park. The perennial Olifants River cuts through a game-rich region dominated by acacia and mixed woodlands that support the Big 5, over 94 species of mammal, and an estimated 250 species of bird. You’ll also discover ancient baobabs, sausage trees and Marula trees—an iconic tree that frequently sees waterbuck, giraffe, kudu, ellies, and baboons feasting on its fruit. Of particular significance in the area is the shy Pel’s fishing-owl, considered by many twitchers to be the holy grail of birding!
Eager safari-goers are drawn to the Olifants West Nature Reserve because of its picturesque setting. While it has its typical Kruger savannah terrain where lion prides and leopards dwell, there’s a welcome addition of the river frontage ecosystem. The river accommodates a wealth of wading birds, waterbuck, hippos and crocodiles, and the African fish eagle. Huge breeding herds of elephant and buffalo are drawn to the water’s edge, where many hours are spent soaking up the pristine waters and wallowing in mud.
The permanent water source also provides a refuge for other wildlife who filter down to the banks in search of water during the hot summer months. It’s here where you’ll spot cheetah, African wild dogs, lions, hyenas, and leopards replenishing their thirst. Currently, prominent local lion prides in the area include the Kudyelas, Masungulos Pride and Takazile Pride—among others. Because the reserve shares unfenced borders with its neighbours, rogue lions and young coalitions do tend to wander across in search of prides to dominate.
In terms of conservation efforts in the area, special mention should be give to an all female anti-poaching unit called The Black Mambas who regularly patrol the reserve. They’ve gained recognition around the world for their efforts to keep our rhino safe. They are the frontline and the “boots on the ground” team, patrolling for threats and incursions on the fence lines. If there’s any poaching activity, the armed patrol is alerted.
Now that you a bit more about the Olifants West Nature Reserve, it’s time to cast the spotlight on the safari camps and lodges that we represent in the Olifants West Nature Reserve.
Sausage Tree Safari Camp
New to our portfolio, Sausage Tree Safari Camp is an idyllic hideaway with a quintessential “Kruger under canvas” feel. The camp comprises 5 Meru-style canvas tents built on raised wooden platforms, each with commanding views of the bushveld beyond. Tents have private decks, an outdoor shower, indoor bath, ample floor and storage space, and eco air conditioning. The main area is the perfect sanctuary for relaxation, and offers abundant opportunity to spot game from the comfort of camp. The entire area is raised, and houses a breakfast nook under thatch, swimming pool with wooden decking and an open-plan bar area.
The charming and understated Nambu Camp is situated on an old anthill elevated above the landscape, giving rise to unsurpassed views of the bushveld and dramatic mountains in the background. The location in the heart of the Big 5 Olifants West Nature Reserve, combined with its stellar guiding and warm hospitality, makes Nambu a sought-after lodge. Being at eye-level with birdlife, means that guests can experience unbelievable sightings of tawny eagles—a common resident of the area. When you’re not looking up, look down—huge herds of elephant frequent the waterhole below.
The 6-bedroom safari lodge boasts unparalleled views of the mountains in the distance, a dry riverbed and waterhole. The open design of the lodge takes advantage of its aspect, ensuring the picturesque surroundings become part of the architecture. Nambu is a world of wonder, and an absolute sanctuary for your soul.
Ezulwini River and Billy’s Lodge
Sister lodges, Ezulwini River and Ezulwini Billy’s Lodge, offer an elevated sense of luxury in the Olifants West Nature Reserve. Both lodges have a wine cellar and an array of room options. From ultra-luxurious suites to luxury chalets, there’s nothing standard about life at Ezulwini. Billy’s claim-to-fame is its raised wooden skywalk that meanders its way about the reserve, offering up spectacular aerial views of wildlife below. River Lodge is ideally located on the banks of the river, and offers a spectacular honeymoon suite and family room. All of the ultra-luxurious suites at both Billy’s and River Lodge have private plunge pools, indoor and outdoor showers, and spacious deep-set baths.