What wildlife can I see at Nyala Safari Lodge?

Elevated above the seasonal Mohlabetsi River in a private concession spanning 5000 hectares of wild bushveld terrain in the Balule Nature Reserve, sits the unassuming Nyala Safari Lodge. If the prized location within wildlife-abundant Balule doesn’t captivate you, then surely the tranquility of this lesser-known safari lodge will. Nyala encapsulates the art of comfortable luxury with it’s traditional and unassuming rondawel accommodation decorated in fine furnishings and well-placed wooden decks overlooking a floodlit waterhole.

Frequent visitors to the waterhole include elephant herds, bulky buffalo and an array of general game. Of course, these species – along with others—can all be spotted while out on your twice-daily game drives. Before we wax lyrical about the wonders of the lodge, let’s chat about wildlife to see at Nyala Safari Lodge.

Nyala Game Drive

Nyala Safari Lodge Views

What wildlife can I see at Nyala Safari Lodge?

Nyala is located in the expansive Balule Nature Reserve, a Big 5 reserve sharing unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park. This means that wildlife can roam freely from the national park into the Balule, which ultimately leads to increasing gene pools in the big cat kingdom. Although all camps and lodges in the area have their own private concessions within the Balule for for game drives, all accommodations have the opportunity of seeing the same animals. In addition to all of the usual suspects spotted on safari, the Balule has a high population of hippo and honey badger.

Because lion prides and leopards have territories, you only see certain prides in certain areas. However, nomadic cats and animals like African wild dogs have have expansive territories, which means they frequently move across. Like wildlife anywhere, there are certain times of year when it’s more popular to spot that “bucket list” animal of yours.

From May to September, African wild dogs are less nomadic because they are raising their pups in a den. When the dogs are sedentary and they’ve chosen to den on a particular traverse, it’s magical. If you’re an avid birder, the lush summer months should be the season for you, as this is when the summer migrants arrive (roughly October to April). Woodlands Kingfisher, red chested cuckoo and the Wahlberg’s eagle are examples of birds to spot.

Each season in the Balule offers something unique to spot. However, during the winter months the bushveld thins out and water sources become rare. Water-loving wildlife like elephants and buffalo are drawn to readily available water sources (think waterholes, lodge swimming pools and rivers). Year-round, but particularly during the winter months, you’ll spot all the water-lovers hovering at the floodlit waterhole in front of Nyala Safari Lodge’s elevated outdoor seating area.

A list of the most commonly spotted wildlife species on Nyala’s traverse:

The seasonal river in front of the lodge plays home to waders such as saddle-billed storks, black-winged stilts, egrets, white-crowned lapwing, and the very rare Pel’s fishing-owl. You’ll wake up to a chorus of birdsong from resident magpie shrikes, lilac-breasted rollers, yellow-billed hornbills, fork-tailed drongos, and francolins.

Birding aside, here is a more comprehensive list of  bucket-list stuff to spot:

  • Spotted hyena
  • Black-backed jackal
  • Side-striped jackal
  • Caracal
  • Crocodile
  • Serval
  • African wild dog
  • Elephant
  • Rhino
  • Buffalo
  • Impala
  • Kudu
  • Zebra
  • Giraffe
  • Steenbok
  • Duiker
  • Mongoose
  • Baboon
  • Vervet monkey
  • Hippo
  • Warthog

Nyala Safari Lodge Lions

Leopard at Nyala Safari Lodge

Elephants Nyala

Nyala Civet

Maximising wildlife viewing opportunities

The team at Nyala ensures that they’re always maximising wildlife opportunities on their traverse, as well as from the lodge. The riverbed in front of the lodge is a great place for leopards to den their young and there are often species lurking in the bed below. The waterhole is full year-round, which often leads to a spectacle of sightings.

Game Drives: Two scheduled game drives are offered per day, and take place when the predators are most active. Morning drives depart at around 6ish and evening drives depart around 4ish. All game drives are conducted in open-topped 4×4 game viewers and traverse 5000 hectares of Balule bushveld, incorporating the Mohlabetsi seasonal River.

Sundowners and Coffee Stops: On the morning drive there is a stop for coffee and on an afternoon drive there will be a stop for sundowners. Stops usually take place in scenic, open areas. Sundowners are drinks of your choice and are usually accompanied by a few snacks. While on these stops, you’ll have opportunity to watch wildlife in the distance.

Boma Dinners: Some of the evening meals are enjoyed in the elevated boma, above the floodlit waterhole. Guests can appreciate their surroundings while sitting around a crackling log fire under a starry night sky. This is an optional activity and only takes place when it’s weather permitting.

Lodge life at Nyala Safari Lodge: Because the lodge has only five thatched chalets, you are guaranteed an intimate and personalised safari experience. Ideal for multigenerational groups, romantics and corporate travelers, Nyala has it all covered. Nyala’s main area has a wrap-around viewing deck mimicking the curves of the river, and runs the full length of the lodge. The entire lodge is shaded by weeping Boer-beans and ancient Jackalberry trees, ensuring respite from the heat during the sizzling summer months. There’s also a swimming pool on-site-and decking area to ensure the most is made out of those balmy summer days. Don’t be surprised to spot bushbuck and vervet monkeys while lounging around the pool area.

Nyala Brekkie MealNyala Safari Lodge FirepitNyala Boma AreaNyala Sunset