A feel for family and a flair for safari magic - Simbavati River Lodge

Where is Simbavati River Lodge located?

Timbavati, Greater Kruger.

As its name suggests, Simbavati River Lodge is perched on the edge of a river - the wild and winding Nhlaralumi River in the Greater Kruger’s Timbavati Nature Reserve, to be exact. It’s an hour’s slow game drive from Hoedspruit’s Eastgate Airport to the lodge, where magnificent riverfront views will greet you on arrival.

We’ve declared over and over again that Timbavati is our soul place. It continues to capture the hearts of both newbies and safari veterans and we really can’t recommend it enough. So in terms of safari location, Simbavati River Lodge is spot on.

What defines Simbavati River Lodge?

Great service with an even better smile

River Lodge is the original lodge in Simbavati’s collection, and it has stood the test of time. It has a traditional air to it and runs like a well-oiled machine. There are staff members floating around with warm and embracing faces, ready to help with whatever you need. It is spacious, the rooms are pretty spread out, and there is a sleek hotel-style operation to it that really suits some travellers, especially those who expect a level of seamlessness and modern comforts out in the bush.

What is the accommodation like at Simbavati River Lodge?

Simbavati River Lodge has 11 rooms in total - three of which are 2-bedroom family rooms; two of which are newer tented suites with plunge pools; and six of which are their luxury safari tents. The rooms are located along winding walkways and spread out along the river and under the trees. There are phones in each room so that guests can contact reception or call in assistance if needed. It feels large enough that even when it’s a full house, there is space for guests to feel like they are getting personalised service and the space to enjoy all the facilities.

What activities does Simbavati River Lodge offer?

Game drives, safari spa, sundowners in the bush, boma dinners, Cubs Club for kids.

Oh, and the viewing deck overlooking a small waterhole back at the lodge...

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is a thriving, open ecosystem, sustaining incredible numbers and diversity of wildlife. The presence of big game (Big 5 plus much more) and the long history of ethical and respectful wildlife viewing both on foot and from a vehicle means that wildlife encounters are frequent and impressive. Simbavati River Lodge offers daily game drives (morning and evening), and you’ll spend your entire stay with your same guide and tracker, which makes the safari experience superbly personalised and tailored to you.

Back at the lodge, the Nhlaralumi River is mostly dry (it’s a large seasonal river that occasionally fills up after significant rainfall), but that doesn’t mean there is any lack of wildlife. The beautiful trees and vegetation that grow along the riverbed typically attract a huge variety of animals and birds, so keep your eyes peeled for passing wildlife throughout the day. And the waterhole just below the dining deck is a permanent source of water and activity.

If you’re looking for some extra pampering, there’s a little tented spa where you can book massages and luxury nail treatments, and there is a small gym that caters for those with a desire to sweat.

Why is Simbavati River Lodge perfect for families?

Family-friendly rooms, Cubs Club, personalised service

Simbavati River Lodge facilitates safari experiences that are fun and engaging for kids, and personalised for families. Children are not only accommodated, they are welcomed and prioritised, which gives parents the comfort of knowing that their needs as a family are taken care of.

There’s a big difference between knowing that a safari lodge is kid-tolerant and knowing that kids have been given special consideration. River Lodge really rolls out the red carpet, offering peace of mind and letting the whole experience be what every member of the family needs it to be.

From family-sized accommodation, to private dinner tables and meal service, and a dedicated Cubs Club, River Lodge has carefully considered where it makes a difference to family comfort. And in the same breath - where it makes a difference to guests travelling as couples and without children. The spaciousness of the shared lodge spaces, like the deck, the lounge, bar, and boma makes it easy not to feel crowded.

What we loved about Simbavati River Lodge:

We loved the dining experience at River Lodge, starting with breakfast and ending with a fireside feast in the boma. We loved the tableside service at breakfast and lunch, which really personalised our dining - we had a continental spread of croissants, cheese, fruit, and granola, followed by eggs and bacon to order. All conducted through the waiter who had been serving us throughout our stay. It just meant that little dietary details were paid attention to and we felt like we were being personally waited on.

On our last night we were joined by our guide and tracker for a feast in the boma. Such a stand-out element of our stay - being outdoors, next to the fire and hearing the bush around us. What a send off!

Hot tip:

Screen-free bedrooms

Wifi is available in the main lodge area, but not in your rooms, so our advice is to take a good book and enjoy de-digitizing when you’re relaxing in between game drives. Depending on which room type you have, you’ll have a beautiful view of the river, plenty of birds in the trees, or a private plunge pool. Air-conditioning and a minibar in your room also give you every reason to feel comfortable and catered for, so enjoy the time logged off from your phone. But if you do need to check in and spend some time online, you’ll find the lounge and reception area (conveniently located near the bar and the deck with a view) the place to spend your screen time.