Tomo Safari Lodge: A Family-Friendly Lodge in Balule Nature Reserve

Nestled in the heart of the Balule Nature Reserve, just a short drive from the town of Hoedspruit, Tomo Safari Lodge is an exclusive, accessible, and family-friendly safari destination. This hidden gem is the passion project of owners Francesco and Amy, a dynamic couple with a shared love of the African bush. After an eight-year quest to find the perfect location, in 2023, they transformed a dated camp into the bright and beautiful sanctuary that is now Tomo Safari Lodge.


The name 'Tomo' refers to the local Shangaan word for the mighty Jackalberry Tree, an iconic lowveld species. Each of the lodge's rooms, such as Umbrella Thorn and Marula, is also named after indigenous trees, connecting guests to their surrounding environment.


What we loved!


Tomo’s ambience is bright, airy, and open, and the common areas offer an unobstructed view of the Drakensberg Mountains standing guard round the Blyde River Canyon. The lodge's décor seamlessly blends African motifs with colourful accents, creating a vibrant atmosphere. Amy herself is an artist, and guests can find her artwork on display in both the common areas and rooms, adding a personal touch to the space.

Tomo Safari Lodge features artwork by the owner Amy (right).


Tomo has seven rooms (soon to be eight) accommodating up to 18 guests. Options include junior chalet, superior chalet, and the honeymoon chalet. One of the units is a family room with interleading doors. All all the rooms are spacious and comfortable, featuring outdoor showers and seating areas that allow guests to immerse themselves in nature. Each room has an air conditioner keeping guests comfortable during hot summer days. The rooms make up a horseshoe shape looking inward to a courtyard and to the lodge’s common areas. It’s a very short walk between the room and common area which makes it easy to come and go between activities.

We love these beautiful and fun safari checklists!


 The lodge boasts a large and inviting pool in the common area with a vantage point overlooking the bush and mountains. A watering hole in front of the lodge often attracts wildlife which can be seen from the common dining area, pool, and fire pit. 


 Tomo Safari Lodge is in a private corner of the Balule Nature Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. The area is home to all of the Big 5, as well as the other safari favourites such as giraffe, zebra, and hippo. Seeing all of the Big 5 is common during a three + night stay.

One of the standout features of this lodge is the exclusivity it offers in the safari experience. For many of the game drives, you may not encounter other vehicles. Tomo Safari Lodges traverses 7,000 hectares, including 1,500 hectares of their own private land. They also have the opportunity to traverse on adjacent properties in the event of interesting sightings. The vehicles can take a maximum of nine people in three rows, and a separate private vehicle can also be booked for those who don’t want to share the vehicle with others. The vehicles also have canvas roofs to provide shade during hotter times. Our guide, Brendan, was very knowledgeable and also great with the kids. 

Family Philosophy

Tomo Safari Lodge has a very welcoming family philosophy, a rarity in an industry that typically sets age restrictions. Tomo warmly welcomes families with children of all ages. Notably, children of all ages are allowed to join game drives. Families with children under four years old must book a private vehicle. Tomo also provides babysitting services.


Quick facts about Tomo Safari Lodge

  • Eight en suite rooms accommodating 18 people.
  • Each suite has a bedroom and desk, full bathroom, indoor/outdoor shower and private deck.
  • Children of any age are welcome. Families with children under 4 must book a private vehicle. Baby sitting services are available.
  • Third bed available in the room by request.
  • Quick 30 minute drive from Hoedspruit Airport.
  • Wifi connectivity in-room and main area.
  • All-inclusive booking basis.
  • Big 5 area in Balule Nature Reserve, open to the Kruger National Park.
  • Bush walks are bookable with top trails guides by request.
  • Air-conditioning.

BHS Takeaway


Tomo Safari Lodge is a great option for travellers seeking a relaxing and convenient getaway. It’s easily reached from the Hoedspruit Airport in about 30 minutes. In contrast to other safari lodges within the Greater Kruger area which commonly may have 10+ safari vehicles out in the same area, Tomo Safari Lodge offers a notably more private experience. While this may result in fewer overall sightings, the advantage lies in the extended, unhurried moments of enjoyment when encounters do occur. Tomo is especially well-suited for individuals seeking an escape to nature or families desiring a safari experience that welcomes children.

Reach out on to find out more about the new Tomo Safari Lodge, availability in 2024, and how to tie it into an your South African dream safari.