Kambaku Safari Lodge is located in the Timbavati Game Reserve in the greater Kruger National Park. The perfect place for you to experience an African Safari in South Africa and see the BIG 5 on a safari.
If you are planning or considering a family safari holiday this review of Kambaku Safari Lodge will give you some great information and insight about booking your first African safari and to this safari area. Tips, info, things to consider and everything you need to know to help you feel more confident about booking your safari to the Kruger National Park area!
We stayed at the Kambaku Safari Lodge while visiting the Kruger National Park area during our 1 year travelling the world with our kids. South Africa was on our list of countries we had to visit and a bucket list item to see the BIG 5 in Africa and we loved every moment of it. We left part of our hearts in Africa and we will return again to this amazing country and area.
Our kids were 5 and 8 years old when we took them on this African safari and it was one of the best moments of our lives. We will never forget this amazing experience and hope that if others have the opportunity to go on an African safari they make the leap to just GO! To share in this safari experience as a family will be cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
Now, let’s help you find out more info so you can experience an African safari too!
What You'll Find in This Post
- Where is Kambaku Lodge Located?
- Typical Day at Kambaku Lodge
- Kambaku Safari Experience
- Rooms, Facilities & Food at Kambaku Lodge
- How to get to Kambaku Lodge?
- Family & Kids at Kambaku Safari Lodge
- How to Book a Safari at Kambaku Safari Lodge
- Overview of Kamabuka Safari Lodge
- Other Safari Lodges in the Hoedspruit Area
- Tips for South Africa Safari
Where is Kambaku Lodge Located?
Kambaku Safari Lodge is located in the Timbavati game reserve just outside of Kruger National Park. The Timbavati private nature reserve is open to Kruger National Park but only certain lodges have access to this reserve for viewing of the game on the land, and Kambaku Safari Lodge is one of them!
Kambaku has access to drive on the land for purposes of game drives and taking guests to see the animals on the private game reserve. The Timbavati nature reserve is open to Kruger National Park, so animals can roam freely between the private game reserve and Kruger National Park.
Typical Day at Kambaku Lodge
Kambaku Lodge is a family-friendly lodge that is what you envision if you think of African Safari. A unique oasis in the middle of the African bush, where you get to go on game drives and see the amazing animals in their natural habitat.
Lions, zebras, leopards, giraffes, hippos, hyena, elephants, wild dogs and so many more animals in the area.
When you book with Kambaku Safari lodge it includes your accommodation, meals and game drives. So they arrange everything for you and you can just enjoy the luxury of safari life.
Morning Game Drives
Morning game drives start just before sunrise. Rise early to see the sunrise and the animals when they are most active. You have time for a quick coffee, tea, juice or small snack before heading out for a few (3-4) hours.
Game drives are in an open-air 4×4 landrover vehicle. There is a driver and typically a tracker along with you. These individuals will provide information and knowledge about the land, animals’ behaviour and so much more. They are always open to answering any questions and love their jobs! Now it’s time to open your eyes and look for some amazing animals. Bring your camera, go pro or just yourself to enjoy this amazing morning.
Depending on the size of the group staying at the lodge, there can be multiple vehicles going out at the same time. The staff will direct you which staff will accompany you and will do their best to keep groups together. If you have smaller children you may have to arrange for a private vehicle for safety concerns, but the staff will let you know when you book on this cost.
Arrive back at the lodge a few hours later to brunch served on the patio.
Leisure & Relaxing Time
The afternoons will give you some time at your leisure for however you want to spend the afternoon. Relaxing by the swimming pool, reading on one of the patios overlooking the watering hole, take a nap, quiet time in your room or have a few adult beverages.
On one of the days, this was the time when the ranger took the kids out on their Jr. Ranger Program.
Being that our kids were younger, we did spend some quiet time in the room, shower and relax during this time to be in good moods to enjoy the upcoming evening safari.
Walking Safaris & Bush Walks
If you choose, you can arrange to go on a bush walk or a walking safari with one of the rangers after the morning game drives. Kids are not allowed to do this, so daddy got to experience this on his own with the ranger. They disembarked a short drive away from the lodge and were accompanied by the ranger as he walked back to the lodge.
Along the bushwalk, they were able to learn more about the tracking and get very close (within a safe distance) to some animals. His highlight was seeing a giraffe so close, that you have a true appreciation for how tall these animals are.
Afternoon Game Drives
In the afternoon, have high tea at the main lodge and then set out for an evening safari. The evening provides a different advantage to seeing other types of animals active and another opportunity to see the BIG 5.
Spend a few more hours on the safari, and then arrive back to the lodge for a late dinner. The dinner is set up on long tables and everyone talks about their amazing day, chatting with the rangers and learning more about them. It’s a great way to meet people from around the world. We met lifelong friends that we eventually ended up meeting up with them in New Zealand.
Since our kids were the only ones at the resort at the time, they did cater to asking what our kids wanted for supper and had it ready as soon as evening safari ended, knowing they would be hungry and accommodating to the kid’s schedule.
During the evenings you can continue to socialize or retreat back to your chalets to get ready for the next early morning. The staff were amazing and kept an eye even on our kids while we sat and ate supper with the larger group. The kids had supper in the lounge area and then fell asleep on the couches. The entire staff were extremely friendly and really supportive in any way to make our family have a wonderful time.
Kambaku Safari Experience
The main reason that people go on a safari is to see the African animals in the wild. These amazing creatures are magnificent and only truly appreciated when you have seen them in their natural habitat.
We saw the following animals: The BIG 5 – Lion, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Leopard & Buffalo. Also, giraffe, zebra, hippo, wild dogs, impala, hyena, jackal, nyala, baboon, steenbok, vervet monkey, waterbuck, wildebeest, kudu, bushbaby and many birds!
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Our adventures seeing so many animals in South Africa. #krugernationalpark #southafrica #safari . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel #worldschooling #unschooling #trekarooing #familyjaunts #travelkids #cntraveler #travelingwithkids
Rooms, Facilities & Food at Kambaku Lodge
- 8 thatched chalets that make up the lodge, so there are distinct accommodations within an intimate area of thatched chalets. 3 of which are family units.
- Rooms have air conditioning.
- Swimming pool, bar, library, lounge area, games area and eating area.
- Game viewing deck that overlooks the watering hole.
- Wi-fi in the main lobby area.
- Little shop for small items.
- Very elegant thatched chalets that provide a luxury stay among the wilderness.
- We had a family room with the main room having a large enough living space and then an adjoining room with 2 twin beds for the kids.
- Bathroom nicely decorated and modern fixtures.
Food & Drink:
- All meals are included with your rates. There would typically be a small snack before morning drives, coffee and tea available.
- Tea, coffee, house wines, spirits, local beers and soft drinks are included with your rates.
- Premium drinks are available at extra costs.
- Brunch and supper are served at long tables is either buffet style or family style.
How to get to Kambaku Lodge?
Kambaku Safari Lodge is approximately 40 minutes from Hoedspruit airport, which is the easiest way to access the Timbavati area. It can also be reached 3 hours from Nelspruit airport. Direct flights from Cape Town or Johanessburg are found almost daily to the area, or there are buses that can come from Johanessburg. We flew CemAir for our flights to Hoedspruit to and from Cape Town.
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She loves seeing all the animals on the safari. #lovesanimals #buffalointheback #lifetimeexperiences @kambakulodges . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel #worldschooling #unschooling #trekarooing #familyjaunts #travelkids #cntraveler #travelingwithkids
Family & Kids at Kambaku Safari Lodge
Kids are not only allowed but catered to at the Kambaku Safari Lodge. Extremely kid-friendly and the lodge works on making it the best experience for kids and parents.
There is a Jr. Ranger program that is offered at the lodge. For a small cost, the kids are engaged with a ranger and lets them learn so much from them about the animals in a kid-centric way.
Upon arrival, we had a package full of workbooks, colouring sheets, crayons, safari guides, pictures and activities for them to be engaged in for kids. It got them excited and they loved that something special was waiting for them upon their arrival.
They also went out on one afternoon and did a small walk with the ranger and took a casting mold of hyena paws, which they still have in their rooms to this day. They used their tracking guide with the ranger to figure out what kind of print it was and they felt special.
The rangers on the game drives were really interactive with the kids, asking them questions and answering A LOT of questions from the kids. We had a lot of fun with the rangers, laughing and giggling the entire time. They even had a little photo op for the kids to sit in the tracker seat!
The snacks and food were appropriate for kids; it seemed like every detail was thought of for being kid-focused. You can tell that the owners have kids and can relate to what would be expected while kids stay at the lodge.
On one of the drives, another one of the guests actually thanked us for letting us share the game drive with her. It was like seeing these animals through kids’ eyes and the wonderment that exists. The innocents and true amazement to see the animals in the wild can only be truly appreciated by just being a kid again.
How to Book a Safari at Kambaku Safari Lodge
I think the biggest misconception about booking an African Safari is that you need to book with a big tour agency and that it cannot be booked on its own.
This is what I thought and it wasn’t until I had actually investigated further and asked other families who had been there that you CAN book safaris on your own and not go through an agency. This can save you a lot of money by booking your safari on your own.
Kambaku Safari Lodge handles all the game drives, food, pick up from the airport and any other details while you are staying there. I equate it to being the same as an all-inclusive vacation that you book.
Overview of Kamabuka Safari Lodge
Overall we were extremely impressed with the professionalism, friendliness and quality of the programs and lodge. We were extremely happy with our stay and the experiences that our family enjoyed. This was a once in a lifetime experience for us and we were so grateful to have spent our time at the Kambaku safari lodge.
If you are looking for a lodge that can provide great value for the amount of money you spend on this experience you will not be disappointed with Kambaku Safari Lodge.
Other Safari Lodges in the Hoedspruit Area
I would also recommend that should look into booking at another safari lodge in the Hoedspruit area in addition to the Kambaku Lodge Lodge if you have the time, money and the opportunity. Visiting and going to other safaris provides a great opportunity to see different camps, explore other areas and see other parts of the landscape.
The best advantage of this is that your cost of flights to get to the Kruger National Park area can be expensive for only a few nights at one safari lodge. My recommendation would be to spend 2 nights at 2 separate lodges (or more) in the area.
We spent a few nights at another lodge, Nadabushi Lodge, prior to our stay at Kambaku Safari Lodge. It was not as luxurious as Kambaku but we were able to explore another part of Kruger National Park itself. We then hired and went on game drives on our own. You can read more about the entire costs and other safari options we did for our 7 days in the area HERE.
I would recommend trying to stay in the Timbavati game reserve area if you are looking for a quick transfer between lodges. Ensure to look at the details for each lodge about what meals, drinks and game drives are included. Some include them and some do not so look at the details when comparing the pricing.
Here are some other game lodge options in the Hoedspruit area:
- Kambaku Safari Lodge (** This lodge review)
- Kambaku River Sands Lodge (sister resort)
- Motswari Private Game Reserve
- Kings Camp
- Simbavati River Lodge
Tips for South Africa Safari
- If you only get 1 thing from this entire post, know that you can book a safari lodge that includes your game drives without an organized tour and save yourself a ton of money. It was the biggest lesson we learned about going on an African safari and saves so much money.
- Keep in mind that only on private game reserves can vehicles go off-roading for game drives. This provides the best way for up close and personal animal experiences. In Kruger National Park, all vehicles must stay on the roads and cannot go off-roading to view animals up close.
- Have your safari lodges booked PRIOR to your flights to Hoedspruit, the accommodations are limited at lodges so be sure to have secured your bookings first. This is very important for those who have kids since not all safari lodges will allow children on their game drives.
- Check very closely into safari lodges for restrictions and options for kids and families. Children are welcome at the Kambaku Safari Lodge and they love seeing little ones here!
- Don’t forget to have international travel insurance, we used World Nomads for our entire world trip which included South Africa.
- Check out South Africa Tourism website for more information on travel and tourism in the area.
- If you choose to rent a car (we did while staying at the other lodge), check out the latest prices for car rentals and secure your booking before your arrival at the Hoedspruit airport. It’s a small airport and limited vehicles for rental.
- Dress in layers on the game drives, the morning can be cool but then warm up considerably depending on the season. Bring a hat and a water bottle to keep cool.
- Extra Costs:
- We had an extra cost for transportation to and from the airport to Kambaku Safari Lodge.
- There are some charges for entry into the Timbavati gate entrance fee, conservation levy and if you need a private game drive.
- The Junior Ranger program was an extra cost but highly recommend for any kids up to 12 years old.
- All of these costs were disclosed before we arrived at the lodge.
- We always have a guide book for the area that we travel too, here are some of our recommendations:
Looking for more on planning your South Africa vacation?
Full Disclosure: We were NOT compensated or gifted in any way from Kambaku Safari Lodge for these reviews. Our experiences, reviews and comments are our own, and in no way influenced by the lodge. Please check Kambaku’s latest rates and inclusion when you book with Kambaku lodge as details may change over time.