We often refer to this as the “Big Cats Africa Safari” due to the frequent sightings of leopards and lions at this location.
Hosted Jointly by Magnum Excursions and Road Runner Photography Tours Location: Zimanga Private Reserve, Mkuze, KzaZulu-Natal, South Africa Two Dates From Which To Choose: May 8-15, 2020 (8 days, 7 nights) – 2 spaces remaining May 15-May22, 2020 (8 days, 7 nights) Group Size: 12 Cost: $5,495.00 per person, double occupancy. $530 Single Supplement Group Leaders: Buddy Eleazer,Don Schroder, Denise Silva Safari Origination Point and Conclusion Point: This safari begins in Durban, South Africa and concludes in Durban, South Africa This is the package for a serious wildlife photographic getaway. It’s also the perfect destination if you want to get close to wildlife and observe activity in a non-obstructed perfect set of conditions.
A three-week old white rhino and it's mother.
Amazing lion sightings are common within Timbavati.
Included in This Trip:
- Flights to/from Timbavati
- Lodges (HDS)
- 1 night lodging upon arrival in Johannesburg
- 4 nights (5 days) at Kambaku
- 3 nights (3 1/3 days) at Simbavati
- All ground transfers within Timbavati
- All Meals and lodging
- Tips for Lodge Staff and Rangers
That’s right, we include tips! Over the years, we have noted guests are often uncomfortable regarding tipping customs. Since we have stayed at these lodges numerous times, we have a great handle on service quality. This is supposed to be a low stress vacation, so we’ve just made this trip a little bit easier for you. Of course, if you want to give a supplemental tip for good service, feel free, but now it truly is an option.
- Two game drives per day plus night drives after ‘sundowners’ (remote evening snack and drink) at both Timbavati resorts
- Maximum two people per row (versus standard 3 per row on safari vehicles)
- All park gate and conservation fees
What is not included:
- Visa or passport fees (no visa required for U.S. citizens)
- Laundry (available at all lodges for slight fee)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Flights from the U.S. to Johannesburg, South Africa
What to Expect:
This will be our sixth trip to Timbavati Private Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park System. There is a good reason for this. Timbavati has been extremely dependable for us on seeing leopards and lions, hence the safari nickname “Big Cats”. While this is not a zoo, we often see both leopards and lions on a daily basis in Timbavati.
We also expect to get great sightings of the other members of the Big 5: elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. We often see other predators including hyena, wild dog, cheetah. In addition, expect to see impala, waterbuck, kudu, steenbok, giraffe, zebra and other species throughout our day.
This trip is designed for both photographers and lovers of nature that want a special opportunity to be close to the wildlife. We negotiated the use of two private vehicles for our group. While typical safari vehicles are designed for 3 people per row, we have made special provisions so that we will have a maximum of 2 people per row. This extra space also means unobstructed viewing. Also, part of the Timbavati experience is the opportunity to go off-road tracking wildlife and Timbavati allows our vehicles to off road track lions, leopards, wild dog, rhinoceros, elephants Cape buffalo and cheetah as well as any other special sightings. If you love wildlife you will love this experience!
Our Lodges While in Timbavati:
Kambaku Safari Lodge, Eastern Timbavati
For this safari, we have booked the entire lodge for 4 nights. We initially visited Kambaku in search of the white lions. Timbavati is world famous for the ‘White Lions of Timbavati’. The white lion are not albino, but are a rare color mutation. More specifically, the lions prides that patrol this section of eastern Timbavati carry the white lion gene. While we are not guaranteed that we will see them, most of the sightings over the last few years have been in and around the Kambaku game drive area. We were luck enough to photograph the white lions in 2017.
Yes, the white lions are what brought us to Kambaku and yes, we have seen them; however, that is no longer our only reason for using this lodge.
- First and foremost, is the staff of Kambaku. The management team is incredibly friendly and helpful and the entire staff goes out of their way to pleas the clients.
- The guides of Kambaku – Having stayed at this lodge numerous times we know the rangers and trackers and have come to respect their skills and attitude. Furthermore, several of the rangers are excellent photographers in their own right, which means they know exactly how to position our vehicles to get the best view and the best shots.
- The Kambaku Safari Lodge itself – Kambaku Safari Lodge is a smaller, boutique style lodge with individual chalets for guests. Being a smaller lodge enhances that feeling of being remote to the outside world and also allows us to customize the overall experience. The chalets are spacious and have recent been upgraded with new en-suite baths.
- Game Viewing: This terrain is excellent for zebra and giraffe. Wild dog, rhino and leopard are also commonly spotted on game drives. The lodge is located at a water hole and game can often be spotted in the evenings and when we take our mid-day break.
Kambaku Safari Lodge
Simbavati River Lodge
Simbavati River Lodge,
Western Timbavati Private Reserve
We have been going to this part of Timbavati for years. In this region, we find Marula and Mopani trees. These trees are the favorite food of elephants. This setting is also preferred by kudu and se see large herds of impala and Cape buffalo. The leadwood trees provide excellent safe havens for leopards. As a result, this region is unusually rich in leopard sightings and has many elephants and Cape buffalo. Of course, when you have a lot of buffalo, you also commonly have a number of lion prides and that’s definitely true for this area. In addition to the predators, there are a large number of antelope species in this region also including kudu, Nyala, waterbuck, impala and Steenbok.
Like Kambaku, Simbavati is a lodge that has an excellent staff and experienced rangers. Simbavati River Lodge is also a favorite because of:
- Positioning along the river – A special moment during our last trip was watching a large elephant breeding herd cross the river right in front of us while we had our mid-day meal.
- The food is simply amazing. The variety amazes and the presentation by the chefs is a joy to the senses.
- The Chalets – The Magnum Excursions team was pleasantly surprised when we learned that all of the chalets had been totally replaced with new units that included excellent lighting, increased space and ultra-modern En-suite baths. Simbavati lodge is located on the banks of a beautiful river.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I’m not a photographer. Is this trip for me?
If you love nature and wildlife, this trip is for you. Yes, it’s a photo workshop, but on game drives, what that really means is that you will have more room and a better view. Furthermore, you want be as rushed to get to the next sighting. In the evenings, you’ll have the option of see some of the photos taken by others during the trip. Additionally, beyond the wildlife, the lodges have swimming pools and often have spa options. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day there is plenty of time to go on a walking safari, read a book or just enjoy the sounds around you.
I’d like to bring my spouse who is not a photographer.
Will they enjoy the lodge activities? At least a third of those traveling on safari with me in the past have traveled with a non-photography spouse. I believe all of these non-photographers have had a great time seeing wildlife. Beyond the wildlife, the lodges have swimming pools and often have spa options.
I’m traveling alone; can you help me find a roommate for the trip?
If you are traveling alone and want to avoid the supplemental fees charged for non-sharing rooms, we will make our best efforts to pair you with other singles.
How large of lens is required to get good shots?
On this safari, we will be able to track wildlife off road. This allows us to get very close. A zoom of up to 400mm equivalent on a full frame camera is plenty of lens for all of the major animals. Those that are seriously into birding may want to have more lens capability. This is a broad subject and hard to cover in a brief note. I will send more info on this prior to the trip; however, feel free to contact me via email (Buddy@MagnumExcursions.com) or by phone [(610) 751-7259] to further discuss your specific photo goals.
Will we be advised on what photo equipment to bring?
Will you advise us on what to pack regarding clothing, medications, etc.? Yes, regarding photo equipment as well as general packing. We always get excellent feedback on our pre-trip preparation materials. We have checklists we will provide with key items highlighted.
How is the weather? Are there bugs?
A large reason we go at this time of the year is related to the weather and insects. June/July is winter and the dry season in the southern hemisphere. The last rains fell in April and it is very dry. This leads more game to the water holes for excellent viewing. This cooler weather and dry conditions also lead to a bug free time to be on safari. Mornings are quite cool (mid-40’s to mid-50’s at sunrise) but heat up fast with expected weather in the high 70’s or the 80’s by 10 a.m. The key is to dress in layers which one can shed as the day warms.
This trip is for me, what do I do next?
Get that deposit in! We accept check or bank transfer.This group size sounds large at 12, but his is a very popular destination and space is limited. If you are excited by the thought of seeing nature while taking your photography to the next level, then now is the time to register. Contact Pat at (609) 694-3247 or email us at info@TwilightBluePhotography.com or Buddy at (610) 751-7259 or via email at buddy@MagnumExcursions.com.