Umlani was founded in 1989 by Marco and Marie-Louise Schiess in the central section of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. In 1993, the fences between the Timbavati and the Kruger were removed to allow for wildlife migration and this pristine wilderness area became known as the Greater Kruger National Park.
Umlani Bushcamp is situated in the heart of the Timbavati, making it a prime destination to visit as it allows you to explore a large portion of the reserve not only in search of wildlife but also to experience the rich diversity that this reserve has to offer.
Umlani prides itself on a home away from home experience and whilst it is rustic in its authenticity, it is more than comfortable. At Umlani bush camp its less about the spa treatments and the designer interiors and more about the experience.
It's about the smell of the campfire when you return from game drive in the evenings. It's about the hot coffee and kettles sat on-top of the glowing embers in the morning. It's about being able to hear the lions roaring in the riverbed at night.
It's what safari was and should always be about - connecting with nature rather than simply spending time in nature.
Umlani has two room types, the Standard Reed huts and an Eco Hut, which further add to its rustic bush feel. The four double huts come with double beds, en-suite facilities including an open-air bush shower. Comfortably-fitted with white mosquito nets, crisp white linen and towels as well as with standard bathroom amenities, the huts also have bottled water (although the tap water is perfectly safe to drink) and insect repellent. These huts accommodate a maximum of of two guests but there are also family huts which have a double bed and two single beds incorporated into them.
If you are looking for a bit more luxury the Eco Hut would be the best option.Built to enhance thermal storage qualities, it is lovely and warm when cold outside and much cooler when hot outside. The eco huts provide the same “close to nature” experience with outdoor shower and bathroom but with a few extra luxuries. Two guests can be accommodated in the Eco Rondavel.
The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Umlani Bushcamp operates synergistically with other land and lodge owners in the Timbavati Game Reserve to offer guests a vast sanctuary of more than 10,000 ha of unspoilt African wilderness. Whilst the system of shared traversing rights can sometimes see you missing out on opportunities we feel that Umlani has some of the best traversing rights and access to some of the most productive game viewing areas in the southern Timbavati.
You will be taken out on two game drives per day, in open top 4 wheel drive vehicles. The morning game drive will leave at dawn and the night drive will leave in the late afternoon. There is always a ranger on stand-by for an optional morning bush walk.
During the day you can go on short walks with the ranger after breakfast, or lounge in the hammocks around the swimming pool sipping your favourite drink. Alternatively, laze away the day in our spacious bush bar and deck overlooking the riverbed and watering hole.
In the evening you will be treated to pre dinner drinks in the traditional boma around the fire, followed by one of Umlani's award winning meals in the candlelit dining room, or out in the open riverbed surrounded by flares and cauldron fires.
Insider Tip From Andrew Beck
If you're visiting Umlani you must take advantage of the Treehouse which overlooks Marco's Dam. Whether you opt to spend the night here or simply want to chill out in the middle of the day with a cooler box watching animals come to quench their thirst - this is a must. Falling asleep in the open air with a clear sky filled with stars and being woken up at the crack of dawn by hyena calls in the distance is, in my opinion, the best way to disconnect completely and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer.
Fly-in safaris are extremely popular amongst those who don't have as much time. Flying to Umlani Bushcamp is easy as SA Express runs two daily return flights to Hoedspruit Airport from Johannesburg OR Tambo every day. For guests flying to Umlani Bushcamp from Cape Town International Airport there are direct flights six times a week (Sunday,Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday & Friday) to Hoedspruit Airport. Flying time is 2.5 hours followed by a short transfer by road to the camp.
Driving to Umlani Bushcamp from Johannesburg International Airport is also relatively easy and there is an option of catching a daily shuttle which departs Johannesburg for Hoedspruit each morning. This will get you to camp in time for a late lunch before heading out on your first game drive.
Our team will help you make the right choice and all travel arrangements when looking to incorporate Umlani Bushcamp into your itinerary.
Visit Umlani Bushcamp
If you're looking for a truly authentic bush experience you'll be hard pressed to beat Umlani Bushcamp in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. We recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights (preferably 4) and would encourage all guests to take advantage of the Treehouse experience (at no extra cost) when visiting the region.
Suggested Itinerary: Authentic Bushcamps of South Africa
This 7 night safari has been hand crafted to combine two of South Africa's most authentic bush camps in the Madikwe Game Reserve and Timbavati Private Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park. Its all about experience here with small intimate camps where one is able to truly reconnect with nature.