Join us at Hilltop Lodge and Experience true Africalm

Hilltop Lodge



Romantic ambience

Hilltop Lodge has one of the finest settings in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, an unfenced but private part of the Kruger Park. It’s perched on the hillside with wide angle views over the bush and views to the distant mountains of the Drakensberg escarpment. Below lie the expansive Mbali Dam and the Nhlaralumi River, where you may be lucky to see elephant, and other wildlife, come to quench their thirst.

Hilltop Lodge has a light footprint, purposely designed so that it can be removed without leaving any lasting impact on the land. This luxurious tented lodge has a romantic, bright and airy ambience with 8 spacious tented suites connected by wooden walkways to the main lodge.

The Timbavati forms part of the Greater Kruger Park and offers exceptional game viewing including all the Big Five, most notably leopard, and also wild dog. Twice-daily game drives provide for close encounters with birds and animals, large and small.

Why we love it

Romantic Ambience

Romantic ambience with luxurious, private suites overlooking the beautiful dam

Bar & Fire Pit

Circular bar and convivial fire-pit, all with stunning birds-eye views

Private Decks

Spacious private decks with a Sala pavilion with daybed for each suite

Panoramic Views

Panoramic bush views towards the Drakensberg mountains


Relax in style

8 luxurious tented rooms offer a choice or King or twin beds. Each suite has glorious views over the bushveld, the dam and the Nhlaralumi River. French doors open out onto an expansive viewing deck, each with its own private sala pavilion with double day bed for an afternoon read or snooze.

The en-suite bathroom tent is connected to the bedroom tent via a small passage. On the deck is a double ’rain’ shower with views over the dam.

Simbavati Hilltop - suite
Simbavati Hilltop - tsala

Top Reasons to Visit


The Setting

There’s not much that beats this elevated setting in the Greater Kruger with near and distant views over one of the foremost private game reserves in terms of wildlife concentration and habituation to game vehicles. The design makes the most its location, affording a great outlook from every part of the lodge: the pool, the bar, dining tent and sitting areas.


Celebrate the big moments

All the best associations of being under canvas in a wildlife paradise with none of the rustic homeliness of safari camps of old, Hilltop is modern and architecturally playful in style. Not only private and spacious but also light-filled and light-hearted. It’s a pared down luxury where nature is the star. But you can feel suitably indulgent if you are celebrating one of life’s big moments.


Dancing Flames

Sometimes the romance of the dancing flames and the glittering dark skies of the southern hemisphere are all we want. Evenings around the Hilltop firepit encourage tall tales from rangers and guests alike, ghost stories, yarns and friendship.

Simbavati Hilltop - firepit

/ Hilltop Lodge


Getting There

Simbavati Hilltop Lodge is approx 1½ hours from Hoedspruit Eastgate airport. It can be accessed via a rental car. 

Directions from Hoedspruit Airport

As you exit the Airport, turn left for Timbavati Game Reserve onto Argyle Road. Continue until you reach the Enkhulu control gate of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.  Please note that continuous cell phone reception ends here.

Aim to arrive by 2.30pm, if possible so that you have ample time to settle in before the game drive. If you are going to be late due to unforeseen circumstances, please let us know on (015) 793-9021.

After the gate you continue on the tar road for approximately 37km. Please ensure that you keep to the speed limit (50km/hour) and do not get out of your car.  On the way you will see the turnoff for Simbavati River Lodge. Do NOT turn in here. 

You will later cross a low water bridge just before the entrance to Ingwelala game lodge. After another 800 meters, you will see the Simbavati Hilltop sign on your right.

Turn right onto a gravel track. Follow the Simbavati Hilltop Lodge paw print signs on the trees/side of road all the way to the lodge (for approximately 10km). Please keep a careful lookout for all signs, as the elephants sometimes knock them. 

Please do not rely on your GPS after Hoedspruit. Their directions are incorrect and this could mean a two-hour detour.


From Johannesburg Airport – ± 6½ to 7 hours’ drive (505km)

From Kruger Airport – 3½ + hours (210km)

From Hazyview – 3 hours (160km via the R40)

Directions from Johannesburg to Simbavati Hilltop Lodge (± 6½ – 7 hour drive)

The most direct route is via N4 then Dullstroom to Lydenburg and Ohrigstad and onto Hoedspruit. However some people prefer to take the northern route via Polokwane and Tzaneen as there are fewer potholes. See Downloadable Directions. 

From Johannesburg take the N12 to Witbank (Emalahleni) and continue on the N4 towards Nelspruit.  (From Pretoria, take the N4 to Witbank).  Follow the N4 and turn left to Belfast (Off ramp R33/R540). Once in Belfast, turn right into Voortrekker Street and continue straight on the R540 to Dullstroom.  

Drive straight through Dullstroom and continue to Lydenburg (name change to Mashishing) on the R540. At the T-junction turn left into Lydenburg (Mashishing) into Viljoen Street (R36).  Turn left again into Voortrekker Street.  Turn right into De Clercq Street and follow the R36 through Ohrigstad.  After the Abel Erasmus pass, the R36 turns left to Tzaneen. Do not turn left here. Instead continue straight on the R527 to Hoedspruit.

In Hoedspruit, continue straight. After the bridge crossing the railway line, turn right at the four way stop and continue south on the R40 for another 6.4km.  Turn left onto the D1909 (Argyle Road). The sign says Timbavati/Eastgate Airport road.  Then follow the Hoedspruit directions to the Lodge.

Directions from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport or Hazyview

KMIA – 3½ hours (210km) * Hazyview – Allow 2½ to 3 hours (160km)

The most direct route from Kruger Intl Airport is via the R40 thorough White River and Hazyview. Similarly if you are staying in or near Hazyview, the R40 north is the direct route. Just 6.5km south of Hoedspruit. You turn right onto the Timbavati/Eastgate Airport road. Allow 1½ hours to get from Hazyview to the Timbavati turnoff. Then another hour to get to the Lodge. Once on the Timbavati Road, you immediately pass the Eastgate Airport. Then follow the Hoedspruit directions to the Lodge.

Alternative Panorama route if staying at a Hazyview Lodge: 

The R40 is a difficult road given the number of slow trucks and cars as well as many pedestrians. It takes longer than you would expect. 

So if you have time, we recommend enjoying a tour of the Panorama route via the Blyde River canyon. Note that this is a longer route (255km from Hazyview to your lodge or 4 hours driving). En route you can stop off at the Bournes Luck potholes, Gods Window and the Three Rondavels

TIP: It takes approx 3 hours to get to Hilltop Lodge from the Three Rondavels viewpoint. So don’t leave the Three Rondavels later than 11.30am. Assuming you spend 1½ hours at the various stopping off points, we recommend leaving your lodge by 8 to 8.30am latest.


In- room Facilities

  • Private viewing deck
  • Outdoor sala with daybed
  • Air-conditioning
  • Ceiling fan
  • Minibar with drinks and snacks
  • Coffee and tea-making facilities
  • Bathroom – bath, double vanity with double outdoor shower for two
  • Complimentary eco-friendly amenities
  • Room equipped with electronic eco-friendly insect spray (1 min intervals) 
  • Hair-dryer
  • Electric blankets for winter 
  • Mini-safe for storing valuables 
  • Laundry service – laundry bag in room

8 luxurious tented rooms offer a choice or King or twin beds. Each suite has glorious views over the bushveld, the dam and the Nhlaralumi River. French doors open out onto an expansive viewing deck, each with its own private sala pavilion with double day bed for an afternoon read or snooze. The en-suite bathroom tent is connected to the bedroom tent via an open ‘breezeway’ or small passage. On the deck is a double ’rain’ shower with views over the dam.  

Note: Hilltop Lodge is not suitable for people who have difficulty with steps as each suite is accessed by a number of steps. However, two suites are considerably closer with fewer steps. So please mention any mobility issues when booking.

Lodge Facilities & Good to Know

  • Main lodge has wraparound decks with panoramic bush and distant mountain views
  • Sitting area and books and board games
  • Convivial bar with 360°views 
  • Dining tent and alfresco dining area
  • Infinity swimming pool
  • Seated firepit
  • Open air boma & campfire for dining under the stars
  • Spa treatments available in the privacy of your room
  • Safari shop
  • Complimentary Internet access – main lodge area only


2023-24 Rates

Enquire about our SA Resident Offers as well as our flexible booking conditions.

Room TypeMax GuestBasis1 Nov 2022 to 7 Jan 2024
Luxury Safari Tent2 adultsSharing pp
Mvubu Cottage2 rooms
4 adults
Sharing pp
3rd / 4th person


Accommodation, all meals, two safari activities per day, beverages (excluding premium brands and cellar wines). Return transfers from Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport (HDS).


All other drinks, private transfers, gratuities, laundry service, other items of a personal nature. Conservation levies and gate entrance fees – see note below

Minimum Stay

2 nights – 1 night stays on request only. Recommended length of stay is 3 nights. 

Child Policy

No children under 12 years.

We understand that these are very uncertain times. So we have put flexibility at the heart of everything we do. We want you to feel comfortable booking with Simbavati, knowing that your money is safe if Covid-19 circumstances change.

Free cancellation up to 15 days before arrival.

Flexible Covid-19 Payment & Cancellation Policy – (valid until 20 Dec 2022*)

Applies for all individual bookings (Up to 4 rooms) & excluding Festive Season

  • All Direct reservations require a 10% deposit upon booking confirmation, to be paid within 7 days. (This is fully refundable if you need to cancel up to 15 days prior to travel. Or in the case of last-minute Covid-19 issues.)
  • Final payment is due 15 days prior to your arrival
  • For last minute reservations, full payment is required upon confirmation.
  • Up to 15 days prior to arrival: no cancellation fees (Any deposit is refundable, minus bank charges.)
  • Less than 15 days prior to arrival: 90% cancellation fee – see Last Minute Covid-19 Changes.
  • Please note that a 100% cancellation fee will be charged if you decide to depart early while staying with us, unless for a bona fide Covid-19 reason – see below.
Covid 19 Payment and Cancellation Policy for Festive Season & Groups (5 rooms or more)

As above but with the following changes:

  • Final payment is due 30 days prior to arrival.
  • Up to 31 days prior to arrival: no cancellation fees (Any deposit is refundable, minus bank charges.)
  • 30 days prior to arrival: 90% cancellation fee – see Last Minute Covid-19 Changes.
Other Info
  • All requests, confirmations and cancellations are only valid if in writing. Please ensure you receive acknowledgment of cancellation from our Reservations Department.
  • Provisional bookings will only be held for 7 days; or 48 hours within 7 days of arrival or if Reservations specifies due to high demand. Thereafter the booking will automatically be released.
  • We reserve the right to cancel the booking if deposit or final payment is not received at the appropriate time.
  • We reserve the right to amend/change rates on this website without prior notice. Or to request 2 nights’ minimum stay during our Festive or other Peak seasons.
  • We strongly recommend a minimum stay of 2 nights throughout the year.
  • We accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards. Alternatively, you can settle via EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). Unfortunately, we don’t accept American Express or Diner’s Club.
Last Minute changes (within 15 days) due to Covid-19

We are aware that, occasionally, last-minute changes may be needed due to Covid-19, such a suddenly-imposed ‘travel decree’ or personal covid-19 diagnosis. Please outline the specific circumstances to us.

Please note: In the case of an SA travel ban, an official ban in country of residence, or personal Covid-19 diagnosis, we will offer 100% refund or postponement.

In the case of other personal Covid 19 issues, please chat to us. We are happy to hold your payment as a credit towards future travel.

Please see our detailed Flexible Covid-19 Policy for what constitutes a Travel Ban.

* We reserve the right to amend the Covid-19 cancellation policy earlier if WHO declares the pandemic is over. However T&Cs will not change for any existing bookings and due notice will be given.

Check-in & Check-out

Check-in is from 14:30. You are welcome to arrive earlier, and make use of our swimming pool or other facilities.
We try to accommodate early arrivals, subject to room availability. Unfortunately this cannot be guaranteed, if the room was occupied on the previous night.

Check-out is prior to 11:00 on the day of departure. Again, we try to accommodate late check-outs, subject to room availability. Unfortunately this cannot be guaranteed, if the room is booked for the evening. If we are unable to accommodate a late check-out, we will happily store your luggage whilst you enjoy our facilities.

The Full Board & Activity/Game drive price includes lunch (served from 1pm to 2.30pm) either on the day of arrival or on departure.
If you wish to have lunch on both arrival and departure days, there will be an extra charge for the second lunch.

Conservation Fees

Timbavati Conservation Levy:

2023: R510 per adult per night and R255 per child under 12 years per night (2022). Will be added to invoices for prepayment, or collected at the lodge directly.

Self-drive guests only: Vehicle entrance fee of R280 is payable at the Timbavati or Klaserie Control Gate for all self-drive guests. (All levies & fees subject to change in 2023.)

All tented suites are non-smoking

However you are welcome to smoke on your terrace or deck. Please request an ash tray. However please be careful to dispose of cigarette snubs as our vegetation is often dry and quick to burn!

Unfortunately Simbavati Hilltop Lodge does not take kids under 12 years of age. Please see our sister lodges, River Lodge, Camp George, Amani for family-friendly accommodation.

Alternatively – if you are a party of friends or family, you may like to take Amani or Homestead on an exclusive use basis?

The Kruger is a malarial area so we recommend that you take anti-malaria prophylaxis. Mosquitos are less prevalent in the winter.

We also recommend anti-mosquito repellent to stop you from getting bitten.


What is a typical pattern of safari activities?

What’s the ideal length of stay?

Is there wifi?

What should I wear for a game drive?

Is Hilltop suitable for mobility-challenged people?

Get in Contact


Colin Ahtom and Tiani van der Walt

Lodge telephone number: 015 793 9021 

Reservations: +27 87 151 4520