Join us at River Lodge and Experience true Africalm

River Lodge

Local is Lekker



Watch elephants drink from the comfort of our dining deck

Simbavati River Lodge enjoys a unique setting on the banks of the Kruger Park’s Nhlaralumi River in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve.

One of its winning charms is the popular waterhole right below the dining deck, much loved by elephant. Between game drives, you could enjoy a game-viewing experience of note just sitting on the deck as wildlife comes and goes from the water.

This lodge has a broad appeal, with a traditional safari ambience but with a relaxed contemporary twist in terms of décor. You have a choice of tented or chalet accommodation. It caters well to couples and honeymooners with a safari spa and fully equipped fitness centre. Whilst its two-bedroom chalets and Cubs Club kids centre are popular with families.

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.

Why we love it

On the River

Stunning river setting with flood-lit waterhole right in front of the deck

Animal Visits

Frequent visits by herds of elephant


Caters equally for both couples and families


Safari spa, gym and kids club & activities are additional features


Perfect for families

There are three family chalets. Each has a main bedroom with king-sized bed, second bedroom with twin beds and one bathroom with bath and double indoor rain-shower. Please note that the bathroom is accessed via one of the bedrooms. Each has a beautiful game viewing deck with a riverfront view.


Our Price

Bookable only 30 days prior to travel



Per person sharing

Top Reasons to Visit


Deck game-viewing

One of the most memorable aspects of River Lodge is the ability to do game-viewing from the confines or your tent or the main dining deck.

The Nhlaralumi River doesn’t flow all year round but retains pockets of water for most of the year. This means that there are often animals at the river, drinking on the opposite bank or crossing the river. And sometimes walking straight through the camp. The waterhole is a mecca for elephant, so it is not uncommon to be having breakfast or lunch with elephant coming to drink only metes away. 

Even when the river is seemingly dry, the elephants know where to find the underground streams below the sand. 


Cubs Club

Simbavati River Lodge is probably our most family-friendly lodges. As well as our two bedroom family chalets, we also have the Cubs Club kids centre. This is an ideal place for younger kids to hang out with games, bean bags and craft opportunities.

On request, someone can entertain your kids after breakfast with various activities from cupcake decorating, bug/treasure hunting, making animal face masks, colouring in, board games, wildlife DVDs and scrap-booking and more. 

Your guide may also teach your older child the skill of archery. Or lead a short walk looking at animal spoor around the lodge. 

This allows parents some quiet time for reading or a visit to the spa.

/ River Lodge


Getting There

Simbavati River Lodge is approx 1 hour 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 27km. Please ensure that you keep to the speed limit (50km/hour) and do not get out of your car.

Turn right at one of the stone direction markers with a sign for Simbavati River Lodge, onto a gravel track. There is a Simbavati sign here as well. Follow the Simbavati River Lodge paw print signs on the trees all the way to the lodge for approximately 6.4km.


From Johannesburg Airport – ± 6½ hours (490km)

From Kruger Airport – 3 + hours (195km)

From Hazyview – 2 to 2½ hours (145km via the R40)

From the Three Rondavels view point (last point on the Panorama route, 145km) – 2½ hours (so depart by 12 noon latest).

Directions from Johannesburg to Simbavati River 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 – 3+ hours (195km) * Hazyview – Allow 2 to hours (145km)

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.


Tented Luxury Suites

Six luxury tented suites have a king-sized bed (which can be converted to twin) and a beautiful game viewing deck with either a river or bush view. There’s a spacious en suite bathroom and dressing area with ample storage space, shower, double vanity, enclosed toilet and door out to an outdoor rain-shower as well.

Tented Pool Suites

Two spacious and airy Tented Pool Suites are in a more secluded location. They have a king-sized bed (which can be converted to twin) and a beautiful game viewing deck with a solar-heated plunge pool. (These can prove quite popular with the elephant.) There’s a good-sized en suite bathroom and dressing area with ample storage space, indoor shower, double vanity, enclosed toilet and door out to an outdoor rain-shower as well.

Two-bedroom Family Chalets

There are three two-bedroom family chalets. Each has a beautiful game viewing deck with a riverfront view. Each has a main bedroom with king-sized bed, second bedroom with twin beds and one bathroom with a bath and double rain-shower. Please note that the bathroom is accessed via one of the bedrooms.

And you don’t have to have young children to use the family chalets. Families with adult children can use them as well (with a discount for the 3rd and 4th adults). Just as long as you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.

However each two bedroom chalet is configured slightly differently.  

Chalet 1 (Buffalo) has one twin-bedded room and one king or twin-bedded room which has direct access to the deck. The bathroom is accessed via the twin-bedded room. 

Chalet 2 (Rhino) has one twin-bedded room, with the main bathroom accessed from this. Beyond is a triple room (one king bed and one single) which has direct access to the deck.

Chalet 3 (Elephant) has a larger bedroom (with king bed) with the main bathroom accessed from this room, and direct access to the deck. Then a smaller twin-bedded bedroom, which also deck access.

In- room Facilities

  • Private viewing deck
  • Air-conditioning
  • Ceiling fan
  • Minibar with drinks
  • Coffee and tea-making facilities
  • Chalet Bathroom – bath, double vanity with indoor shower
  • Tent bathroom – indoor and outdoor shower, double vanity
  • Complimentary eco-friendly amenities
  • Room equipped with electronic eco-friendly insect spray (10 min intervals) 
  • Hair-dryer
  • Electric blankets for winter 
  • Mini-safe for storing valuables 
  • Laundry service – laundry bag in room

Lodge Facilities & Good to Know

  • Main lodge has deck with expansive river views and adjacent waterhole
  • Sitting area and books and board games
  • Convivial bar
  • Outside dining area
  • Swimming pool
  • Open air boma & camp-fire overlooking the river
  • Safari Spa
  • Fitness Centre
  • Cub’s Club (children’s discovery centre and play room)
  • Safari shop
  • Complimentary Internet access – main lodge area only


Valid until 31 July 2024

2024 Rates

Room TypeMax GuestBasis01 Feb 2024 – 31 Jul 2024 
Bookable 30 days prior to arrival
Family Chalet
(2 bedrooms)
2 Adults + 2 Children/Teenagers
/Young Adults in a Family Chalet
Sharing ONE bathroom
One chalet sleeps 5
Sharing pp
3rd/4th person
Luxury Safari Tent2 AdultsSharing pp
Tented Pool Suite 2 Adults Sharing pp



Booking Policy

General Information

Simbavati River Lodge takes kids of all ages. But only children of 6 years upwards are allowed to participate in the shared adult game drives. 

If you wish for your younger children to join you, you will need to take a private vehicle at any extra cost. This is subject to availability of vehicles.

We have three family chalets at River Lodge. Two are for two adults and two kids or teenagers. And one is for two adults and three kids/teenagers. Note that all family chalets share ONE bathroom. 

If you prefer two bathrooms, you can take two adjacent tented rooms, if your children are old enough. But then the children pay adult rates.

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?

How does the Cub’s Club work?

Get in Contact


Nichola Waterhouse

Lodge telephone number: 015 793 9051

Reservations: +27 87 151 4520