The BALULE Trail

Rustic Safari Lodge & Tented Camp

Balule, Western Greater Kruger National Park

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There is a world of difference between experiencing a safari in Africa on foot, “old style”, than say, from the tinted windows of a luxury bus! To walk is to be out there with the African wildlife, sharing their paths and waterholes, the daily drama’s of their lives, sharing their space. To walk is to follow their tracks, feel the tingle of your own senses and hear the beating of your heart as you edge closer to a herd of elephant resting in the shade. To sleep in a tent under the trees with only the canvas between you and the bush is an experience not easily forgotten.

A safari is a journey of the body and the soul, a venture into the unknown and an opportunity to face some of the mysteries of nature. With over 20 years of experience, we still believe in the magic of the bush and strive to offer that “once in a lifetime experience” to all our guests.

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BALULE Trail Area

Our operation is based in the bush in the Greater Kruger, but transfers to and from Johannesburg can be included at a very affordable rate. Your safari starts on arrival in Hoedspruit which is on the edge of the Greater Kruger National Park from where we transport you to our exclusive camps where you will stay during your safari, combined over the two camps. There are no fences between the Kruger National Park and the Reserves, hence the name Greater Kruger National Park.  The big advantage of these exclusive wilderness areas is their privacy, so no sharing sightings or the camp with other tourists.

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Who

The safaris appeal to all with an adventurous mind, keen on a learning experience. Every walk is a book on its own, with the emphasis on information on all the wonders of nature, big and small. Because of the dangerous aspects of a walking safari, the minimum age is 16. Although there is no maximum age, the walks can last up to 4 hours and tracking might lead the trail through thick bush, riverbeds and gullies. Therefore an average fitness level is required, especially in the hotter summer months (Nov – March). A maximum of 8 people makes up a trail, no minimum.

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How

The scheduled safaris run twice a week  – there are two packages – either  Friday to Monday (4 day / 3 night) or Monday to Friday (5 day / 4 night).   The camp is private and secluded and not open to day visitors.  The camp can sleep up to 8 people in  twin-bedded accommodation (safari tents and thatched chalets).  Linen and towels are provided.

There are 2 camps that will be used. The first is a safari lodge comprising 4 half tented, half wooden structure individual chalets with bathrooms en-suite and electricity.  Open platform bar area overlooking the reserve and a plunge pool for hot afternoons.  Open air dinner boma with viewing deck.  This Camp has been carefully designed to integrate with the natural surrounding environment and to reflect the ambiance of a bush camp from a bygone era. It is unfenced.

The other camp is a remotely located tented camp comprising large safari style tented accommodation each with comfortable camp stretchers and mattresses,  Open-air hot and cold showers, flush toilets, beautifully appointed viewing deck with magnificent sweeping views across the reserve, open-air dinner boma and splash pool with a view.

The combination of walks and drives in the open 4×4 Landrover are dependent on weather and animal movements and are conducted from camp in the early mornings, late afternoons and at night at the sole discretion of the Trail Ranger.

Each safari is basic and designed to experience the bush the way one should – on foot.  After the first walk you’ll realise you’ve gone back in time – one with your ancestors who roamed these African trails.  Although in Big Five areas, there are no guarantees on sightings – what you see is what you get.  We do however guarantee a real bush experience!

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Rates Include & Exclude

Prices exclude drinks and the once-off R120 Conservation Levy per person. This money goes back into conservation and is used for purposes such as anti-poaching, animal monitoring and research.

Facts in a row

  • Affordable and unique walking safaris in the Balule area of the Greater Kruger National Park.
  • Scheduled guaranteed departures every Mon (5-day/4-night) and Fri (4-day/3-night).
  • The weekend trail stays 2 nights at the safari lodge and 1 night at the tented camp.
  • The midweek trail stays 2 nights at the safari lodge and 2 nights at the tented camp.
  • Maximum 8 people per trail, with a minimum of 2 persons (camp also sleeps 8 maximum).
  • Minimum age 16.
  • Transfers to and from Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo Airport) and Pretoria can be arranged.
  • Includes two walk/drive combinations each day.
  • Includes all meals.
  • Excludes beverages, gratuities and transfers.

Transfer pick-up and drop-off information

  • The meeting time in Hoedspruit is 12h00 on the first day of the trail. The exact location will be provided at the time of booking.
  • Johannesburg: Pick-ups from OR Tambo International at 06h30 or from a small choice of hotels in the OR Tambo vicinity. Pick-ups in Pretoria around 05h30. Those collected from Pretoria or their airport hotel will be contacted the day before the departure to confirm the exact time.
  • Drop-off at OR Tambo International around 18.30 pm.
  • Hoedspruit: Self-drives will need to contact us to arrange a meeting point.

Pick-ups and drop-offs at Eastgate Airport Hoedspruit at an additional charge. Please contact us for the rates.

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Daily Itinerary (subject to change)

In the mornings we set off at first light after a snack breakfast of rusks and coffee or tea. Enjoying the cool morning air we may walk directly from camp or else use a vehicle to get further out. Your ranger will decipher the tracks and signs left by the passing animals during the night. The thrill of walking, tracking and getting up close to one of the creatures of the bush is an unforgettable experience. On the walks there is a lot of emphasis on all the interesting things seen such as trees, plants, insects and birds. A big breakfast is prepared back in camp and then there is time to unwind and siesta during the heat of the day. After lunch is served it is time to head out again.

The afternoon activity is a walk/ drive combination, looking for tracks and activity in other areas. After the walk we drive to a beautiful spot in the Reserve, where we’ll have sundowners while waiting for a stunning African Sunset. As the diurnal animals and birds anxiously get ready for bed, the stage and sounds change and a whole new world awakens. This is when we connect the spotlight and night drive back to camp, looking for the nocturnal creatures that are so rarely seen during the day. Back in camp a hearty supper and a warm campfire will be waiting for you. After a long day in the bush there is nothing more rewarding then to sneak off to bed and listen to the sounds of the night under a blanket of the overwhelming African stars!

On the last day you will still go out for one last walk. Sniffing the typical scents of the bush you’ll realise how much you’ve learned already! After breakfast it’s time to pack up and go back to the bush pub, where you will pay the Conservation Fee and the drinks you’ve consumed in our camps. Then we reluctantly say our goodbyes and transfer you back to the city. Self-drives can leave their car safely at the meeting point during the safari and be on their way again from here.