- Fair trade
- Local staff
- Renewable energy
- Smart Water Management
- Towel reuse
- Vegan friendly
- Vegetarian friendly
- Zero waste approach
An authentic African Safari Buschcamp in the heart of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.
Umlani Buschcamp is a fair trade tourism awarded camp, where you’ll experience wildlife watching in a true and authentic way.
With sustainability at the heart of it’s operations, Umlani is for those who want to experience the true African safari in an off the touristy tracks. The camp operates since 1989 and was built to integrate with the environment, using only natural materials.
The camp is active in conserving the surrounding wildlife and is also implicated in empowering the local communities of the area.
Holiable's review of Umlani Bushcamp
Umlani Buschcamp is located in the Central Part of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, in the Greater Kruger Park.
The Bushcamp can be reached by car from Johannesburg in a few hours, or by air thanks to the Hoedspruit Airport located just 35 minutes away
Given it's location, if you drive there yourself, make sure you reach the camp before dark.
The Timbavati Private Nature reserve is the groupment of 50 landowners in the 1950s who decided to join forces to conserve this area that had been spoilt by intensive land use.
In the 1990s, the fences between the Kruger Park and the reserve were removed, in recognition of the importance of the area as well as to encourage the natural migration of different species.
Strong conservation efforts and sustainability initiatives are led within the reserve and through their foundation
The vision: offering an authentic African Busch experience to their guests.
Anchored within the community, the camp open since 1989, employs mainly local staff (over 80%) and works closely with local companies for all their supplies.
Their ethos include all pillars of sustainable tourism, from preserving the environment, to giving back and being involved in the community development.
The camp is built in an authentic African style, using local materials and crafts, and integrates totally in the natural environement.
The huts are self-ventilated, thanks to the wire fence windows, and bamboo walls. Outdoor showers complete the experience of living in nature.
The camp is all into reducing their energy usage, and water consumption. Electric supply is made possible thanks to solar power throughout the camp and electricity is available from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Ressource management is thought throughout the camp, upto the plants chosen for the garden.
Meals are served in a traditional African BOMA, or at the bar at lunchtime, on a deck overlooking the waterhole, where you might be lucky enough to see a few animals gather.
Lunch and dinners are served family style, giving you the opportunity to interact with other guests as well as the staff. A great way to share experiences you lived during the day, but also to learn more about the way of life in the area, and the ethos of the camp.
What we really liked here is the small size of the camp. A maximum of 20 guests can lodge here at a time, making it an intimate retreat in the middle of the bush.
The camp is not fenced, so animals can roam through the camp during day or night. No worries, a ranger will walk you back to your hut at night to ensure your security.
The Bonus – Ethical wildlife watching
Heading here, means living an authentic and ethical wildlife watching experience.
The camp organizes two daily game drives a day in open cars.
The values of Umlani translate also in the ways the drives are conducted and that's what makes it an unforgettable experience.
During your drives, you’ll notice that the rangers here, know the area, it's fauna and flora, like no one and are very keen to share it with you.
Doing a drive here is not about ticking off the bucket list of animals you want to see, it’s feeling privileged to be able observe them in their natural habitat. And being impressed, a two hour tracking, can lead you to the path of a specific animal.
Everything is done, to make you able to watch them, but without stressing them and respecting their ground. Always reminding you, you are guest in the busch.
Umlani proposes other activities to immerse in the surrounding nature and learn more about its specificities.
Short bush walks with a ranger, are organised on demand in the morning. A great way to be introduced to the plants, the animal tracks, and to see the busch from another perspective than from a car.
The ultimate experience, is the tree house located approx.. 2kms away from the camp.
This comfortable nest, overlooking a dam, allows to observe the animals in a comfortable hide. Whether you choose to stay there a few hours during the day, or a whole night you’ll truly live an unforgettable moment.
For us, the whole experience was magical from start to finish. Not only for the animals we saw, but specifically because the ethics of the camp staff and their willingness to share their knowledge and values with the guests made it more than special.
An authentic wildlife experience that will leave you with stars in the eyes for a longtime.
Recommended for: nature lovers, bird watching, wildlife watching, authentic safari experienceHoliable Review Based on our visit in: March 2019