Balule Nature Reserve on the western border of the Kruger National park encompasses 400km2 (154 square miles) of unspoiled bushveld. This private nature reserve shares unfenced borders with the Kruger and neighboring private reserves allowing animals to roam freely.
One of the largest rivers in the Kruger National Park, the Olifants River, flows through the Balule reserve, and its waters and riverine forests attract high densities of mammals, reptiles, and birdlife. This means that all the wildlife you see on a Kruger safari, including the famous Big Five, can also be experienced in the Balule Nature Reserve.
Balule boasts a wide range of small intimate lodges and camps that cater to those looking for an affordable private getaway, a family-friendly option, or the ultimate in privacy, comfort, and luxury. All-inclusive stays, as well as self-catering options, are available throughout the Balule reserve.
Highlights of Balule
- Daily game drives and walking safaris with experienced rangers are the best way to spot the Big Five and learn first-hand about the local ecosystem. In Balule, the rangers can track animals off-road (something not allowed in the Kruger) to provide the best sightings.
- There is hardly a more tranquil aerial experience than floating over the African savannah in a hot-air balloon – just one of the activities on offer in the Balule area. If you have the nerves, you can take an adrenaline-filled flight in a microlight aircraft or go white-water rafting. You can book a boat cruise down the Olifants River for a more relaxed afternoon.
- Several lodges offer day trips to the nearby Blyde River Canyon, the third-largest canyon on the planet. It’s a break from the bush life in the Kruger and certainly a bucket list destination.
Practical Information for Balule
- By car, the Balule Nature Reserve is approximately six hours from Johannesburg. Daily international and domestic flights call in at OR Tambo International Airport. You can catch a connecting flight to a local airport (Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit, Nelspruit, or Skukuza) near Kruger. Transfers to and from your lodge (about 45 minutes) can be arranged.
- Temperatures are high during the day, even in winter, so bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Light, long-sleeved clothing offers protection against the sun and mosquito bites. Pack warm clothing, too, as evenings can get chilly.
- Wear neutral-colored clothing like brown, khaki, and beige, as bright colors make it easier for animals to spot you. In turn, dark colors like navy and black can attract insects.
Balule is in an area at risk of malaria. Get advice from your doctor before you travel.