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Set in the heart of Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park, RockFig Safari Lodge is well situated for forays into the African wilds. Game drives let you cover some ground in the comfort of a vehicle, while walking safaris put you right on the ground, exploring the area under your own steam.
The architect and interior designer of RockFig Safari Lodge were inspired by the Timbavati setting of this luxury South African safari lodge to create a relaxed ambiance with indoor and outdoor guest spaces that segue into each other, and enable both communal and private moments suffused with an authentic bush feel.
RockFig Safari Lodge features just six chalet-type suites, making it ideal for exclusive-use bookings for families or groups of friends. The sense of place comes through strongly, with the color palette in each room inspired by the purple and green hues of local birds and plants. Although guests are always conscious of where they are, no stone is left unturned in the quest for comfort and luxury, with each suite featuring both indoor and outdoor showers, a private veranda ideal for romantic candlelit dinners, a minibar and a bath. Specially commissioned watercolor paintings add notes of cool beauty, and - as with every space in the lodge - the aim is always to delight the guests who’ll stay here. There’s a thoughtfulness to the decor, with the emphasis being on the guest experience - but also an unmissable sense that it’s the natural beauty of the Timbavati bushveld that’s the true hero.
Spending time in Timbavati is always a nourishing experience, and this is reflected in the layout of the indoor guest areas at RockFig Safari Lodge, just as much as in the menus with their emphasis on locally grown ingredients. The open-plan kitchen is a favorite with younger guests, who love to sit at the counter and watch their meals being prepared, while it’s hard to resist the pull of the fireplace in the lounge on a winter’s evening. Subtle touches of opulence are throughout, including the dreamy chandelier that hangs over the impressive, 4 meter-long table, which is perfect for shared meals and safari stories. Many of the pieces of furniture in the lodge were commissioned from local artisans, while the colors take inspiration from the Rockfig tree and the area’s lovely lichen-spotted rocks.
A second, long dining table can be found outside, where you can feel the energy flowing in from the surrounding bush … a vibrancy which in turn is reciprocated by the warmth and hospitality of the RockFig Safari Lodge staff. The undoubted outdoor centerpiece is the comfortable covered lounge with its arresting views, although the pool deck, overlooking the waterhole, is just as inviting. A dip into the pool perfectly symbolizes the feeling of being immersed in the rhythms of Timbavati, while its surrounding loungers are responsible for a perfectly relaxed afternoon, perhaps punctuated by pizza from the outdoor oven. The boma area becomes the focal point on starry nights, as the crackles of the firewood compete with the cackles of hyenas and the hushed, happy whispers of guests. Stepping outside at RockFig brings you even closer to the bush, without ever feeling that you’ve left the comforts of your new home-from-home behind.
Heading out on game drives from RockFig Safari Lodge gives guests the chance to get in tune with the Timbavati wilds, and see how the professional guides and trackers read the signs of the bush to anticipate the movements and behavior of birds and animals for the best possible viewing and photographic opportunities.
The experience of being out on safari sees every detail taken care of so that guests can focus on soaking up the incredible atmosphere of the bush (or on getting that perfect safari shot).
RockFig’s custom-built game viewers are fully equipped, carrying - among other things - blankets, binoculars, reference books and preferred refreshments for guests.
Every guest has a ‘window’ seat looking out onto Big Five territory; with just four guests per shared vehicle, there’s almost as much space on board as there is to explore beyond the lodge! This allows for easy access to camera equipment, plus the layers of clothing that can make winter mornings and evenings more comfortable.
Family groups get their own private vehicle, which means that there’s no age restrictions, plus later starts and earlier finishes can easily be arranged so that the safari day is not too long for younger wildlife enthusiasts.
Every game drive is conducted by an experienced guide behind the wheel and a local tracker perched up front, where he can best spot tracks and signs.
As well as the almost telepathic communication between these two professionals, vehicles throughout Timbavati are linked by radios so that the various guides can share special sightings with each other… and coordinate viewings so there’s never a crowd.
Walking in Big Five territory can add an extra frisson of (completely safe) excitement to RockFig Safari Lodge experiences. Expert rangers and insightful trackers translate the tracks, signs and sounds of Timbavati, and introduce guests to some of the smaller but no less remarkable residents of the bush.
A highlight of any stay at RockFig Safari Lodge is a guided walking safari and the opportunity to experience Timbavati on foot. While the Big Five may grab the headlines, looking a little closer can reveal fascinating smaller creatures (including the less famous but equally fascinating ‘little five’).
Slowing things down to walking pace is all about smelling the roses - not literal roses of course, this refers to to using all five senses to truly get acquainted with the bush. It’s a chance to be initiated into traditional medicinal knowledge, develop the ability to identify different spoor, and learn which seeds and leaves come from which trees.
There’s naturally a scatological element to walking safaris, too - poop is a subject that seems to appeal to people of all ages, and its size and consistency can reveal a great deal about animals and birds of every kind.
To the accustomed eye, the bush reveals its many stories and secrets. The trackers and rangers have many years’ experience in Timbavati, and seemingly uncanny abilities to not only find animals, but anticipate their next moves.
Their skills and knowledge mean that walking in Timbavati is as safe as it is intriguing. A bush walk provides an excellent counterpoint to a game drive - the pace is slower, and while approaching game closely isn’t the objective, opportunities to observe abound.
Guests as young as 14 can participate, giving teens the chance to be absorbed in the wonders of this incredible natural classroom. This is education by stealth, and it’s a hands-on, interactive experience that kids will literally take in their stride … the unforgettable walk itself as well as the facts.
All that’s required is a pair of comfortable walking shoes, a hat and / or sunblock and curiosity. Please note that although walks are conducted in the mornings and afternoons, when it’s cooler, the African sun is strong.
With no fences between Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and Kruger National Park, wildlife is free to come and go, making this one of South Africa’s richest wildlife areas. Being centrally situated in Timbavati, RockFig is ideally located for exploring both the northern and southern reaches of the reserve.
Founded in 1956 by conservation-minded local farmers, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is a visionary endeavour. The fences separating it and adjoining Kruger National Park came down in 1993, a time during which barriers were tumbling throughout South Africa; with no unnatural obstacles to impede wildlife movement, the quality of the safari experience is now unparallelled, allowing visitors to reconnect with Nature in vital and meaningful ways.
Timbavati’s best-known residents are undoubtedly its white lion - the result of a naturally occurring recessive gene that causes leucism, a partial loss of pigmentation of the skin (as opposed to albinism, an absence of colour-giving melanin that affects the skin, feathers, hair, and eyes of animals).
A recent uptick in white-lion births has reminded many old Kruger hands of the origin of the name Timbavati: it derives from a Shangaan expression meaning ‘the place where something sacred came down to earth from the heavens’. It could be said that the lions have come home: the varied, undulating landscapes, seasonal rivers and low density of lodges make Timbavati the safari equivalent of heaven on earth.
The relative scarcity of vehicles (but certainly not of wildlife) means that visitors to RockFig Safari Lodge can typically spend more time at each sighting, whether a Big Five encounter or an incandescent sunset. While other vehicles are in short supply, the terrain is wonderfully diverse, from open plains to thorny bush savannah and stands of mopane trees.
The 3,500 hectares area around RockFig is shared with just one other lodge, while the total traversing area of some 12,500 hectares underlines that this is true ‘free range’ conservation - the antithesis of a zoo. Sightings of predators are a noted feature of Timbavati game drives, from wild dog to descendants of the original RockFig leopard.
As if the density of wildlife weren’t enough, the game-viewing experience is further amplified by the ecologically sensitive approach taken by RockFig, with off-road driving limited to Big Five and other special sightings (because, yes, Timbavati is home to the Big Five). Much of the tracking is done on foot for a more authentic experience.
Air Force Base Hoedspruit
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Air Force Base Hoedspruit (HDS). Please contact the organizer for further info on the transfers from the airport to the lodge.
Scheduled charters by Federal Air to Rockfig Safari Lodge’s airstrip will leave you five minutes from the lodge
Also, there are multiple daily flights between Johannesburg (JNB) and Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) and a daily direct flight from Cape Town (CPT) to Hoedspruit Airport (HDS).
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