New bush camp opens in Balule

Posted by Lauren Dold on 16 April 2021

Isambane means Aardvark in Zulu, and like its animal namesake, Isambane is totally unique. Newly opened, Isambane is situated in Parson’s Game Reserve, Balule, in the Greater Kruger National Park just an hours drive from the town of Hoedspruit.

I arrived at Isambane just in time for a late breakfast, which I enjoyed with a view of the waterhole. While I ate, some kudu cows ambled down to the waterhole to drink, before darting up the bank in search of their own breakfast.

Meals are served on one of two decks, with uninterrupted views over the veld

This intimate bush camp sleeps 10, and can be booked out for sole use for groups of friends and family.

Isambane is an eco-camp and is completely off the grid, with their own borehole and a minimal camp footprint. Two luxury tents and three basic tents make up the camp, with a pool deck, fire boma and dining area overlooking a waterhole, where herds of elephant and other game come to drink.

I was treated to a stay in a luxury tent, with a private bathroom just a five-metre dash down a decked walkway. The luxury tents are kitted out in white linen, billowing mosquito nets and a private deck. The ablutions are equally luxurious, with a claw-footed bath and shower overlooking the bush.

The luxury tents are private and luxurious, and positioned for excellent game viewing

Isambane utilises on-site reverse osmosis filtration on all water, ensuring safe drinking water and a significant reduction in plastic consumption

Isambane is home to a new and enthusiastic team. Managed by Ivone Smith, and assisted by Alex Rausch, I never wanted for anything. My glass was scarcely empty and my belly was always full.

The camp is unfenced, and wildlife roams freely through the property. Just two days before I arrived, a herd of elephants had moved through, drinking all the water in the camp’s waterhole and all but emptying the borehole.

Elephants often visit Isambane, and have even been known to drink out of the pool!

I stayed in the luxury tent on the perimeter of the camp, and truly felt like I was in the wild. I went to sleep to the sounds of a lone hyena whooping nearby, and was woken by crested francolins at dawn, just in time for a game drive.

Drives on Parson’s reserve are wonderful because the scenery and terrain is so diverse, and with the Olifants river running through the property, the game is plentiful.

The eating doesn’t stop on game drives, as morning coffee is served in the bush and sundowners are served in the evening

On drive, guide Jed Bartie took me for sundowners on the banks of the Olifants river, while white backed vultures settled in the trees above us. Autumn is the best time of year to be in the bush, as the temperatures start to cool and the vegetation begins to thin out, making for easier game viewing.

April is also the start of the Impala rutting season in the bush. As winter approaches, the testosterone levels increase and they begin to fight for dominance over female herds. This makes for entertaining viewing as Impala rams bolt through the bush, roaring after one another. The winning male can be heard from kilometres away, as he snorts and roars in victory. The losing males are forced into bachelor herds, while the dominant male attempts to mate with as many females in his harem as possible.

Electricity is switched off when guests go to sleep at night to conserve energy

A highlight from our drives was spotting a trio of Ground Hornbills from a distance, and catching up with them as they foraged for food.

After the evening drive, I arrived at the camp lit by lanterns and fairy lights, and a good fire burning in the centre of the boma. This is the best part of Isambane, the feeling that you are truly in the wilderness. There is nothing quite like sitting round a fire beneath a sky full of stars while a hyena whoops in the darkness. 

From R1355 pp sharing for a standard tent and R1885 pp sharing for a luxury tent (until August).

078 195 7384

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