My family and I have recently been on a short holiday in South Africa. We spent a few days there on our way to Europe last September. Today I will share with you my Tambuti Lodge Pilanesberg – South Africa Guide in the hope that you can find it useful to organise your own holiday.
I had never been to Africa before, so I was really looking forward to this trip! The idea was to just spend a few days relaxing and doing safaris. We chose South Africa because there are direct flights between Sydney and Johannesburg and Johannesburg is also very well connected to Italy.
We had only 8 nights and 9 days to use up for this part of the trip, so we had to make hard choices. Keeping in mind that our main goal was to go on safaris and see as many animals as possible, we decided not to go too far from Johannesburg. Also, we did not want to take the anti-malaria prophylaxis for just a few day-stay, so we chose to stay in a malaria-free area.
We also wanted to stay in 2 different places to get some variety of both flora/landscape and fauna. That’s why we chose Pilanesberg and Madikwe.
Also, we chose to stay in private reserves instead of National Parks because it was our first time in Africa and we wanted to maximise the probability of seeing wildlife. In the end, I am very happy we did that because our drivers were really knowledgeable about the animals and gave us lots of information. They also knew how to spot them, which meant we saw A LOT in just 6 days. In fact, we saw 4 out of 5 of the Big Fives – the only one we missed out on was the leopard! If we had gone with our own car, we probably wouldn’t have seen half of the stuff we saw.
Anyhow, no matter where you choose to go, make sure to reserve well ahead of time. I booked about 10 months ahead!! The lodges are small and they fill up pretty fast!
The best time to visit South Africa’s parks is from May to September. This is the dry season and animals congregate around waterholes and rivers. Also, September is the time when you will find a lot of cubs – and that was the highlight of our safaris!
We spent the first 3 days of our safari adventure at Tambuti Lodge in the Black Rhino Reserve inside the Pilanesberg N.P.
There are only 4 rooms in this beautiful boutique style lodge. So, it is as cozy as it gets. You can socialise with the other guests if you like or keep to yourself, but ultimately, you will all be in the same jeep for the drives.
We had to get 2 rooms as they only had double rooms. However, the rooms where literally one in front of the other.
We had the “Elephant Room”, which is a room with a King-sized bed.
And the “Hippo Room”, which is a double room.
They were both HUGE and beautifully appointed. Everything was new and well kept. Everything was really clean.
Laundry is included in the price and, trust me, you will be grateful for that as your clothes will get red with the earth/sand.
There is a small pool, which was too cold for the girls to use.
However, what I liked the most was the open-air fireplace where we could gather with our drink at night. So romantic.
The common areas were lovely too. There was a bar (drinks included) and a coffee/tea making area. The espresso I had there was as good as the one I had in Italy. Enough said.
The little living area was nice as well.
The day at Tambuti works like this: you wake up very early and, after having a quick coffee (amazing coffee!) with cookies, you go on a morning safari. The times vary depending on the sunrise, however, we were usually out before 6 AM and we would be back after 10 AM.
Around halfway through the drive, you stop somewhere safe (and nice) to have breakfast. This changes daily, but you can expect tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice, muffins, home-made cookies and all sorts of delicious home-made baked treats.
Once back, they serve you brunch and then you are free to rest till 4 PM when the evening drive starts.
During the evening drive, you stop for a sundowner and they serve you drinks (alcohol included) and delicious home-made snacks while you enjoy the breathtaking African sunsets.
Once back (between 7 PM and 8 PM), you sit around the open fire sipping wine and chatting with the other guests and with the rangers.
Then you have your dinner. By then, you are more than ready to go to sleep – happy!
Staying in the Black Rhino Reserve inside the Pilanesberg N.P. means that you can access both the private reserve AND the National Park (which is huge). This gives you a lot of animal spotting opportunities and it also allows you to see different kinds of landscapes.
It also means that people who are staying outside of the private reserve cannot enter it, which leaves some areas for the guests only. That is definitely a plus as there is a huge difference between observing the animals in peace and quiet and fighting over a good photo spot with 10 other jeeps.
Also, when you choose the lodge, make sure to ask how many people they take per jeep. At Tambuti we were 8 (+ the driver) at most, which meant we all had a “window” seat (kids must sit on the inside).
As I said, we saw a huge variety of animals.
We were also able to see 4 out of 5 of the Big Five’s. And many times over. I especially fell in love with elephants. They are so elegant! Yeah, I know, probably not the first adjective you’d think of for an elephant, but they really are.
We were also very lucky to see many cubs. I was so happy to be there in September!
This baby elephant was less than 24 hours old. We know it, as we had seen the mother the night before… Isn’t it the cutest? He could barely walk on its own!
And how about this baby rhino?? Apparently he was less than a couple of weeks old.
We also saw baby lions with their mothers!
And baby giraffes!
Talking of giraffes. How beautiful are they??
We also got to see a few monkeys. So cheeky!
Plenty of zebras.
And of impalas, gazelles, kudus…
We also saw some warthogs.
Another great moment was when we managed to spot a hippo in a waterhole. It was huge and it rewarded us with a nice show!
The Pilanesberg area is beautiful. I really liked the landscape here more than in Madikwe. It was very variegated. Hilly, mountainous, flat, green, dry…
We also saw some breathtaking sunsets.
All while enjoying amazing food!
The food at Tambuti Lodge was another highlight of our holiday!
To begin with, the chef came to talk to us when we checked in. As I have a long list of food I cannot eat, he wanted to make sure he got it right. He was so helpful and understanding I felt so relieved. He knew what I was talking about when I told him I had IBS as he has a similar problem, so he was happy to adjust my dishes so I could eat delicious food like everyone else.
This in itself was worth the money I spent to stay at Tambuti. For once, I didn’t have to stick to a boring steak and potatoes!
Every day, they have a menu in the dining area, so I went through them with the chef to check what I could eat and, in case, agree on something else.
Even during the game drives, they always included something for me. 🙂
Brunch included a buffet filled with all sorts of delicious food.
And something hot cooked to order – usually egg-based.
Tea time was my absolute favourite. We had both savoury and sweet treats before the evening drive and it was always super delicious and very nicely presented.
I LOVED their BLT sandwiches made with the perfect home-made bread. So good!
And the Koeksisters were another highlight! These are fried pastries dipped in sugar syrup, typical of South Africa. I will be sharing the recipe very soon, so stay tuned!
Dinner was again superb. It was a 3-course meal: appetiser, main and dessert.
The springbok carpaccio was particularly good!
And so was the Coq au Vin.
And the Ostrich Fillet and Malva Pudding!
Our tummies were really happy at Tambuti Lodge!
We LOVED Tambuti Lodge and the Pilanesberg area. In fact, it was the highlight of our trip. The Lodge is fantastic with perfect service, all the inclusions you need and beautiful rooms. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I cannot fault anything.
The game drives were great and long enough. We felt we got to see a lot. The area is also very beautiful.
We all agreed that we would love to come back!! Highly recommended!
Don’t forget to pin this post on Tambuti Lodge!