Balule Private Game Reserve Budget Travel


Balule Private Game Reserve consists of 40 000 hectares of prime game reserve and forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. The park is home not only to the much sought after Big Five, but also an incredible variety of other wildlife – antelope, big cats, wild dogs, giraffe, zebra to name a few – and birdlife.

With the perennial Olifants River flowing through it, Balule is a prime game- and bird-watching area and allows limited numbers of visitors, ensuring that you get the best possible game-viewing opportunities.

The real bonus of staying at Balule is four-fold:

  • Limited numbers of people are allowed in the area, providing a far less crowded safari experience and giving the visitor the feel of true Africa, unspoilt by too many cars and people
  • With the borders between the Kruger National Park and Balule being unfenced, there is free movement of all game, allowing sightings of a huge variety of animals
  • Balule is next door to the Kruger Park: daytrips into the park are easy, giving you the best of both worlds. Balule is located close to both the Orpen and Phalaborwa Gates into the park
  • Walking safaris, game-viewing in safari vehicles and night drives are offered with knowledgeable guides

History of Balule Private Game Reserve

Separated from the Kruger Park by Klaserie and Olifants Game Reserves, both of whom brought down their fences with the Kruger Park, the private landowners in the Balule area realised that it would benefit everybody to bring down their fence, too.

Not only does the opening up of the borders increase grazing area for the animals, it also extends the animal’s gene pool. In the early 1990’s, after the correct electric fencing was installed on the outer borders, the fences came down, adding 40 000 hectares of land to the Greater Kruger Park and access for a whole bunch of wildlife.

Walking Safaris

One of the huge draw cards for Balule is their walking safaris. While these are optional, we highly recommend you do them, as this is a truly African bush experience.

Walking safaris are led by armed guides (remember, there are predators in this bush) who are exceptional trackers and highly knowledgeable about all things bush. 

It is on these safaris that you really get up-close-and-personal with Africa - its sights, sounds and creatures.

Game Drives

At Balule game drives are offered both in Balule itself and into the Kruger National Park. Again, they are led by highly experienced guides who are in radio contact with others, allowing for the best animal sightings possible.

Game drives are usually scheduled in the early morning, as the bush wakes up, before the heat of the day, and then late afternoon, as the animals wake from their naps to feed and drink.

Night drives, with floodlights allow for the incredible experience of seeing Africa's nocturnal beasts go about their business.

Fauna of Balule

With the opening up of the fences came more wildlife, with greater breeding potential and more land to graze. In Balule you’re far more likely to not have to share a lion kill spotting with a whole bunch of other cars and people. This makes close sightings possible and provides incredible photo opportunities.

The Big Five

The animals that everybody wants to tick off on their list - elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard – all call Balule, and the Greater Kruger National Park, home.

It is not uncommon to see herds of elephant coming to drink and frolic in the waterholes of the park, while lions are regularly spotted on sunset drives. Rhino, buffalo and leopard have been spotted close to camp. One leopard even made itself at home on the roof of a ranger’s cottage one night, much to her surprise!

Stripes, Long Necks and Ears in the Rivers

An African safari cannot be considered complete without spotting some of it’s more common, and extremely beautiful, creatures like giraffes, zebra, and the large variety of antelope, from graceful little impala to imposing kudu.

Don’t forget those that make their homes in the rivers and dams – grunting hippos showing just their eyes and ears and toothy crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, waiting for unsuspecting prey.

At Balule, you’ll have the opportunity to see all of these, and more!

The Little Five

Also calling the Greater Kruger Park home, you’ll need to look carefully for these smaller animals. The Little Five consists of the Buffalo Weaver, Elephant Shrew, Leopard Tortoise, Ant Lion and Rhino Beetle. The value of having an experienced guide, who can spot these, is blatantly obvious here.

The Really Small Guys

There is a whole other world of insects in the African bush, if you just take the time to look (and listen) for them.

On guided walks at Balele you get to see these little guys and learn about them, from the industrious dung beetles to the busy termites in their super-organised mounds.

Feathered Friends

With over 500 species of bird, from tiny wagtails to the huge ostrich and a large number of birds of prey, Balule is a birdwatcher’s paradise, especially due to its location near the riverine forest.

Even for non-birders, Balule is a treat, and is home to the ‘Big Six’ birds – a list of the most eye-catching and largest birds. See them all at Balule – the lappet-faced vulture, the saddle-billed stork, martial eagle, the ground hornbill, the Kori bustard and the rarely-seen Pel’s fishing-owl.

Fauna of Balule

With the perennial Olifants River running through Balule, there is a large area of riverine forest, which provides home to a variety of animals and birds. The open plains of bushveld are dotted with all the animals you’d expect from a top-class African safari.

When to Visit

The whole Kruger Park area is a summer rainfall region.  This means that between October and March, rain falls (usually in the form of afternoon thunderstorms) and the bush is beautifully lush and green, making game-spotting slightly more difficult.

Winter (April to September) can have low-ish temperatures at night but generally has warm days and good game-spotting potential as the animals gather at the waterholes to drink and the bush is dry and – relatively speaking – barren. 

Accommodation

The most wonderful thing about the accommodation at Balule is its exclusivity, with limited numbers of people allowed at any one time.

The African Budget Safaris that go to Balule offer accommodation in one of three small lodges, all with en-suite facilities.

Carefully placed to allow for privacy and spectacular views, all three offer personal service, comfort and great food. They all have central lodges with swimming pools to cool down on hot summer's days, and viewing decks where you can sit back with a G & T at sunset, enjoying the sounds of the African bush. If you're lucky, you may even see some wildlife from this most comfortable position.

Essential Items

  • Sun hat, sun cream and sunglasses: the African sun can be harsh
  • Binoculars
  • Warm top/pants: nights can get cold
  • Clothes that will blend into the bush: no bright colours
  • Comfortable, closed walking shoes for the walking safaris
  • Insect repellant
  • A good camera: your breath will be taken away by the incredible photo opportunities

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Tours Focused on Balule Private Game Reserve

5 Day Kruger Park Big 5 Walking Safari to Balule

Duration 05 Days, Travel Style Walking Safaris & Hiking Tours
Priced from pps R14150 $1105 £844 €920 A$1374 C$1341 NZ$1529 Full pricing info
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Walking This 5-day safari in the Greater Kruger Park gets you up-close-and personal with the African wild. Tailored around you, it includes walking in the bush, game drives and comfortable accommodation in spectacular scenery with abundant wildlife.

Trip Style Balule Private Game Reserve Budget Safari Packages

5 Day Kruger Private River Lodge Safari

Duration 05 Days, Travel Style Lodge Safaris
Priced from pps R13980 $1092 £834 €909 A$1357 C$1325 NZ$1511 Full pricing info
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Unspecified-32 Go game viewing in Kruger National Park and Private Greater Kruger Game Reserves, staying in comfortable, river facing chalets at an Exclusive River Lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park area.

Trip Style Balule Private Game Reserve Budget Safari Packages

4 Day Kruger Park Big 5 Walking Safari to Balule

Duration 04 Days, Travel Style Walking Safaris & Hiking Tours
Priced from pps R11020 $861 £657 €716 A$1070 C$1044 NZ$1191 Full pricing info
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Little Elephant This 4-day safari in the Greater Kruger Park gets you up-close-and personal with the African wild. Tailored around you, it includes walking in the bush, game drives and comfortable accommodation in spectacular scenery with abundant wildlife.

Trip Style Balule Private Game Reserve Budget Safari Packages

Kruger Park Big 5 Walking Safari to Balule

Duration 03 Days, Travel Style Walking Safaris & Hiking Tours
Priced from pps R7890 $616 £471 €513 A$766 C$748 NZ$853 Full pricing info
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Impala This 3-day safari in the Greater Kruger Park gets you up-close-and personal with the African wild. Tailored around you, it includes walking in the bush, game drives and comfortable accommodation in spectacular scenery with abundant wildlife.

Trip Style Balule Private Game Reserve Budget Safari Packages