• Ezulwini River Lodge
  • Ezulwini River Lodge
  • Ezulwini River Lodge

Ezulwini River Lodge

Ezulwini Game Lodges are located in the Big 5 Balule Nature Reserve in a pristine region of Limpopo Province, offering a top class Kruger safari. Reasons for visiting lie in the appeal of the natural surrounds, the expert owner-management, and the seamless knowledge and experience of the guides. The location of the reserve means that it shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park, but without public thoroughfare, making it a little piece of private Kruger heaven.

River Lodge is built on the banks of the Olifants River under a riverine forest of trees making bird watching easy!

Rates inclusive of 15% VAT • South African Rand • Subject to Availability

Description 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020
Luxury Chalet - Per Person Per Night Sharing R6 000
Superior Suite - Per Person Per Night Sharing R9 120

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Safari activities at Ezulwini River Lodge revolve around morning and evening game drives in the private traverse of the Balule Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger, but there are many ways to keep busy during a stay at the lodge.

  • Morning and afternoon game drives in 4x4 safari vehicles led by guide and tracker. Morning game drives begin at 06h00 and afternoon game drives depart from the lodge at 16h00.
  • Photographic opportunities both on drive and from the various viewpoints around the lodge.
  • Bird watching from the lodge and while on game drive.
  • Sundowners in the bush enjoyed during afternoon game drive as the sun is setting.
  • Traditional South African cooking and dining by lantern-light under the stars.


A typical morning at River Lodge begins with a wake up call for early morning game drive, and ends with a warm and welcoming soiree in the outdoor bar area. Below is summary of how a typical day is structured at the lodge.

  • 05h00 Wake up call
  • 05h30 Rusks, tea and coffee at the lodge
  • 06h00 Depart for game drive
  • 08h30-09h00 Return to the lodge after game drive and take some time to freshen up before breakfast
  • 09h30-10h30 Breakfast is served on the deck in the sunshine, or on the shaded veranda overlooking the surrounding bush
  • 10h30-14h00 Leisure time during which guests may relax in their rooms, at the lodge, at the pool, or on the lookout deck
  • 14h00-15h00 Lunch is served on the deck in the sunshine
  • 15h30 Afternoon tea served just before departing for game drive
  • 16h00 Departthe lodge for afternoon game drive, during which time guests stop for sundowners and enjoy a short night drive upon return to camp
  • 19h30-20h00 Return to the lodge after game drive and spend a few minutes refreshing or having a drink at the bar before dinner is served.
  • 20h30 Gather in the boma and take your seats in the dining area while dinner is served 

Accommodation at River Lodge is stylish and inspired by the natural elements of the Balule bushveld, while air conditioning or fans are a standard mod con. All rooms have tea and coffee facilities, while luxury suites also have mini bars.

River Lodge has 4 luxury chalets, which are traditional, thatched rondavels equipped with twin or double beds plus mosquito nets, bedside tables, and ensuite bathrooms, which have both bath and shower. The newly revamped chalets have wooden decking and balconies with views of the wilderness beyond.

There are 4 superior suites, which have large wooden decks, plunge pools, and views of the river. One of these superior suites is a honeymoon suite, and the other a family room (Spelati). Interiors are chic and spacious with lounge, coffee table, and ensuite with bath, and indoor and outdoor shower.

Ezulwini River Lodge has both luxury chalets and superior suites available. Each room sleeps 2 people in twin or double beds, equipped with mosquito nets and bedside tables. There are 4 of each room type and the lodge caters for 16 people in total.

Luxury chalets are rondavel-shaped with thatched roofs, ceiling fans, and have en suite bathrooms equipped with both bath and shower. In-room tea and coffee facilities offer comfort and convenience, while hot days can be spent at the pool or the bar, neither of which is far away. Chalets have wooden balconies and relaxation areas.

Superior suites at River Lodge are spectacularly built with a lot of space, and are uniquely decorated using natural wood and African-inspired artwork. Private plunge pools and decks with sun loungers keep things exclusive, while open-plan en suite bathrooms have bathtubs, plus indoor and outdoor showers. Minibars, tea and coffee, and air-conditioning complete the luxurious look.

Cradled on the banks of the great Olifants River, beneath towering fig and natal mahogany trees lies Ezulwini River Lodge. Ezulwini, meaning ‘place of paradise’, remains true to its name in the secretive construction of River Lodge, which is a bird-lovers utopia, and a wildlife wonderland for all of the Balule beasts.
The great leafy branches of the riverine forest drape over the viewing deck providing shade and quiet for lazy afternoons at River Lodge. The outdoor lounge, swimming pool and inviting bar area are equipped for comfort, while nighttime lanterns turn the place into bush dining bliss.
Big tusker elephants of the Kruger Park come to feed on the trees in the riverbed, while resident lions can be heard calling into the night. Ensuite bedroom rondavels are topped with thatch and joined via wooden and concrete pathways, keeping to the authentic feel of the lodge.

At a Glance

  • Comfortable to luxury safari lodge located in the private Balule Game Reserve, Greater Kruger.
  • Accommodating only 16 people at most, River Lodge is small and keeps the experience intimate.
  • River Lodge is simply appealing with its convivial ‘relaxation area’ under the trees and overlooking the riverbed.
  • 5 Superior Suites that are spacious and have luxurious ensuite bathrooms.
  • 4 Luxury Chalets with ensuite bathrooms, cupboard space, air-conditioning and overhead fans.
  • Early morning coffee and rusks served before game drive, hot brunch served outdoors after game drive, lunch at 2pm and high tea served before afternoon drive, while dinner is a feast served by lantern-light.
  • Private traverse of the Balule Reserve, off-roading, and stopping for morning coffee and afternoon sundowners.
  • Lazy afternoons can be spent on the deck overlooking the riverbed or birdwatching from the many relaxation locations around the lodge.
  • Elephants and other animals come right up to the lodge and sometimes drink from suites’ plunge pools due to the unobtrusive fencing, adding to the wild experience.
  • Swimming pool located on the deck in the main area looking onto the riverine forest and riverbed. 


  • Main lodge with shaded bar, outdoor lounge, indoor dining area
  • Swimming pool and deck leading onto lounge and bar area
  • Wooden walkway leading to a viewing deck overlooking the riverbed and Olifants River
  • 5 Superior Suites with private plunge pools and open-air showers
  • 4 Luxury Chalets with ensuite bathrooms
  • Wooden and concrete walkways leading from rooms to main lodge
  • Deck set up with dining tables and lanterns at night for dining under the stars
  • Extra towels and blankets in all rooms
  • Evening turn-down service
  • Main lodge swimming pool
  • Viewing deck located overlooking the riverbed and the Olifants River
  • There is free WiFi at both Billy’s and River Lodge.
    The signal strength is good at the entertainment areas, and for sending emails but very slow for downloading large files which we do not recommend. 

The average mean rainfall for the year is 350mm, with most rainfall occurring during mid-summer (November - February). The rainfall generally occurs in the form of thunderstorms where a downpour is experienced, very seldom lasting longer than a few hours. The mean average maximum temperatures
range from 24.5°C in July to 31.5°C in January with the mean monthly minimum occurring in July at a temperature of 8.5°C.


During the dry season the vegetation is sparse and wildlife congregates around watering holes. During the wet season the vegetation is dense and wildlife is more dispersed. Expect to see the Big Five over the course of a 2-3-night stay.
In addition to the Big Five species that are regularly sighted and enjoyed at close range, animals frequently seen in the Balule Reserve include giraffe, zebra, warthog, spotted hyena, baboon, hippo, impala, kudu, vervet monkey, waterbuck, wildebeest, bush baby, mongoose, duiker and steenbok. A specialty at River Lodge is the Sharpe’s grysbok, which enjoys the habitat. Some other very special members of the wild you might also see include the wild dog, cheetah, honey badger, porcupine, aardvark, civet, caracal and serval. Birds can be spotted from all over the lodge, but some of the top species are vultures, owls, beeeaters, rollers, eagles, bustards, hornbills, starlings and shrikes.

Before travelling, guests are encouraged to consult their local doctors on anti-malarial medication and preparation, however a repellent stick or spray is effective and should be utilised. All rooms have canopy mosquito nets adding an extra precaution.

What to Pack

The climate in the Kruger lowveld brings hot summer months between October and April when the rainfall is high, and so is the temperature, reaching over 40 degrees Celsius. The dry winter months begin in May and carry on until October/November, during which time the weather is mild during the day with temperatures averaging mid-high 20s, while very cold in the evenings and early mornings.

  • Throughout the year, we recommend packing lightweight, neutral-coloured clothing with short sleeves
  • Bring sun protection in the form of sunblock, sun hats, and glasses.
  • Scarfs, jackets and gloves are needed for early mornings on game drive, especially in winter.
  • Comfortable walking shoes as well as open sandals for when the weather is hot.
  • Bring along cameras, binoculars and recording gadgets to keep a record of the many wildlife sighting


  • Children 12 and over pay the full adult rate. Children under 12 pay 50% of the adult rate.


  • We are unable to accommodate children under the age of 10.


Accommodation, full breakfast, light lunch, and a three-course dinner, teas & coffees, complimentary house wines in the Billys Lodge wine cellar, bottled water, morning and afternoon/ evening game drives, wireless internet.


Soft & alcoholic drinks, airport and other transfers, curio shop purchased, Balule Nature Reserve Entrance Fee of R80 per vehicle and R185 per person, staff gratuities, all items of a personal nature, any item not described above.


A single supplement of 25% applies to single guests occupying a suite/chalet.


Balule Nature Reserve entrance fee of R80 per vehicle and R185 per person, payable in cash or credit card (MasterCard and Visa only) payable direct at the Olifants West Gate.


R200.00 per person each way – this is from/to the Olifants West Gate, Balule Nature Reserve for guests using the Ashton’s Shuttle.


  •  No one night bookings are accepted. A minimum 2-night stay is required.
  •  Rates are quoted in South African Rands.
  •  Rates are quoted per person sharing per night.
  •  Rates are subject to change without prior notice.
  •  Rates include government taxes where applicable.
  •  If taxes increase, we reserve the right to increase the rate accordingly.

Guest information:
Our Sunrise and Sundowner safaris are conducted over 20,000 acres of our own property and other adjoining land, on the Balule Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park.
This is a prime game area of amazing woodland savannah and riverine forest and with amazing photo opportunities to not only see the Big 5 but some of the other amazing wildlife on the reserve.
Your game drive begins and ends at the lodge and there is no need for a long commute on paved roads to begin the twice daily safari, as offered by other less expensive options which are not situated in the Greater Kruger open area. Enjoy viewing animals at the lodge from the comfort of your own private balcony.

As you will see we are not based in the Kruger National Park itself and because we are an exclusive lodge, we only have up to nine as a maximum of guests on our safari vehicles, which then traverse our own property. For any sightings we only allow a maximum of two game drive vehicles at any one time.

Guests may check in at around 14.00 pm and lunch will be arranged; check out time is 11.00 am after the morning game drive and a leisurely breakfast. Our daily schedule is shown below – times are approximate and can
depend on weather conditions.

05.15 am - Wake-up Call
05.45 am - Coffee/Tea before game drive
06.00 am - Morning Game Drive
08.30 am - 09.00 am Return to Lodge for Breakfast
09.30 am - 10.30 am Breakfast
10.30 am - 13.30 pm Relaxation time
13.30 pm - 14.30 pm Lunch
15.00 pm - Afternoon Tea before Sundowner Game Drive
15.30 pm -15.45 pm - Sundowner Game Drive
19.30 pm - 20.00 pm Return to Lodge for Dinner
20.30 pm Dinner

Our Luxury Chalets at River Lodge and Billy’s Lodge can accommodate a third person sharing (or two children under 18), there are either twin beds or a king-sized bed in the main room plus a queen-sized sofa bed in the
separate lounge area
Our Ultra Luxury Suites at River Lodge and Billy’s Lodge can accommodate a third person sharing (or two children aged under 18); there is a super king-sized bed, together with a queen-sized sofa bed in the lounge area
*it may be possible to accommodate younger children upon request to Ezulwini Lodges – but may mean that guests have a separate game drive vehicle and subject to a per game drive fee


 Dedicated guest RO water dispensers with complimentary Ezulwini engraved water bottles.

  • Revised 8 day menu.
  • Expanded wine lists to cater for very discerning guests.
  • Complimentary house wines, lagers & soft drinks.
  • Chalets gutted and converted to mini suites (with lounge and private decks added and new furniture & fittings).
  • New dining deck at River Lodge.
  • General lodge upgrades.
  • Additional managerial and operational staff.
  • Pending purchase of more land in Balule to improve the already very good traversing area.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellation of all bookings must be in writing and is only effective on receipt of the written notification.

  •  If cancellation of any booking, or any part thereof, is received  31 days or prior to arrival, the deposit will be forfeited.
  •  If cancellation of any booking, or any part thereof, is received  30 to 8 days or prior to arrival, a 50% cancellation fee will be  charged.
  •  If cancellation of any booking, or any part thereof, is received 7  to 0 days or prior to arrival, a 80% cancellation fee will be  charged.

The amounts required to confirm a booking are as follows:

  •  Direct Guests are required to pay a 30% deposit within  14 days to confirm a reservation, with the balance due  payable 45 days before the guest’s arrival.

Balance of Payment

  • Balance of payment is due 45 days prior to arrival. 

Ezulwini River Lodge is located in the Balule Nature Reserve, which makes up part of the Greater Kruger Park. Sharing unfenced borders with the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park, Balule enjoys the free-flow of wildlife throughout its traverse, putting Ezulwini River Lodge in the heart of it all. The reserve is about a 45 minute drive from Hoedspruit – the safari capital of Limpopo.

How to Get There
Guests at River Lodge can access the lodge via self-drive or road transfer after flying to Eastgate airport in Hoedspruit.
The drive from Eastgate airport to River Lodge is about 1 hour in duration along the well-travelled R40. Guests will enter the Balule Reserve through the Olifants West gate and drive a short distance through the reserve to the lodge.
Guests flying to Johannesburg OR Tambo airport can take a shuttle or self-drive option to cover the 6 hour car journey to the Balule Reserve. 

From Johannesburg/Pretoria

Take the N12 or N4 highway to Witbank / eMalahleni (from Johannesburg Airport, follow signs to Boksburg to find the N12). Follow the N4 highway past Middleburg (Toll Plaza), Belfast and Machadodorp (Toll Plaza).
Follow the Schoemanskloof option on the N4 and then take the R36 to Lydenburg/Mashishing. Follow the R36 to Ohrigstad, go through the Strydom Tunnel and take the R527 to Hoedspruit. At the T-Junction of the R40 turn left onto the R 40 Phalaborwa/Mica road.
After approximately 17 kilometres from Hoedspruit, look for the thatched gate on the right hand side of the road which is the entrance to the Balule Nature Reserve. It’s the Olifants West Gate. Sign in at the gate and travel straight down the Olifants Road for approximately 10 kilometres until you see the sign for Ezulwini River Lodge (about 1.5km’s after the Pondoro sign). Turn left onto the River Lodge road. You will travel roughly 8 kilometres following the markers.
Please note that it is under an hours drive from the Balule Gate to River Lodge.

NB Please note that this is a sand road, and not suitable for low profile tyres or for vehicles with low clearance.
Should you be unable to travel on this road please let us know and we will try and organise a transfer from Billy’s Lodge.

Fees Payable Direct at Camp

Balule Nature Reserve vehicle entry fee: R50.00 per vehicle per entry. This fee is collected in cash at the Olifants West Gate on arrival.
Balule Conservation levy: R100.00 per person per stay. This fee is collected in cash at the Olifants West Gate on arrival. 


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