Situated on the banks of the Nwatswitswonto River in the central Kruger National Park, Imbali Safari Lodge takes you back to the old-world charm of Victorian comfort, with coziness at the heart of the lodge.

Making the journey from Cape Town International Airport to Hoedspruit so convenient is our comfortable flight on Airlink’s quiet Embraer E-Jet 190, with spacious legroom, wider seats, and being consistently on time at one of our favorite bush destinations. Our arrival at Imbali Safari Lodge coincides with high tea and a late afternoon game drive. Walking through the lodge onto the main deck, a herd of elephants is slaking their thirst at the adjacent trough, making us feel especially welcome with their intermittent trumpeting.

Imbali Safari Lodge
The entrance to Imbali Safari Lodge. Photo courtesy of Imbali Safari Lodge

Part of the Extraordinary portfolio, Imbali Safari Lodge accommodates guests in 12 roomy suites, with decorations in neutral colors, creams, and beiges, complemented by dark wooden furnishings. Slide open your French doors and lounge on your private deck or take a dip in your outdoor pool while enjoying what nature has to offer. Grazing nyala can be found on the grounds or in front of your room and boy, are they cute! The freestanding claw-foot bath is perfect for indulging in some bubbles – the foamy kind or the variant that comes best served in a flute.

Imbali Safari Lodge
White-backed vultures perched in a tree. Photo by Jodie Ramackers

Ranger Tristan rounds us up for our first game drive, which we share with a lovely family of four. The children are excited to see what this part of the wilderness has to offer and are giddy with glee when we lay eyes on the most adorable tree squirrel and spot a leopard far in the distance. Brandishing a pair of binoculars, the youngest exclaims “I see it!” after which the leopard disappears into inaccessible terrain. On our way back to the lodge, we stop to witness three lionesses wreaking havoc amongst a large herd of buffaloes, causing all but a big cloud of dust, as well as some white-backed vultures perched in a tree.

Imbali Safari Lodge
Dinner can be enjoyed on the deck. Photo courtesy of Imbali Safari Lodge

We decide to head straight to dinner as we are rather famished. Meals are served in the dining room and when the weather plays along, it is great to enjoy your supper on the deck, observing what creatures come for a drink after sunset. During our stay, we see elephants and a lone hyena from our safe vantage point.

Imbali Safari Lodge
The wooden walkway to the suites. Photo courtesy of Imbali Safari Lodge

The sound of thunder and lightning cuts through the early morning silence, and the symphony of rain brings a welcome respite to animals and soil. Walking across the wooden walkway that divides the main area from the rooms, it is clear that a sizeable amount of water has blessed the dry earth. Soon, everything will be lusciously green, and new life will abound with loads of babies being born during the rainy season.

Imbali Safari Lodge
A fluffy hyena on our morning game drive. Photo by Heléne Ramackers

As a prelude to our morning game drive, we feast on some delicious homemade snacks and a beverage before departing to see what we can find. A solitary hyena makes an appearance, looking rather fluffy after the rains. He looks towards us and sniffs momentarily before scurrying off into the sunrise. Animal sightings include waterbuck and impala grazing together, a puffed-up lilac-breasted roller, and an angry-looking yellow-billed hornbill.

Imbali Safari Lodge
Meals are lovingly prepared by a team of chefs. Photo courtesy of Imbali Safari Lodge

Lunch is served in the dining room, and the buffet includes salads, delectable chicken pie, followed by chocolate brownies and ice cream. Dinner is a gastronomic delight and meals are lovingly prepared by a team of chefs under the guidance of head chef Reece.

Imbali Safari Lodge
The most beautiful sub-adult lion. Photo by Heléne Ramackers

Following a good night’s rest in our oversized bed, my daughter and I look forward to our last game drive to see if Tristan will find any of the big cats. He is both guide and tracker, and as he notices lion tracks, we hold our breath in anticipation. Driving with gusto, we find him, the most beautiful sub-adult lion, hiding in the tall grass. We sit with him for a while, and suddenly he looks up, makes eye contact and we know, this is the ideal way to end a wonderful stay at Imbali Safari Lodge.

*** Views expressed are the author’s own

How to Get There By Air: Airlink is a privately-owned premium full-service regional airline offering the widest route network in Southern Africa, offering more flight choices and more connectivity. Experience More –

With more than 50 aircraft in the fleet, Airlink’s on-time performance is consistently better than 95%, this is a clear indication of their determination and commitment to remain synonymous with customer centricity, punctuality, service excellence, and reliability.

How to get there:  Direct scheduled flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Hoedspruit. direct on, the FlyAirlink app, or your favorite Travel agent. 

How To Get There by Road: Take Me There Today Travel & Tours was established in 2020 in the heart of the South African Lowveld and with 21 years of experience in the travel industry, have a passion for connecting guests with their dream destinations whilst offering a personalized service that is tailored to their unique requirements. Services include private transfers, airport shuttles, day tours, and accommodation while ensuring safe, comfortable, reliable, fun, friendly, and no-fuss travel. 

Tel: +27 (0)83 415-8571