Here at Kambaku Safari Lodge, it’s not just about the beauty of the Timbavati Game Reserve that cradles us, or even just about the spectacular wildlife we see every day. It’s about the whole experience. You may arrive as strangers, but you’ll leave as firm friends. Each and every day is a chance to experience travel at its most transformative. Our proud history is an important part of our present excellence, so why not join us for a quick trip down memory lane?
The land the lodge stands on today was once a humble hunter’s camp on the farm Joubertshoop. These simple roots took their first steps towards the lodge we know and love in the 1980s, when the camp was leased as Cheetah Trails Game Lodge. This may have been the same gorgeous vistas that would become the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, but the accommodation (then) was no luxury! Without the embrace of the protective Timbavati, wildlife at the time was scarce, and service from the colourful owners even scarcer. This spicy (but eminently dubious) first experience as a lodge blazed the trail for the Kambaku of today… but fortunately, a brighter future was forged.
The property changed hands a few times, coming back to a more loving and respectful base that saw it thrive and expand. The modern Kambaku Safari Lodge, however, was truly born in June 2000, when then-owners Clive and Tanya Gerber bought this pristine section of the now-formed Timbavati Private Game Reserve as their own. This purchase fulfilled Clive’s lifelong dream. They kept the name ‘Kambaku’, given to the lodge in earlier years to honour one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ bull elephants who roamed the nearby Kruger Park in the 70s and 80s.
This powerful beast, well noted for his unique markings and magnificent tusks, loved his solitary existence, venturing over incredible distances from the Timbavati right through to Crocodile Bridge. While Kambaku passed away in 1985, his legacy of adventure, peaceful solitude and glory live on in the Kambaku Safari Lodge spirit.
These early steps towards the Kambaku of today were not without struggles, however- Clive tragically lost his life in a helicopter accident shortly thereafter. While his grieving widow took the time to recover, Kambaku was left in the hands of caring tenants, who nurtured the seed that Clive’s dream had planted until Tanya herself returned to take over the lodge again in 2007.
While the lodge had been well nurtured by those tenants through its early years, it was time for big upgrades and changes. Kambaku’s chance to shine anew had come! The Manning Family, as Tanya had re-married, nurtured Kambaku through some exciting changes, refurbishing the lodge completely into something closer to the luxury accommodation you’ll recognise today. It was these upgrades that would cement our status as one of the best game lodges in the Greater Kruger National Park. Staff and ranger accommodation were upgraded too. From solar power to all the mod-cons, great care was taken to ensure the lodge was sustainable, ethical and respectful to the gorgeous natural environment surrounding us while still remaining a luxurious guest experience.
But change leads us ever onward, and the lodge was entrusted to the loving care of Bryce and Nicola. Determined to raise their children in an environment that supported our gorgeous animal heritage, and allowed it to thrive, the Kambaku spirit and dream lives on in their fresh, modern approach. Today the Kambaku family has expanded well beyond the Timbavati borders, offering three stellar locations that all pay careful homage to the rich ecological landscapes that formed them. A legacy everyone can be proud of, indeed.
It’s time to experience the Kambaku Safari Lodge of the future, and share a glass with Bryce and Nicola at our flagship reserve. A place with no limits, open doors, and an overwhelming love for the gorgeous vistas of Africa. A place where you can live… the Kambaku way.