Nkomazi Private Game Reserve hovers above the banks of the Komati River. It’s a luxe glamping lodge positioned within an exceptional locale in the Barberton Greenstone Belt of the Makonjwa Mountains.

Mpumalanga in South Africa is famed for its pristine wildernesses and wildlife density, endemic flora and rare volcanic rock formations that date back three billion years. With approximately 14,900 hectares of protected habitat under conservation, within an ancient milieu that has been hailed as a geological mecca by experts, Nkomazi harnesses the ultimate safari offering.

Nkomazi Private Game Reserve safari lodge reservations

Nkomazi game drives

The bio-diverse reserve is in a classified malaria-free zone and uniquely supports both Highveld and Lowveld game, as well as 300 bird species and the Big 4 – lion, leopard, elephant and Cape buffalo, and endangered cheetah.

Game drives are signature safari events. At Nkomazi, guides bundle guests into open vehicles and trundle slowly across unspoiled savannah grassland and primordial landscapes. Being out at sunrise is magical, the first rays of light coaxing the plains to life as birdsong heralds the new day.

Equally intoxicating are late afternoon excursions, where, after observing wildlife roam the plains, you can watch the day disappear into an African sunset. Clear nights guarantee epic stargazing opportunities and as the inky sky sparkles above, your ranger will unveil the secrets and mysteries of the Southern Hemisphere. Back at camp, keen stargazers can take a closer peek at the glittering galaxy through a Celestron telescope.

Other activities include birding safaris, guided nature walks, catch-and-release fly fishing, visits to bushman paintings, and rejuvenating pamper sessions at The River Retreat spa. A small boutique in camp also offers locally sourced crafts and branded merchandise.

Nkomazi Private Game Reserve re-opened in November 2020, after a multi-million Rand refurbishment. The dining tent in the main lodge has sliding glass doors that lead onto a generous viewing deck. At mealtimes, tables are set in the shadow of the mountains, the sound of flowing water below and, if you’re lucky, a visit by Maurice, an opportunistic nagapie (bushbaby).

Dinners are also served in the open-air boma and are convivial fireside affairs where guests come together to dine on homestyle fare that ranges from the traditional to the contemporary. All menus at Nkomazi are curated by Chef Nyoka who adds a gourmet touch to his safari cuisine.

Nkomazi luxury tents at Nkomazi Private Game Reserve
Nkomazi luxury tents

Vintage safari era

The under-canvas accommodation at Nkomazi is luxurious – 14 handcrafted luxury tents are either river or reserve facing, and two have been purpose built to accommodate families or parties of four. Décor is minimalist with a relaxed elegance and each has been styled with pieces reminiscent of the vintage safari era. Ten units have undergone a classical reimagining of soft furnishings, while four are completely new builds incorporating composite decking made from repurposed timber and plastic.

The tents, linked via stone paths that wind through leafy riverine forest, weeping wisterias and water-wise succulent gardens, have been erected at a discreet distance from one another to ensure guests have maximum privacy. All units have air conditioning, a bathroom en suite, king and twin-size beds, an electronic safe and writing desk. Outside, the private splash pool, outdoor shower and standalone Victorian bath complete the deluxe spoil.

Glass doors at the tent entrance ensure a gorgeous view as you luxuriate under triple thread count linen on those mornings that call for a lie-in. When the weather co-operates, the team invites afternoon game drive guests to a full service al fresco long table “in the middle of nowhere” says Ashleigh Dunn, the camp’s GM.

How to get there

Nkomazi Private Game Reserve is a Newmark property. Driving from Johannesburg takes three-and-a-half hours, with a further 25 minutes to the lodge from the entrance gate. Transfers can also be arranged. Those wishing to travel by air can take a one-hour flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KIMA) via Johannesburg or Cape Town, or fly in by helicopter. Guests in 4×4’s and SUV’S can drive directly down to the lodge while those in vehicles with lower clearance level are collected from the main gate – Grand Valley, by arrangement. Children of all ages welcome. Over 12’s are charged the full rate. To participate in the guided nature walks, the minimum age requirement is 16.  A R250 conservation levy applies pp per night, over and above accommodation expenses.

What: Nkomazi bush escape
Where: Nkomazi Private Game Reserve Mpumalanga
Book: Newmark Central Reservations +27 (21) 427 5900, reservations@newmarkhotels.com