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It’s no wonder it took so long to decide on a name for this heavenly spot: it’s very close to the hearts of a pioneering family who promise to protect it forever. Overlooking the Machatane River and what’s known as Cheetah Plains, Eagle Owl Camp is a private Timbavati hideaway that’s way more sophisticated than its name implies. So, it’s no wonder that guests who have discovered it tend to book their next holiday before they even leave! There’s only radio contact here … but who needs Wi-Fi when you have all of 12 000ha to explore? Just in case you don’t know: game viewing is legendary in the Timbavati and your private safari vehicle awaits!

A beautiful pencil and watercolour sketch by architect Colin Fraser was the catalyst for the design of Eagle Owl Camp today. Entirely off-grid, and with an impressively quiet generator as back-up, a fully integrated grey water system and even bokashi recycling in the kitchen, we like its ethos.

Four separate and beautifully decorated suites with decks are set well apart from each other giving everyone the privacy they need, and two of them have delightful ‘window’ beds built in for little ones who need to sleep near parents. By day, game drives are an option, of course, but it’s just as tempting to laze at the poolside, or to find a shady reading spot, keeping binoculars handy to spot game sauntering by in the river bed or on the opposite bank.

Local talent – from artists to artisans – has been commissioned here. Everything was crafted in the area, including the dry-pack stone wall in the dining area, which took three weeks for patient stonemasons to build, and the kitchen – by a Nelspruit joiner – later came in the top five in a British kitchen design competition. Even found wood has a moment: the elephant you’ll find on the side of the house was done by well-known sculptor Tony Fredrikssen. And while the walls don’t need much adornment, White River-based artist Kim Kay’s wildlife drawings and Cathy Prettejohn’s botanical photography of succulents both complement the interior style.

And did we tell you about the owl box behind the lapa? And the bat box that’s part of a research programme? We like this place!

Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon

 

What we love 

  • its proximity to Hoedspruit, which is a quick direct flight from Cape Town and an even quicker link from Joburg. There’s a private, tarred airstrip 30 minutes from the Camp, and it’s five hours’ drive from Joburg, three from Nelspruit.
  • that nothing’s too much trouble to organize, whether it’s pre-shopping or a private chef you’re after. Ask us about photographic courses and don’t forget to pack your yoga kit
  • the open-plan design in the living area: great for multigenerational families. Love the fire pit – it has oodles of seating and comfy cushions 

Need to know 

  • there are only kids ‘window’ beds in two of the suites
  • Your qualified guide and tracker is part of the staff at the Camp, and your guide usually joins you for dinner. Day excursions can also be arranged
  • There is a low animal fence around the camp and the swimming pool isn’t covered
  • There’s a minimum stay of four nights and the conservation levies are excluded: R140 per vehicle at the Timbavati control gate, and R70 per person per day

Guests

Sleeps 8 adults and 2 children over 6 years (two of the suites have beds for children)

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Rates

From R22 250 per night
NB: Conservation levies are excluded:

R140 per vehicle at the Timbavati control gate

R70 per person per day

R850 per day for a chef (optional and to be booked ahead)