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A room with a view is enchanting. But imagine dipping in a pool that overlooks tall treetops, and slow sipping a gin at a bar with a full 360 degree view of endless wilderness. At Simbavati Hilltop Lodge the vistas are gasp beautiful, and actually quite unimaginable until you experience them for yourself. There’s also something deeply liberating about being at canopy height with birds for neighbours.

Add unforgettable game viewing, including the full Big 5 – possibly wild dogs and frequent, excellent leopard sightings – and you have surely landed in bush nirvana. Views are simply epic across the bush to the distant Drakensberg foothills and down onto the Nhlaralumi River below. You will hear hippo snorting in the river and maybe see elephant crossing the shallows, while fish eagles call from the treetops in haunting voices.

Hilltop lodge is just eight, pavilion-style, luxury safari tents in an unusual configuration. Each suite actually comprises two tents: one for the spacious, contemporary-style bedroom, the other for the roomy bathroom. They’re linked by a passage that also opens up to create an outdoor shower experience in a cove of dry-packed rock. Very careful tent placement ensures complete privacy for all guests, with dramatically beautiful views for everyone. It’s a space that’s comfortably elegant, peaceful and simply breathtaking.

The piece d’ resistance is certainly chilling on the day-bed sala on your private deck, as you listen to bush life all around you and sip your tea. Life really doesn’t get better or easier, while down below prolific wildlife roams free. It can all be seen at ground level on daily game drives, or even from the lodge deck overlooking the river. Either way, you are intimately connected and as close as can be to nature.

At Hilltop, the vantage point is completely different, utterly enthralling and there’s a sense of looking down on unspoiled creation, deep in the heart of Africa. And a sundowner at the 360 degree bar will likely be a lifelong memory of an African sunset too, where all felt so right and so well in the world. 

Reviewed by Keri Harvey

What we love:

  • swimming at treetop height with forever views from the infinity pool
  • clean lines and contemporary décor that is beautiful and uncluttered
  • kudu horn lamps
  • lamp shades reminiscent of fish traps
  • that virtually everything is crafted from wood
  • private relaxation pavilions for each suite
  • the packed-rock enclosure for the outdoor shower
  • bathing with full views down onto the river.

Need to know:

  • no children under 12
  • some suites are accessed up steep stairs, so the lodge is not wheelchair friendly 
  • wif-fi in the lounge area
  • there’s a curio shop for keepsakes
  • Hilltop Lodge is not fenced
  • the lodge is an hour’s drive from Hoedspruit

Children's policy

No children under 12

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Timbavati, Greater Kruger

A room with a view is enchanting. But imagine dipping in a pool that overlooks tall treetops, and slow sipping a gin at a bar with a full 360 degree view of endless wilderness. At Simbavati Hilltop Lodge the vistas are gasp beautiful, and actually quite unimaginable until you experience them for yourself. There’s also

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