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Balule Satellite Camp

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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Balule Satellite Camp

Unread postby Bushbaby » Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:04 pm

I thought this gem deserved it's own thread.

We have had our best lion experience inside this camp. We came home one night to find the fence being hecticly patrolled by hyenas (more than usual and in daylight). At about 9pm the hyenas reached a creshendo and it began to sound like a fish market. The next thing the lions began to roar. They were so close that you could feel the roar in your stomach before you heard it, as you lay in the tent. Just when we thought we had heard it all, a second pride down near the river started up and they called all night, back and forth. It was phenominal. Needless to say we weren't bothered by the hyenas again.

This camp is the most romantic and charming camp in the whole park. The quietness is respected and there are so few campers that it tends to take on a "family" feel and becomes very friendly.
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Unread postby Oumie » Mon Jun 27, 2005 6:13 pm

DinkyBird wrote:Does Balule have a communal kitchen? If so in the camping area and the bungalow area?

Yes there is one in the Camping site and one where the bungalows are. There is a big freezer as well so that you can keep your meat ect. frozen.

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Unread postby Bushbaby » Tue Jun 28, 2005 11:30 am

The parafin freezers work like a bomb and in the evening you bathe by the light of hurricane lamps. Because there is no electricity it's much quieter and the stars are phenominal.

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:39 pm

Aquilla wrote:I am sure there are those of you who do not realise that Balule was for "Non-White" people only, in years gone by.

Hence the reason why there are no windows in the bungalows, just a space between the top of the wall and the roof that acts as a vent for air - they were not built for comfort.

I must just add that I have not been inside any of the bungalows at Balule but have read that they do not have windows so if I am wrong please correct me.

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Tue Jun 28, 2005 8:32 pm

From my book of the moment; "Kruger, Portrait of a National Park" published in 1992:

Balule is close to the Olifants river where a low level bridge crosses it. The Park authorities some years ago planned to close down Balule and replace it with a caravan camp on the bank of the river at Ngotsamond, where there is an archeological site. But such was the outcry from people who had been using Balule for years that the plan was dropped.

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Unread postby Jakkalsbessie » Mon Aug 15, 2005 3:03 pm

Sooo glad to hear there is still no electricity! Love Balule to bits.
You don't get better nightlife :wink: (nightsounds) anywhere else in the park. Even heard the roar of a leopard there 1 night... shivers... you can not explain that sound to anyone.
The peace and quite at night with so few huts, no noice. And only residents are allowed to enter during the day.
The low water bridge over the Olifants has also proven great for birdviewing and the whole area around is teaming with game! Saw even wilddogs there 2 years ago on the S92 to Olifants.
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Unread postby Bokkie » Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:15 am

It is my favourite camp in the whole of Kruger.
It is where you can truly experience the magic of park - the sounds and smells.
Nothing comes close to sitting at the fire, looking outside the fence and hearing the hyenas, lions and even the occasional leopard.
And then of course getting stuck on the low water bridge between a heard of elephant!
Also saw the most beautiful kudus there two years ago.

Someone asked about the heat in December and staying in the huts without windows - I spend New Year's there two years ago and it was boiling!
I put wet towels on the bed just to keep cool. But if you can stick it out for a couple of days, it will be worth your while.
Anyway, who cares about the heat if you are in such a wonderful place?!?!?

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Unread postby Boskind se Pa » Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:28 am

For the last 5 years we book all six huts for a week around September.
You really get the Africa feel in Balule because of the lack of luxury.
During the last year they've upgraded the beds in the huts.
They thatched roofs were redone and the replace the old “Coke" freezers with old gas freezers that used to be in Satara.
There are no ceiling fans in the huts.
Every evening they put out paraffin lamps in the ablution block, the communal kitchen & in all the huts.
In the communal kitchen there is a gas stove & a kettle.
When we arrived the freezers were working, but only for a day.
Three days later they replaced the gas so it started working again but we lost a lot of meat.
If the weather is normal Balule is the best camp in the Kruger, but those huts do not give you any protection against the elements of African weather.
The first 2 days we clocked temperatures above 45 degrees, and then we had a sand storm witch left everything under a 2cm layer of sand inside the hut because of the gap between the wall & the roof.
If you get decent weather it will be the best time of your life, but if not just make sure there are no sissies with you.

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Wonderful Balule

Unread postby Toddelelfe » Sun Mar 26, 2006 5:01 pm

Wonderful Balule

I stayed there in december 2005 for 3 nights.

Balule would be managed by Satara, but you could also check in at Olifants.
Because i came from the north i decided to check in at Olifants.
The regular things to be check in must be done, but the nice lady was very helpful. :clap:
After a few minutes i got my permit / voucher to Balule.

I remember the facts on the SANParks Homepage, that there is no shop in Balule, so i shopped for some goodies in Olifants.
And drove to Balule. I took the main road H8 / H1-4 and than the S91 and crossed the Olifants over the low water bridge.
From the bridge i spotted some vultures in the air.

Then i took the graveled S90 for i think 1 km.
There is on the left a small graveled road, the road to Balule.
You drive about 500 m to the 2 gates of Balule. Hmmm? :hmz:
Which is the entrance gate, both are closed, i think i will ever take the wrong way in this situations.
I took the right gate and right is the wrong.
The guard gives me a sign :naughty: to drive to the left gate and opened it for me.
Later i know why there are 2 gates.

There is fence through the camp, with only a small passing, and the right site (looking in the direction to Olifants river from the gate into the camp) is for the campers and the left site is the site with the huts :D .

I stayed in hut no. 6, i think the best.
It stays next to the fence.
And you can park your car direct at the huts.
In front of the hut the common KNP braai a table and 4 Chairs.

The huts are rustic and round.
There is a heavy old wooden door.
Inside you have in the middle a wooden pillar for the roof.
There are 3 beds and a small cupboard.
One bed stays single behind the door, the other 2 stays very close together in the middle of the room.
But remember the pillar, there is a little space between the beds.

Before i came to Balule, i had a little bit fear :redface: of the space between the roof and the wall of the hut. But no problem, there is a wire mesh fence and a net.
This stops all spiders and mozzies.
Every evening came a staff member and brought a petroleum lamp for your hut and put it in the hut at the pillar.
When i go to bed, i decide to put the light off for safety.
Don't forget your torch! In the night there is no other light, as the stars.

Close to the hut and the fence is the braai.
So you could braai or sit there and watch the regular visiting hyenas in the evening.

You could also see at night the lights from the night drives on S90.
In the day you could sometimes hear a car on the S90.
But it is generally very quiet.

Every day the staff cleaned very well the huts, communal ablution and kitchen and the complete camp.
Very nice and helpful service :clap: .
You could sit there also in the day, hear the bush and look at the birds, sitting in the shadow of the big trees and realise a movement at the fence.
A lovely and relaxed group of ellies walking by.

The communal ablution is a small building with 1 entrance for Angels and 1 entrance for the Musketeers.
I ever go to the Musketeers, so i could only write about the Musketeers site.
There are to hand basin in the big room, 1 toilet and 1 shower.
Remember, no electricity.
In the evening the staff puts here also a petroleum lamp in.
If you want to shave, you must bring your battery shaver or the knife or be like a good old wild boy :lol: .

The communal kitchen also have no electricity.
There are to plates with gas.
I think these plates are older then the KNP.
They work fine, but in germany it wouldn't be allowed to use these ones, with this old safety.
But no problem if you be careful at starting the fire.
And don't forget a lighter. Oh silly from me :tongue: .
Saffies must have every time a lighter in their pockets for the braai.
If you need hot water you must cook it by your self, there is no little 'geysers' (instant hot water makers). There are also to basins where you can wash your dishes.

Near to the fence, it looked like an old hide, is a small hut.
In the hut two big cooler boxes, working on gas.
They are not very cold. I think 0 degrees.
But enough to cool down the castles and sundowners and keep your meat, fruit and veggies fresh for some days.

The camping ground have the same facilities and also the accommodation for the staff.
It looks a little bit bigger.
But on the hut site are the bigger trees :P .
In the camping site is the solar panel for the electric fence.

A very lovely place for a small price. I hope, i can be there again.
:hmz: Thinking about the next trip :hmz:
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Unread postby wildjohn » Sun Apr 02, 2006 6:26 pm

Hi all,

Just confirming all comments on Balule - have just stayed there for the first time. It is now my favourite camp ! It was small, had old pioneer charm, and felt very close to the bush - probably like tourists to the park would have felt in the 30's. Good game in the area too, and general night life.

Good camp, and well worth visiting to any travellers.

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Unread postby Elsa Hattingh » Thu May 04, 2006 11:50 am

We love Balule. We battle to get a hut, it is usually fully book so you have to book in far in advance for Balule. Yes that is a small camp but it is worthwhile to go there. It is quite an experience being so close to nature. The piece and tranquillity that you feel there is good. There is also a lot of animals there. I believe that if you have been there once you will not miss the opportunity to go there again. I personally think that is also one of the best camps that there is. :lol:

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Unread postby Stoffel » Thu May 04, 2006 1:39 pm

It would have been a new camp for campers/caravaners.
The suggested name was Ngotsomond (Ngotso Mouth) as it would have been situated next to where the Ngotso enters the Olifants River (slightly west of Balule).
When excavations started for the new buildings, some very important artefacts of previous inhabitants were found.
If I remember correctly, the site was "taken over" by the department of archeology of Pretoria University for further "studies".
It seems the idea of a new camp at this site was "frozen" because of the very important findings.
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Unread postby arks » Mon Oct 02, 2006 8:11 pm

Is Balule visible from the S92? I have this pic


taken along the S92 and wondered?
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Dark side of Balule

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:07 pm

Nikon12’s excellent story about the fence around Balule, brought back some wonderful memories of the first time we stayed over in this rustic little camp about 7 years ago. One such memory has attained legendary status in our family.

My wife and I had a bungalow and so did my daughter, her husband and the eldest of my grandchildren (then the only one). We shared a wood fire that afternoon as the sun set over the KNP. As always we cooked too much food on the embers and before retiring my wife wrapped the remaining food in some tinfoil and put it on a drawer that stood next to the bed on her side.

:shock: Man, does it get dark there! :shock:

We really enjoyed the starry display in a moonless night sky, but a long, hot day topped by a great feast and a few glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon each soon made us retire. I don’t like a light on in a room when I sleep, so, the paraffin lamp was blown out and we said our goodnights and I must have been in lalaland within two minutes. The next moment I got rudely awakened by a sharp elbow urgently jabbing me in the ribs. You know you have opened your eyes, but you see nothing! It is the closest to being blind you will ever experience!

“What!” I wanted to know, “is bothering you?” My wife has lots of the city girl left in her, even after years of bush trips with me…
“There is someone … something in the room!”

So we thrashed around in the dark for a few minutes to find the torch that one of us had kicked over. Despairingly we listened to it roll and come to rest somewhere out of reach. Somehow we got hold of matches and relit the lantern. Well, by that time the intruder was long gone, of course, so back to bed. And off with the light, but not before my SO had retrieved the torch and slipped it into bed with us. Again, no effort on my part to return to zzzzzzzzz….

Then all hell broke loose!

:huh: Hysterically screaming wife was wildly thrashing around and then started assaulting me! My SO was hitting the stuffing out of me with the torch!

When I fell asleep my dearest wife sat up in the dark and ambushed our visitor, who turned out to be a small mouse that used the bed covers to scale the furniture in order to get to the tantalising leftovers on the drawer. Fortunately for the mouse, she missed it (but not me!). The mouse scurried somewhere to temporary safety while I tried to calm my poor wife. Needless to say, the lamp burned for the rest of the night. And the story was only good for a laugh some years later!


The only "wilder" experience I have had in the KNP was in the Sable sleep-over hide, but that is another story...

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Unread postby MaroelaMan » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:10 am

What we do is to vacuum pack and freeze our meat and keep it in a separate cooler box.
Then only open it when you need meat a couple of hours before you want to braai.
Then daily, top the cooler up with a couple of bags of ice, and remove any water that might be in the cooler.
Also, keep the cooler in the shade.

Camped a week like this last year and all was fine.

The freezers are big enough at Balule, so you would probably be able to keep stuff cool.

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