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Balule Satellite Camp
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Deep in the heart of the Kruger National Park, in the most exquisite topography, lies a small satellite camp.
Named 'Balule' after the Tsonga word for the Olifants River, this camp is one of the best places for guests to experience nature first hand. Situated more or less in the centre of the Park, just south of Olifants Camp, Balule lies close to the mighty Olifants River.
With only the most basic of facilities and no electricity, a low fence is the only barrier that separates you from the wilderness, resulting in a true back to basics experience. It is this unique wilderness feel of the camp that makes it a firm favourite with backpackers, the caravanning community and other visitors who want to get away from it all.include(INCLUDES_UNIV.'news/news_code.php'); ?>
5 Things to Seek
- Pel's Fishing Owl
- Goliath Heron
- Tel: +27 (0)13 735 6606/7
Fax: +27 (0)13 735 6609
- 15 x tent or caravan sites, without power points. Communal ablutions and cooking facilities. Maximum of 6 people per site.
- 6 x rustic 3-bed huts with communal ablution facilities. The huts have no windows - only vents. There are no cooking utensils, crockery or cutlery, but a communal kitchen with scullery and gas stoves is available. Limited space is available in a communal freezer.
Balule Camp is managed from Olifants Camp. Guests are required to report to Orpen, Satara, Olifants or Letaba camps for check-in. Accommodation at Balule camp is ideal for backpacking, camping and caravanning communities looking for a self-catering bushveld experience.
To view the accommodation prices, refer to Tariffs
There are no activities available from Balule, however...
- Guided Game Walks or Game Drives can be pre-arranged with Olifants camp.
- Groups of 10 people or more can book activities from Olifants.
These activities will ensure an exciting bush experience. All bookings, as well as further details for these activities are available from reception at Olifants.include($_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'].'/parks/includes/levy-on-tariffs.inc.php'); ?>
- There is no electricity in the camp, however, lanterns are provided.
- There is a communal kitchen with scullery and gas stoves, and a communal freezer.
- One ablution block is provided.
- There are no shop, restaurant or ATM facilities available.
- No reception office at camp.
- General tariffs information
- 2013/2014 Tariffs
- Daily conservation fee
- Pre-booked/Advanced Reservations for Day Visits
- Pensioners' discount
- Tariffs for Kruger outdoor activities and guided game walks / drives
- View pictures of Balule accommodation and availability
How to get there
Travel routes and times from central Gauteng
- Take the N1 toll-road to Polokwane (Pietersburg).
- 40km before Polokwane turn right onto the R71 and head for Tzaneen.
- After Tzaneen, head towards Phalaborwa and the gate. Allow between 6 to 7 hours for the trip to the gate.
- Balule camp is 85km away from the gate. Allow about 3 hours for the drive to the camp, however if you want to enjoy the game viewing possibilities give yourself more time!
There is no electricity - lanterns are provided.
Please ensure that your stay is happy and safe by taking note of a few simple warnings. You will be sharing your stay with many exciting and unusual creatures but without knowledge some of them could be dangerous:
- Bats, Spiders, Snakes, Scorpions, Malaria Zone
If you must walk around at night please DO NOT DO SO WITHOUT A TORCH.
Remember: by feeding any wildlife, you are signing their death warrant as they become aggressive!
Kruger is in a summer rainfall area. Such precipitation is usually convectional and can result in heavy downpours. The summer months (October to April) are hot and often balmy. Winters are warm and mild, although visitors going on night-drives will require warm clothing.
Day visitors are not permitted in Balule. However, Olifants has a designated picnic area for day visitors. It is located behind the camp’s reception offices. Clear signage in the camp will direct you. Gas cooking facilities are available for rent.
Flora and Fauna
The Olifants area plays host to most of the park’s classic larger game. As the name of the camp suggests, elephant are common in the area.Baboon and Vervet Monkey both inhabit the camp as do fruit bats and thick-tailed bush babies at night. Lion and leopard are regularly seen on game drives.Cape Clawless Otter has been seen from the Olifants lookout point on the gravel road to Letaba.
Olifants is situated in rugged veld on rhyolite / basalt soil. Lowveld cluster-leaf, Raisin Bush and Mopane are all prominent in the area. Just south of the river is the transition zone between thornveld and the mopane belt. Visitors can thus have the enriching experience of game viewing in both ecozones.
In the camp itself there is a plethora of trees and plants, some that are scarce elsewhere in the park. A variety of aloe species are a real highlight.Next to the filling station there is a Sesame Bush.This is probably the only accessible place in the park where it can be seen.
In early spring the Sjambok Pod (yellow flowers) and Weeping Boerboon (red flowers) are both in bloom so the veld is a contrast of colour.Also look out for tree euphorbia.
(For more birding information and park bird checklist, go to Information for Birders)
Birding in Olifants
Two birds to look out for on the Olifants River are White-frontedPlover and White-crowned Lapwing (Plover), both of which can be seen in the riverbed. The bridges on the main tarred road and at Balule are the places to look for these species. Search the riparian trees on the Olifants River near Balule for the Pel’s Fishing-Owl. It is occasionally seen on night drives from the low level bridge here, while it has also been seen infrequently from the high level bridge on the main tar road. This low level bridge adjacent Balule is an extremely productive venue.
During the day one will get close encounters with several stork, heron and kingfisher species while the lure of the Fishing Owl by night is a big incentive. It is usually seen on the same sand-bank adjacent the same river pool. Only a few metres away, a White-backed night heron is sometimes seen. Then, at dusk in November 2002 a Black Egret (very rare in the park) was watched from only 5m away as it employed its definitive umbrella-wing fishing technique.
Camp bird-life in Olifants, like all camps is busy. Red-winged Starlings are particularly prominent. Trumpeter Hornbills and Acacia Pied Barbet are regularly seen in camp, and when the many aloe plants in camp are in flower, they act as a magnet for sunbirds. Rufous-bellied Heron has been recorded on the Olifants River a little downstream of the camp. Unconfirmed reports of Woodward’s Batis offer an exciting possibility.
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