Nyala Safai Lodge.Balule Nature Reserve.

"The inimitable Nyala Safari Lodge offers thatched accommodation in iconic rondavel style, an archetype of accommodation in the Greater Kruger".



Recently, Travel & Things undertook a Lowveld road trip that included 3 Sun Destinations™ properties. Nyala Safari Lodge was the second Lodge on that trip.

For those who are interested in lodge names, Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii, so named after George French Angas who first described it in 1849) is the name of an antelope that is often found in and around lodges where they feel safe from predators.




Did you know? The word Nyala derives from the Zulu word “inxala” meaning “onion”, which refers to the white lines on the side of their bodies.




Time travel exists!

My arrival at Nyala Safari Lodge was like stepping back through a tunnel of time for me. I felt that I had been transported to the Kruger National Park as a 13-year-old in 1966.

That trip was to be the beginning of my lifelong involvement with nature and specifically the creatures that creep, crawl, strut and fly in South and Southern Africa.

Before I get too emotional, and I did on my arrival, let me say that the only real resemblance between KNP back in 1966 and this modern 2023 lodge was the shape of the rondavels.

Once the door opened, and all was revealed, the initial illusion was replaced with the reality of exquisite fixtures and finishes.




The interior of my accommodation for the duration of my stay was far larger than the exterior had led me to believe.

Crisp linen, a neutral palette and the ubiquitous mozzie net made this a comfortable and relaxing environment.

Also in this space was a desk, a couple of comfortable chairs and a built-in cupboard that offered both hanging and shelves for luggage.

An outdoor deck was easily accessible from this space. Here I could sit and look out over the manicured lawns and verdant vegetation.





The short passage that leads to the bathroom at the end and the separate toilet on the right.

The wall, before the refurbishment, is where the rondavel used to end, making the accommodation compact and as I seem to remember it from back in 1966.

But now all the rondavels at Nyala have stunning ablution facilities.





The upgrade includes a separate toilet, a huge bathroom with a sculptured oval bath, an indoor shower and a vanity with double basins and mirrors.




A great use of space and a wall that is both sensual and practical at the same time.

Through the door is an outdoor shower, which I decided to make use of during a lightning storm.

It was quite an experience standing under the shower AND getting rained on at the same time. Not to mention watching the flashes of lightning light up the tree in front of my accommodation. NOT recommended, but exciting nevertheless. I do enjoy taking advantage of an outdoor shower, even in the dead of winter as it adds an immersive layer to a bush experience.




I was really sad to have to ‘dismember’ this elephant to use my towels. But needs must and the worst for me was removing the ‘eyes’.

The leaf in the ‘trunk’ was something I had not come across before.

I first encountered ‘towel animals’ during a cruise many years ago but of late I have started to find them in guest houses and game lodges.





The game viewers were different. Smaller than the usual 10-seater vehicles utilized by the majority of lodges, this one seats 6 guests in luxury with easy access via the ‘side door’ that is usually lacking the standard vehicles.

That being said, and because I am not used to this configuration, I kept climbing in and out by going over the side and not opening the door. It took me a couple of drives and lots of laughter once I realized that all I had to do was use the handle.

No harm, no foul and a lesson learned. Check the number of doors first.




I kept getting the feeling that I was being watched…and it turns out that I was.

And it was under the watchful eye of this squirrel that I wandered around the property, taking in all the sights and sounds that it had to offer.




The gardens in which the lodge sits are spectacular and a tribute to managers David and Nicki who tend to them with a passion that goes above and beyond.

This is an oasis of green that is in contrast to the surrounding bush.




Part of the garden has been landscaped using parts of old agricultural implements. I have always liked landscaped areas that repurpose old machinery of any sort.




They say that many people are killed every year by falling coconuts, I wonder how many are killed by THIS particular fruit?

Luckily for guests, the bench is not placed directly under the tree.




Although the pool did look inviting, I chose to forego a dip to sit on the deck and see what species might come and drink in the pools left in the crevices in the dry river bed.




This is where I and the other guests enjoyed our post-game drive breakfast.

We sat together and chatted about our morning sightings (which included a leopard cub) and shared what we were hoping to see on upcoming excursions.

This verandah, which wraps, like enfolding arms, around the outside of the main building also has an outdoor seating area for post-meal relaxing.





A conversation/ fire pit? Guests can sit here before and after meals and regale each other with tales or enjoy the night sounds of the bush before dinner is served at the tables that, during my visit, looked out over where the Mohlabetsi River runs when it does flow.




An indoor lounge that is in front of an open plan kitchen and a small shop (basically a cupboard with locally manufactured goods for sale) as well as a library should you wish to intersperse your game viewing and meals with something to read.




Seated on the deck that overlooks the seasonal Mohlabetsi River, guests are often treated to sightings of a variety of different species while enjoying a meal or just relaxing.




While I was enjoying my lunch, I almost missed this elephant as it came, drank its fill and then left in almost complete silence.




Caught in the spotlight.

From the largest land mammal to one of the largest of the mantis species.

I found it close to the fire pit where it posed for the longest time before heading off into the darkness beyond the leaping flames.




Time at Nyala moves as slowly as did tortoise and it was that exact feature that made staying here such a pleasure. Nothing is rushed and guests do not feel pressured but are allowed to enjoy all the amenities that the camp has to offer at their own pace.

However, just as this tortoise eventually disappeared into the bush, it was with a heavy heart that I had to say goodbye to all the staff and head off to the final destination on my road trip.

Nyala is highly recommended for all the right reasons.




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