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Hotel Highlights

  • Incredible wine cellar
  • Quirky and eclectic design
  • Opulent, luxurious bedrooms

Overview

Located on the private Manyeleti Reserve concession, within the Greater Kruger National Park, Tintswalo is surrounded by pristine wilderness. The beautiful main lodge overlooks a waterhole frequented by a large herd of elephant and other big game, while the suites offer luxury and privacy.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Tintswalo with us:

A 15-minute back or neck massage and a private dinner in the wine cellar

Facilities

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Tintswalo - Kruger National Park - South Africa

Need To Know

Rooms

Seven suites and a manor house with four bedrooms.

Check–out

Midday, but flexible based on arriving guests.

At the hotel

All suites have indoor/outdoor showers, roll-top baths, air-con and free drinks.

Our favourite rooms

The four-bedroom manor house or two-bedroom presidential suite are idea for families or groups of friends. The Baker suite and the Speke suite both have beautiful four-poster beds.

Poolside

Each suite has a private plunge pool and sun deck.

Packing tips

Malaria pills are advised. Also, bring a warm jacket for cold morning starts.

Also

The Elan Vital spa offers a wide range of massage and beauty treatments. Stargazing with an astronomer and culture events with the Shangaan tribe can also be arranged.

Children

Permitted when staying in the manor house or four-bed presidential suite. There is a separate children's programme available. Under-12s are allowed on game drives at the discretion of the guide but under-16s are not permitted on game walks.

Food & Drink

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Tintswalo - Kruger National Park - South Africa

Hotel Restaurant

African dishes are served in sophisticated dining areas around the lodge, including the romantic cellar and in the bush under the night sky. Meals at the manor house are served on the patio or in an open-air boma.

Hotel Bar

All local wines and beers are included in the room price.

Last orders

Flexible, but consider the early-morning starts.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Carefree and casual.

Top table

Under an African starscape.

Local Guide

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Tintswalo - Kruger National Park - South Africa
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

The Kruger National Park has spectacular scenery, with abundant wildlife to match. The south-western section of the park, around the Crocodile and Olifants rivers, is thickly wooded and home to white rhinos and buffalo. The plains in the eastern section of the park are favoured by giraffes, wildebeests, impala and zebras, which also makes the area popular with lions. After a few days in the park you would be unlucky not to have spotted the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalo and black rhino.
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Special reserve

Tintswalo

5 Lynx Road , Treesbank, Kruger National Park, 1686

Planes

Airlink (www.saairlink.co.za) flies once daily from Johannesburg to Mala Mala Airstrip, a 45-minute drive from the hotel. Federal Air (www.fedair.com) flies to Skukuza Airport (25 minutes away), and there are flights from both Johannesburg and Cape Town to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.

Automobiles

The reserve is easily accessible by road. It’s six and a half hours from Johannesburg; take the N12/N4 to Nelspruit, the R40 to Hazyview and then the R536 toward Paul Kruger Gate.

Reviews

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Tintswalo - Kruger National Park - South Africa

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Alighting our 12-seater plane in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, we emerge into the heat of the afternoon sun and are met by Craig, our host at Tintswalo Safari Lodge, proffering freshly squeezed orange juice and some cooling towels. With the option of heading to the lodge to settle in or catching the last hour of the game drive before dark we jump straight into a Land Rover for some instant safari. O…
Read more

Tintswalo

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Alighting our 12-seater plane in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, we emerge into the heat of the afternoon sun and are met by Craig, our host at Tintswalo Safari Lodge, proffering freshly squeezed orange juice and some cooling towels. With the option of heading to the lodge to settle in or catching the last hour of the game drive before dark we jump straight into a Land Rover for some instant safari. Our luggage taken care of, we join Patrick and his tracker Maurice and within minutes find a lioness lounging in the grass. We watch as she calls for her pride with deep, bone-trembling roars – we’ve only been on safari for moments and already we are totally immersed in an experience usually restricted to a TV screen in my lounge.

We hear a cheetah’s been spotted and drive off into the sunset in hope of finding him before dark. Shining a spotlight in their eyes at night can blind them for up to 15 minutes and, lower down the food chain, this can make them vulnerable to lions, so post-dusk we accept that we must give up the search until tomorrow morning and head back to the lodge through a herd of buffalo, a stripe of zebra and a scatter of impala.

The main entrance to Tintswalo Safari Lodge is along a raised wooden gangway that leads to a comfy-chaired living room and wooden deck overlooking the watering hole. With a cigar lounge and wine cellar, iron chandeliers hanging from the super-high thatched ceiling, and walls lined with wildlife paintings and bookshelves, the lodge has the relaxed air of a colonial country club. (Mr Smith gets carried away with the whole setting and lights up one of Cuba’s finest – before turning as green as a crocodile and nearly choking to death. He concedes it’s best left to the more experienced.)

The deck overlooking the watering hole was built carefully around an enormous old tree. Over 600 years old, we’re informed that it could bring down the entire lodge if it fell. So best not to shout ‘timbe-e-e-er’ during a visit here, we conclude. Perhaps for this reason, every effort has been made to stay on the good side of the local flora. No trees were cut down during the building of Tintswalo and the conservation of the surrounding habitat is clearly a very important part of the ethos.

The suites, like the main safari lodge, have stayed true to more traditional colonial decor with each of the seven named after an explorer from the 19th century. We are shown to the Livingstone suite; the name adding a wild romanticism to our room before we’ve even opened the door. ‘The first European to explore the Congo and to discover Vic Falls,’ Mr Smith tells me authoritatively, not twigging that I too have read the guidebook.

The centrepiece of our bedroom is a four-poster bed draped in a mist of mosquito netting, which we’re happy to see –this is a malaria area, so precautions must always be taken to minimise bloodsuckers having their wicked way. But the best surprise is out on the deck – we have our own private plunge pool. We head straight outside to inspect it, remembering not to leave the sliding doors unlocked – not mindful of a mosi attack this time, but thinking about our simian friends. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who think this is a fabulous hangout – the baboons love to get in, and know how to pull the handle. Cheeky monkeys, indeed; the Elan Vital spa was wrecked a couple of weeks beforehand, luckily without any guests in mid-massage. The things people will do for beauty treatments, these days.

Back in our Explorer suite and Mr Smith points out a crystal whisky decanter next to the minibar and can’t help reminiscing about childhood memories of his father. I have to confess the oval bathroom and a choice of glass shower and roll-top bath overlooking the watering hole so that you can enjoy a soak with a view of the zebras flitting among the bushes has won my attention over stories of Mr Smith Sr. After a long day we make the most of our very private location until the time comes for a guard to collect us for supper. The escort is necessary or else you might find the local wildlife wouldn’t mind adding you to their dinner menu.

As we sit underneath the Tintswalo tree, Mr Smith is happy to discover that he is definitely at the top of the food chain. He declares with an imperious air, his roast impala is delicious and tastes like a gamier version of beef. Having not wanted to rub the fur the wrong way of anyone who might be watching us, I savour a guilt-free wild mushroom risotto. Serenaded by a night chorus of frogs, and a bottle of red wine later and we’ve forgotten quite where we’re dining, and half jump out of our skin when a herd of 15 buffalo start rolling in the mud not 20 metres from the table.

A telescope is a small hint at the name of the Kruger game reserve where this luxury South African safari camp is located: Manyeleti means ‘place of many stars’ in the language of the local Shangaan tribe, people who even have their own form of astrology. As much of a sight as the sky here is to behold, it is the eye candy on terra firme that has us gazing out in awe and what better accompaniment to an after-dinner G&T on the main deck than peering out to see who turns up at Tintswalo’s watering hole for their own digestif.

The game drive the following morning (if 5am actually qualifies as morning), is full of excitement: tracking two male lions, finding a herd of elephants spraying each other with water and rolling in the mud, a tower of giraffe standing tall. We’re exhilarated as we head back to the lodge for a three-course breakfast and are joined by our ranger Patrick. Born in the bush, Patrick has help build many of the roads in the park and knows more about the habits of the wildlife than most. He tells us about the only time in 20 years he’s seen an elephant give birth. The herd formed a circle facing inwards around the expectant mother to protect her and when the calf is born, trunks in air began to trumpet to announce the newborn’s arrival. Each of the elephants then touched and stroked the calf to welcome it to the family.

Leaving Mr Smith to listen to Patrick’s storytelling, I slip off for a soothing massage on the private deck back at our suite. Pure indulgent luxury when accompanied by grandstand views of the magnificent wildlife at the watering hole right in front of me. To appreciate just how special this safari camp is, it helps if you know the meaning of another Shangaan word: ‘Tintswalo’, itself. It’s the feeling of love or gratitude that you feel for someone who has given you a meaningful gift. And that is just the sentiment this Kruger camp leaves us with.

The Guestbook

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