Kruger for Kids: Ezulwini River Lodge at Balule Private Nature Reserve

We arrived at Ezulwini River Lodge after a 1.5 hour shuttle and immediately felt the intense African heat descend around us.

A dry heat that signifies you should do nothing else but laze by the pool…. so that is exactly what we did!

The sparkling blue pool, located just off the reception area, bid us welcome and we hurriedly changed into our swimming costumes before we’d even been shown to our room!

Sinking into the cool water is my lasting memory of that arrival and I’m so grateful for it!


As I mentioned in a previous post, our last trip to this part of the world was during winter and swimming, for me anyway, wasn’t on the cards. I’m a hot weather swimming girl! This was bliss, dipping into the water and then warming up on the sun loungers before dipping in again. All while enjoying an icy drink and watching the wonderful bird life, and occasional naughty monkey. Safari heaven!

After our cool down we could finally take in the rest of this lovely lodge and headed down to the boma for a bite of lunch beneath the branches of this beautiful riverine forest.

After lunch we wandered along the raise walkway (to allow the elephants to walk beneath you!) to the treehouse chill out space overlooking the Olifants River…

Ezulwini River Lodge was a more intimate affair than our previous accommodation and I felt immediately welcomed and able to make myself at home.

There was a shaded communal reception area next to the pool where the other guests were sending photos of their trip home to Alaska (quite a contrast!!), the pool which I have mentioned become a happy hangout place for us all, a tree house at the end of the raised walkway beneath a huge fig tree where I loved to retreat and enjoy my book, making friends with the monkeys…

So many little spots where you could just sit and enjoy the day amidst your beautiful surroundings alone or with company.

Ezulwini means ‘place of paradise’

Our suite was also really lovely. Here we shared a room with our kids – they are the sleeper couch in the lounge area – instead of 2 separate rooms. The set up was really lovely. The room was huge with large windows letting in plenty of light and allowing you to enjoy the view of the river from your bed! The bathroom too was incredibly spacious and there was even an outdoor shower for showers under the stars!

Our private deck and plunge pool was an added bonus and I really loved this space where we had our privacy but could still enjoy the bush sounds, and even sights – elephants down at the river’s edge, baboons in the trees! And the kids LOVED our little splash pool which was great as we could then leave the communal swimming area to the quieter guests 😉

Having this private space to ourselves made Ezulwini really feel like we were staying in our own private safari camp for a family holiday, that and the fact that there were far fewer rooms, only 9 in total, which meant that there were fewer guests. You really felt the difference.

This felt personal and private and exclusive… which is funny considering it’s a much more affordable safari option than many of the other lodges in the Greater Kruger area.

I loved the space to chill-out here. The peace to read my book without interruption (besides the monkeys). The quiet to have an afternoon nap. It was blissful.


Ezulwini River Lodge is located in the Balule Private Nature Reserve which is an area I hadn’t visited before.

Each game drive we headed out hoping for good sightings but not quite sure what to expect. Our local tracker team were dedicated to the cause and as there was no one else to radio to for sightings they had to work really hard to find the animals themselves…

This was a more real animal tracking experience… it took time to find what we were looking for.

But patience pays off…

On our first evening we found buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, water buck, even a herd of elephant on our way back in the dark!

Back in the boma for dinner, surrounded by the warm glow of lanterns, we enjoyed delicious South African fare and swopped stories with the small group of fellow travellers….

Then we headed for bed beneath the swathes of mosquito netting, ready for another early morning game drive to “hunt” down some new stories of our own!

Contact Details

Ezulwini River Lodge, Balule Nature Reserve

Tel: +27 21 712 5284/5



Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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