Kambaku River Sands, Timbavati Private Game Reserve

Kambaku River Sands in Timbavati Private Game Reserve is one of our favourite lodges in South Africa, however we could be accused of being biased, as Van and I met while he was guiding for their sister lodge, Kambaku Safari Lodge! Kambaku took over management of this lodge a few years ago and completely renovated it. They do not allow children and the rooms are sufficiently spaced such that it offers more privacy than many other lodges. The game viewing is exceptional as is the service and the food is top notch too. Kambaku River Sands also offers free unlimited wifi (in main lodge area), a spa and (unlike many other lodges), a fitness centre complete with steam and sauna rooms!

This is one of our top five go-to lodges – particularly if you are lucky enough to take advantage of their ‘stay 4, pay 3’ promotions! Be sure to get in touch with us for a quote and we can also organise transfers and/or flight options for you to get there. We do not charge any booking fees or apply any surcharges to your booking.

Kambaku River Sands Accommodation, Hospitality and Food

Accommodation at Kambaku River Sands in one of 10 luxury thatched suites. Your room will include air conditioning, a mini bar (drinks are included in your rate), a deck overlooking the river bed or the African bush and an ensuite bathroom with bath, shower and outdoor shower. Kambaku River Sands has an infinity pool (often visited by elephants), a bar, wine cellar, spa, gym, sauna, curio shop, wifi in common areas, a waterhole visible from common areas and you can organise an afternoon at the raised bird hide nearby. The camp is unfenced (except a recently installed elephant wire), so you can encounter animals in camp, though not common. We have seen buffalo, giraffe, monkeys and antelope from our deck while staying at Kambaku. Anything is possible when in the African bush!

Here you will enjoy 2 x safaris each day, including one in the early morning and one in the evening. Safari drives last for 3-3.5 hours typically and you will have the opportunity to see the Big 5 plus all manner of other African wildlife and birds.

All meals are included in your rate, as are beers, water, soft drinks and cider. Souvenirs, tips, laundry and spirits/wine/cocktails will be extra for your account. You can pay these by credit card or cash at the end of your stay.

We have always had exceptional service while staying at Kambaku River Sands, and the food is very good. They do their best to provide high quality, huge quantity and also diversity – even mixing up where you eat your meals! The guiding is amongst the better quality (in our experience) as well.


Game viewing at Kambaku River Sands

The most important thing when choosing a private game lodge is the quality of game viewing. This is another reason Kambaku is one of our favourites! They have a huge traversing area (area they are allowed to drive), and some of the properties they are allowed to drive on do not allow many other lodges – so sometimes sightings can be more private. I have seen all the Big 5 plus wild dogs and cheetahs while staying here, but anywhere you stay will always be up to luck at that particular time – there can never be guarantees! That being said, I think this lodge is particularly good for lion, elephant and buffalo sightings. Sabi Sands may be slightly better for leopard sightings, however Timbavati is not far behind – and we have had fantastic leopard sightings every time we stayed at Kambaku. On top of that it’s probably been the luckiest place for cheetah sightings, though this is by no means a given! Overall if you stay 3+ nights you have a very good chance of spotting the Big 5 (or you may be super lucky and see them in one drive, as has happened to us).


Kambaku typically do not put more than 8 people per safari vehicle. Here’s a video of some of the highlights of our 4-night stay at River Sands in June 2017. We saw the Big 5 plus cheetah (and all the usual suspects like giraffes, zebras etc):

Young elephantWhat we love about Kambaku:

  • Large, luxurious rooms and HUGE bathrooms, with baths that overlook the bush
  • Excellent service with staff who seem genuinely happy to be there
  • They offer bushwalks to supplement your daily game drives – just another way to experience the bush!
  • Fitness centre and spa for those who want to keep fit or feel even more relaxed
  • Unlimited free wifi (only in main areas)
  • A lovely infinity pool overlooking the bush and waterhole, which is often visited by elephants
  • Mini fridge in room (many lodges don’t offer this), which means it’s easy to kick back in your room or on your deck with a cold beverage – and even better they are all included in your rate!
  • Beers, water and soft drinks are included in your rate throughout your stay
  • Good quality of guiding
  • EXCELLENT game viewing
  • Unfenced camp, which means you get an added sense of excitement (particularly when walking around at night – though you must be escorted)
  • Great food and plenty of it
  • Nearby hide overlooking a waterhole is accessible for free during the day, if you want to do some more game viewing
  • No children, so it is a great location for couples looking for quiet and privacy
  • The toilet is in a separate room with a big glass window – so you could spot an animal while on the loo! It’s novel.


Cheetah in sunlightConsiderations:

  • The lodge is unfenced which means you have to be escorted to/from the main lodge and your room at night
  • The pool is great, but it’s on the smaller side and not very private if people happen to be hanging out in the main lodge. If the lodge was full and everyone wanted to swim, it might be a bit squashed!
  • There’s a waterhole at the lodge which does get wildlife visitors, but it’s not the most productive waterhole of the lodges we have stayed


What our clients have said about Kambaku River Sands: “Excellent. Amazingly good food, very good service, friendly staff, really good accommodation, really good location, really good place to see big game”


Should you stay at Kambaku River Sands?

In short, yes. We would never hesitate to recommend Kambaku River Sands to anyone except if they had young children. It’s a good place for couples who are looking for a great mix of luxury and privacy as well as an amazing African safari experience.  We recommend a minimum of four nights here to get the best experience – if you stay for four nights or more the chances of seeing all the key favourite African wildlife is very high.


Please contact us or complete the form below for a quote, availability or just for more information on Kambaku River Sands – or other options to tailor your perfect African safari experience!

Kambaku River Sands Enquiry


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