Umbabat Game Reserve, Limpopo
Umbabat Nature Reserve lies just north east of Marulaneng, closest to Satara and Olifants rest camps of the Kruger National Park, bordered by the Kruger, the Timbavati and the Klaserie game reserves. Several private nature reserves, in turn, make up the beautiful Umbabat Private Game Reserve, in the heart of ‘Big Five’ country.
The Umbabat and Timbavati private game reserves, along with the Klaserie and Balule nature reserves, collectively form the Associated Private Nature Reserves, 180 000 hectares of land without any fences, committed to conservation. These reserves then, alongside other privately owned reserves such as Mala Mala, Londolozi, and Sabi Sabi are known as the ‘greater Kruger National Park'. The area between these reserves no longer has fences, which allows free movement of game across 2.1 million hectares of land - as close an experience as you are likely to get of the ‘real’ Africa.
Umbabat includes reserves such at N’tsiri, Ndlopfu and Ingwelala game reserves where mopani bushveld, watering holes and river beds attract a huge variety of game including the elephant, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, kudu and several other antelope. These plains game in turn attract a number of predators, particularly hyena and lions that hunt in prides, although there are also sightings of wild dog and cheetah, just less frequently.
In 2006 Umbabat Private Nature Reserve made headlines with the birth of two white lions, the first wild white lions born in the Timbavati area for over 12 years under completely natural circumstances - born to tawny lions believed to carry a recessive gene. Until then white lions had been extinct in the wild since 1997. White lions were only known to occur in the wild in the Timbavati area bordering on Umbabat, and have been widely bred in captivity, particularly for the lucrative ‘canned hunting’ industry.