Rooms: 4: 2 doubles; 2 x 2-room family suites with double and twin. All with air-conditioning.
Prices: From R1,400 pp sharing. Game drives charged separately, R500 pp per 3-hour drive.
* Special rates available
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Meals: Includes all meals at the lodge, plus packed breakfast for excursions outside the reserve.
Directions: From Hoedspruit take the R40 towards Phalaborwa. Enter the reserve at the Olifants West gate.
With so many upmarket (by which I mean very expensive) lodges within the exclusive private reserves of the Greater Kruger, it's always refreshing to find small, intimate and affordable accommodation here. Balule Private Game Reserve is a short drive from Hoedspruit and is completely open to the Kruger National Park, meaning that there are no fences and the Big 5 are free to wander freely. I visited in the middle of one of the worst droughts in years, but the gardens around the lodge were a heavenly oasis of green, with two waterholes close by, giving it 'kid in a sweet-shop' appeal for cheeky elephants. Since Sabine and her small team live at the lodge, with only four suites sleeping a maximum of twelve guests, Masodini has a lovely 'guest-house' feel, making it a real home-from-home in the bush. There's a down-to-earth warmth, making you feel waited-on, but part of the family all at the same time. Game drives are not included in the rates, which is actually quite clever, since guests can choose to stay for longer, opting to go out on any number of day excursions (Blyde Canyon, Panorama Route, endangered species centres to name but a few), without feeling that they are missing out on what they have already paid for. I especially loved my dinner around the fire in the outdoor boma. I've experienced many 'boma' dinners, but never have I been encouraged to watch the chef at work in her outdoor kitchen before!
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