Umlani Bushcamp was founded in 1989 by Marco and Marie-Louise Schiess in the central section of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. In 1993, the fences between the Timbavati and the Kruger were removed to allow for wildlife migration and this pristine wilderness area became known as the Greater Kruger National Park.
Marco and Marie-Louise’s wish was to encapsulate their vision of a true African adventure in the very spirit and experience of the camp itself. They wanted the camp to blend in with the environment and as a result, the entire bush camp is built from natural materials in a traditional African style.
Located overlooking a seasonal river bed, with views out over a waterhole on the opposite bank, the camp is frequented by buffalo and other plains game. Hyaena and leopard tracks can frequently be found on the sandy paths which wind their way through the camp, and a guided walk from camp with one of the qualified guides offers a perfect way to learn the art of tracking and the intricacies of finding spoor.
Early morning and evening game drives are in open four wheel drive Landrovers accompanied by experienced rangers and trackers, most of whom come from the communities bordering the reserve. Umlani – meaning “place of rest” in the local Shangaan language – has traversing rights over more than 10,000ha, and with more than 40 mammal and 350 bird species recorded, the wildlife experiences are exceptional.
The Umlani philosophy of simplistic luxury and ‘getting back to nature’ is enhanced by the romance of operating without electricity, so each hut and the entire camp is lit by candlelight and oil lamps, providing a warm and magical atmosphere. Accommodation options include four double huts, five family units and one eco rondavel. This allows for flexibility with friends and families who would like to share accommodation.
Umlani Bushcamp has long carried Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) certification, being the 14th property to get certified in South Africa and winning several awards for its responsible tourism activities over the years.
All of the camp’s staff have direct input into decision making processes and workloads are shared. Training and skills development are ongoing and many staff members have been at the camp for more than a decade, working their way up from temporary worker positions to senior management roles.
For some great Umlani staff stories go to this recent post.
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