Umlani Bush Camp is one of my all-time favourite safari lodges. It lies in Timbavati Private Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. This means that you get the amazing experience of being in one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa (Greater Kruger is almost 30,000 square kilometers!) without having to deal with the crowds of the National Park.
Umlani is a small camp (only 10 rooms) that strives to blend into the African bush in every way. The huts are build with natural materials, and the public spaces are all open to let the smells and sounds of nature in. The camp is unfenced, meaning that you are literally staying in the wild. There is a perfect balance between rustic and comfortable: there is no electricity (but you can charge your phone and camera in the office) and at night the camp is lit up by oil lanters, but you still have comfortable beds, flushing toilets and hot showers.
Timbavati has some of the best game viewing in the country. In particular, this is a hot-spot for leopards (the one animal that eludes many visitors to the African bush). This is also the only place in the world where you have a chance to see the world famous white lions in the wild.
Umlani costs from R4,158 per person / night (2018 rates), but they also have an excellent package which includes 3 nights accommodation and transfers from OR Tambo at just R11,780 pp. All rates at Umlani include full board, all drinks and two safaris per day. There is a conservation levy of R328 pp / night, and if you self-drive there is a R140 vehicle permit payable at the gate.