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Makalali translates to ‘place of rest’ in the local language of Shangaan – Back in the early 90’s, this area of wilderness was originally used for cattle farming. Today it now hosts the big-five and is a revered reserve, with a conservation mission of expanding South Africa’s wilderness areas.


Included in your stay are two activities per day which consist of a 3-hour morning / afternoon safari in this scenic and abundant reserve. Learn about Africa’s intricate flora and fauna from your knowledgeable and qualified guides. Early morning’s and late evening’s are the best time for game viewing. Please see “A Typical Day’ for our safari timings.


During every activity your guide will choose a spot in nature for a quick cup of coffee in the morning or a for a scenic sundowner during your evening safari. This is a great opportunity to get to know your guide, ask any wildlife questions that pop into your head and of course, take in the sights and sounds of nature off the vehicle.

Daily Schedule

Daily schedules change according to what guests have planned or pre-booked for the duration of their stay. A typical day at Phakamani Zelati Lodge will include 2 activities, a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, sundowner drinks & snacks. Finally ending the day around the boma fire before indulging in a traditional 3-course evening meal. 


  • 04h30: Wake up call / Morning coffee & rusks
  • 05h00: Morning Safari
  • 09h00: Head back to camp for breakfast
  • 01h00: A light lunch is served at the lodge
  • 16h00: Afternoon game drive departs
  • 19h00: Back to camp, freshen up after your safari, take a seat round the roaring fire before the three-course evening meal is served.

Please note: Game drive times alter slightly on a seasonal basis.

When to Go

In South Africa’s Lowveld region the summer months are when most rainfall occurs (November - February) so its worth bringing a waterproof jacket or two if you visit during this time. The rainfall generally occurs in the form of thunderstorms where a downpour is experienced, very seldom lasting longer than a few hours. This time of year may be tougher for game-viewing due to the thickness of the bush but these months bring in plenty of predator / prey action, vibrant photographic opportunities and bounding new babies in the bush.

The average maximum temperatures range from 24°c in July to 34°c in January with the average minimum occurring in July at a temperature of 8.5°c. The dry winter months are typically the best in terms of spotting game as all life is drawn to the remaining water sources, the landscape turns from green to gold and the evenings are a little chilly, so packing a few layers will be worth it.

What to Pack

October – April - The rainfall is high, and so is the temperature, reaching over 40 degrees Celsius at times, so bring your swimsuit for a dip in the Phakamani pool!

May – November - During this season the weather is mild during the day with temperatures averaging mid - high 20s, but when the sun goes down, the jackets are on and the fires are lit.

  • Throughout the year, we recommend packing lightweight, neutral-coloured clothing with short / long sleeves – think ‘Safari Style’.
  • Always bring sun protection in the form of sunblock, sun hats, and polarised glasses.
  • Insect repellent – It’s the summer months that bring with it most of the critters, but they’ll stay clear if you use repellent. Try and opt for the eco-friendly kind.
  • Layers are recommended – jackets, scarfs and even gloves are needed for early mornings on game drive, especially in winter – but there are also cosy blankets on the vehicle.
  • Comfortable walking shoes as well as open sandals for when the weather is hot.
  • Cameras & binoculars for the many safari sightings and picture opportunities during your visit to South Africa.
  • We always advise bringing appropriate plug adaptors for your country.

What to Expect

Whilst staying at Phakamani Zelati Lodge & Villa you can expect - 

  • Informative game drives conducted in the iconic Makalali Private Nature Reserve.
  • An authentic country style lodge located in the heart of nature.
  • An exclusive safari experience & stay at the Zelati Villa
  • Scenic safari sundowners & morning coffee stops in the bush. 
  • Excellent bird-watching & effortless game viewing.
  • Friendly and welcoming staff & knowledgeable guides.

Authentic South African dining, boma nights & garden games.

Fact Sheet

Phakamani River Lodge Fact Sheet


Phakamani River Lodge Directions


Phakamani River Lodge Rates


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