In service of the community

In the heart of the Limpopo lowveld, newly opened Abelana Game Reserve is a unique property with a unique and wonderful ethos.

The word “abelana” means “to share amongst each other” in Northern Sotho. This community spirit guides the way everything at Abelana is done. The property is owned by the Mashishimale community, who lease out the land for eco-tourism purposes. From the rubbish collection to the laundry services, a number of small businesses have opened up in the community outside of the reserve thanks to Abelana. Guests pay a community levy that goes directly towards community upliftment and development.

The Selati River is semi perennial, but there is always water in front of the lodge, home to hippos and other aquatic species. Photo: Supplied

Situated on the banks of the Selati River, Abelana River Lodge is big five and unfenced, allowing wildlife to roam freely through the camp. It’s not uncommon for hippos to get out of the river and graze between suites 12 and 13! Spacious and private, each suite is fitted with an indoor and outdoor shower, and a deck, where guests can gaze upon the river in peace.

The 15 000ha property is adjacent to the Kruger National Park and Selati Game Reserve, close to the towns of Gravelotte and Phalaborwa.

There are twenty suites at River Lodge, spaced along the Selati River. Guests are accompanied to their rooms each night as the camp is unfenced. Photo: Supplied

The attention to detail at Abelana is outstanding. From the cool (or warm depending on weather) hand towels placed in your hands every time you enter the lodge, to the jar of freshly baked cookies that gets magically refilled once a day, you never want for anything as a guest at Abelana. The mini fridge in each suite is always stocked with cold water, bottled at Abelana in glass bottles to reduce single use plastic, and a bottle is placed beside the turned down bed each night. Draped in a vast mosquito net, the king size beds face sliding glass doors that open up to a private deck. All the suites at River Lodge face onto the river, home to an impressive variety of bird species. Giant Kingfishers are likely to wake you from your afternoon nap!

 Post game-drive drinks are served around the fireplace, and dinner and breakfast are served al fresco on the main deck. Photo: Supplied

Post game-drive drinks are served around the fireplace, and dinner and breakfast are served al fresco on the main deck. Photo: Supplied

A main deck where meals are served overlooks the river, and is shaded by an enormous fig tree. A sparkling infinity pool flows seamlessly over the edge of the deck, just a few metres elevated above the river.

In the South of the reserve, the more low-key Abelana Safari camp is nestled among spectacular granite koppies. Accommodating eight guests in five Meru-style tents, the Safari Camp is ideal for families and groups of friends. By far the best thing about the Safari camp is the elevated viewing deck. The steep climb is worth the view. Set between impressive granite outcrops overlooking a waterhole, the elevated deck offers views in every direction.

The Safari Camp deck is spacious enough to accommodate big groups of people, and is the perfect spot to enjoy something cold while the sun goes down. Photo: Lauren Dold

With only River Lodge and Safari camp on the reserve, and 15 000ha to traverse, guests could easily be on the only vehicle on drive at any one given time.

2021 Rates:

River lodge R7 500 pp sharing
50% pp single supplement
A community levy of R100

Safari Camp 3-night package: R10 210 pp sharing
A community levy of R100



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An open minded personality.. fun to be with, because of my positive vibes. God fearing, for without God I am nothing.. Moved with compassion when dealing with you, not selfish or self-centered...

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