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Vlakvark Does Balule Camp

Balule Satellite Camp is situated almost centre in the Kruger National Park, very close to the Olifants River. It is a very small camp with only 15 sites. An adjacent fenced area consists of 6 huts with their own ablution and kitchen facilities. There is no electricity. Paraffin lamps are used to light the ablution at night and there are gas geysers supplying hot water. The central kitchen area is equipped with two large gas fridge/freezers. 

Check-in for Balule can be done either at Satara Rest Camp or Olifants Rest Camp. As we were travellng from the south, we checked in at Satara. Unfortunately recent heavy rain had closed many of the gravel roads in the area so we were forced to travel on the tar road in many places. The low-level bridge between Balule and Olifants Camp was also flooded so we had to take the long way around to get supplies.

I absolutely loved Balule! When we arrived at the gate we were greeted by Vivian, a bubbly lady who you can clearly see, loves her job. It was busy and the only camp site available was number 4 which had no shade. It was right on the perimeter fence and we were visited by an elephant herd. We coped just fine for the night and the next day moved into the neighbour’s spot, number 3. Not on the fence but a lovely shady area. Vivian is the heart and soul of Balule. She keeps the camp spotless. Every evening she walks around to each camp site wishing everyone a pleasant evening. 

Game viewing in the area is excellent. Due to the road closures we were unable to do many of the “favourite” routes like brunch at the Timbavati Picnic Site. Instead we stuck to a loop very close to camp. We went out on the S89 gravel road and very close to the Ngotso Weir we noticed Impala looking anxious. We stopped and watched a couple of hyena for a little and suddenly out of nowhere came a young impala bolting across the road in front of us, followed by a wild dog on its heals. A few seconds later, the rest of the pack followed. We will never know if the hunt was successful. A few seconds earlier or later, we would never have known they were in the area!

We turned left and headed south on the H1-4. About 2km ahead a lone car stopped us, indicating to an area just off the edge of the road. And there he was, a gorgeous male cheetah (collared). We watched him for a while and headed a little further south on the tar to the one way gravel road, S147 that loops back to the S89 and Balule. This is just a gorgeous road. We didn’t even see another vehicle and had loads of plain game and birds of prey. We stopped next to a small river in the shade and ate our breakfast. Life is good!

We visited Olifants Rest Camp a couple of times during our stay at Balule, purely for the shop to stock up on ice. As residents in the satellite camp however,  you are permitted to use the swimming pool at Olifants. This is especially nice for people camping with children in the summer months. The shop is very well stocked and there is a lovely restaurant and lookout point over the river.

In conclusion, Balule is tops! I would go back just for the wonderful attitude displayed by Vivian, but in truth there is so much to go back for. Awesome little camp in the top 3 in Kruger alongside Tsendze and Maroela.

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