Geography and climate

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is located in the Limpopo province of South Africa, between latitudes 24° 34’ S and 24° 03’ S, and longitudes 31° 03’ E and 31° 31’ E.

The Timbavati Reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger and lies nestled between the Kruger National Park on the east, the Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves in the north and the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve in the west. As there are no fences between Kruger National Park and the Timbavati, the reserve enjoys a wide variety of game, including the big five.

The southern border of the Kruger National Park lies close to the Kingdom of Swaziland, while in the north it borders Zimbabwe and in the east, Mozambique. The terrain is undulating with altitudes ranging between 300 to 500 metres above sea level.

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is situated within the Savanna Biome of South Africa. This biome covers 32% of South Africa.  In essence Savanna is classified as a vegetation type consisting of both a tree and grass layer with complex interactions between these two structural layers.

Savannas occur within an annual rainfall range between less than 200 mm to 1500 mm per annum.  The Timbavati falls within the midrange with an annual precipitation of 550 mm - 600 mm per annum, with the wet season occurring between the months of November to March.  Summers are hot to uncomfortably hot with a long term mean maximum temperature of 38 °C in the months of January to April.

Species composition and structure of vegetation of an area are highly correlated to the underlying geology and soils of the area.  Weathering of the geological substrate will result in soils with nutrient characters inherited from the geological substrate.  Granite and Gniess are the dominant geological formations of the Timbavati. These rock types are rich in feldspar and quartzite which consists of silica and oxygen with very little iron (Ferro) and Magnesium (Ferro-Magnesium) minerals in them.  Due to these rock formations sandy soils characterise the landscape of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, in turn detraining the species composition and with the rainfall the structure of the vegetation.

Game viewing is exceptional, with an abundance of elephant, buffalo, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, impala, waterbuck and warthog, together with their attendant predators: lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. The larger and more rare antelopes like Roan, Eland and Tsessebe have been slow to return to the area, but the critically endangered African wild dog is a regular visitor.