Antares Bush Camp is a small exclusive bush camp set within the open system of the Greater Kruger National Park. In the northern section of the Balule Nature Reserve is an area of land that had its origins in small scale agriculture. Balule is a 60 000 Ha nature reserve made up of several regions of which Grietjie is one of the founding members. The reserve is bordered to the north by the town of Phalaborwa and in the south by Hoedspruit. To the east lie the Klaserie and Timbavati reserves and the Kruger National Park, while in the west the R40 National road creates a logical boundary that has effectively become the western boundary of the Greater Kruger National Park.
The Grietjie region, which is where we are located, is a 3000 Ha reserve that had its humble beginnings as a farming community. Over the past 20 years or so the region has transformed from an agricultural background to one that is well-sought after as a Big 5 Nature Reserve. Our boundary fences have all been removed and we have expanded our traversing area which now covers almost 7500 Ha and includes over 10kms of Olifant’s River frontage. The vegetation is a mixture of Marula/Knobthorn savannah veld and Mopane veld. There are a number of small granite/syenite kopjies (small hill made up of rocky boulders)) on the reserve and the largest hill is named “Grietjie Berg” after which the reserve gets its name.
Our winter months produce a comfortable environment to explore the bush in, with dry and relatively warm days. We don’t experience extremely cold conditions although the clear skies at night can make the temperature drop a little especially nearer the river. During the summer we expect to receive our annual rainfall between October and April and the day time temperatures can get very high, but this just gives you the perfect excuse to laze away in the plunge pool while you watch the animals come down to the waterhole to quench their thirst.
With the reserve part of the open system now, we can boast almost all the game species that you could expect to find in the Kruger National Park, although species such as eland, roan antelope and a few others are highly unlikely to be encountered due to their habitat preferences. Our bird list is close to 300 species and rarities such as Pel’s fishing owl, African finfoot and a few other can be seen along the river. Regular sightings of elephant and lions occur at the waterhole just in front of the camp along with a large variety of general game and birdlife. With the development of Umgede hide at the water’s edge there is a great opportunity to get close to the action. With free Wi-Fi available throughout the camp, our guests will have the luxury of being able to video their favourite sightings and send them home to their jealous families and friends.
Welcome to the Umgede underground hide
There are only a handful of underground hides in South Africa and even fewer in the immediate vicinity of the Kruger National Park. These hides offer guests the unique and amazing opportunity to sit in the safety and comfort of a game viewing hide and photograph the animals from their level. Whether your subject is the mighty elephants as they throw the mud over their ears, or the majestic lions as they lap the cooling water or just the dainty dragonflies as they rest on the lily pads, there will always be something of interest for you to focus your lens on.
At Umgede there is ample space for up to four photographers to sit in the comfort of adjustable office chairs and mount your cameras on sturdy supports or rest them on your bean bags. The waters edge is a mere 60-70 cm from the opening of the shutters allowing you to get really close to the animals. Watch the video to give yourself an idea of just how special this experience can be, https://youtu.be/SBj9T0RCnkk.
Behind you is ample seating for the non-photographers to also relax and spend time waiting for the animals to turn up or just to keep their better-halves company. Some photographers have even taken the opportunity to snuggle down under a blanket and spend the whole night waiting patiently for that one opportunity. To get award winning photographs sometimes requires patience and dedication but it can be worthwhile.