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Tintswalo Family Camp: The place where you become family

The Tintswalo Family Camp was a private holiday home for co-founder Gaye Corbett and her family

By Kedibone Modise | March 25, 2021 | Travel Leisure

As we try and recreate normalcy during these uncertain times, many people can attest that safari breaks are always the best getaways.

It’s the best way to reconnect with family and friends, unwind and recharge after a stressful 2020.

Tintswalo Family Camp in Welgevonden Game Reserve in the majestic Limpopo province is everything and more.

True to its Xitsong name, Tintswalo, which means an “intangible feeling of peace, love and gratitude bestowed upon someone", the place exceeded my expectations.

Tintswalo Family Camp offers full exclusivity safari retreats for multi-generational families travelling together.

For over 18 years, the Tintswalo Family Camp was a private holiday home for co-founder Gaye Corbett and her family.

They visited the lodge with their children and grandchildren, friends and extended families until about nine months ago when the Corbett family decided to share their private space with other families.

We arrived at the lodge on a Wednesday afternoon after a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg.

As soon as our shuttle parked at the gate, the safari vehicles were already waiting to take us to the camp.

After welcome drinks and lunch, we went for the late afternoon game drive where we spotted rhino, black-backed jackals, giraffes and two young female lions taking a nap by the side of the road.

That night, we enjoyed a boma dinner under the spectacular African sky before retreating to our room.

I stayed in a spacious three bedroom cabin. The main ensuite bedroom, furnished with a king size bed, had an inside shower and a massive bathtub as well as a viewing deck overlooking the lush forest. For those cold nights, there is a fireplace.

The second bedroom, ideal for extended family or friends, is fully installed with a double bed and a sleeper couch. There is a sliding door that opens to a private porch, the perfect spot for reading.

The third bedroom has two single beds and a couch. The cabin has a long corridor that leads to a separate bathroom with an inside shower. There’s also an outside shower.

The next day, the group opted for a game drive after breakfast.

Minutes into the game drive, we spotted Thembi, one of the two male lions at the reserve, feasting on a zebra carcass.

Nearby, we could see four black-backed jackals trying to score a meal from Thembi’s brunch. Thembi wouldn’t budge.

We also witnessed a huge elephant bull sauntering about and a crocodile basking in the sun by the riverbank. Hippos were cooling themselves in the water nearby.

The trees aren’t too thick, so you can see the animals from a distance. When we stopped for refreshments on an open veld, we saw zebras, wildebeest, rhinos, antelopes, wildebeest, waterbucks and kudus grazing under a fig tree.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed an incredible sighting of a female cheetah and her two cubs, followed by sundowners with grand views.

The next day, our ranger spotted a leopard with two newborn cubs. We camped in the spot for over an hour, hoping to catch a glimpse of the leopard or her cubs. Though the wait didn’t yield any results, it was all worth it.

Alistair Leuner, Regional General Manager of Tintswalo Safari Products, said the main market for Tintswalo Family Camp is an intergenerational channel for families, with a strong focus on catering to children.

The camp offers a full kids program that includes a tailormade safari drive, tracking and bushwalk where the kids can spot the Big 5, the Small 5 and the Ugly 5.

On arrival, they receive a backpack with goodies. There is also a large entertainment area kitted with educational toys, PlayStations, television sets and DVDs, and a table tennis table.

The lodge offers buffet options of traditional South African meals such as pap served with braai meat, chakalaka, lasagne, fresh salads, garlic bread and malva pudding and homemade custard.

There are also self-catering options. All you need to do is bring your own food, their chefs and butlers will take care of everything else.

The establishment also has a separate halaal and Kosher kitchen.

“We tailor-make the experience so that the stay at Tintswalo Family Camp will be something the families will never forget. It’s home away from home. As we always say, you come as our guest but you leave as our friend,” said Leuner.

Tintswalo Family Camp is a malaria-free area. It has more than 500 different animals and 300 birds species.

Images: Instagram and Courtesy of Tintswalo Family Camp