Tuli lies in the most eastern part of Botswana on the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe, separated only by the Limpopo River from South Africa, and the Shashe River from Zimbabwe. The reserve is the cornerstone of the proposed Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area and it lies very close to the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site in South Africa.
The Tuli area goes by lots of names – the Tuli Block, Tuli Circle, Northern Tuli Game Reserve, the Land of Giants, Mashatu. Lots of people have heard of it, but not everyone knows where it is or why they should definitely plan a visit. But Tuli Safari Lodge has plenty of reasons.
1. Stunning scenery
The Northern Tuli Game Reserve is a hidden gem – it’s a unique, timeless corner of Africa with spectacular wildlife, breathtaking landscapes and a fascinating history. It is quite unlike the rest of Botswana in terms of its stunning scenery, which is typified by huge vistas and big skies, rocky outcrops and baobab-studded plains. It’s a photographer’s and geologist’s dream as the bush is incredibly varied with rock formations that are reminiscent of Namibia, and a network of riverbeds and riverine forests, as well as open grasslands and marshy areas.
2. A year-round destination
Being in a semi-arid zone, it’s a destination that is great to visit at all times of the year with less of a difference between the greener season and the drier season than in other parts of Botswana. In fact the greener season, which is approximately from November to March, is a beautiful time to come as the bush is often transformed into a floral wonderland.
3. Great game viewing
Game viewing and birding is diverse and has the added bonus of a beautiful backdrop. Tuli boasts the largest herd of elephant on privately owned land in Africa, and it is one of the few places where one of the Big Five can be seen in the same spot and at the same time as one of the Little Five – Tuli’s elephant shrews are an almost guaranteed sighting at one of our favourite sundowner spots overlooking the reserve. Tuli is also a great spot for leopard, cheetah and increasingly more lion sightings, and there is a resident clan of hyena on the property.
4. Fascinating history
The reserve is also fascinating from a historical perspective, with remains from the iron and stone ages, as well as close links to the nearby Mapungubwe World Heritage Site in South Africa. Not far from the lodge there is also a rock shelter with several paintings, which was inhabited by bushmen over 1,000 years ago.
5. Varied activities
Guests have a range of safari activities to choose from at Tuli – game drives including night drives, bush walks, hides that include the option of sleep-outs, meaningful community visits, horseback safaris and mountain biking. It is even home to the Children in the Wilderness’ fundraising mountain bike tour called the ‘Tour de Tuli’.
6. Range of accommodation
There are accommodation options to suit all pockets and preferred styles, including camping, self-catering and fully inclusive lodges.
7. Easy to get to
For overseas guests, Johannesburg is the best port of entry. The quickest and easiest way to get to Tuli is to fly to the Limpopo Valley Airfield, which was cited as the ‘world’s most romantic airport’ by a UK newspaper. There’s a twice weekly service from OR Tambo to Limpopo Valley on Thursdays and Sundays, and flight times are designed to fit with international arrivals and departures. Alternatively there is the option to fly in on a private plane or charter flights into Limpopo Valley from anywhere else in the region. For local residents or for those who are happy to self-drive, the border at Pont Drift is about a five-hours drive from Johannesburg on good quality roads. When the Limpopo River is flowing, the border crossing is conducted by cable car, which is quite an adventure in itself!
8. A great destination to tag onto other travel plans
Thanks to its transport links throughout the region, Tuli is a perfect standalone destination that offers an authentic and varied safari experience. Tuli Safari Lodge has often been described as a relaxing retreat in its own right thanks to its spacious and shady grounds. It also makes a great stopping point for those travelling between South Africa and Botswana (or beyond) by road. Tuli fits in well with visits to Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and the Waterberg region of South Africa. As a result of the new flights into the reserve, as well as the option to use Johannesburg as a hub, Tuli can also be combined with any other destination in Southern Africa.
9. Family friendly
Most of the accommodation options in Tuli welcome children of all ages and it’s an ideal spot for multi-generational family getaways as it offers a wide range of activities as well as plenty of opportunities to relax.
10. Perfect for special interests
Whether you’re a geologist, a photographer, an artist, a birder, a wildlife enthusiast, or a historian, Tuli is a dream location.
Those are our top 10 reasons to come to Tuli. What would you add to the list?