Abelana Game Reserve is a 15,000ha (36,000 acre) Big Five game reserve adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park and the Selati Game Reserve, close to the town of Phalaborwa in South Africa’s beautiful Lowveld – the country’s prime big game region.
Owned by the Mashishimale community, the word “abelana” means “to share amongst each other” in the local Northern Sotho language. This spirit of sharing underpins the relationship between the Mashishimale and its lodge operations partner which leases the land for eco-tourism purposes.
Characterised by breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, varied topography and a mixture of vegetation types, Abelana Game Reserve has a 10km stretch of the semi-perennial Selati River in its northern section, as well as numerous other seasonal watercourses.
Abelana is home to a rich diversity of fauna and flora, from the hippos and crocodiles that make the Selati River their home and the famed Big Five – elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo – as well as cheetah and wild dog, which are occasional visitors, to an impressive number of endemic bird species including the African fish eagle, peregrine falcon, Arnot’s chat, thick-billed cuckoo, bat hawk and elusive Pel’s fishing owl.
What sets us apart
Abelana Game Reserve offers guests the chance to enjoy a unique feeling of exclusivity while on safari while offering exceptional value for money. With just two lodges – Abelana Safari Camp in the south of the reserve and Abelana River Lodge in its northern section – guests could easily be in the only vehicle exploring the reserve’s 15,000ha at any one given time.
This low density approach allows us to offer a completely immersive, authentic safari experience which can be easily tailored to suit guest preferences. Geographically, the reserve is blessed with a range of eco-systems, from the distinctive granite outcrops and koppies of the south to beautiful riparian forest in the north, dominated by large riverine trees.
Abelana Game Reserve is committed to the principles of sustainable tourism, working with the Mashishimale community to uplift and empower its people while conserving and protecting the wilderness under its stewardship.
Our environmental ethos is to operate with as light a footprint as possible. Abelana Safari Camp uses solar power and gas geysers and no large trees were removed during its construction. The camp could be dismantled, and the site completely rehabilitated within 12-18 months. We are against single-use plastics and we have our own reverse osmosis systems providing fresh drinking water from an underground aquifer to our lodges and staff in stainless steel or recyclable glass bottles. All waste is separated and removed from the property.
We offer an authentic safari experience with a sensitive ecological touch, creating memorable transformative experiences for our guests. Our staff and local community are a priority and staff development and skills enhancement are an essential tenet of our philosophy. The reserve works with the community on several projects including an environmental education programme for local schoolchildren, outsourcing of services and food production.