safari in the
heart of Zululand


Babanango Game Reserve, located in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, is a showcase for one of the most ambitious rewilding projects in Southern Africa in recent years. Set among the breathtaking topography of the upper White Umfolozi River Valley, the reserve occupies a vast wilderness area of over 20,000 hectares that is steeped in Zulu history and layered upon geological features that date back to the beginning of time.

The landscape of Babanango, with its rugged mountains and serene valleys, serves as a sanctuary for an incredible variety of birds, plants, insects, reptiles, and mammals. Here, you might catch a glimpse of the secretive aardvark or hear the distant call of the aardwolf. With the recent return of the African elephant, Babanango is officially, and proudly, a Big Five game reserve.

Our expert guides lead a variety of activities that promise an unmatched safari experience. Whether you’re exploring significant historical battle sites like Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift nearby or enjoying a sunrise game drive every moment at Babanango is designed to be unforgettable.

Located close to the battlefield region

Unique landscape with 800m altitude difference

Over 20,000 hectares of rehabilitated land

Situated in a malaria free zone

For 20km the White Umfolozi River flows through the reserve


Upon arrival at Babanango Game Reserve you will be warmly welcomed by our caring team whose sole purpose is to ensure that your stay is as comfortable and memorable as possible. Every detail has been thoughtfully considered, from our celebrated cuisine and hand-picked wines to the carefully curated activities on the reserve. The reserve features four distinct lodges; Matatane Camp, Zulu Rock Lodge, Valley Lodge and Madwaleni River Lodge.

From timeless luxury, to family-fun, each offers a unique experience of this vast wilderness, catering to all preferences.


Babanango is a proud Big Five game reserve, a monumental feat following a complex rewilding journey. The reserve’s charm and appeal, however, does not stop there!

With its complex ecosystems and topographic variability, Babanango Game Reserve is blessed with an abundance of endemic fauna and flora. It is also home to a plethora of lesser-seen inhabitants. From the shy brown hyena to the flamboyant purple-crested turaco and the critically endangered oribi.

The ongoing commitment to rewilding and science-based conservation ensures that guests will experience an unforgettable safari experience that goes beyond the Big 5. Whether you’re an avid birder, a butterfly enthusiast, or just looking to experience breathtaking landscapes and the beauty of nature, Babanango has something special to offer everyone.

Diverse cat species including Cheetah, Serval and Caracal

313 recorded bird species and we continue to count

Endangered Aloes, some found nowhere else in Africa

A staggering 79 species of different butterflies

14 antelope species including the endangered Oribi


Whether you prefer the thrill of a guided game drive, the intimacy and “up-close-and-personal” experience of a walking safari, or the educational experience of a battlefield tour, Babanango offers activities to satisfy every interest.

Adventure-seekers can look forward to zip-lining or exploring historical copper mine ruins.

For guests who are eager to contribute towards wildlife monitoring and research, we offer helicopter patrols, camera trap servicing, and other activities in conjunction with the reserve’s conservation team.


Babanango Game Reserve is the legacy of a unique partnership between forward-thinking local communities with land-ownership rights and committed philanthropic investors who recognise the importance of sustainable conservation practices in support of both people and the planet.

Previously impacted by overgrazing and hunting, the land is being revitalized through community-led efforts following a landmark agreement with local communities and a major infrastructural investment.

Nearly 74% of the total reserve area has been contributed by the surrounding community trusts namely, Emcakwini, Esibongweni and KwaNgono, bringing the community land ownership into the core of this conservation project. The lease income generated by the community trusts from Babanango Game Reserve accrues to the beneficiaries to enhance their collective quality of life.

The real value to local communities is evident in the creation of new jobs, with 75% of about 210 permanent roles filled by locals. The project emphasises skills development and vocational training, fostering a burgeoning ‘wildlife-economy’ and sparking entrepreneurship in surrounding communities.