The Letaba River is a major watercourse running in a south-easterly direction through Kruger National Park about halfway up the game reserve.
The name of the river translated from the local Sotho language, means “sandy river”. Once you’ve seen its wide sandy banks, you’ll see how appropriately it’s named!
The river rises in the South African province of Limpopo and runs to the Lebombo Mountains near the Mozambiquan border. It then flows into the Olifants River.
Kruger Park rivers are great places to spot hippos and crocodiles plus other animals, such as antelope, which come down to drink at them.
It’s also nice to spend some quiet time at the lookouts over the rivers, waiting and listening to see what animals and birds will come past.
If you’re in Kruger Park, you’ll be able to follow the river’s course along a dirt road roughly between Shimuwini and Letaba rest camps and a bit further either side of them.
Letaba Rest Camp is set above a wide bending sweep of the river and has a self-guided riverside walking path. There are some wonderful animal watching views to be had from the camp and not just from the grounds, but from some of the accommodation too.
Elephants are often walking along the river banks and its common to see waterbuck and a whole variety of birds enjoying the setting as well.
A bit further north of Letaba Rest Camp, is Matambeni Bird Hide, which also overlooks the river. Bird hides are lovely places to enjoy quiet moments watching the wildlife.
Self-catering Shimuwini Rest Camp is also set on the river, but further upstream. Its cottages overlook the river too.
If you like four wheel driving, there’s an overnight 4×4 trail called the Malopeni Eco-Trail that leaves from Phalaborwa Gate. The trail goes to the river on tracks which are not otherwise accessible to park tourists.