Olifants River – The Provincial Border

Olifants River (the English translation is Elephants River) flows through Kruger National Park from west to east roughly half way up the game reserve.

Balule Rest Camp is on the southern bank of the river and Olifants is a bit further downstream on the north bank.

Olifants River from Olifants Rest CampThere’s a lovely wide sweeping view high over the river from Olifants Rest Camp. Enjoy a meal at the restaurant’s outdoor river-view deck and see if you can spot any bateleurs soaring high in the sky or if the river lives up to its name with elephants near the banks. Take your binoculars with you so you can thoroughly scan the scene.

There’s also a 4 day backpacking trail which leaves from the rest camp. On this walking safari you’ll follow sections of the river, but you must carry all your own food and camping equipment!

If you don’t want to carry absolutely everything, then the Olifants Trail leaving from Letaba Rest Camp is similar, except that your food and accommodation is provided.

Several roads, both sealed and dirt, in Kruger Park run next to the river and have lookout points along them. If you’re on one of the roads, keep your eyes out for animals that like rivers, such as waterbuck and hippos. Watch out for birds that live in a river environment as well. You may just see a kingfisher diving for freshwater fish!


Before reaching Kruger Park, the river has a very long and winding journey from the highveld, a plateau shared with Johannesburg and Pretoria, down to lower ground, before it flows through several private game reserves on the western side.

When it gets to Kruger National Park, the river forms the border between the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo and the river flows all the way through to Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

There it follows the southern boundary of the park and the name of the river changes to the Portuguese version (Portuguese is spoken in Mozambique). It becomes the Rio Elefantes and eventually runs into the Limpopo River.