UNFORGETTABLE SAFARIS – five ways in five days
By Neil Kook
Mashatu is a private wildlife sanctuary located in northern Tuli at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers where eastern Botswana meets South Africa. It’s not called “Land of Giants” for nothing – it is home to the largest population of elephants (1000+) on private land on the continent, as well as prolific wildlife and bird species. What sets Mashatu apart is its vast open spaces, the incredible vistas, breath-taking night skies – and the ability to set out and explore in five different ways that are sure to get adrenaline pumping.
- Walk with Giants
Half day walking trails not only promise ticking off some of the big game – but the focus is on the little, often overlooked aspects of the bush – tracks, plants, insects, etc. A more intimate bush experience that will awaken your senses and allow you to become a part of the environment – not merely a spectator on a vehicle.
- Pedal power
Mountain bike safaris allow adventurous guests to see the bush from a different perspective. Experienced rangers provide all equipment and accompany cyclists as they pedal their way along ancient elephant paths. Rides are tailored to suit the fitness and strength of the riders in the early mornings and late afternoons.
- Ride on the wild side
Experienced riders can join Limpopo Horse Safaris for a morning or afternoon ride into the wilderness. The terrain is ideal for exhilarating horse riding with natural ditches and logs to jump. Spot elephants and cats as well as antelopes, wild dogs, jackals, bat eared foxes, giraffe – and on occasion, canter with zebras and wildebeest across the plains. You can even ‘camp wild’ on a 7-day ride out on Mashatu.
- Traditional game drives
Guided game drives with specialised rangers and trackers – mostly local Batwanas who have been living and guiding on Mashatu for over 13 years. Expect to see excellent daily sightings of the “Big 5 of Predators” (namely lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and jackal) as well as excellent plains game and generous viewing of the renowned large herds of Tuli elephants – among a diverse range of birds and vegetation.
The combination of spectacular lighting, the quality of game viewing and guidance of the resident wildlife photographer means that Mashatu is a real “hot spot” for photographers. So much so, that a photograph called “Essence of Elephants”, taken at Mashatu’s unique sunken Matabole Hide won Greg du Toit the BBC Worldwide “Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013” title. If that is not reason enough to get you reaching for your big lens – Mashatu has just built the brand new Elephant Valley Hide on the reserve.
Botswana is the “Noah’s Ark of Conservation in Africa” and with 92% rain free days over the last 16 years you are assured of an incredible wilderness experience under the African sun. Stay at Mashatu Tent Camp which accommodates just 16 guests at any time. Tents are very private, spacious and have been totally refurbished this year complete with outdoor en suite facilities where guests can shower under the stars. The Camp also offers a refreshing plunge pool, hide, boma and bar and dining area overlooking a waterhole.
More great news is that from May 2015 there will be 2 scheduled flights per week straight into Mashatu’s Limpopo Valley Airfield from OR International in Johannesburg – which take just one hour making access easier than ever before.
Book at Aardvark Safaris (www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk/ firstname.lastname@example.org /01980 849 160) has a 7 night holiday at Mashatu Tent Camp in Botswana, from £2,653 per person travelling in 2015, to include return flights from London to Johannesburg, return road transfers from Johannesburg to Mashatu, all meals, game drives and one adventure activity per person. This is based on travel in low season and includes a complimentary night.