“Long before you arrive at Mashatu as a guest, there is a team of professional and friendly staff hard at work ensuring your trip is planned and coordinated meticulously. Meet the reservations and admin team based in Hillcrest, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.”
Recently the team were rewarded with a 3-night stay at Mashatu where they were given the full experience that they are always helping agents plan for their clients. Thanks to Rozanne Smith and Heather Blignaut for sharing some of their highlights with us.
Highlights of our Mashatu trip…
As the months leading up to our trip drew closer, (yes, we had a countdown app going), we grew more and more excited. Finally the time arrived and we left our homes in Durban at 4am on a very cold, rainy Friday morning. At 2pm we arrived at Pont Drift Border Post where we were welcomed by the hot dry Botswana air, that hit us as soon as we cracked the door open. We quickly zipped through South African customs and met Spike, our Mashatu Ranger who drove us through the dry Limpopo riverbed to the Botswana Border Post.
The first animal to greet us was a very handsome ostrich, who strutted his stuff for us, almost as if to say, “Welcome Ladies, we are so pleased to have you here.”
After about a 45-minute drive we arrived at Mashatu Lodge and were welcomed again by our Mashatu Camp Managers, Peter Bale and Lopang Rampeba, with warm greetings, cool towels and refreshing lemonade. There were plenty hugs and introductions as we caught up with our Mashatu family – Excitement overload!
After high tea we were introduced to our Ranger, Mothusi and our Tracker, Abel. We hit it off straight away – Mothusi with his sense of humor and Abel with his keen eyes and quick wit. We had so many sightings on our game drives with the highlights being:
- Close encounters with so many different herds of elephant
- Interaction between a leopard and a troop of baboons
- 3 jackal mobbing another male leopard
- Baby hyena cubs at a den
- A crocodile taking down and killing an impala right in front of camp at the waterhole
- A python eating a baby bush buck
- 5 cheetah on a kill
- And many of the more unusual species: African wildcat, bat-eared foxes and a white-tailed mongoose
We all did a photographic hide session. This experience is an absolute must when at Mashatu. Janet, our resident photographer showed us how to use our cameras and cellphones to get incredible images. We were fortunate enough to witness what we now refer to as the “baboon klap”. A poor impala was the unfortunate recipient of a klap (slap) from a grumpy baboon. Totally unprovoked! We are still laughing about it in the office.
The team split up one morning to experience the other adventure activities on offer. We all got back to camp from our respective adventure activities and spent time over brunch trading stories about our experiences of walking, cycling and horse riding in the wild. The cyclists saw a lioness from the bikes, which no doubt got the adrenaline pumping…they were fortunate not to become “meals on wheels.”
Another highlight was visiting the Mmamagwa ruins, Solomon’s Wall and the Amphitheatre. This part of Mashatu is all about the vistas. From the bottom of the Amphitheatre we ascended to the top of the rocky outcrop from where we enjoyed a 360-degree view of the limitless landscape and the vast African sky brooding with storm clouds. As we watched elephants crossing the dry riverbed below, we saw small specks run across the riverbed. Mothusi and Abel swiftly identified them as two lionesses with cubs. Before we knew it, we were scrambling back down the rocks to go and find them.
Afternoon drives ended with sundowners before heading back to camp. Before dinner everyone meets in the gin trap for an aperitif and then when dinner is ready, big wooden doors open up and you walk through into the middle of a boma where huge Leadwood trunks are draped with golden, fiery lanterns. The food was spectacular. It is something we will be thinking about a lot as we return to plain old peanut butter sandwiches in the office.
We were incredibly spoilt. Not only by the incredible team at Mashatu but also in terms of our experiences. Mashatu is so special, it really cannot be described, it must be experienced. The land, the animals, and most importantly the people, have a way of creeping into your heart to ensure that you absolutely must keep going back time after time after time.