THE TIMBAVATI WITH MAKANYI LODGE

We arrived to a classic, clear African sky, and before leaving the plane had spotted two large leopards meandering into the scrub off the runway. This set out what was to be an incredible journey of discovering what it is that connects us so intimately to the African wilderness. All with the help of the fabulous Makanyi Lodge.

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As you pull into the entrance of Makanyi, you’re struck with the care that has gone into crafting this mini-oasis in the African wild. But you’re soon to learn that the real beauty of this place is the team and the way they introduce you to the wildlife that ventures in and around the lodge.

Our first safari began with a giant male elephant drinking from the pool outside the safety fence, before we came across giraffes, wildebeest and warthogs under an approaching sunset – all without another group in sight. And it is this that sets Makanyi apart – the Timbavati region is not overrun with tourism and every interaction with a species feels intimate and personal. But there were a few instances that were more noteworthy than the rest.

 




 

For one, we were fortunate enough to come across a large elephant carcass just a day or so old that had, of course, attracted the interest of a substantial lion pride. It was here we would return on a number of occasions to witness the feeding and familial interactions of these magnificent big cats. On the second night we sat in awe as a lioness not 10 yards from the jeep roared into the blackness. We could feel it vibrate through our chests.

Simply bearing witness to these moments of wilderness we are so often bereft of would have been enough, but through Makanyi we were taken on a journey of knowledge and appreciation via trackers and rangers who held a wealth of knowledge of their surrounds we wouldn’t have thought possible.

 


 

On one of our last days with Makanyi, we were treated to a bush lunch, where their chefs delivered a feed in front of one of the most majestic views you could wish to eat with. Being on foot in this landscape brings into sharp focus how very secluded from civilisation the region is, and how open one is to the wildlife all around.

In the memories of this trip, alongside the roaring lioness in the dark that evening, sits sightings of incredible birds like the Lilac-Breasted Roller, moments of intimacy with a young, female leopard on the last ride, turning to find rhinos just metres away, and seeing wild dogs fend off the approach of hyenas to a kill. And that’s not to mention the cheeky hornbills that knock on your front door each afternoon.

 


 

All of this was made possible by the amazing team and set up at Makanyi Lodge, with a strong focus on the importance of conserving this land. If you would like to experience the African wild with the comforts and experience of Makanyi Lodge, visit their website here to learn more and to book.

 

All images by Joel Howland, 2017. All Rights Reserved.