"Manyeleti Game Reserve" Manyeleti Travelogue by travelmad478
Manyeleti Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 14 photos
In December 2001, I spent four days at Honeyguide Tented Safari Camp (http://www.honeyguidecamp.com/) inside the Manyeleti Game Reserve, which is adjacent to Kruger National Park. To get there, I flew to Skukuza (inside the park itself) and then drove about two hours to Honeyguide. Manyeleti is a private reserve that shares the same terrain and animal population of the central part of Kruger, with an open border allowing the wildlife (but not the people) to cross freely between the two. While I was there, less than ten guests were staying at Honeyguide, and not many more at the few other private lodges in the reserve. The result: we had 23,000 hectares just about to ourselves, with fabulous game viewing and almost no one around to get in the way.
Honeyguide has two locations: the main camp, where I stayed, and the more rustic Trails Camp. Trails Camp is for those who want to hike, whereas Honeyguide generally takes guests out in Land Rovers. I had planned to do two nights at each place, but a massive rainstorm on the day I arrived meant that Trails Camp would be just too muddy to use. Instead, I spent all four nights at the main camp--for the first two days, I hiked from there, and the second two days I went out in the Land Rover.
Here's my tent at the camp. Each tent is as big as a hotel room, with an attached bathroom and even a hot shower!
Each day, we were roused at 5 AM--not as bad as it sounds, since it's already light out and you've probably been woken up already by the hundreds of birds calling around your tent! After a quick coffee, it was off to the bush. About five minutes out on my first hike, I realized that mud was going to be my friend for the entirety of this trip. But it was warm, and I didn't mind a little dirt--especially when I spotted a giraffe within the first half-hour!
My hikes were great--since there were very few people at the camp and I was the only one interested in getting quite that dirty, the hikes included just me, my ranger Dave, and my tracker Philip. Since I had never seen a lion in the bush, we spent a lot of time tracking them. Philip was an utter magician when it came to following them and spotting all kinds of game from hundreds of yards away. Well, lion tracks were everywhere, but no lions that first day. I had to content myself with buffalo, impala, zebras, and other wildlife...
Getting home that first afternoon, I took one look at my sopping-wet boots and the cloudy skies overhead and pretty much resigned myself to having wet feet for the next three days. Well, it wasn't all bad. The very next morning, we found those lions! It was really thrilling to be standing just about 20 meters away from them--not as close as you can get in a Land Rover, but a lot more exciting when you're on foot!
The third morning, we piled into the Land Rover at 5:30 to head farther out into Manyeleti. For the drives, Honeyguide took two Land Rovers out for a total of seven guests. Since the rangers are in radio contact with each other and with the trucks sent out by the neighboring Khoka Moya camp, your chances of seeing game are multiplied. Here's the other Land Rover, which came to rescue us the first time we got stuck in the mud...
Getting farther away from the camp was great--as we got to the edges of the reserve, the animals were everywhere. First an elephant turned up...
The fourth morning, I woke up before my coffee arrived--those baboons sure make a racket! I wandered over to the lodge before everyone else arrived, and was pretty pleased to run into a gang of waterbuck right on the pathway. They graciously moved into the field next to the lodge so that I could take their picture.
That afternoon started out with a monster thunderstorm that sent us running into an abandoned lodge for cover. The storm cloud and rainbow afterwards were fantastic.
After the rain, it was time to spot more lions...we got incredibly close to these females, who had obviously just finished eating a huge meal.
After enjoying a spectacular sunset (see the main photo at the top) along with the standard sundowners and some very delicious cheese puffs, the night drive started. The whole time we'd been driving, we'd seen leopard tracks off and on, and had been crashing through the bush trying to find that shy animal. Finally, on my very last night, success! A radio call from one of the other lodge's cars sent us screeching down the dirt roads back to camp--the leopard was deep in the bush, just a few hundred meters from the kitchen. We spent about 20 minutes watching this young male gnaw on an impala leg bone, apparently indifferent to the spotlight that we were shining on him. Then he sidled off into the trees. What a way to end a safari!
The final morning, I managed to sneak in one last game drive before I had to catch my ride back to Skukuza. Up until then, I'd only seen hyena tracks--but at 5:30 AM, we ran across one bleary-eyed customer who had clearly missed the last train home.
We spent a good long time on that final drive...so long that I was late getting back to camp to catch my ride to the airport. I made it anyway, though. Too bad--I would have liked to stay another day! Honeyguide sent me off with a lunch bag full of scones and fruit for the trip, and I raced off through Kruger Park to catch the South African Airways flight back to Johannesburg. Another great South African vacation in the bag!
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