by Harriet Nimmo
Known as the Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve, Makalali is located in the lowveld region of Limpopo, about an hour west of the Kruger National Park. It offers a great experience for first-time safari goers and, with some romantic lodge features, it is also a special destination for honeymooners. There are many reasons to visit the Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve but just the top five are listed here.
- Remote and wild
The Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve is one of the country’s major privately-owned conservation areas. Its mission is to expand South Africa’s green frontier and the reserve is involved in trying to re-establish the ancient wildlife migration routes that link Kruger National Park in the east to the Drakensburg Mountains in the west.
At over 22 000ha/54 400ac and with a very low density of lodges, it feels very wild with few, if any, other vehicles at sightings. The lodges have unlimited traversing rights across the whole reserve – very few lodges in other reserves have access to such an unfettered space.
- Breathtaking scenery
Makalali’s scenery is stunning, with a varied terrain including undulating rocky hills (known as kopjes or koppies in South Africa) and open areas.
There are beautiful viewpoints, with panoramic vistas across the reserve – the perfect setting for a sundowner (evening drink).
- Wildlife watching
Makalali is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) and has a great reputation for close-up sightings. As well as white rhino, it is also home to the rarer and far more elusive black rhino. You also stand a chance of seeing cheetah here too.
Because it is a private reserve, your guide can drive off-road to follow the animals into their world, away from the road, for optimum viewing, which can make for fantastic photographic opportunities. You can also go for private guided nature walks in Makalali.
- One-of-a-kind experiences
Although the Big Five wildlife encounters and going on game drives are thrilling, it is only part of the safari experience. Equally important is the whole lodge experience – taking time out to relax, unwind, switch off and nurture your soul.
There are some very special experiences on offer in Makalali at Garonga Safari Camp. This small, exclusive lodge provides luxury accommodation in en-suite tents. Sleeping in a tent is a far more intimate experience than being sealed inside a brick chalet, as you can hear the noises of the African night.
In addition, Garonga Safari Camp offers the Star Bath, which is a whole new alfresco bathing experience. Your private free-standing bath is under the glittering African night sky; enjoy a glass of wine and the sounds of the African bush.
To continue the theme of a ‘safari for the soul’, Garonga Safari Camp also offers a tranquil Yoga Deck – an enclosed tented structure, which allows the breeze to pass through while you stretch and contemplate the view of the African bush, and (if you’re lucky) passing wildlife. You can also relax and enjoy a massage by the camp’s resident therapist in the Sala Room in a beautiful bush setting.
- Sleeping under the stars
Finally, there is the opportunity to spend the night on Garonga Safari Camp’s Sleep-out Deck.
Spend a night under the African stars, on your very own luxurious sleep-out deck with a four-poster bed and private dinner, overlooking a waterhole.
If you’re headed to South Africa, then a safari experience at Makalali Private Nature Reserve is highly recommended.
Harriet Nimmo is a member of the SafariBookings Expert Panel and founder of the Wild Shots Wildlife Photography Conference in South Africa. You can read her South Africa country review on SafariBookings here.