February 25, 2018 2 CommentsCategory: Personal
Tags: Africa, Big 5, Game Drive, Safari, Safari Lodge, South Africa
Bill and I recently got back from South Africa where we were lucky enough to experience the trip of a lifetime. While it’s hard to play “favorites” with the places we visited, but our safari will remain one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had. In the middle of seemingly nowhere, we saw everything from lions eating their pray to heards of elephants giving themselves dirt baths to giraffes duke it out. Going in, I didn’t really know want to expect but having just experienced it, I’m still in awe. Check out some of my favorite moments below.
On our first day there we came across a lion pack and their cubs after they took down a water buffalo. We spent hours watching them feast and then nap when they were full. We were less than 15 feet from them.. just surreal. The following day we came back to find hyenas finishing off their scraps and then later a pack of vultures fighting for the bones.
Every morning at 5:30am and again at 4:30pm you go on a game drive. For three+ hours at a time, you wonder through the open grounds in search of animals on this open truck. Sometimes they’re come up right to the truck. It’s an exhilarating experience because your best “weapon” and only protection is the open car. According to our guide, not even guns will help you if an animal charges.
Picking a safari location was perhaps the most challenging parts of our planning simply because I didn’t want to “screw it up”. You get one chance at this so I wanted to pick a place that had great game viewing but also great service and accommodations. After doing a lot research and talking to a friend to had just gone, we selected Makanyi and it was perfect.
Where we stayed: Makanyi
Location: Timbavati Game Reserve, which surrounds Kruger National Park.
How to get there: Fly into Hoedspruit via South African Express. 1 hour drive from airport to the lodge.
Since I know firsthand how much recommendations help businesses that are getting established, I wanted to shout from the proverbial rooftop that Makanyi is a must-do experience for those seeking a safari.
There are 8 suites total so no more than 16 people will ever be there at once (there are only 6 of us when we went). Each suite had a bedroom and living room, bath en suite, outside shower and private pool where you can watch the animals come up to your villa as you relax.
From the incredible game viewing, luxury accommodations, personalized staff and incredible views, it’s hard to top the experience we had at this family-owned lodge. (This is the same guy that came up with hair extensions – random right??).
Anyway, all of these characteristics are perhaps a “given” at any high-end safari lodge but what sets this place apart was the intimacy – both at the lodge and with the animals. We came within feet of wild animals, ate breakfast and had happy hour every day with our ranger where we flooded him with questions, had a meals delivered by a personal chef, developed relationships with the staff that we only shared with two other couples – in the entire place. The lodge was essentially “ours”.
Every day they’d treat us to our morning coffee and happy hours in the bush (AKA the middle of nowhere!). It was first class service!
If you need more proof, Condé Nast rated it one of the “Top 10 Best Luxury lodges” in Africa two years in a row and best of all, the price was LESS than the other the lodges we looked at for seemingly the same type of experience. So, if I can offer one piece of advice for anyone going there in the future, it’s to forget the big names and trust me when I tell you that you will not regret coming here! It was simply magical.