Mashatu, translates as ‘land of the giants’ derived from the local Nyala Berry Tree that dwarf the landscape. Their huge dark green leaves, lining the river banks. Mashatu reserve is around 29,000 hectares of completely private land. It is located in the stunning Northern Tuli Game Reserve that lies at the far east of Botswana. This eastern part of Botswana is truly breathtaking – consisting of wide open plains, riverine forests, grasslands, marshlands and rocky hills, a truly versatile land. Mashatu has a phenomenally large population of elephant herds and towering journeys of giraffe that blend brilliantly into the surrounding landscape that are only visible with the slight twist of the head and graceful lope onto the next Acacia tree.
Along with the general plains game such as eland, impala, wildebeest, zebra, plus ostrich, prides of magnificent lions of course and you may even be lucky enough to spy the elusive leopard.
Mashatu is the only destination for the ultimate safari experience – it’s safe but you will be slightly scared – isn’t it something doctors advise? To scare yourself at least once a day? Well look no further than spending a few brilliant days at Mashatu. This is the ‘young’ persons safari, but don’t let that stop you if you feel you are ‘getting on a bit’, we’re all young at heart! As Mashatu borders the Kalahari Desert, it is surprising to note that this camp is set within a reserve with its own micro climate. This camp is extremely well combined with a Cape Town and Winelands trip before, then you can easily head on up to Mashatu, flying in the morning, arriving in time to not only relax but to squeeze in an afternoon game drive – and perhaps a night time drive too.
Set in the Tuli block (Tswana for ‘dust’) there is ample choice of activities available on tap such as mountain biking along pathways already carved out by generations of elephants, horse riding where you can gallop with journeys of giraffe, dazzles of zebra and implausibility’s of wildebeest, plus walking safaris and much more! If the choice of activities is far too strenuous, then do not worry because Mashatu is on its own private concession of around 29,000 hectares, the game vehicles do not have to stick to the main roads, which you have to do when in national parks. Don’t get me wrong, the game drives in national parks are brilliant, if a little restricted. In Mashatu the 4×4 vehicles are able to go off road making sure you do not miss a single fantastic sighting. The vehicles do not have any canopy’s so make sure you pack your high factor sun cream, the heat even early in the morning can be misleading, so we advise protection at all times – wherever you are on safari! Without canopies on the vehicles, night drives become that bit more incredible. With little to no light pollution, as soon as the sun sets and the stars begin to emerge, you are able to see almost every tiny little star with the naked eye, but do make use of the binoculars found in the vehicles, even at night time your bins can highlight some seriously amazing planetary sightings.
The area in which Mashatu lies is steeped in huge history. It is home to one the of the most significant paleontological and archaeological remains within the sub-continent of Africa. There are fantastic dinosaur footprints preserved in Vhembe and Sentinel estimated to be nearly 80 million years old. Along with this there is evidence from the stone age with tools and rock art left behind from the Mapungubwe Dynasty. There is also evidence from the Boer War and South African War from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Along with this, the geographical history is equally as fascinating – the surrounding area has evidence from volcanic eruptions that took place millions of years ago with emerging capping basalt (volcanic rock) on the sandstone along the Limpopo river. Evidence, geographical and historical can be found everywhere scattered in amongst the rocks and landscape. The stone art is stunning, shedding light on an era gone by where hunter gatherers set out on their quest for survival and the recordings of these ventures brings you that one step closer to our ancestors.
Mashatu consists of two camps, each very different but versatile in the fact they can accommodate almost everyone. The main camp is ideal of young families, and takes all ages, whereas for the older more adventurous families or groups of friends you may want to look at the tented camp as an option – here you can sleep under the stars in comfy cosy beds within the protection of a boma but it means you are that one step closer to the wilderness – how exciting! From general plains game, such as eland, impala, zebra and wildebeest to the fantastic herds of elephant, prides of lion, elusive leopards, crashes of rhino and 200 strong herds of buffalo, which ever activity you choose to embrace, whether it be biking, walking or riding or simply relaxing in comfortable luxury 4×4 vehicles, you are guaranteed to have the trip of a life time and never want to return – better get those change of address cards ordered pronto please!