After a smooth journey from our Wiltshire home to South Africa’s Timbavati region, we were delighted to be greeted at Makanyi Lodge by effusive managers Rico and Carmen.
The camp itself was stunning; first impressions – tasteful understated luxury, subtly lit and with wafts of incredible scented candles dotted around the open plan rooms. The décor was outstanding throughout, with a beautiful mix of bush feel and contemporary design and comfort.
Externally the dry stone walls and thatch blended into the bush whilst the interior design of the main lodge showcased tasteful African colonialism at its best. Piles of leather bound suitcases, inviting leather sofas, walls of mix matched black and white wildlife stills and a heavenly scent of thatch mixed with Africology scented candles made us want to collapse with a good book. However this was not the order of the day with lunch awaiting us on the wide terrace shaded by Marula trees (Makanyi means place of Marula trees) overlooking a waterhole where already elephants were starting to wallow to escape the heat of the mid-day sun.
Following our delicious ‘Chinese buffet’ lunch we were shown to our suite (one of 7 detached suites – 2 honeymoon and 5 standard) and felt very honoured to be given honeymoon suite 8 at the far end of the camp where most marauding game (including a pride of 8 lions!) were apparently frequently seen from the large deck and plunge pool. What bliss – one of the biggest thatched suites in the bush (140m2 of relaxed understated elegance) a huge four poster bed swathed in white netting and freestanding roll-top bath all set off by storm lamps, hessian mats and tasteful local furnishings….it all seemed a million miles away from my Wiltshire village home! Large sliding doors completely opened the front of the suite to all the wonderful sounds and smells of the bush and provided the perfect spot to sit in an armchair (or cooling plunge pool) and game watch across a vast expanse of seemingly open bush (a 1 foot high invisible electric fence was reassuringly pointed out to keep most nocturnal visitors at bay).
Refreshed after a quick shower we were greeted by our friendly guide Riaan and spotter Soly who led us to a very impressive new Landover converted game vehicle – which gave my husband almost as much pleasure as the game we were to see from it! Minutes later we were off for a glorious afternoon exploring the Timbavati. Being open to the Kruger, the Timbavati is one of the top areas for game viewing as animals are free to roam within an open area of over 2.4 million hectares giving a genuine, fence free safari experience. The game was on best behaviour obliging us with views of Kudu, Giraffe, Steenbok, Zebra, Warthog, Impala and my personal highlight 3 hugely over surfeited male Lions sleeping soundly, fat bellies uppermost, snoring gently at the edge of a waterhole.
The day was finished off with a delicious barbeque of warthog, chicken and kudu and an array of appealing salads taken with our guide and fellow guests sat around the roaring boma under a beautiful star filled sky.