It was surprisingly easy to spring out of bed at 5am knowing another exciting game drive was in store rather than the usual school run! We were further delighted when the call came over the radio 5 minutes into the drive that a pack of very rare wild dog had been spotted in the area. Our excitement escalated when Riaan explained that there are only 5000 wild dog left in Africa, 500 of which are in South Africa. This pack consisted of no less than 34 dogs including 17 pups who, like inquisitive domestic dogs, were keen to sniff the vehicles and even attempt a nibble of Solly’s dangling boot!
One of the big pluses of Makanyi is that being the only commercial lodge in the southern sector of the Timbavati you hardly ever see another vehicle and as a result the game experience is as nature intended plentiful and still skittish – much of the excitement is in the pursuit as well as the viewing.
Back at Makanyi I indulged in a very spoiling massage at the in-house spa with Catherine the therapist who skilfully pummelled my knotted shoulders into submission with deliciously scented muscle relaxing Africology oils after which I literally floated back to my suite for a very quick snooze.
The afternoon game drive proved to be no less exciting with my husband, much to his delight, spotting one of the 2 local leopard cubs who had been left in the thick vegetation of the riverine whilst there mother went out hunting. The gorgeous, if shy, female was well camouflaged but still proceeded to put on a wonderful show of snarling and hissing for the clicking cameras – the result of which was my most successful shot of the whole trip! I was only sad it wasn’t a few months later when Makanyi’s in-house photography developing suite would be ready to allow guests the added thrill of printing their own favourite shots ready to take home on a rolled canvas.
A strong evening breeze meant that dinner was served around a long table laid in the main lodge which to an arriving visitor would have resembled a rather splendid, if noisy, international family dinner party with guests from England, America, Finland, Holland and Switzerland all tucking into an amazing South African feast of carpaccio of ostrich followed by the most tender springbok and gooey chocolate pudding washed down with delicious South African Wine.