A haven among the harsh plains, undulating and seemingly unending lowlands, Botswana’s Mashatu safari is a feast for the senses and the spirit. Earlier this month, we recently completed our Magic of Mashatu tour here and the experience certainly lives up to its name. Read on for our 5-day safari report.
Spotted at the Majale River – Day 1
The magic was apparent from the very beginning. The very first afternoon drive was spurred on by reports of a leopard in the area. And so, we ventured out, and there she was – a young female leopard taking it easy in the warm afternoon, laying about the Majale River. The weather helped her mood and she played along for our cameras, posing for us and stalking the impala at the water.
She also made herself a nuisance for some guinea fowl and hunted squirrels as nature set the scene in stellar fashion!
A flock of yellow-billed storks took to the air while the spotted beauty was at the centre of it all as the sun set painted the sky. The tone was set.
The Kill – Day 2
Botswana’s Mashatu safari life is pure adventure. On our afternoon safari, we thought we’d stop at the Majale River again to catch a glimpse of any leopards in the area. Our eagle-eyed guide, Kaiser spotted one – a young male, a little anxious, skulked away when he saw us but made his way back to the banks once he figured we weren’t too much of a threat.
And then it happened. Two more leopards were sighted a little further down the river. We followed the mother and son to their kill – an impala on the riverbank. The feeding began. Our guests captured raw shots of one of nature’s intrigues and then snapped some spectacular silhouettes of the young leopard when he played on a log after he was sated. Mother leopard did the same. After dark, we went back to camp in near disbelief.
Herds – Day 3
Halfway through our Mashatu safari and there was no lull to the action. Nature put on an incredible display, beginning in the morning. Deciding to explore new locations, we checked out the Limpopo River this time and the immense floodplain was on form!
Numerous herds of blue wildebeest, waterbucks, zebras, and impalas filled the landscape.
We didn’t want to leave, but we had to.
A nearby pan made for great birdwatching, with white pelicans, saddle-billed storks, an ostrich, and a kori bustard being ticked off the list.
In the afternoon, we did hide photography instead of a drive on our Mashatu safari. While waiting in the hide, our hopes came to fruition as a bull elephant took a sip or two from the water, followed by a small herd of 5 others not long afterward while one of their calves enjoyed a frolic. On the way back to the lodge, we spotted the male leopard from the previous day, making a note to see what he would be up to the following day.
The Slow of the Heat – Day 4
The morning brought two leopard sightings – again close to the Majale River. But as the sun rose in the sky, so, too, did the heat and the leopards were on a go-slow in the shade.
The rest of the day followed suit. We went on the trail of lions, but to no avail. Still, the scenery made the drive more than worthwhile. A spot high up on a massive rocky outcrop offered splendid scenic vistas, punctuated by a lone Baobab tree, one of Africa’s silent jewels, growing close by.
Icons – Day 5
The last game drive is a sad one, but that doesn’t mean it was any less fantastic. And on the Magic of Mashatu safari, this held true.
We finally caught sight of a lion! A young male posed for us, majestic in the open, enjoying the cooler air after the previous day’s heat. After following the news of a leopard, we found that it had been routed from its impala kill by a vicious troop of baboons.
But then fortune struck once again – we spotted another leopard close by. A female this time, up an apple leaf tree with a dead impala on the ground. She slept while we watched, presumably resting after her hunt.
Our last sighting was iconic of the adventure that was coming to a close. Another leopard was sighted in a tree – the picturesque Mashatu tree, once again. We photographed the male up close before heading back, amazed with a wanting to return.
Check out more details about our Magic of Mashatu 5-day safari and book your place for next time!