A perfect treat for the eyes and senses, South Africa, a land of breathtaking vistas around every mountain corner, waterfalls, endless river canyons, luxurious African wildlife safaris, romantic getaways, indeed has a plethora of truly special experiences. This ‘rainbow nation’ ensures that it has something unique to offer each time to every segment of traveller – whether repeat or first time. It is not everyday that you get an opportunity to enjoy sipping on exquisite wines at dusk in the wilderness or dinner under the African skies. And one of the best places to indulge in some of these experiences is at the Manyaleti Game Reserve in Mpumalanga province in Nelspruit, which is close to the famous Kruger National Park.
In the native Shangaan language, Manyaleti means ‘Place of Stars’, and the Manyaleti reserve, located in the Limpopo province of South Africa, is managed by the local Mnisi tribe. Even though there are many game reserve lodges in the Mpumalanga province, travellers wanting a luxurious African safari experience should consider opting for Tintswalo Safari Lodge which is situated in the Manyaleti Game Reserve.
In the wild
The Manyaleti game reserve which comprises of an area of around 24,000 hectares, is nestled in between the Kruger National Park (which consists of an area of around 2.5 million hectares), and the Sabi Sand private game reserve which covers 65,000 hectares. Manyaleti is renowned for its open vehicle game drives and guided bush walks.
In the hope of spotting some of the African ‘Big Five’ – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, the highly trained and seasoned rangers from Tintswalo lodge during the safari tours really go out of their way most of the time to find animal trails to give adventure enthusiasts a closer encounter with the rarely seen animals. On the other hand, it is easier to spot the ‘Ugly Five’ as the rangers whimsically distinguish them – wildebeest, hyena, warthog, marabou stork, vulture, who are territorial in nature and are generally found in areas of savannah like the Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Marakele National Park and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
While the Kruger National Park is state owned, the private game reserves need to obtain various permissions to operate in their areas. If you are looking for a ‘Big Five’ experience in South Africa, you can go to almost any province, but the best experiences are only to be found in Mpumalanga and Limpopo province.
Best of nature
Passing through the north-eastern part of the Great Escarpment in the northern Drakensberg, is indeed a visual treat to the eyes, with breathtaking views of the endless mountain ranges and waterfalls. The small town of Graskop is the gateway to the ‘Panorama Route’ which has scenic landmarks like God’s Window, the Pinnacle, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Rondavels as well as the magnificent waterfalls-Lisbon, Berlyn which are a short drive away from each other. From Grasskop you can reach the Bylde River Canyon, which is the third biggest canyon, 33 km long and around 2,500 feet deep. Bylde which means ‘happy’, leaves you with a feeling of being so close to nature in its purest form. Each of these places have a story to tell like Bourke’s Luck Potholes, named after a British man from Scotland named Thomas Bourke who staked a claim to the gold deposits nearby. Although his claim did not produce a single ounce of gold for the others. It is due to the countless swirling whirlpools of the Treur River (which plunges into the Blyde River ahead), that has caused waterborne sand and rock to grind huge, cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river. Believing that during a voortrekkers’ expedition in 1844, Hendrik Potgieter and his party died on their journey to Delagoa Bay, the distraught relatives named the river near their encampment as Treurrivier, or ‘mourning river’.
Trekking up 130 steps to God’s Window is a must do for all nature lovers. At an altitude of 1,765 metres, it is the highest point in the area and gives you the perfect panoramic view of the entire Hazyview town in Mpumalanga province.