A walk on the wild side to see life in the raw on safari in Botswana. By Paul Hopkins
There is only one road into Mashatu in the Northern Tuli terrain of Botswana. They call it the MI: two strips of white-washed cladding on a bed of red-earth-coloured stones. It is less than a mile long, not far from where the river bends and the Land of Giants crisscrosses Zimbabwe and South Africa.
In this peaceful and democratic country of just 2.25 million people, Mashatu is the summation of what defines wilderness: vast open spaces and serene skies, diverse wildlife from the massive to the miniscule, and the tranquillity of it all, broken only by birdsong and calls of the wild.
Here is paradise for the world’s largest animal, the elephant – the largest population on any private reserve – tallest mammal the giraffe and largest antelope, the eland. Home too, to the world’s largest bird, the ostrich and heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard. Add in your obligatory lion and iconic baobab tree, and there be giants!
Mashatu Lodge (Main Camp) is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. Fourteen luxury suites lie along the camp’s perimeters to allow for absolute privacy and communion with the Botswanan bush and its wondrous inhabitants.
Why Mashatu is unique
The unique photographic experience offered through Photo Mashatu includes the photo hides, the especially adapted photographic vehicle and the opportunity to rent camera bodies and lens, all in the company of qualified photographic guides.
The very low rainfall, especially in the green season, guarantees a great safari combination with the Western Cape.
The adventure activities includes cycling, walking and horse safaris for the more adventurous, exercise inclined safari goer.
Mashatu offers the best predator viewing the in Botswana with daily sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, black-backed jackal and African wildcat.
South African Airways operate double daily flights from London Heathrow (Terminal 2) to Johannesburg OR Tambo. The overnight flights at around 11 hours 10 minutes make it one of the fastest routes to SA.
There are twice-weekly flights from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo to Mashatu on a Thursday and a Sunday.
Alternatively, out of Belfast, Mahlatini (+44 (0)28 9073 6050 / https://www.mahlatini.com) offers a 3-night safari staying at Mashatu Tent Camp from approx. €2,540 pp including flights on Turkish Airlines out of Dublin (via Istanbul) and car hire. If you would like to upgrade the experience why not fly straight into Mashatu’s Limpopo Valley Airstrip from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo and stay at Mashatu Lodge (Main Camp) from approx. €4,000 pp. Mashatu is the perfect safari extension to a South African holiday.
Best time to go
Most people wishing to visit Botswana will likely be advised to head to the country during the dry season which runs from April to October.
The reason for this would be that it is cooler than the hot November to March period. With less rain, the wildlife concentrates around permanent water and it is easier for vehicles to travel around without getting stuck. The grass has dried and disappeared so it is easier to see the animals