Escape the Crowds on an Exclusive Small-Group Adventure into Remote Private Reserves
Day 1: Johannesburg, South Africa
Our South Africa tour—which includes a slice of neighboring Botswana, too—begins on arrival in Johannesburg, where we gather for a welcome dinner with our safari Expedition Leader.
Days 2–4: Mashatu Private Reserve, Botswana
Fly and drive to Mashatu Private Reserve just over the border on the eastern edge of Botswana. Mashatu, meaning “Land of Giants,” takes its name from the huge Mashatu trees that dominate these environs, as well as the giant animals that roam its terrain. The Limpopo River, which Rudyard Kipling made famous in his Just-So Stories
, crosses into South Africa near here. More than 700 elephants live on the reserve, the largest single population on privately owned land in Africa, as well as impressive numbers of lion and cheetah. Along the river, Mashatu trees provide shade for wildebeest, giraffe, zebra and eland, while at night, bat-eared fox, honey badger, African wild cat and leopard search for prey. We explore this unspoiled wilderness on exciting game drives, discovering Mashatu's ecological diversity as we traverse savanna, forest, marshland and sandstone outcrops. And at the end of each day, we stay in the center of it all at Mashatu Tent Camp, an intimate accommodation offering unexpected amenities in such a remote and secluded locale.
Days 5 & 6: Northern Kruger National Park—Private Concession, South Africa
After a final wildlife drive in Mashatu this morning, we continue by road to Kruger National Park. Our destination, The Outpost, is a luxury safari camp in a private northern sector of the Kruger, one of the last tracts of true wilderness left in South Africa. This far-flung region, the ancestral home of the Makuleke people, is the most ecologically diverse in Kruger, with 80 percent of the park’s different flora and fauna found here. The odds are good for spotting buffalo, hippo, nyala and crocodile, and well as a great variety of birds. Keep an eye out, too, for the more elusive leopard and lion. We also have our best opportunity for nocturnal sightings here, including genet, civet, thick-tailed and lesser bushbaby. Given the diversity of habitats in the region that support distinctive species, we may also see some intriguing smaller creatures that we are unlikely to see anywhere else, such as yellow-spotted rock hyrax, four-toed elephant shrew
and rock elephant shrew. The Luvuvhu River sustains massive baobab and ebony trees as well as many animals not found in the drier southern reaches of the park, such as eland, nyala and Sharpe’s grysbok. The landscape here is very scenic, and our open-air rooms perched above the river have sweeping views of the valley below.
Days 7–9: Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Fly to Sabi Sand, South Africa’s premier safari destination. This celebrated private reserve is renowned for some of the best Big Five viewing in Africa. These famous five—elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, lion
and leopard—were once favorite hunting targets. While many were hunted nearly to extinction, reserves like this one have made inspiring strides in bringing them back. Sabi Sand is also famed for its leopards, which visitors to the reserve see frequently, making for exciting photography opportunities. Night drives are a highlight here, too, with an array of nocturnal species on view, including predators on the hunt. We stay at Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp on the shaded banks of the Msuthlu River, for the consummate safari camp experience.
Day 10: Johannesburg / Depart
After breakfast and a morning activity, fly back to Johannesburg early this afternoon to connect with onward flights or extensions.
Physical Rating: Easy
Click here to view the seasonal variations of weather and wildlife viewing in Botswana.