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A safari trip is on most people’s bucket lists and doing one in consummate style is possible at Manyeleti Game Reserve.
Borne out of a previous owner’s refusal to sell his land to the South African government unless it became a nature reserve, Manyeleti is today one of the standout game parks amid a strip of elite private nature reserves in the Mpumalanga Province.
The Manyeleti Game Reserve is in exclusive company, squeezed between the Kruger National Park in the east and the Klaserie, Selati and Mala Mala private game reserves in all other directions.
Fortunately the Manyeleti Game Reserve is still a relatively unknown park, it’s far less crowded and the exclusive accommodation and game offerings are as exciting as its better known neighbours.
Top 5 reasons to visit Manyeleti Game Reserve
1. There are no fences between Manyeleti and other parks, expect to see masses of game, including the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), on a thrilling open vehicle game drive.
2. Rangers offer an exciting game walk through the reserve. The walk brings into focus the density of the terrain and allows the walker to see the many small animals, reptiles and insects active in the bush.
3. Pull out the binoculars, take a seat on your private deck and try to spot the over 300 bird species recorded in this area. Birding is popular at Manyeleti, birders arrive from all over the world to observe the many species and their wide-ranging songs.
4. Visit a wellness spa in the reserve to treat yourself to a rejuvenation treatment. Expect to be pampered enough to rid yourself of the stresses and strains typical of city living.
5. Like pebbles on a beach, the clear night skies in Mpumalanga are filled with stars, an ideal location for stargazing. Set your camera for a long exposure to track the celestial bodies as they move across the horizon.
The nearest airport is the Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit, 60km away. Flights arrive via the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit which in turn arrive via Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Private ‘lodge hop’ charters can be taken from Hoedspruit, as all Manyeleti lodges have their own airstrips. Ask your host to arrange. Hoedspruit has 3 car rentals agencies, otherwise order a vehicle online. Arriving in your own vehicle is the most practical option for Manyeleti, however, there are a few shuttle services operating between the airports and the reserve.
Did you know?
Manyeleti was formed during the South African apartheid years (1963) and the owners defied the government by openly welcoming non-whites to their game reserve. The consequences were lack of funding and marketing assistance from the then-government. The reserve is currently owned by a local Mnisi tribe.
One of the rarest birds, currently on the red list, is the Kori Bustard. This huge bird is one of the heaviest capable of flight. Males reach 19kg in weight and they are large enough to feed on snakes, lizards and small mammals. The Kruger National Park has a somewhat healthy population.