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April 13th 2011
Published: April 25th 2011
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Joburg to Mashatu


what happened to the "R?" We crossed the tropic on our drive north
Just 2 days after the wonderful wedding, 17 of us set off in 4 cars on a 5 hour drive to Botswana and Mashatu Game Reserve where we were to spend almost 5 days of the most unforgettable experiences we have had in our lives.

It was so difficult restricting the number of photographs as we went on 8 game drives and saw all the game Mashatu had to offer.

A typical day began with a wake up call from the ranger outside our tent at 5.30am, followed by a light breakfast then into one of 3 open Toyota Landcruisers with a guide/driver and a spotter high in the back.

Each drive was about 3 1/2 hours with a short break for tea in the morning and sundowners in the evening.

After the morning drive we returned to shower and freshen up before a full brunch buffet served in the open sided dining room under a thatched roof - then we usually wandered off for a swim in the pool, or explored the grounds (surrounded by an electrified fence to keep out elephants) - there was a concealed hide looking over a water hole where we could
crossing the Limpopocrossing the Limpopocrossing the Limpopo

the Limpopo river forms the border between South Africa and Botswana - there is no bridge so we crossed with our gear in these small cable cars
observe the animals safely -or we could read or nap.

At around 3.30 we came back together (we were the only guests in camp) for high tea - climbed back aboard, then went off again for the evening drive - returning after dark to a sumptuous 4 course dinner under the stars in a glorius setting.

So many highlights!

Our first sighting of 10 or so giraffe grazing in the treetops.

A night encounter with a herd of elephant - one made a mock charge at the vehicle - the guide kept his cool and we skirted him. (Jonathan had just finished telling us about a jeep load of people being rolled over by an irate elephant!)

We had just finished admiring a wart hog family with Mum & Dad & 2 almost cute kids, when the kids became lion lunch!

On our way to dinner in the dark we heard grunting nearby and assumed it was the warthog family we had seen around camp earlier in the day (the electrified fence we were told kept out ONLY the elephants) - when we arrived at the dining area one of the staff said anxioùsly
guide Richardguide Richardguide Richard

before the first drive we were told of all the do's and don'ts ...for our own safety - after that what we saw was totally unpredictable
"Àren't you worried about the leopard...!"

The skills of the guides were amazing - they followed tracks, spotted distant animals and got us in so close we almost wished they would back off a little.

WE still have trouble comprehending that we were among wild, free animals in their own environment - what an experience!

A reminder - the best way to view the photos is to click on the first one - then you can view each full size with comments below.

Next stop - Cape Town.

Additional photos below
Photos: 38, Displayed: 23


ready to rollready to roll
ready to roll

before each drive we clambered aboard not knowing what to expect - the only predictable sightings were impala - lots of them
male kudumale kudu
male kudu

a lone male on the lookout for a harem

we watched a pair of cheetah begin to stalk a herd of impala but noisy birds gave them away
tea breaktea break
tea break

mid morning the 3 vehicles would meet for a tea/coffee break
African sunsetAfrican sunset
African sunset

at sunset we always stopped at a high vantage point for a cool drink

we left a little touch of Canada high on a hill in Botswana
toast to the bride & groomtoast to the bride & groom
toast to the bride & groom

Jonathan pours the champagne to celebrate the new couple - we wouldn't be here without them. In the evenings Jonathan delighted in telling us horror stories of near disasters from his previous experieces in the bush
dinner settingdinner setting
dinner setting

the tables were laid out beautifully for our dinner under the African stars
Mashatu buffetMashatu buffet
Mashatu buffet

before the meal the head cook would welcome us and describe what was offered for that night - always a good combination of African staples and more familiar dishes
Marlene & GarryMarlene & Garry
Marlene & Garry

with Ian's brother - who came from Australia for the wedding with his wife Jan
our tentour tent
our tent

very comfortable - well screened...but it wouldn't keep out anything big enough to want to eat us! Each night we were escorted back here by an armed guide
tent camptent camp
tent camp

our porch sitting area - we were advised to NOT sit out here after dark

the shower and toilet area adjoined the tent and was fully enclosed by a fence - we were advised to not leave toiletries in the shower as roaming monkies were likely to make off with them
vervet monkeyvervet monkey
vervet monkey

this little monkey was crossing a dry river bed to join his troop

we loved the way a giraffe's head would appear above the trees - usually followed by several more
wart hogwart hog
wart hog

they are smaller than we expected but still qualify to be one of the ugly 5

we often sat quietly as the locals went by

not sure whether to continue grazing or to run

25th April 2011

Looks like an outstanding & memorable adventure ! Great photographs ! Obey the rules ! Cheers A&E
25th April 2011
Loved the whole blog. Will look forward to showing the granddaughters all the animal photos. Staying at Des's tomorrow night on route to Melbourne. Will check out the new arrival - Archie who we hear is going really well.
26th April 2011
Amazing photos Marlene and Ian!...Thank you so much for sharing......This is on our list....and it was great to get a preview!
26th April 2011

Truly Blessed
One has to stop and wonder at these amazing experiences that are before us. Our worlds are immediately larger and we indeed are truly blessed to see such magnificent animals in their own environment. Definitely a trip of a lifetime. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip when we went and would've loved to have joined you this time. Could they please have their anniversary there and invite us all LOL. Look forward to seeing you soon LUV LIN AND RICK
28th April 2011

Great pictures....great memories!!! Hope Paris is all you hoped. xo

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