January 22, 2014

Live the Mashatu Magic

Take a moment and picture this…

Following in the footsteps of the largest herd of free roaming elephant on private land, picking up the spoor of lions, leopards, brown hyenas, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, cheetahs, and at night with the help of a spotlight scouring the plains for a glimpse of dwellers like porcupines, aardvarks, genets and civets.

EcoTraining’s wilderness camp in Mashatu, Botswana truly embodies all that defines Africa. Located in the Northern Tuli Reserve, where the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers meet, this Land of Giants offers vast open spaces, with an array of wildlife from the minuscule to those big grey gentle giants. These wander through the dynamic landscape of sand stone ridges and fossilized sand dunes, secret valleys, preserved springs and rolling basal plaints.

The unfenced camp is situated under shady apple leaf trees on the banks of the Motloutse River.  Outside the camp there are big rocky outcrops that can be climbed to provide spectacular views of wide open plains, dotted by thorn bushes, dense thickets of fever berry crotons and huge Mashatu trees lining the river bed. All of these areas are saturated with wildlife.

The vastness of the landscape and the abundance of wildlife combine for an unforgettable experience. Like this one…

“Creeping forward a few paces at a time, stalking from one fresh paw print to the next, straining to hear the alarm calls, rustling bushes, low growls, anything to alert us that we were getting closer to our quarry.

As it was, even though the vegetation opened up slightly to allow us to see more than a few metres in front of us, we didn’t actually see the male lion we were following until we were only 15 metres away – at about the same time that he saw us. As we hurriedly tried to focus on our training at this moment – don’t run, stand still, stay behind the leader – the massive lion stood up, growled low and charged us, twice.

I may forget many things over the course of my life, but these images will forever remain etched upon my memory – the sight of the lion rushing towards us, our instructor Chantelle leaping forward and screaming to scare him off, crashing through the branches to get out of the lion’s sight, the retreat we made through the fever berries (cautious at first, then rapidly picking up pace), back to the river bank, laughing and shaking in equal measures as we emerge from the lingering effect of a massive adrenaline rush in the shade of the only tree we could see.”

Dare to cross the Limpopo River, the view from the other side is spectacular and let the Mashatu Magic take you on a wild ride!
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