Sleep tight; guest blog post by Tabby Mittins and Villiers Steyn

Words by Tabby Mittins and photos by Villiers Steyn

Villiers and I aren’t really lodge people. Our accommodation, for the majority of the time we spend on the road, is our little green dome tent, and we love it. However, every now and then an opportunity comes round and we indulge in a little luxury. After all, who would pass up an opportunity to get spoilt rotten?

Mashatu Main Camp

Unlike many similar lodges that often lose the natural charm of the setting they’re in, mostly in an effort to boost their sybaritic edge in the increasingly competitive world of luxury bush lodges, Mashatu Main Camp has somehow maintained that middle-of-the-wilderness feel without sacrificing any of the opulences that make it popular. Far from the hotel-in-the-bushveld feel that envelopes many lodges, Main Camp has managed to combine comfort with just the right amount of rustic.

The terrace and bar area overlooking the waterhole is particularly lovely – there’s nothing nicer than dozing off in cool comfort and waking up to the rumbling of elephants at the waterhole, or listening to them slurp and stomp in the darkness over pre-dinner drinks. If midday naps or sunbathing next to the swimming pool is not your thing, you can learn more about the reserve’s animals and history by visiting the Discovery Room, an airconditioned haven for those who like to know more about the region.

The staff is laid back and happy, and like all the best lodges, always keen to do whatever it takes to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Better still, they seem genuinely pleased to be of service, so much so that I’m convinced the dinner-time song and dance around the fire every evening is just a good excuse to unwind at the end of the day and guest entertainment is just a favourable bonus.

 

Mashatu Tent Camp

Tent Camp is a lot more down-to-earth than Main Camp. Just eight luxury safari tents nestle into the semi-arid bushveld further north into the park, and though not lacking in sumptuosities in any way, with just a single electrified strand allowing all game species except elephants and giraffes through, it’s a somewhat more intimate wildlife experience. Each tent, complete with outdoor shower and bathroom area, comes with its own personal piece of Mashatu wilderness.

Tent Camp’s double story hide at the end of a narrow corridor is an ever-popular attraction, but many guests have discovered that sitting around a waterhole isn’t the only way to see animals from camp. Numerous bird baths attract a great variety of species including not only birds such as Meve’s starlings, lesser honey guides and blue waxbills, but also bushbuck, tree squirrels and monitor lizards. In fact, for the last couple of years Tent Camp has even had its own resident breeding pair of bushbabies – instant local celebrities to all who stay there.

Tent Camp is cosy, extremely comfortable, and with a small staff and a maximum of sixteen guests at any given time the atmosphere is one of friendly familiarity. Nothing beats the exchange of sightings over an ice cold beer on the terrace, followed by an open-air dinner in Tent Camp’s little boma.

There are many ways to experience an African safari, and though Villiers and I love camping out in our little green tent, after a couple of nights in Mashatu’s Main and Tent camps I’m beginning to think we might turn out to be lodge people after all…



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