Sunset by Andrei Snyman

Mashatu Game Reserve is a wholly preserved and untainted wilderness in eastern Botswana, at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. The ample plains range from savannah, to riverine forests, marshland, and sandstone outcrops.

Mashatu, ‘Land of Giants’ takes its name from the locally-sacrosanct Mashatu tree and the giants that roam the terrain. As one of the largest private game reserves in southern Africa, Mashatu is, at 25 000 ha (75 000 acres), a fitting setting for the world’s largest land mammal (the elephant) – with the largest herds on privately owned land on earth. Mashatu also provides sanctuary to the world’s tallest mammal (the giraffe); the world’s largest antelope (the eland); the world’s largest bird (the ostrich) and of course, the world’s heaviest flying bird (the Kori bustard). Add the lion, the king of the beasts and the iconic baobab … and you have Africa’s Big Seven.

This extraordinary place possesses an ecological diversity uncommon in other reserves. Complementing three members of the Big Five – leopard, lion and elephant – are some of the more surprising species, including the aardwolf, Bat-eared fox, African wild cat, Honey badger and Black-backed jackal. Recently introduced to Mashatu (as part of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve) is the endangered Wild dog. Mashatu is also an ornithological paradise, and plays host to more than 350 bird species, including the enchanting Lilac-breasted roller, whose plumage features no fewer than seven different shades of blue.