Where do I begin to review a place like Mashatu? I'm not sure I can do it justice which is quite ironic as you will find out later if you continue to read on.........
My husband booked directly as he is working in Botswana for a few months. The response was fast, easy and with all the information we needed. A few days before we were due at Mashatu, cyclone Dineo was threatening to disrupt travel. The managing director Mr David Evans rang my husband to make sure of the route we would be taking, not something you would get from most companies. On our journey we were also contacted by the lovely Boubou to make sure we were fine and making good progress. As things turned out we didn't have any problems as we were in a 4x4 vehicle.
We arrived at Limpopo Valley Airfield ahead of schedule but within minutes of us arriving we were met by Jakes who transported us to Tent Camp. He was friendly, helpful and even managed to pinpoint where we originate from although we haven't lived there since 1982!
On our arrival at Tent camp we were met by Congo, KK, Boubou and Brown. We were warmly welcomed with smiles, juice and it was great to shake hands the African way. Check in was easy, and by the time we got to our tent our cases were there waiting for us.
We stayed in tent 3, these are no ordinary tents. Spacious, immaculately clean and beautifully furnished. We were shown where everything was, how things worked and were left to settle in. All the little touches make this a very special place. A letter personally addressed welcoming you to Mashatu. Metal water bottles with the Mashatu logo for you to use during your stay, And you get to take them home. They were refilled with ice cold water at the bar whenever you needed. A can of insect repellant and room spray were provided. There are two huge fans to keep you cool. Toiletries are of a high quality, soap, body wash/shampoo, body lotion and good quality Andrex toilet paper ( none of that nasty thin stuff ). Towels and bed linen are also great quailty. There are umbrellas in the tent too, they really do seem to have thought of everything.
Breakfast is served around 5am (depending on the time of year). Cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, rusks, juice, tea and coffee. Plentiful and just enough before you head off for the morning drive.
This is served around 10am. Lots of hot food, bacon, sausage, eggs, fritatta, lasagne, quiche, vegatables, fresh fruit, homemade bread, toast, preserves. tea, coffee. Every day there was something different, plentiful and freshly made.
Served around 3:30 before you go out on the afternoon/evening game drive. Usually a couple of savoury snacks and delicious cakes, tea and coffee. You are asked at this point what drink you would like have when out on the game drive for your "sundowner". This is loaded onto the vehicle for later.
Served at 8pm in the boma or in the dining area if the weather isn't suitable. You are taken through the menu by the waitress. The main course is buffet style, lots of choice and varied. We had a different soup each evening and all of them were delicious. Dessert was Mmmmmmm. I now need to go on a diet!
We were introduced to our guide for the duration of our stay, he joined us at all our meals. What a great idea, you get to know him and don't feel so awkward asking questions which you might think are a bit silly. You are in the company of an expert so use this time to learn about Mashatu and the people of Botswana.
Our guide was called Justice ( if you are still reading this then you will understand my earlier remark). What a first class man he is, knowledgeable, friendly, patient and an excellent driver. We were in awe of his ability to spot animals/birds at great distances and to know exactly what they were. He answered my constant questions with great grace, never made me feel silly for asking what might have been a simple question to him. Justice had some kind of sixth sense what the animals were going to do next, positioning the vehicle in the right place so that we were able to get great photos. Never intruding on the animals space, ever respectful. On our last evening drive he stopped the vehicle and pointed out the constellations as they appeared in the night sky. In the vehicle you also have a tracker, ours was Commando, he is a valuble pair of eyes and ears and also has great knowledge.
Sightings included Lions, Cheetahs, Eland, Impala, Black Backed Jackals, Kudu, Mongoose, Giraffe, Elephants, Wild Dogs, Zebra, Wildebeest, Birds......far too many to mention. If you want to see Lion cubs climbing trees and playing, watch Wild dogs hunting, see Cheetahs striding across the grasslands, see Elephants having a dust bath, Impalas running and leaping like it was an Olympic sport then this is the place for you. On the morning drive you stop somewhere safe and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with rusks, on the evening drive you can enjoy a drink ( we had beer) with snacks as you watch the sun go down.
We stayed for four nights and so glad we did. We would have hated to leave any earlier. On our third night we found ourselves to be the only guests in the whole of tent camp. Did standards slip? Oh No......not at all. We were treated like VIP's. We were given the option of where we wanted to eat, so we decided we would just have dinner in our tent. We expected that we'd have it on a tray. Not on your life. When we returned from the evening drive, tables had been set up on our veranda, beautifully set and decorated. Yet another example of how special Mashatu is and how they treat their guests.
We had also booked a day with a professional wildlife photographer. You go out in a special photography vehicle with a guide, ours was Dan in the morning and then we had Justice in the afternoon, and the photographer, Janet was wonderful. A very friendly lady with huge experience. She has also worked as a guide/tracker in game reserves across Africa. My husband has a much better understanding of photography than myself, I am an absolute beginner. Janet gave us such good advice and me the confidence to try changing my setting from automatic.
We can't wait to go back to Mashatu, probably in the winter so that we can get a different perspective.
Thank you to everyone at Mashatu. You are all simply wonderful.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Although safari rustic in character every facility is provided. The tents are insect-proofed, have comfortable beds and each has an en-suite shower and W.C. Facility. There is an open sided thatch deck where meals are served and a traditional boma for intimate campfire dinners. This camp also contains a very welcome plunge pool and hide from where guests can spend their time between safaris. ... more less