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 its terrain. As one of the largest private game reserve in southern Africa, Mashatu Game Reserve 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.
Mashatu Game Reserve 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.
Rangers & Trackers – Tswana men with intimate bush knowledge and an instinct that imparts an extremely fascinating insight that brings you into closer contact with the bush. They are thoroughly trained in all aspects of ecology.
Game Drives – Game drives are conducted in open 4-wheel drive safari vehicles in the 30 000 ha (75,000 acre) Mashatu Game Reserve. The rangers are in constant radio communication with one another to keep each other informed about the location of the game. Headsets are used for this purpose so as not to disturb the sounds of the African bush. Beside elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena, general game such as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland and a variety of antelope, and nocturnal species like springhares, bat eared fox, civet cat, genet cat, honey badger and mongoose, are prevalent throughout the reserve. The bird life is prolific with Mashatu Game Reserve recording over 366 different species. The 4-wheel drive safari vehicles enable the rangers to leave the road and provide guests with up close game viewing and fantastic photographic opportunities. Night drives, with the aid of powerful spotlights bring the bush to life.
Sole Use Vehicles – Sole use of a vehicle can be arranged upon request at Mashatu Main Camp only, subject to availability on check-in. Sole use of these vehicles is charged per empty seat per day out of six, up to a maximum of 5 empty seats.
Transfers – Transfers between Mashatu Game Reserve and the Limpopo Valley Airfield / Pont Drift border post are by road. Transfer times are dictated by the number of guests in the various camps and their flight schedules. Charges are not levied for the transfers to/from Limpopo Valley Airfield to connect with scheduled flights, or from the Pont Drift Border Post (via open/enclosed safari vehicle) at the rendezvous time of 13h00. In the event of the Limpopo River being in flood necessitating the use of the cable car to cross the border, a nominal charge will be levied for the trans-river transfer. Charges are levied for transfers out of the normal scheduled times.
Mashatu Game Reserve
Mashatu Main Camp is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. Burning torches at the camp’s entrance beckon safari-goers home to the embodiment of sublime hospitality.
For the client who is accustomed to the creature comforts, this camp will meet every expectation. 14 luxury suites lie along the camp’s perimeter, and are designed to allow absolute privacy and a communion with the bush and its inhabitants. Watch elephants splashing at the waterhole; listen to the lyrical melody of the woodlands kingfisher in a branch overhead; smell the grassy scent of the veldt; touch the bark of an ancient tree and taste a breath of air so pure, it’s intoxicating.
Each of the air-conditioned suites at Mashatu Main Camp is tastefully decorated and includes impressive black and white prints of Africa’s most beautiful animals. A double bed and an extra large single bed together with a seating area comprising a day bed allows the suites to provide more than enough space to comfortably accommodate families with younger children. The ample en-suite bathroom with both bath and shower facilities and a separate W.C complete the well appointed suites.
This is the ideal camp for the family traveler. A large swimming pool is the most popular spot in the camp to wile away the hours on the hot days between game activities. The Discovery Room is the portal through which curious visitors get a glimpse of another world that was here long before man was – animal specimens and relics will fascinate and educate visitors of all ages as will the resident crocodiles (both large and small).
Meals are a sumptuous celebration of traditional African cuisine – flavorsome but not ostentatious. Fresh fruits, vegetables, home made breads and pies, succulent meat dishes and delicious desserts will appeal to a visitor who appreciates home-cooking at its best.
For a touch of retail therapy, the fully-stocked curio shop showcases a variety of African crafts, clothing and jewellery. And fear not – if you run out of battery or sunscreen, you can find this too!
Mashatu Tented Camp is just 15 minutes from Mashatu Main Camp and is a refuge very different. The Mashatu Tent Camp is almost one with the environment – just blink and you might miss it! This is the leisure choice for the guest who seeks the ultimate one-on-one bush experience, or who prefers a more intimate environment with never more than 14 companions (and no children under 12 years of age).
8 completely private comfortable tents are tucked under the branches of enormous trees, accessible via meandering pathways. The tents are themselves spacious and comfortable (enabling adults to stand upright). Each unit is mounted on a concrete platform, and has its own private outdoor en-suite facilities (including W.C and shower). Have you ever showered under the stars?
Instant camaraderie is a by-product of this characteristic camp. Meal-times are shared without pomp and ceremony, either in the open-air thatched gazebo, or in the boma overlooking a floodlit and popular waterhole. A plunge pool provides a refreshing break from the unrelenting sunshine typical of the summer months.
Clients may remove themselves further by visiting the hide, also overlooking the waterhole. The sturdy and shaded structure enables bush enthusiasts to sit quietly and to obverse animal species going about their day. And the best part – the animals are completely unaware that they are not alone. It is humbling indeed to be an observer, standing where the world is perfect.
Mashatu Game Reserve Activities
Mashatu Ivory Drive
Meet this ‘Land of Giants’ on its own terms, in the company of a wild elephant scientist based at Mashatu Game Reserve.
Mashatu Game Reserve has the largest free roaming, flourishing elephant population on private land in Southern Africa. Join our resident elephant specialists and researchers Jeanetta Selier on a morning drive to learn more about these amazing creatures. Learn how to identify, as well as age and sex the different herds, which Jeanetta has come to know so well over the years. Getting right up close and personal with these fascinating pachyderms enables guests to learn more about their behaviour, their complex social structure and their communication skills.
Mashatu Predator Drive
The predator drive at Mashatu Game Reserve offers thrilling insights into the ferocious lives of Mashatu’s big cats.
Andrei Snyman, who is based on Mashatu Game Reserve, is the predator researcher of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. His study specializes in the lions and leopards of this area. Andrei has extensive experience working with large carnivores, covering aspects such as capture, radio tracking, monitoring and censusing. For the last few years Andrei has been studying the lion population dynamics in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Andrei is currently running the Northern Tuli Predator Project and conducting a lion and leopard research project. In order to subsidise his research, Andrei conducts interpretive drives where a more detailed insight into the predators of Mashatu is offered. For a contribution to his research endeavours, join Andrei on an afternoon predator research drive where he will share with you the extraordinary life of leopards and lions from a researcher’s perspective, as you search for these charismatic large predators. Come and experience for yourself a few hours in the life of a predator researcher and learn how Andrei aims to better understand the King-of-Beasts and the Prince-of-Stealth.
Principal Researcher: Mr Andrei Snyman
Running for nearly two years, the Northern Tuli Predator Project focuses mainly on the study of lions and leopards, but other large carnivores such as the spotted hyena and brown hyena are also incorporated. Currently there are 5 male leopards collared and two male lions. Andrei Snyman, who manages the carnivore project, is currently finishing with his MSc degree, which focuses on the lion component of the project. This degree will then be followed up by a PhD – which will shift its focus to the leopard component. This predator project is becoming well established in the sense that there are seven GPS-radio collars deployed, 25 digital camera trap units, a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle and various other high standard equipment for both office and fieldwork purposes.
Background to lion study
The number of studies done on what the impact of safari hunting has on lion population dynamics is still far and few between. Social factors are probably the most influential to lion group dynamics, but there are environmental patterns and processes that influence the distribution of groups through space and time.
There is a growing need to know how consumptive utilization influences lion population dynamics. Previous studies have shown that safari hunting could negatively affect lion reproduction, behaviour, and overall population demography. It is thus important to understand how lions react, in terms of movements, behaviour, reproduction, and home range size, to these pressures in order for wildlife managers and researchers to better understand and manage their populations.
The primary objectives of this study were to investigate:
How consumptive utilization affects lion social structure and population dynamics? What is the current status and social structure of the lion populations of NTGR? What are the movement patterns of these lions in relation to each other and after the removal of a group member? What are the home range sizes and averages? Do the lions move in relation to each other, or do they utilize the whole reserve?
Mashatu Game Reserve Cycling Safaris
For the more adventurous – join a mountain bike safari and see the bush from a completely different perspective. The experienced rangers will accompany you as you pedal your way along ancient elephant paths. The exhilaration of cycling amongst the “Giants of Mashatu’ is an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience. The mountain bike safaris are tailored to suit the fitness and strength of the riders.
Mountain bikes, cycling helmuts and water bottles are available for use.
Early morning and late afternoon rides are available.
Mashatu Game Reserve Horse Back Safaris
“Take a ride on the wild side.” A horse safari in the Land of Giants will arouse the explorer in you. Allow the spirit of your horse to carry you in rhythm with the African beat, to return you to an age-old Africa. Join Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris for a morning or afternoon ride.
Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris operates as a concessionaire on Mashatu Game Reserve. The area is perfect for riding; good going with natural ditches and logs to jump gives an exhilarating ride. Regular game sightings not only of the elephants and cats but also of antelopes, wild dogs, jackals, bat eared foxes, giraffe and the occasional canter with zebras and wildebeest across the plains leaves you with unforgettable holiday memories.
Guests accommodated at Mashatu Main or Tent Camp have the opportunity to participate in a morning horse safari. This is a fast advanced ride for experienced riders only. A riding “test” will be conducted prior to the horse safari and anyone not deemed to be experienced enough will not be allowed to continue on the morning ride.
A very early transfer from the camp to rendezvous with Limpopo Valley Horse Safari’s will be arranged. It is advisable to pre-book this activity prior to arrival at Mashatu to ensure it is available.
Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris operates as a concessionaire on Mashatu Game Reserve which is located in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve – the eastern tip of Botswana. Mashatu Game Reserve is 30,000 hectares within a greater area of 70,000 hectares.
Mashatu Game Reserve is home to great herds of elephants, estimated at least 800 just on Mashatu. As well as numerous cats, including leopards, lions, cheetahs, African wild cat and some cerval. The Tuli block is known as The Land of the Giants for good reason with the magnificent Baobab tree, huge sandstone outcrops, and magnificent plains and of course the Mashatus trees prevalent along the great Limpopo River.
The area is perfect for riding; good going with natural ditches and logs to jump gives an exhilarating ride. Regular game sightings not only of the elephants and cats but also of antelopes, wild dogs, jackals, bat eared foxes, giraffe and the occasional canter with zebras and wildebeest across the plains leaves you with an unforgettable holiday.
Most safaris are tented and mostly mobile. Choose from an a traditional 7 night Tuli Safari or try our Big 5 Ride with 4 nights in South Africa and 4 nights with us at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Mashatu or try our NEW Limpopo Lodge Ride or the comfortable static Two Mashatus ride. This is the chance of a lifetime to see as much as possible of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve and Mashatu Game Reserve, an unparalled equine adventure. Come and see for yourself!
Mashatu Childrens Program
With this program Mashautu Game Reserve intends to entertain children, but at the same time to educate them about the bush and the wildlife we share our lives with. Children will always be under the supervision of a responsible manager and/ or ranger while on the program, whether within the confines of the camp, or out in the bush.
Leading the programme is Mpho Manthe, together with the team of Mashatu rangers. After a year of experience at Disney World (USA), Mpho has a rich knowledge of children’s entertainment – many of the games designed for this programme found their origin at Disney.
The program is geared towards children aged 12 years and under. Activities will depend on the time of the year, and the number of days the children are with us in camp.
Research volunteers will also lend assistance to the children’s program, subject to availability..
A Mashatu Game Reserve backpack including an interactive check-list, bird colouring book, coloured pencils & sharpener, compass & thermometer and water are given to each child between the ages of 4 and 12.
Animal Trivia Children each get a poster of a particular animal. After reading the facts pertaining to that animal while viewing corresponding pictures – children then explain the specifics of their subject to the rest of the group. A great means of interaction facilitating relationship building, great fun and general knowledge.
Who Am I? Each child get’s a turn. A poster with one of the animals in the group poster is placed on the child’s back. S/he then asks “yes/no” questions to find out what animal it is …. “Do I have horns? Do I have scales? etc.”
Game Walk A short walk is conducted around the bustling Main Camp area. This is ideal for kids to learn more about the different rocks, trees, birds and nests in the wild. Children will also be taught how to track animals and identify the different spoor and droppings in the bush. Children will be escorted by an armed ranger.
Wildlife Movies For those children not eating with their parents in the boma, a delicious children’s meal is prepared. After dinner a video will be screened in the recreation centre
Crocodile Feeding After brunch kids have the opportunity to watch the crocodiles being fed by one of the Mashatu managers/rangers (parents are also welcome to join!).. A short (and entertaining) discussion on crocodile ecology and behaviour accompanies feeding time.
Interactive “animal-building” exercise Kids will visit the Discovery Room where the skulls of different animals are displayed. By studying the different skulls, they will learn the differences between carnivores and herbivores. By looking at the different bones in the body of an animal, participants are encouraged to try to build their own animal. In the process participants we will learn how an animal fits together, and what the function of all the bones in an animal’s body are.
Cultural Experience Botswana has a very rich cultural history. In this activity, we aim to teach children more about the current local inhabitants of the country and area, as well as the ancient cultures that existed thousands of years back. Children will learn to make stone tools, ostrich and giant land snail beads and clay figurines from termite mound clay.
This is a great play session …. be prepared to get dirty!
Pool Games There is no better way of getting clean than in a pool. Children will be entertained in the pool with a variety of pool games (including Hippo Polo) under the diligent supervision of one of the camp managers.
Electronic Animal Tracking Research is a vital part of any reserve and Mashatu Game Reserve currently has three major active research programs. Radio tracking forms part of these research projects. In this session we will expose children to the general field of research, and teach them how to track animals with the telemetry equipment.
To begin, a short introductory explanation on why and how animals are tracked is delivered in the Discovery Room. Following this, participants set out to find a radio-collared toy hidden somewhere in the camp (hint … it might even be just outside of the camp). The children will be able to listen to the beeping sounds of the transmitter, and to follow their own instincts on where to go.
Mashatu Game Reserve