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Trip Report Mashatu tent camp and Mala Mala photos- July 2008

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In two words...Beyond incredible!

(6) nights at Mashatu Tent Camp
(4) nights at Mala Mala Main Camp

Photos on www.pbase.com/carlam

There are 3 galleries, Pete's Pond, Mashatu and Mala Mala. All are projects "in the works" and I will be adding captions soon. I do have some videos posted on Facebook if any of you are members, let me know.

I must say first, it was fantastic sharing the game drives with KayeN (at Mala Mala) and Sundowner (Cindy) and her 2 daughters. We had the vehicle to ourselves all but a couple drives! What a nice surprise. This was my 2nd trip to Southern Africa.

My flight schedule was LAX-Frankfurt(United)an overnight flight which I upgraded to business class at LAX. An 8 hour layover, got dayroom at the airport Frankfurt Sheraton. Frankfurt-JNB (SAA)arriving 7:30am the following day.

On the way home I flew JNB-Wash-Dulles (SAA)then Dulles-LAX (United)
All flights were on-time or early. I had one checked bag, a carry on duffle and a backpack and everything made it home and back, hurrah! No complaints at all about the flights, food or experiences. I sat next to interesting people on every leg which made the time fly by.

We rented an SUV, Nissan X-Trail, automatic transmission from First Car Rental at JNB airport. I highly recommend this company. It was tight for room with the four of us and all our luggage but we managed. The price was right, $800 for 14 days with full insurance coverage.

An overview of the route we drove was JNB to Polokwane. Overnight at Polokwane. Next day, drive to the Botswana border, leave car at border (secured area), go through immigration and met by our guide Richard. Afke (mans the Africa Wildcam for Nat Geo) from Pete's Pond was also there to greet us and take photos of us crossing the Limpopo River in the cable car. The river still had water flowing which was unusual for that time of year.

It's a one hour drive from the border to Tent Camp. I will write a list of the sightings we saw just on this drive alone, its was mind blowing!

From Mashatu we drove to Tzaneen and stayed at the Hill Top Country Lodge for the night. Beautiful property! Lots to do in the area that you could easily spend more days here.

The next morning drove from Tzaneen through the Panoramic Route to Mala Mala. I highly recommend this drive and would love to spend more time in this area on future trips.

Mala Mala back to JNB with an overnight at the O.R Tambo Southern Sun. Plenty of time the next morning for a nice breakfast, pack and a few hours shopping at Out of Africa before the flight home.

These two camps complimented each other perfectly. They were totally different experiences which I loved both equally. Lots of elephants, cheetah and wild dogs at Mashatu and at Mala Mala, lions and leopards galore, and of course the highlight, those sweet little Styx pride cubs. I died and went to heaven after seeing them. Also seeing the Eyrefield pride and 9 (big) cubs was great after following their lives this past year. And the old guy, the Rollercoaster Male....hang in their buddy! I am pulling for you.

At Mashatu, Richard was our ranger and Justice was our tracker. Can't say enough good things about them.

At Mala Mala, Rob Scott was our ranger and Patrick was our tracker. Outstanding pair!

My head is swarming with memories and I will be writing more in bits and pieces as well as work on my photos. I just felt I needed to get this started in some shape or form and thank everyone for your suggestions and advice.

Cindy (Sundowner) will be chiming in as well. I can't wait to see her photos. She had some very impressive camera equipment and was so generous letting everyone at the have a go at it. Talk about "lens envy"! <):)

More to come...

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