Expert Reviews – Makalali GR
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
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Canned game viewing
I can’t say that I liked Makalali much. Taken on its own terms, it is a great set-up. The accommodation, in spacious bush camps overlooking a waterhole, is superb, as is the food and wine and you are almost certain to see all the Big Five here. Too certain, in my opinion – the reserve here is so small that the driver-guides have a pretty good idea of where its rhinos, lions, elephants and buffalo re at any given time, so that game drives just consist of being taken to one prescribed sighting after the next, without any real sense of the excitement and unpredictability associated with most other reserves. It didn’t help that the guide we were allocated was startlingly ignorant, and spent as much time chatting on the radio as talking to us. This is a good bet for people who want to see the Big Give in one quick get-it-over-with swoop, but experienced safarigoers will be disappointed.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
The predictable bush of Makalali
I can’t fault Makalali Game Lodge. The sophisticated bush feel it oozes is right up my street. The spacious luxury rooms overlooking the bush are magnificent. I love making use of the outdoor shower. The food is a culinary delight. It always tastes as good as it looks. You can choose to eat on your private deck or in the dining area. In the evening, the food is often served in an atmospheric boma. The staff treated me like royalty and nothing is ever too much. The park is another Big 5 destination, but it isn’t very big and it is fully fenced.
On day two of my stay, I started to get the feeling of driving around in circles. As with all the private game reserves, a lot of chattering is going on between the guides and whenever you find a good sighting, the other vehicles are radioed immediately. As opposed to experiencing the unpredictability of the bush, I got a feeling of being taken to see the resident lions followed by the resident elephant herd. We probably avoided the rhino on that particular drive to keep it for the next day. I’m sure most tourists won’t pick this up, so it isn’t really a problem. Everybody else I’ve ever spoken too, loves this place, but it’s just a bit tame for me I guess.