Expert Reviews – Manyeleti GR
Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
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In the Shadow of the Sabi Sands
The 23,000ha unfenced Manyaleti Game Reserve enjoys an enviable location sandwiched between Kruger to the east, Sabi Sands to the South and the Timbivati to the north. The Manyaleti area lacks the infrastructure and development of its more illustrious neighbours, but herein lies the charm of this lesser-known park. With only a smattering of tourist lodges, low visitor densities and plenty of Big Five wildlife, the Manyaleti is an exciting prospect for visitors looking for a good wildlife experience away from the maddening crowd and that won’t break the bank. The Manyaleti is unlucky in that it contains no major rivers and I have seen firsthand that the lack of surface water sometimes causes much of the wildlife to trek into neighbouring reserves during unfavourable times. It has also come from a legacy of poaching and animals tend to be a bit more skittish around game-viewing vehicles in this place. But, provided you pick your season and time your visit carefully, a safari to the ‘Place of Stars’ can be a productive and rewarding experience.
Harriet is a zoologist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has the privilege of working with the world’s top wildlife photographers and photo-guides.
Undiscovered Kruger gem
This little known private game reserve is sandwiched between Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands and Timbavati private reserves. The wildlife viewing is as good as its more famous neighbours – although as there are fewer visitors, the game is perhaps a little less habituated. With a little luck, visitors have a chance of seeing lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo as well as wild dog and cheetah. The reserve is unfenced and so game is free to come and go from the surrounding reserves.
There are a choice of lodges ranging from the sublime Tintswalo to the charming, off-grid, rustic Pungwe. I loved Pungwe for its simple, back to nature feel with elephants munching outside my tent at night.
During apartheid, Manyeleti was the only reserve accessible to non-whites – and since then it has somehow stayed in the tourism shadow. It is an undiscovered gem, poised for great things.
Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.
Manyeleti: Private Kruger Safaris
Part of the Greater Kruger ecosystem, Manyeleti – which was one of very few reserves open to blacks during the dark decades of apartheid – has terrific wildlife that often wanders in from the national park to the east. That said, the slightly denser foliage can mean that you have to work a little harder here – it’s all relative – for your sightings than in some of the other private reserves along Kruger’s western fringe. But don’t let that put you off – prices here are much more reasonable than in, for example, Sabi Sand or Mala Mala, and the birdwatching (over 300 recorded species) is excellent.