Makanyi Private Game Lodge is located in the southern sector of Timbavati Game Reserve. This quieter, unspoilt area of the Greater Kruger National Park is often recommended to visitors wanting a more authentic safari experience.
Makanyi can provide transfers but we decided to hire a car and brave the 1 hour drive from Hoedspruit airport through the game reserve. Once we got our bearings this trip was great fun, spotting animals on our self-guided safari on the dirt roads on the way.
Makanyi opened in 2015, a boutique lodge with just 7 luxury suites (2 of which have private plunge pools). All suites are decorated in a grand and luxurious style, with shades of brown and beige to complement the bush backdrop. The extra large four-poster bed is the centrepiece of the room, with a relaxing sitting area with its own fireplace, a beautiful bathroom with a spacious shower and separate freestanding bathtub, and a private deck with loungers and outdoor shower. Every tiny detail is covered in the rooms, from indulgent blankets for cooler weather to mosquito spray to ward off insects.
The lodge also has a pool, spa, gym, a main lounge, restaurant area and a bar, and these areas tend to get used in the middle part of the day when guests are relaxing in between game drives. We enjoyed a communal dinner at the main lodge after our evening game drive. The atmosphere was absolutely lovely as staff and guests chatted and bonded over which animals they’d had the joy of seeing that day. A beautiful buffet of South African dishes was served, I was particularly impressed by the high quality meat dishes.
Of course, the animals are the most important part of any safari experience, and as Makanyi privately own their land the guests here are able to take off-road routes to have a much closer look at the animals.
We went out with Field Guide Alfred and tracker Sam in an open top car. Together they spotted every movement and animal, big and small, and told us fascinating stories about the species and our surroundings. Alfred is so passionate about animal conservation that he took time out of his field guide career to record an album of anti-poaching songs!
On our tours, we were only joined by one other couple so it felt quite exclusive and personal. Within 30 minutes of our first evening drive, we saw a pair of white (wide) rhinos, a hyena, and then a pride of lions (with cubs) trying to hunt a herd of buffalo. The next day we spotted a family of elephants too, and it was hypnotising to watch the mother walk round the car, just a metre away from us.
Ravenous after the morning of animal spotting we eagerly chose Eggs Benedict from the short breakfast menu. The ingredients at Mayanyi are all of the highest quality, and this brunch classic was executed perfectly with oozing farm eggs and a delicious homemade hollandaise sauce. Strong coffee and fresh juice was also very much appreciated to get our energy up after the early start.
In my opinion, Makanyi is the perfect place to discover the magic of safari without the hoards of tourists. This luxurious game lodge is off the beaten track and will let you experience the wild animals in a much more intimate and real way.