This is the last post from my trip to Mashatu in late October 2018. In this post I want to show you the varied landscapes you are likely to see while travelling around Mashatu. This is a private game reserve and all visitors are driven around in Mashatu game vehicles by Mashatu guides.
“The best dreams happen when you are wide awake.”~ unknown
There are three aspects of this game reserve which make it especially appealing for a wildlife photographer. Firstly, there is a wide variety of mammals and birds to see, but you will not see buffalo and rhino. Secondly, the guides will take you off road to get those special sightings and thirdly, the terrain, rivers and different biomes add many interesting perspectives.
“Landscapes even when their general type is similar, are capable of as many expressions as the same type of face, and, without our being able fully to tell why, affect our spirits as we look at them with as many moods and meanings.”~ William Hurrell Mallock
Mashatu also undergoes a radical transformation from winter to summer. In winter it cools down especially at night though the days are warm. It is dry as the last major rain falls in April. The flora progressively looks drier and the colours turn to browns, reds and yellows. By contrast , summer is very hot day and night and the rains usually start in November and carry on until March or April . The flora blooms and the reserve turns into a garden of Eden which is a verdant green and the rivers have plenty of water in them. This creates fascinating differences in mammal and bird behaviour.
Two ostrich pairs had, between them, around 14 chicks of different ages.
The magnificent male lion who dominates Mashatu – for now!
On the southern border of Mashatu close to the border post is a large outcrop of broken granite and sandstone which is home to rock dassies, leopards and klipspringers. The occasional black eagle is also seen cruising over the overcrop in search of dassies for dinner.
“Photography is a story I fail to put into words.”~Destin Sparks
Driving down one of the numerous sand river tributaries in search of lions and leopards.
Mashatu has four cheetah groups. Three females with cubs of different ages and a coalition of three adult males.
One of the many hills from which to look out over the plains. These spots are ideal for a morning coffee or sundowners while watching the sun illuminate a blaze of colour across the evening sky.
“The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”~Annie Leibovitz
Looking at one of the stoney ridges in Mashatu. This shows you just how dry it gets during winter and spring.
A family herd of elephants were digging in the sand of the Limpopo river for water. A pair of impala males were hanging around waiting for the elephants sate their thirst so they could get a chance for a drink of fresh water.
The water table is not too far below the surface of the apparently dry Limpopo river. Within a few feet the elephants are able to find water which is clean, being filtered by the sand.
“Photography is a love affair with life.”~Charlie Waite
The last remaining pools of water along the Limpopo river. The water was stagnant so the elephants usually sought out underground filtered water.
A typical scene looking west and watching the sunset with a sundowner in hand.
Travelling south back towards Rock camp, we passed a large marsh area which was dry and not the waterlogged marshland it had been in previous years. The dam wall broke a few years ago and it has been very dry since.
One of the more unusual areas of Mashatu to visit is Mmagwa Hill to see Rhodes Baobab and look down on the Motloutse river. Mmagwa was one of the satellite settlements of the the legendary Mapungubwe Dynasty.
We climbed up the rugged Mmagwa Hill in the late afternoon to see the sunset from this wonderful vantage point.
Growing on top of Mmagwa Hill is a lone baobab inscribed with Cecil John Rhodes’ initials. The story told is that Rhodes once stood here, envisioning his dream of a railway from Cape Town to Cairo.
As the sunsets and it starts to get dark, we can hear a lone hyaena whopping in the valley below and decide it is time to break the magical spell created by the sunset and make our way down the rocky path in the last light.
“You can speak with spiritual eloquence, pray in public, and maintain a holy appearance… but it is your behaviour that will reveal your true character.”~Unknown
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.
Have fun, Mike