Botswana - Tuli Safari
Mashatu Game Reserve is located in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve - the eastern tip of Botswana. Mashatu covers 30,000 hectares and is home to great herds of elephant, estimated to be at least 800 strong.
As well as numerous cats, including leopards, lions, cheetah, African wild cat and cerval, the Tuli Block is known as 'The Land of the Giants' for good reason - the magnificent Baobab tree, huge sandstone outcrops, magnificent plains and of course, the Mashatu trees, are all prevalent along the great Limpopo River. The area is perfect for riding, offering good going with natural ditches and logs to jump, adding that extra dimension to an already exhilarating ride. Guests can expect regular game sightings, not only of the elephants and cats but also of antelopes, jackals, bat eared foxes and giraffe. The occasional canter across the plains with zebras and wildebeest will leave you with memories of an unforgettable riding holiday.
Program Tuli Safari
Tuli Safari is a seven night mobile safari, which covers approximately 120 miles over the course of the week and is scheduled from March to November. Each riding day ends at beautiful camps with welcoming walk-in tents, full size beds, fresh cotton linen and hot showers. The safari embraces fine dining in the wilderness and every evening is a delightful mix of good food and good company.
Day 1: Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to our reception area by the stables. After a light lunch it’s time to head off to meet your horse for the week. You will embark on a short introductory ride to make sure that you and your horse are well suited and then ride out to camp, where supper will be served in the Llala palm dining room of the Two Mashatus Camp.
Day 2: The day begins at sunrise with tea or coffee brought to your tent, followed by a light breakfast. Mount up and head off from the dense woodland along the Limpopo River towards the shallow rocky hills that mark the edges of the great river valley. Your destination for night two is Majale River Camp, a rustic series of cabins atop the steep and shady banks of the Majala River. Here in the heart of the Mashatu area the game is plentiful. The Tuli area is home to one of the largest herds of free roaming Elephant south of the Zambezi and you are almost assured of great viewing of these incredible creatures. After lunch and a siesta you will take a gentle guided walk to a nearby lookout spot known as “Kanda Koppie”. Dinner is enjoyed in the thatched lapa overlooking the river.
Day 3: An early wake up call heralds a new day, today, your journey takes you through the heart of Mashatu to the ancient rock formations synonymous with the Limpopo valley. Giant Baobabs silently surveying the land as they have for centuries, ancient elephant trails stamped into the soil and wonderfully long canters around the open scrub. This ride brings you to the banks of the Motloutse River and amongst dense old Mashatu trees a Leadwwod Boma that we call “Kgotla” after the old tribal court that was once held in its enclosure. The openair traditional African enclosure gives perfect security tonight is spent under the stars and a unique experience of the African bush up close and personal. The afternoon activity on day three is the choice of a guided walk or ride to the “Amphitheatre”, an ancient and awesome rock formation. Your walk concludes with traditional sundowners looking out over the Motloutse River. Back at “The Kgotla” dinner is enjoyed around a large log fire. The night is spent in the comfort of your bed set within the boma but with a ceiling provided by the southern skies, a blanket of stars to send you to sleep, a truly unique experience and just about as far away as you can get from city life and the modern world.
Day 4: Is a choice of either a morning and afternoon ride, exploring the amazing sandstone formations including the famed Solomon’s Wall. Some of the oldest civilizations in southern Africa had their settlements in this valley, their kings safely nestled in royal kraals at the tops of these flat topped hills. The Mapungubwe topography is ancient and timeless, and combined with great wildlife sightings, it is certainly an incredible riding experience. Or the group may prefer a long morning ride and an afternoon excursion to the nearby village of Lentswe Le Moriti and the basket weavers followed by a trip to the Mmamagwa hills. At the end of a short easy climb and beneath a beautiful Baobab you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Tuli area with South Africa to the South, Zimbabwe to the North and Botswana around you, this is a a sundowner drink you will remember for many years to come.
Day 5: An early rise and hearty breakfast is a good start for what is probably your longest day on horseback. Winding your way through the Mopane bush, with the chance of sighting elephant, you will make your way to the rich plains area close to the Limpopo River. Liana Camp is snugly nestled amongst giant Mashatu trees that line the Liana lagoon, a tributary to the Limpopo River. To ease your aches we use the afternoon for a game drive that takes us deep into the reserve in search of the big cats the area is renowned for including leopard, cheetah and lion.
Day 6: Our ride today meanders its way through the beautiful plains between the Mojali and Majele rivers. Abundant with game and with spectacular views into the Limpopo River valley we work our way back to our base camp, Two Mashatus. With the feel of a returning traveler we end the ride back at Two Mashatus where you will have the opportunity to relax by the pool and enjoy the comfort of our permanent camp with its shady tents and ensuite bathrooms. That afternoon we ride to one of the nearby koppies for a sundown drink..
Day 7: Todays riding promises great game viewing from horseback as we explore the Pitsane river valley on an all day ride. The Pitsane has a spring high in the hills which provides regular drinking holes along its course to draw thirsty herds of game. An area where history has it there was a skirmish during the Boer war and Bryces store, an old supply post was destroyed. A Picnic lunch is served in an area of shady Mashatu trees before exploring further in the afternoon. There was once a stage coach line called Zeederbergs that ran from the towns of the Transvaal in South Africa to the newly forged settlements of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Those coaches crossed the broad Limpopo and followed the Pitsane river crossing into Zimbabwe. You will return to camp in the afternoon with time for a cooling drink around the pool as the final day draws to a close you may take to your tent for a peaceful and dreamy last night in the bush .
Day 8. Your last ride in the Limpopo valley is a great opportunity to snap one last picture of elephants and a long and winding canter through the scattered Mustard bush with your guides. Arriving back at the stables with plenty time to enjoy a hot shower and a tasty brunch you get to s ay farewells to safari companions and new found friends, it’s time for your onward journey.
Program Tuli - MTB Safari
If your partner is riding but you prefer to ride a bike, you can follow on the ultimate African MTB experience. You follow roughly the same route as the riders and stay in the same camp and sometimes you will also meet for lunch. The guides are passionate cyclists and specialized field guides who do everything to ensure that you have an excellent cycling safari experience. Routes and distances are tailored to suit individual levels and cycling ability.
A relaxed ride will cover about 25km to 30km (18 miles) on a morning ride, with a maximum elevation gain of 150 meters (450 feet). More advanced riders might cover up to 50km (30 miles) a day with an elevation gain of about 250 meters (750 feet). The aim is to ride 3-5 hours per day. The pace is generally easy going with regular game sightings and scenic picnic stops, but be prepared, the riding at Mashatu is deceptively challenging.
The bikes are all 29inch generic aluminium 12 speeds mountain bikes with front shocks, the braking is lefthand front wheel, right-hand rear. They have a 12 Speed SRAM SX Eagle drive train and feature POP geometry, improving balance, climbing and traction. The slacker head angle of 67.5 degrees offer great handling over the technical terrain. They have small, medium, large and extra-large frames available. Pedals are flat one side and SPD cleat the other.
To book, proceed under Dates & prices below, Book on request - Tuli Safari. At Other information you fill in who should ride and who should ride a bike.
The Two Wilderness campsites are set up in specific locations on the Mashatu Game Reserve. Accommodation is in A frame tents with comfortable full size beds cotton sheets and duvets. Facilities include a bucket shower with hot water and “Bush-WC”. Meals are cooked over a camp fire. You will stay here the first and two last nights.
The Kgotla: The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community, which was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of Leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre.
Wilderness accomodation. One of the nights you will stay in wilderness camps on different locations in Mashatu Game Reserve. Wilderness accommodation is in A frame tents. These tents are 3.5 x 6 metres so that you have the space you need. With beds, sheets and duvets this is very comfortable camping. A bucket shower is shared, while each tent has a long drop of its own. Meals are cooked around the fire.
In Tuli Reserve winters are dry and the summers warm and wet. Animals concentrate around the water sources during the dry season months of May to October making this the best time to visit Tuli for game viewing but the stunning landscapes are at their best in the summer months November to April when all the vegetation has greened up.
Best time to visit Tuli for wildlife
During the dry winter months the vegetation shrivels and the landscape takes on a bare look, making it easier to spot wildlife. This is also the time when the animals concentrate around the waterholes.
Best time to visit Tuli for birding
The summer months are the best time for birding in Tuli as it is the time when all the migrants are in the area and many of the nesting birds are active.
Ability description: Trail Ride Level 3>> Guests must be experienced riders. They must ride regularly (at least once or twice a week) and be comfortable at posting trot, light seat canter and gallop as well as being able to do small jumps should they have to. They must be able to control a horse independently of the group at all paces. On arrival in Botswana you will be asked to do a independent riding test.
Included in the price: Rate is inclusive of 7 nights accommodation, riding, meals, teas / coffees, drinks, game drives, bush walks and laundry. Only tips and curios payable locally in cash.
Not included: International flights, tips, transfer, personal insurance and extras not mentioned.
Travel: Book flight/rental car >> We help you book your flight if you wish.
Fly to Johannesburg.
Transfer: Book and pay to horseXplore before departure.
Flight: (Angel Gabriel Air Taxi) from Johannesburg International Airport to Botswana.
Price: 665 EUR/person return
Meeting point: A representative of Angel Gabriel air will wait for you in Intercontinental hotel reception lobby OR Tambo International Airport. Departure shuttle bus will leave ORT strictly at 10.45am. Book a flight that arrive before 9.30 am on the arrival day.
Flying home, book a flight that depart from Johannesburg International Airport after 8.30 pm.
Road transfer: Book and pay to horseXplore before departure
Price: 1-3 persons / way/car 500 EUR. 4-8 persons / way /car 605 EUR.
Meeting point OR Tambo Internatinal Airport, Johannesburg, information desk at 07.00am. Book a flight that arrive well in time before 07.00am on arrival day. Flying home, book a flight that depart from Johannesburg International Airport after 9.00 pm.
Note: maximum of 15kg luggage in soft bags plus a max of 6 kg hand luggage on Angel Gabriel air. Treat all luggage as hand luggage i.e. no bottles over 100mls or sharp objects, the light aircraft do not have closed luggage holds therefore all luggage is subject to the rules that apply to hand luggage.
Season: From Jan - December. High season: May, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov. Middle Season: Mar, Apr, Jun. Low Season: Dec, Jan, Feb
No of riders: Min. 2 and max. 8.
Currency: We suggest you exchange your cash into dollars and some rand, you shouldn’t need local currency as your holiday is fully inclusive. Botswana tourism levy can be paid in dollars. Gratuities, onsite curio shopping can be paied in Rand and dollars both in Botswana and SA
Tips: Not required but appreciated, around 5-10 $/day.
Electricity/wi-fi: In each tent there is a small solar charger that can charge most cell phones with a USB port. Limitied Wi-fi reception.
Safety: Hard hats are mandatory and you will not be able to ride without one. We can provide helmets, but suggest that clients bring their own.
Visa: You must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months after your return date and has at least 3 blank pages. Visas are not necessary for most countries but we do advise that guests contact their local embassy and make sure they don’t need one.
Misc: A Tourism levy of $30 pp payable on entry into Botswana will come into place on June 1, 2017. With effect from the 1st of January 2019 all Mashutu visotors will attract a conservation levy of $10 per person per night. Payable on site. Please bring dollars to avoid inflated exchange rates and bring the correct amount as there is sometimes a lack of change at borders. Other costs such as souvenir shopping and gratuities in can also be done in dollars, should you need any emergency items the lodges can help exchange small amounts into local currency.