Leopard cub at Honeyguide tented camp The Manyeleti Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, was established in the early 1960's as a safari getaway for non-white South Africans as they were not allowed to stay in the rest camps of the Kruger Park - this despite the fact that they were allowed to work in the same rest camps.
Today, community partnerships and new concession holders have transformed this pristine reserve into a sustainable joint eco-tourism venture.
River scene at Tintswalo Before my first visit I had been warned that the Manyeleti wildlife experience is not up to the standard of other reserves, but after the trip I had to disagree. In the two days I spent there we saw an impressive variety and number of animals on each drive - comparable to the best wildlife areas.
We saw herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest, and had great sightings of hyenas, lions, leopard and rhino. However, I realized that the Manyeleti is more about the quality of the experience than merely ticking off a checklist.
The bush is pristine, there is minimal traffic and the guides are passionate, and have an understanding not only of the animals but also of human nature and its needs. I saw more wildlife - and had better quality sightings - at Manyeleti than in two visits to the Sabi Sands.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge On my last morning at Manyeleti I awoke to the call of the fiery-necked nightjar as the eastern horizon glowed with the approaching dawn. I got out of bed and walked out onto the deck of my room. Over the next hour I identified over twenty different bird calls and heard many more I was not sure of.
As I sat there I pondered the meaning of the wilderness experience. Is it the big game - the promise of the 'Big Five' - the comforts of a safari lodge with fine food and wine, absolute luxury with excellent service with game as a sideline or is it the experience of the African wilderness at its most pristine? As I pondered this I realized that, with its range of lodge options, the Manyeleti provides it all. The place allows guests to find their own rhythm.by Leigh Kemp