Manyeleti is the wildest and more pristine of all private reserves open to Kruger.
It shares its borders with the most exclusive of all private reserves of South Africa: Sabi Sands. But in Manyeleti you can pay a fraction of the price, still making a great safari experience. Due to less vehicles around, you may expect to be trying harder to spot the most elusive big cats. On the other hand, Manyeleti is the perfect habitat for cheetahs and huge herds of buffalos. The population of white rhinos is also healthy and wild dogs are often seen hunting through the savannah grassland. As a safari destination, Manyeleti is great value for money. In terms of wilderness feeling though, look no further.
Where to stay in Manyeleti.
The reserve hosts 3 lodges and 3 bushcamps: this latter is our favorite choice. They’re not only cheaper, but also more in tune with the environment. Unfenced and without electric power, they’re rustic in style and with no frills, but with a strong wilderness feeling.
Pungwe bushcamp is made of 4 semi-tented chalets nestled in a grassy savannah. One of features of this camp is the combination between walking safaris in the morning an game drive in the afternoon. Passengers are often encouraged to alight from the vehicle if the ranger thinks there’s a good chance to track on foot rhinos or elephants in the bush.
Ndzaka is hidden in a thick forest not too far from the Main Camp and the big dam, the largest permanent source of water within the reserve. Unfortunately, lack of maintenance has compromised the water retention and this represents a serious threat for a place with no perennial rivers. The self-catering camp is simple and rustic and in a prime game area.
Buffelshoek is Ndzaka’s elder brother and the remotest camp of Manyeleti. It’s been recently renovated (and upgraded), is made of 5 tents with a small private veranda overlooking an open savannah, where buffalos, elephants and rhinos are often passing-by. Unlike Ndzaka, the camp is now fully catered.
√ 200 km of gravel roads across an area of about 230 kmq, with only 6 properties! If you’re not only focused on game counting but also on the quality of your sightings, to move around a huge game reserve, hardly bumping into any vehicle, is priceless.
√ In Xi-tsonga, the local language, Manyeleti means “place of stars”. Above all in winter, the sky is really starry, also thanks to no light pollution.
Did you know?
√ That during the Apartheid regime, Manyeleti was the only game reserve where black people were allowed? The fences with Kruger were put down in the second half of the ’90s, after the fall of the segregation rule.
√ That unlike other private reserves, where the owners are private all white families, Manyelety is owned by the Mnisi community? Their ancestors used to inhabit this land before being removed by the white Government of Pretoria. After the fall of Apartheid, the community issued a land claim, to get the land back. Things are though taking time, way beyond the standard for this kind of affair. Unlike the formal ownership, which is “black”, all accommodation are however still run by whites.