You will be picked up at either Hoedspruit or Phalaborwa airport by our transfer service. On arrival at Wait A Little a light lunch or afternoon tea and coffee awaits you. The Wait A Little team, including Philip, Gerti, Debbie and Trevor are there to welcome you. Philip, your guide, will introduce you to the safety procedures before going on your first riding safari. This orientation ride takes you through the area surrounding the camp as you unwind from your journey and forget yourself in the peace of the African bush. This is your chance to become accustomed to our horses and riding style. We might even see the first giraffe or zebra. Sundowners, looking out towards the Drakensberg Mountains, are a perfect prelude to the generous 3 course dinner, accompanied by hand picked South African wines, which awaits you in our dining area, furnished with antique African art.
The first night, with all its fantastic sounds and noises, is probably the most exciting one. Accommodation for these first three nights is in old style safari tents with ensuite bathrooms, mounted on platforms above the Makhutswe River at the Wait A Little main camp.
We wake you with tea or coffee in the morning. After a light, continental breakfast we are ready to mount our horses and go on safari. The weather will create our day. If it is cooler, we ride out all day to visit Croc Dam. Crocodiles, fish eagles, hippos and lots of water birds can be seen in the biggest dam on the reserve. Under a big tree in the shade we unpack our picnic from the saddle bags. After a quiet snooze in the grass we remount our horses to begin the meander home. Later that afternoon we take our ride back. All of a sudden Philip stops, fresh tracks... cheetah. He immediately follows the route to go and look for this beautiful cat, the fastest animal in the world. If we are lucky we can follow them hunting or join their peaceful repose as they relax on a termite mound.
When we hear a leopard roaring in the night, Philip looks for tracks in the riverbed to show you this impressive cat. You find him; he stands up, stretches, and stalks to a shadier spot. Philip guides you closer, and everyone is silent as the excitement of entering his world grabs you. Simply by observing him, you share a moment in harmony with an animal that is just as curious about you as you are about him. The thrills of the mornings' sightings are re-lived over lunch, served on Wait a Little's terrace. Fresh salads, homemade breads, pizzas and quiches served together with light meats and cheeses amply satisfy the hunger brought on by a long ride. The lovely smell of Ana's homemade cake ensures you awake in time for an evening drive to the buffalo project, where, drink in hand, you will encounter these magnificent animals at close range.
Waking to the rich colours of the sunrise we get ready for a long ride. Entering the Greater Makalali Game Reserve, dominated by huge open planes, where you might find yourself cantering next to giraffes, zebras or wildebeest. Spectacular views, over big distances show you the way to Phiva, our camp for the next two nights. Our arrival at camp is heralded by the first glimpses of thatched spires through the trees. As it gradually reveals itself, it seems to have been inspired by Africa herself: red like the soil, white like the bones, brown like the branches, orange and grey like the rocks. Designed by one of Africa's most famous architects, Silvio Rech, all of Makalali's camps have been built using the natural materials found around their locations: clay, reeds, wood and skulls have been put to innovative use to make these camps unique, yet firmly nestled in their surroundings. As with all the Makalali camps, accommodation is in private chalets, each equipped with en-suite bathrooms, outdoor showers and private salas for your relaxation.
The afternoon siesta is followed by a game drive, orientated towards searching for lions. An open top Landrover will follow the directions of your native tracker as he reads the signs left by the big cats during the day. After a long, slow Gin, watching the sunset, the drive continues into the night, where, with luck, some of the nocturnal wildlife will show its face. Bushbabies, owls, maybe even a leopard, may complete your day’s excitement.
Dinner is served by Harold, our camp manager, and cooked by Makalali's chefs, famous for their mixture of European and African flavors.
Today we go exploring, cutting through the veldt at a canter, twisting and turning around the trees (what Philip calls bushwhacking) and your surefooted horse carries you nimbly through the undergrowth, changing direction as you guide his course, having just as much fun as you. Here and there a tree, felled by an elephant, provides an irresistible jump. Or perhaps the eland, kudu or wildebeest seeing us pass, fall in front of us to show us the best path. At the top of the hill you pause for thought, as mile after mile of unspoiled Africa stretches away before you.
Served on banana leaves, we have fresh salads, meats and cheeses for lunch on Makalali's veranda, whilst we watch nyala, waterbuck, kudu or other little animals roaming the river systems. Refreshed after a well deserved siesta, we ride to a nearby dam, where hippos live during the heat of the day. Let them entertain you, playing in the water, rolling and laughing. With luck, a crocodile is relaxing on a sandbank, enjoying the warm evening sun.
Today we direct ourselves toward a more northerly part of the reserve and the luxuries of Garonga safari camp. Tucked into the edge of a steep cliff, overlooking a tributary stream, Garonga is different again to what we have so far experienced. Fusing the familiar sight of the termite mound with the light, airy, feel of an old, colonial expedition, Garonga spoils you for tranquil relaxation. Owned and run by Bernardo Smith, the camp is particularly personal in its approach and your every desire can be catered for here.
Our long ride this morning will have seen us cantering through the grassy plains and tracking over the hills and valleys that rise between the camps. Long hours in the saddle, over numerous days, mean that you will definitely have earned the right to spoil yourself with an aromatherapy treatment this afternoon. Or perhaps a long siesta and a strong sundowner is more to your taste! There is even a 'bush bath' set in the veldt, in which you can wash away the smell of leather, up to your ears in bubbles, whilst listening to the sounds around you. Whatever helps you more, you are free to choose how you spend this afternoon before rejoining the party for another excellent meal. Dinners are served as a group, where all guests of the lodge eat together, or individually, as a party in the torch lit boma.
After all that pampering yesterday afternoon, we are fit again for another full day ride. Today we head out towards Garonga's tree house. Our route takes us over one of the highest points in the reserve: the view from this point is truly bird's eye and can only emphasize the sheer grandeur of the immense space around us. Literally coming off the top of the world, we are once more embraced by the bush as we venture deeper and deeper into the world we have just surveyed. Coming across a dam we watch some hippos cavorting in the water before we casually look up: waiting for us, half way up a Marula tree, is Bernie and the rest of the team; a true, old style picnic has been laid out for us on the deck, so we can continue watching life on the water from our eagle eyed vantage point.
Our horses wait patiently below, snacking on their own natural picnic from the veldt, until we choose to head off, in pursuit once more of Africa's finest.
Whatever has thrilled us most so far can be tracked again this morning as we ride out with the sun on our backs to warm us. Perhaps the elephants are snoozing in the river reeds, or a rhino is having a mud bath in one of the little waterholes.
With our return to camp we have ample time to gather our thoughts before embarking on the afternoon's activity. Again, this is your choice - perhaps a bird walk appeals, another game drive to search for something not yet encountered or another relaxed afternoon by the pool.
Today promises to be another full day in the saddle as we make our way across the reserve for our return to Wait A Little base camp. At home, the Wait A Little team eagerly awaits our exciting tales, which are the perfect accompaniment to one last, sad farewell sundowner on Wait A Little's open plain. The African fever is sure to have taken hold and the good bye can be hard. But it mustn't be pre-empted, for there is one last sumptuous dinner to be enjoyed, when Gerti chooses something special - perhaps game fillets, such as Kudu or Eland - to crown the final evening.
An early wake up will get us on the horses quickly, so we can enjoy a short, sporty ride before the transfer service takes you to the airport.