The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve is one of South Africa's leading, privately-owned conservation areas presently comprising an astonishing 22,000 hectares in the Lowveld region of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, close to the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
Makalali, meaning "Place of Rest" in Shangaan, is a unique conservation initiative to increase South Africa's 'green frontier' by re-establishing the ancient traditional wildlife migration routes that linked the famous Kruger National Park in the East to the lush Drakensberg Mountains in the West. The Greater Makalali Private Reserve has reintroduced a variety of wildlife onto the reserve over the last decade, including cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant and rhino.
In the course of relocating the wildlife, the Greater Makalali Private Reserve has contributed to conservation efforts protecting endangered species. Elephants were relocated here from the Kruger National Park, sparing them from annual culling. Breeding herds of White rhino were relocated to diversify the free-roaming genetic populations, contributing to the longevity of the species.
The reserve is situated an hour's drive from the Kruger National Park and has an appeal of its own. Makalali's Bushveld is undulating with elevated viewpoints giving panoramic views of the reserve, dissimilar to the reserves along the Kruger National Park borders. This huge area is covered with Jackalberry, Knobthorn, and Marula trees. The reserve was founded in 1994 and comprises Lowveld acacia bush and open savanna grassland, all surrounding the Makhutswi River.
Ecotourism and Conservation
Makalali Private Game Reserve is regarded as one of the pioneers in ecotourism in South Africa and signifies a conservation effort to expand South Africa's green frontier. Lion, cheetah, leopard, rhino and breeding herds of elephant have all been reintroduced to the reserve, making the Makalali Conservancy home to diverse species including Africa's "Big Five".
Due to Makalali's ideal location, close to the great Olifants River in South Africa's Limpopo Province, it is possible to go river rafting and abseiling, with both activities providing a great deal of fun and excitement.
You can also relish a trip to a facility specializing in the captive breeding of cheetahs. Important research is also being conducted on other endangered species at this facility. One should note though that due to the nature of the breeding project most of your sightings will be through enclosed fences.
At Makalali Private Game Reserve you can also experience the fascinating local Shangaan Culture at a tribal museum. Day to day activities and tasks are performed by the people living here, just as their ancestors did.
A visit to the Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Center for a hands-on experience with African wildlife being rehabilitated for return to the wild is also an interesting and fulfilling experience.
The Drakensberg escarpment is also a phenomenal experience with a full day trip allowing guests to visit truly fascinating places. The expedition begins with a rapid climb onto and through the rugged yet scenic plateau of the Drakensberg Mountains and then downward into the Lowveld plains. Interesting sights en route include the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes and Pilgrims Rest. It is suggested to take a camera as ample photo opportunities present themselves during the adventure.
Garonga is an exclusive safari camp forming part of the Makalali Wildlife Conservancy. It offers an in-depth experience for bush-lovers who are looking for more than the typical "Big Five" encounter.
Open vehicle game drives, walks, animal tracking, sleep-out excursions, stargazing, bush dining, aromatherapy, reflexology and massage are all available at Garonga as the camp offers a holistic wildlife experience.
Learning the names of trees, tracking wildlife in the pre-dawn or by moonlight, or even lying out under a blanket of stars and learning names of various constellations are all things that can be loved and cherished during a stay at Garonga Safari Camp.