Lions, cheetahs & more at Makutsi Safari Springs
There’s a buzz of excitement in the van as we are approach Makutsi Safari Springs.
We know that our game spotting starts right now, on the way through the gates… and we aren’t disappointed! En route to the Springs, we spot a black-backed jackal, which we’re told is quite a rare sighting. We continue scouring the African bush, spotting pretty impala and a few warthogs on our way to the main Lodge and reception.
Makutsi is a family owned and run Game Lodge. We are warmly greeted by owner Karl Weber, who gives us a grand tour of the main restaurant and bar, before running through the safety rules of the camp. We aren’t able to walk through camp by ourselves any earlier than 7.00am and any later than 5.30pm…and with good reason. With no boundary fencing around the actual camp, the animals are free to roam … and apparently they do. We are told that the lions have been hunting around camp at night, but we’re assured it’s not because of us! We’re also told that one of the giraffe’s has been a regular around camp during the middle of the day (sadly he didn’t visit during our stay).
Next we headed into what we had all been waiting for – Safari time! We meet Rob, our experienced guide, and climb into the open Land Rover with our cameras at the ready! After our safety briefing, Rob tells us that one of their cheetahs and her cubs have been sighted fairly close by, and we’re going to see if we can find them. Quiet excitement is building in the Land Rover, and after a short drive, Rob pulls up, stops the truck and asks us all to jump out! We are to stay very close to each other in a single file line behind him and be quiet. Without a sound, and not knowing what to expect, we make our way through the dry, twiggy bush for a few minutes. At this point, Rob stops and points straight ahead of us ….. she is very well camouflaged and difficult to spot at first, but there she is! A cheetah Mum and her beautiful cubs, which we are told are only about five months old – still with their spikey cub coats. We are speechless, torn between watching every movement of these incredible creatures through our own eyes, or trying to capture the perfect photo on camera. The mother is on alert and very aware of us…slowly, she starts moving off away from us, her cubs still relaxed but following her quite closely all the same.
We think this could be the end of our encounter, but Rob pushes on and follows the family. We only move on for a few more meters and until the cheetah moves into a more open area…and then to our surprise and delight - lays down, giving us a perfect view of her and her babies! We stay with her for several minutes as she relaxes and grooms her cubs, with her golden eyes fixed on us the whole time. I catch a few looks of the others – there huge smiles all round of delight and awe at the situation we’re in – on foot, in the middle of the African bush, only about 20 metres from a cheetah and her cubs – amazing and totally surreal!
Another group is approaching on foot, so we steal one last look at the family before retreating quietly to the safety of the Land Rover. Back at the truck we simply explode with excitement! We compared notes, exchanged frantic comments like, “Can you believe that ….. that was AMAZING ….what a privilege …” I’m sure we were very amusing for Rob!
Our very first game drive, our very first sighting… what an unbelievable experience. It’s one I’ll never forget! Rob had certainly set the bar very high, but certainly didn’t disappoint with other sightings of a herd of elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions basking and even a close encounter with two white rhino who blocked the road in front of us. We eventually had to reverse quite a distance, as there was no way we were getting past them!
All Makutsi guests end their day with a hearty home cooked meal at the restaurant, followed by a few drinks at the bar, sharing stories and meeting new people. This is a very relaxed, friendly and warm environment where you really do feel like part of the family.
Makutsi, thank you for a truly wonderful experience. I will most definitely be back!
AUTHOR: Rachel Mackenzie, Adventure World.
GET THERE: Adventure World Travel offer a range of tailor-made packages for the Makutsi Safari Springs. For more information contact us on AU: 1300 295 049 /NZ: 0800 238 368 or AU: CLICK HERE / NZ: CLICK HERE