Meet the team - Sam and Sakkie

This month, we would like to highlight another two staff members who are an inspiration, showing that hard work and determination can definitely help you achieve your goals.

They are Sam Mohlahla (left) and Success Sibuyi (known as Sakkie on the right) 

Sakkie is employed as a maintenance assistant and Sam as a gardener and they are both in the process of attaining their FGASA level one certificates to further their experience and expertise to eventually join our guiding team.

Below, each of them gives us a little bit more insight into how they came about working here:

Sam Mohlala

How did you end up at Makanyi?

I started working at Makanyi in March 2015. I was employed as a gardener. I am currently studying a nature guide course. Ever since my arrival at Makanyi in 2015, my love for nature grows day by day.

  • Describe your job in 3 words
    • Everything
    • Loveable
    • Light
  • Describe yourself in 3 words
    • Funny
    • Honest
    • Loveable
  • The best thing about living in the bush
    • Earning whilst being on holiday at the same time.
  • The worst thing about living in the bush
    • Being far from my family is so sad.
  • When you were growing up, what did you want to do/be?
    • As a teenager, I wanted to act on TV dramas. In fact, I wanted to study drama in art.
  • Who would you most like to swap places with for the day?
    • An eagle. I just imagine being up in the skies on your own, having a clear visual of everything underneath.
  • Who is someone you really admire?
    • Everyone with no boundaries to help or listen to other people’s issues.
  • What is something you would like to do in the next year that you have never done before?
    • Going abroad, crossing the borders out of my country, just to experience life out there.
  • What’s your phobia?
    • I don’t like failing, I like to achieve what I’ve put my mind to.
  • Somewhere you would love to visit?
    • Mauritius

Sakkie Sibuyi

How did you end up at Makanyi?

I started at Makanyi Lodge in 2011 and was employed as a gardener. From there, I started working in the maintenance department. I have trained to be a tracker and sometimes assist with tracking. I am currently studying to become a guide, I write my exam on the 5th of October. Being a guide is something I have always wanted to do.

  • Describe your job in 3 words
    • Exciting
    • Challenging
    • Busy
  • Describe yourself in 3 words
    • Humble
    • Honest
    • Kind
  • The best thing about living in the bush
    • I love living in the bush because it is quiet.
  • The worst thing about living in the bush
    • Being away from my kids.
  • When you were growing up, what did you want to do/be?
    • I wanted to be a chef.
  • Who would you most like to swap places with for the day?
    • Rick Ross (US rapper)!
  • Who is someone you really admire?
    • My mom. She has always given me the love that I need.
  • What is something you would like to do in the next year that you have never done before?
    • I would like to take the guests on a game drive for the first time.
  • What’s your phobia?
    • Snakes
  • Somewhere you would love to visit?
    • USA, because most of the guests that we drive that come from the USA are so friendly.

‘Star of the Quarter’ award

This month, we would like to highlight two very special staff members, who received our most recent ‘Star of the Quarter’ award. They are our Guest Liaisons, Kim Byars and Elinda Van Lelyveld.

They both started working at Makanyi in February 2018 and are integral in making sure that our lodge is run smoothly and our guests are looked after. Below, each of our GL’s give us a little bit more insight into how they came about working here:

Elinda Van Lelyveld – left & Kim Byars – right

Kim Byars

How did I end up at Makanyi?

In December 2017 I wanted to visit my sister Angie, her husband Sean and my niece Haylee for Christmas at the beautiful Makanyi Lodge.

Whilst visiting the family, an opportunity became available to apply as a Guest Liaison at the Lodge. At first, I thought DEFINITELY NOT, as I am very much a city girl, but then I gave it some more thought and concluded – what do I have to lose? It’s a new challenge, a totally new industry and a privilege to deal and interact with guests from all over the world.
Before Makanyi I worked in the corporate world where I was the personal assistant to the two directors at an insurance company. I loved my job but sitting behind a desk day after day was preventing me from discovering my true passion which is dealing with people every day and making sure they have the most fantastic stay.
It was a very difficult decision to make as I knew the sacrifice I would be making, like not seeing my friends and family as often as I was used to, but I am so incredibly happy and so blessed for such a wonderful job and team.

  • Describe your job in 3 words
    • Social
    • Entertaining
    • Hard work
  • Describe yourself in 3 words
    • Determined
    • Confident
    • Funny
  • The best thing about living in the bush
    • Meeting people from all over the world and making them a part of the Makanyi Family
  • The worst thing about living in the bush
    • The isolation from friends and family
  • When you were growing up, what did you want to do/be?
    • Actress
  • Who would you most like to swap places with for the day?
    • Kim Kardashian 🙂
  • Who is someone you really admire?
    • My mother, she is my inspiration
  • What is something you would like to do in the next year, that you have never done before?
    • Travel around America and Europe
  • What’s your phobia?
    • Elephants
  • Somewhere you would love to visit?
    • Italy

Elinda Van Lelyveld

I was born and raised in Vereeniging, a small town situated approximately 50km from Johannesburg. I studied Hospitality Management for 3 years after which I started working at a small lodge in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Having worked at this particular lodge for just under 3 years, I decided it was time for me to spread my wings and gain further experience working at a slightly bigger lodge, and I was lucky enough to get this job.

  • Describe your job in 3 words
    • Enjoyable
    • Relaxing
    • Exciting
  • Describe yourself in 3 words
    • Passionate
    • Hard working
    • Perfectionist
  • The best thing about living in the bush
    • My heart belongs in the bush. The best part is the peacefulness it gives every person that comes here
  • The worst thing about living in the bush
    • There is no such thing. what’s there not to like? Apart from having to drive 45min one way for McDonalds
  • When you were growing up, what did you want to do/be?
    • I’ve always wanted to work in a lodge
  • Who would you most like to swap places with for the day?
    • A Honey badger, because they are so cool and fearless. Plus, it would be super interesting to see what they get up to
  • Who is someone you really admire?
    • Both of my parents. They are the best example of love and care. They would walk to the end of the world for you, and they have set an example of how I want to live my life
  • What is something you would like to do in the next year, that you have never done before?
    • Travel the world
  • What’s your phobia?
    • I am afraid of heights
  • Somewhere you would love to visit?
    • There is no specific place, but I would love to go to different beach resorts / islands

Safari Season starts here

June marks the beginning of the dry season in the Timbavati, and the arrival of the short winter season brings with it some perfect game-viewing conditions for the lucky guests here at Makanyi Lodge.

Of course, there’s never a bad time to go on safari, but here are our top 3 reasons to enjoy one this winter:

1) Spot the game

With low amounts of rainfall experienced during the winter season, chances of spotting game congregating around a watering hole are high.

The dry season also leads to a thinning out of the bush on the ground, making animals much easier to spot (something that anyone who has missed an elephant in some tall grass will confirm!).

2) The night sky

The cold weather that Winter brings provides an amazing opportunity to observe the night sky. The reason why Winter is best for star gazing is the air above us is colder, which means it can’t support as much moisture and results in fewer obstacles between the eyes and sky and that is why the night sky looks so beautiful in Winter. Makanyi Lodge now also offers its guests the opportunity to learn a little more about the night sky with a night safari and the use of an amazing telescope.


3)Beat the heat

Despite being winter, daytime temperatures are relatively mild compared to the scorching summer months, with reduced humidity levels being another welcome relief.

Evenings and early mornings are still a little on the chilly side, so don’t forget to pack a jacket or jersey to wear on your game drives!

So, there you have it. And, with our “Stay 4, Pay 3” special offer currently available, there has never been a better time to join us at Makanyi Lodge.


Makanyi Lodge goes green with the first electric safari vehicle in the Timbavati

Makanyi Lodge goes green with their first electric vehicle

Makanyi Lodge has officially taken ownership of an electric safari vehicle, which is a first for the lodge, as well as a first in the Timbavati Nature Reserve. We at Makanyi Lodge have always looked at ways to ensure that we preserve our beautiful natural environment and when we heard about Electric Safari Vehicles doing conversions of game viewers, we jumped at the opportunity to convert one of our Land Rovers - and the results have been astonishing! So much so, that we look forward to having our entire fleet converted in the near future.

Below are a few images taken during the handover of the electric vehicle at Timbavati Main Gate

Handover of the electric vehicle at Timbavati Main Gate


Handover of the electric vehicle at Timbavati Main Gate by Electric Safari Vehicles


Founder of Electric Safari Vehicles, Steven Blatherwick and General Manager of Makanyi Lodge, Rico Demetriou

So what difference does an electric vehicle have over a normal aspirated vehicle during safaris? We asked our Our GM, Rico, and head ranger, Sean, who have been using the vehicle this past week for their safaris, and this is what they had to say:

General Manager ~ Rico Demetriou

Head Ranger ~ Sean Savage

We also asked our guests who were on the vehicle with Rico and Sean for their feedback, as they had experienced both types of vehicles during their stay here at Makanyi Lodge:

The electric vehicle is smoother and quieter and also better when approaching animals. Better for the planet, more healthy for the staff and guests, and also very comfortable. - Lorraine and David


At Makanyi Lodge, we had an amazing experience on the electric Land Rover! It was so quiet and it made my experience even better as you can get closer to the animals without disturbing them. -  Jayne Wallace


Having been on many safaris, I was given an opportunity to go on an electric vehicle during my stay at Makanyi Lodge. The overall experience was amazing, from the smooth ride without vibrations, and also when stopping to view the animals. For a photographer, asking the ranger to move silently forward or backward when the animal moves,  in a normal motor he would have to switch the vehicle back on and at times the animal / bird reacts to it and moves off. With the electric vehicle it was not a problem as the vehicle is always on and, when stopped, there is no noise or vibrations  - making it ideal should we need to move a tiny bit for a better angle. Well done Makanyi Lodge, the experience was amazing! - Tanya Harris

For a more in-depth analysis of our electric vehicle, Steven Blatherwick founder of Electric Safari Vehicles, gives us a breakdown of the 2009 model Land Rover Defender that we have converted to electric:

We are excited to have this vehicle in our fleet as we believe that this is the future of safari vehicles and the experience that we are able to give to our guests, not to mention the amazing benefits for the environment. We look forward to having our entire fleet converted as the benefits of having an electric vehicle are immeasurable.


For more information about electric vehicles, you can visit or email Steve directly on


All images and videos were captured by Massimo Da Silva from Hospitality Online 

A buffalo calf finding its feet

The African buffalo forms part of the Big 5 animal group, an old hunter’s term given to the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt in Africa. These majestic animals reach shoulder heights of up to 1.5m and weigh up to 750kg and are primarily grazers (grass eaters). The breeding season generally takes place during the months of March through to May and the gestation period is roughly 11 months where the female will give birth to a single calf.


As the sun started to rise and the guests had finished their pre-safari coffee, we headed out for our morning safari in search of some amazing wildlife. After tracking their footprints we came across a beautiful herd of buffalo. Upon further inspection, we noticed a baby calf that had just been born moments before our arrival. Guests were left speechless as we spent some time watching this adorable calf trying to find its feet.

Watch the adorable footage our GM Rico took of this buffalo calf trying to stand for the first time.

Makanyi Safari Lodge Launches its new Experience Weeks

The award winning Makanyi Lodge in South Africa, is pleased to announce its new “Experiences” for its guests. Located in the southern sector of the Timbavati, an area of prime game viewing, this lodge offers more than just your typical safari. Those who hire out the 16-person lodge for exclusive use, are able to create their own bespoke safari experience, with programmes consisting of Energise, Photographic Safaris, a kids Bush’Ed and Experience South Africa.

Wellness: Guests can tailor their Makanyi stay to focus on health and wellbeing as well as providing a retreat to heal the mind and soul too. Activities such as yoga, HIIT, healthy eating and spa treatments are available to all guests as much or as little as they wish. The bush is renowned for being a very calming and spiritual place for the mind and body to switch off and fully engage with the natural surroundings. Meditation, mindfulness and consultations with nutritionists and Makanyi’s very own fitness expert, Yvonne Wake, are also offered at Makanyi. Not only do guests have an opportunity to watch incredibly beautiful wild animals living in their natural habitats, but also the sounds, smells and sight of the sunrises and sunsets are simply enough to realign and rebalance each person that visits the sensational Makanyi Lodge.

Photographic Safaris: Makanyi’s professional wildlife photographers are available to accompany guests on safari, and give their expertise, advice and knowledge on taking photos of wildlife in differing lights on the plains of the Timbavati, home to the “Big Five” as well as the renowned, albeit elusive White Lions. Guests will be taught camera settings, lighting, and editing at all levels, to take the best pictures in the most incredible setting.

Bush’Ed: An educational programme for children, where they can learn about conservation, survival skills, and tracking animals. They are also given the opportunity to fish by a peaceful dam, or learn about the astonishing solar system, with a ranger being a guide to the beautiful sights completely free from light pollution, where they can see the stunning constellations of the Southern Hemisphere and an enjoy an unspoilt view of the Milky Way.

Experience South Africa:  Makanyi offers special excursions for their guests to nearby attractions, such as the Blyde River Canyon. Indulge in a luxury South African wine tasting evening or craft gins, panorama tours and much more. All the best experiences to fully delve into what South Africa has to offer.


Amazing cheetah sightings

We have been fortunate of late to have some incredible cheetah encounters while out exploring the magnificent Timbavati Landscape. With an estimated 7100 left in the wild and only +-120 left in Kruger / greater Kruger national park spending time and sharing some interesting facts about them is a truly unforgettable experience for our guests. Below are just a few facts about these endangered animals that we like to share with our guests:

  •  Unlike other big cats such as lions, cheetah's never roar but rather purr and often make a chirping-like sound to communicate with each other.
  •  Its fur is of tan color that allows it to blend easily into their environment. Its entire body is covered with black closed spots whereas a leopard has rosettes.
  • The pattern of spots in every cheetah is different, making each one of them uniquely identifiable.
  • They have a characteristic ‘tear stripes’ that stretch all the way down to their nose starting from the corner of their eyes.
  • Cheetahs can run at a speed of 70 miles (112km) per hour and can accelerate from 0 to 60mph (96km) in just 3 seconds.
  • Though this cat is the fastest land mammal it cannot run at top speed for a long time. It can sprint at that speed for 100 yards, beyond which its body gets overheated and can reach up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 41 degrees Celsius.
  • The cheetah uses its long tail for balancing and steering while on the hunt. The tail actually helps it to take sharp turns in any direction while running at its top speed.
  •  They use their non-retractable sharp claws to successfully take down their prey to the ground and then use a suffocating neck bite to kill their prey.
  • Once they successfully hunt, they need to make sure that they eat their food quickly to prevent scavengers from getting hold of it. Jackals, vultures, leopards, lions, and hyenas often take away their kills.

Below are some of the images taken by Warren Jacobs recently while on safari. 


Spiny Flower Mantis

A visit to Makanyi Lodge will leave you wanting more as you never know when the next unforgettable sighting /  photographic opportunity will happen. While walking around the lodge our GM, Rico, spotted this beautiful Spiny Flower Mantis close to reception. It is such a beautiful insect that we thought we would share some interesting facts with you as well as some beautiful images captured:

Some interesting facts about a spiny flower mantis:

  • This tiny insect measures between 2.5cm to 5cm (1-2 inches) and is native to Southern and Eastern Africa.
  • When they're first born, they are mostly black and look almost like ants.
  • It takes seven molts for a female to reach maturity, and six molts for males.
  • When threatened, the insects raise their forewings, which makes them look like a much larger insect.
  • Instead of searching for prey, they prefer to "snatch" its meals—usually pollinating insects—from the air.
  • Like other mantis species, the Spiny Flower Mantis is cannibalistic. It's the males who have the most to fear

Marks marriage proposal to Melanie

We had the privilege of hosting a wonderful group of guests here at Makanyi Lodge, however, there was a big surprise for one of them. As the guests headed out for their afternoon safari the team got into action to ensure that everything was perfect for the proposal. They arrived at a beautiful set up where Mark played a beautiful song and got down on one knee and asked Melanie to be his wife to which she replied YES! The team would like to wish them a long, happy and blessed marriage. Below are a few of the magical moments captured by Kimberley Byars:

World Frog Day in 2018

Frogs are important and sadly they do not get enough recognition. Save The Frogs Day aims to raise awareness about these wonderful amphibians and everything they do for us.

Unfortunately, frogs are endangered, the number of frogs has been decreasing since the 1950's. It has been believed that over a hundred species of frogs have vanished from the world just since the 80’s! Save The Frogs Day works to raise awareness about the dangers they face, and the repercussions of living in a world without frogs.

How to Celebrate Frog Day:

The first thing you can do is find out what kind of frogs live in your area, and what kind of danger they may face. Once you have obtained this information you can then share it with neighbors, and friends to try to learn more about them and how your community benefits from them and how you can ensure they thrive.

Below are some interesting facts about frogs:

  • A person who studies amphibians is known as a batrachologist.
  • Amphibians are found on all continents except Antarctica. Although they prefer warm, moist areas, there are some species, e.g. the Desert Rain Frog, that have adapted to life in deserts.
  • South Africa’s largest frog is the Giant Bullfrog.
  • The smallest is the Northern Moss Frog found only in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains in the Western Cape.
  • The world’s largest frog is the Goliath Frog which lives in Western Africa. They can grow to be over 30 cm long, and weigh over 3 kg.
  • The world’s smallest frog is Paedophryne amanuensis that’s found in New Guinea. At just 7.7mm long it’s said to be the smallest of all known vertebrates.
  • Not all frogs have tadpoles. Many terrestrial frog species emerge as froglets directly from the egg. Paedophryne amanuensis is one such species, as is the Bush Squeaker of KwaZulu-Natal that lays its eggs in moist leaf litter. About four weeks later, the fully metamorphosed froglets emerge. Similarly, all Rain Frog species in South Africa complete metamorphosis in an underground nest. A good reason not to rake, dig or use a leaf blower!

Images captured by Warren Jacobs.