‘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 www.electricsafarivehicles.com or email Steve directly on enquiries@electricsafarivehicles.com


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

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.