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.

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

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.

Adorable 3 week old wild dog pups pop out

We have been fortunate to have a pack of wild dogs (which is currently the second most endangered mammals in Africa) den close to the lodge. This has resulted in us spending most days getting to know the pack as we encounter them on a daily basis while out on safari. On one particular day, we had new guests arrive at the lodge and they had never seen wild dogs before. We knew we would see them during their stay but decided to start off their safari with a bang and headed to the den to see if there was any activity. Upon arrival, our guests were delighted to see the pack and we spent some time watching and talking about these beautiful creatures that were lying around under the shade and having an afternoon siesta. After some time viewing them we were about to head off in search of other animals when one of the adults emerged from the shade and headed to the den. After making a few noises in the den, 7 of the most beautiful (roughly 3-weeks old) wild dog pups made their appearance and interacted with each other and started to suckle on mom before heading back down the hole. Needless to say that the rest of the game drive we spoke about this unforgettable sighting and the amazing images we all managed to capture.

Below are some of the images as well as a video of the special sighting:


Standoff between impala and wild dogs

Makanyi Private Game Lodge is ideally located overlooking an active dam in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. On one particular morning, guests were enjoying a cup of coffee on the deck before heading out on a morning game drive, when we suddenly noticed movement by the dam.

A pack of wild dogs had made their way to the dam to quench their thirst. We all jumped into the vehicle and headed down for a closer look.

Upon arrival, we noticed that the pack had chased a helpless impala into the dam. The impala was looking in all directions for an escape route but the dogs had every escape route covered.

A standoff ensued and, after some time, a few of the dogs lost interest and disappeared into the bushes. The remainder of the dogs lingered and we could see that they were getting restless. A member of the pack decided to try his luck and chase the impala out of the water but, as he leapt into the water, the impala headed into deeper water, which resulted in the dog eventually retreating.


An active hyena den

With a beautiful starlit sky guests were ready to head out and explore the Timbavati at night. About an hour in on the drive we came across an adult hyena which we followed. As we followed the hyena it led us to an active den site which had been abandoned for some time now. As we got closer to the den we could see that there were 2 young cubs busy suckling on mom meters away from the den’s entrance.  As we edged closer to the den, mom was getting a bit nervous with us being around, so we positioned the vehicle at a distance she was happy with. As we watched the cubs suckling, 2 more pups emerged from the den and joined the other two suckling.  After the cubs had finished, they interacted with each other before disappearing down the entrance for the night. It was a wonderful opportunity to watch this kind of interaction with an animal that is often just passed by.

A new Generation of the Avoca pride

We are excited to announce that the Avoca lion pride has grown with the addition of 6 new cubs. We first got sightings of the cubs a few weeks back but after a close encounter with an unknown female their mom took them into hiding and we had not seen them since.

Heading out for our afternoon safari, we picked up fresh lion tracks and successfully followed them to a water hole where the pride was doing what they do best – sleeping. We spent some time with the pride before we noticed movement in the distance and to our excitement all 6 cubs were making their way to greet the pride.

We were fortunate to spend some time over the next few days with the pride and get some amazing footage of the adorable cubs.

Buffalo buffet in July

July has been a record month for us. Not only did we have spectacular sightings of leopards, cheetahs, and other amazing wildlife encounters, but we had lion sightings of epic proportions.
The month started off with a herd of roughly 800 buffalo making their way from the Kruger National Park into our concession, where the Avoca pride consisting of 16 members, were prowling from every corner. This made life difficult for the buffalo as every move they made was watched very closely.

We recorded a staggering 13 buffalo, 1 warthog and 1 wildebeest which different members of the pride had successfully taken down, making this the most successful month for the Avoca pride witnessed since the opening of Makanyi Lodge.

Below are a few images of the different encounters our guests witnessed between these two rivals of Africa.

Elephant herd takes a bath

While out on safari we often enjoy having sundowners at a particular spot at one of the biggest dams in our concession, which we call the peninsula. On this particular visit at the peninsula, we were entertained by an excited herd of elephants enjoying the water.

Due to their size, many people are under the impression that elephants can’t swim, but they are in fact very good swimmers and use their trunks, which contain about 100,000 different muscles, as snorkels when swimming in deeper water. We watched as the elephants quenched their thirst and immersed themselves in the dam to cool off from the African heat. While watching these gentle giants enjoying the water we got to witness the interaction between them. Elephants use touch as one of the primary ways to communicate. In fact, they often greet one another by stroking or locking trunks and older elephants use this type of technique to discipline younger calves in the herd.