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“Best Cheetah ever”
Review of Mashatu Tent Camp

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Mashatu Tent Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Brisbane, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Best Cheetah ever”
Reviewed October 11, 2013

During the past 40 years we have done a number of safaris and stayed in many game parks/lodges/tented camps.
Mashatu has been one of the best!
Clean, welcoming, great accommodation with outdoor showers, good food and plenty of it.
As for game and the guides absolutely superb Heaps of elephant and Cheetah.
Highly commended.
Very professional well trained staff.

Room Tip: All tented ensuite.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank TonyandDiane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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122 reviews from our community

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Loughton, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed October 8, 2013

Wow. What can I say! This was our first visit to a game reserve in Botswana, and what an amazing experience. From pick up at the border to drop off four days later, we were treated to a first class experience. The welcome, the accommodation, the service, the food, the guide (and spotter), the ambience and entire experience would be difficult to beat. All the staff were so professional and friendly. We felt part of an elite club and thoroughly spoilt. The game drives each morning and afternoon/ evening were extraordinary, and our guide (Richard) was exceptional. We saw so many different mammals and birds, from cheetahs, leopards and lions, to elephants, zebras and giraffe (and everything large and small in between)! We have experienced the best and very much look forward to our next visit.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
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2 Thank Michael T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed September 3, 2013

We were very pleased with the wildlife viewing at Mashatu. Our guides were knowledgeable and friendly. We saw leopards, lions, spotted hyena, elephants, giraffes, and more.

The service staff were also attentive and friendly, and they provide a lovely greeting when you arrive. One night during our stay, they also sang beautifully during dinner to a guest celebrating her birthday.

The tents, however, are very close together so you will hear rumblings of your neighbors' conversations and toilettes. The tents are set up with two double beds, which they push together for couples (but do not make up with king sheets/covers as some other camps we visited). If you like to snuggle, this is annoying, as whoever is near the middle of the bed ends up uncovered and cold during the night.

Another minus is Mashatu's itemization of things elsewhere are included in the overall price (drinks, laundry, etc.), which makes for a less gracious experience, again in comparison.

On the plus side, the hot water bottles they tuck into your bed at turndown are a nice touch...push them toward the bottom of the bed, and when the temperature drops late at night they are great for keeping your toes warm. The way the staff pass out hot plates with a small cloth plate holder to keep you from burning your fingers in another nice touch.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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3 Thank LaLuLu_S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bahrain
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed August 17, 2013

Our stay here was very brief, only two nights, but in that time our driver Jakes, and tracker Ephrahim, located a huge selection of wildlife for us to see and get close to on only four drives. Being winter, the mornings were a bit chilly but guests' comfort is ensured as hot water bottles and a cosy blanket to wrap up in are supplied for each passenger in the safari vehicle, not to mention morning coffee and biscuits, or sundowners and nibbles - served from the back of the jeep!

The tented camp itself is nicely built in a rustic style but with everything you need and the tented bedrooms have solid wooden door frames and are furnished with a small closet, chest of drawers, fans, hairdryer, lights and dressing table. You even get a hot water bottle put into your bed each night and the bed turned down, and the staff escort you from the dining area to your tent! How cool is that? The bathroom is sited outside the tent and has a separate toilet, open air shower (with hot water and good pressure) and a washbasin and comes complete with plenty of towels and toiletries. The bathroom is encircled by a wooden palisade so there is a small area outside the bedroom tent where you can sit outside if you wish. Just remember to take your bathroom kit inside the tent when you go out for the drives, as the baboons are able to swing by and pinch them!

Pre-breakfast juice, fruit and yoghurt is served prior to the 6am game drive and you are given coffee out in the bush. On return to the camp around 10.30am brunch is served in the dining area with a selection of breakfast fry up items as well as a lunch dish. After the second afternoon game drive afternoon tea is served with yummy cakes and brownies and there are drinks before dinner, taken in the lounge whilst conversing with the other guests, before moving to the "boma" area for the evening meal where all the guests are offered a buffet with a wide choice of food. All very civilised and very colonial!!! And we can certainly recommend Margrete's chocolate and biscuit tart, wonderful on the lips (but not good for the hips because one piece just isn't enough!!!!)

The staff are all extremely pleasant, helpful and not only polite, but attentive also, thinking of your every need and comfort. Our driver and tracker were knowledgeable and friendly and went out of their way to make sure we saw as many animals as possible and really close up so we could take great photos.

All in all it was a fabulous visit and we only wish we could have stayed longer - thank you all again for a wonderful break!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank TripTrundlers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Craigavon, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
46 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed August 16, 2013

We stayed here from 21 July - 27 July (6 nights) and had a tremendous experience. We booked through Steppes Travel in England and they organised the pick-up at Jo'burg Airport, where we met the other couple who were going to be on the trip with us (the maximum number Steppes will take is 7, but this time there were just the 4 of us). We then had the 6 hour road journey to Botswana. Sounds bad but really it was fine! With our flight getting in at just after 7am and a stop for lunch, plus getting through customs at the Botswana border, where we were met by a ranger from Mashatu, we reached the camp around 3.30pm and after drinks and being shown our tent, we headed off on our first shorter-than-normal game drive. With there only being 4 of us on the trip, we always had the vehicle to ourselves, which was great. We saw giraffe, lilac breasted roller, Egyptian geese and plovers and stopped at a hyena den to watch the adults and pups - fascinating.

Back to camp for dinner, which was in the outside boma with a roaring fire. Before dinner we met in the lounge area, where there is a small bar and you could order whatever you wanted to drink. Then we were accompanied down to the boma. There was always a vegetarian option and dinner was served buffet style so you could choose what you wanted. I wouldn't say it was gourmet food, but good, wholesome cooking, with a lovely soup starter (different every night), main course, dessert and tea or coffee. You could buy wine or beer if you wished, or have the water provided (which is perfectly fine to drink).

Over the next week we saw an amazing number of elephant, herds of giraffe with babies, baboons, lions and cubs feeding on an eland, cheetah with cubs, impala, kudu, eland, steenbok, saddle billed storks, african fish eagle, beeaters, hammerkop, zebra, ostrich, vervet monkeys, wildebeest, warthog, jackal, eagle owl, parrot, gennet, kori bustard and much more - and, best of all, we saw SIX leopards! There are very few vehicles on the reserve - we only saw a couple from our camp and the maximum allowed to view anything such as lions feeding is 3 vehicles. Most times, it was just our vehicle. This makes it a much more intimate experience.

Morning game drives are up at 6am (they wake you up) and out at 6.30am in an open topped Toyota Land Cruiser, after coffee and cereal, and then back around 10.30 - 11am for brunch in the open-sided eating and relaxing area, where there is fruit, cooked breakfast, toast, jams etc, in a buffet for you to choose. You are then free to relax in your tent, at the pool or at the hide overlooking the waterhole. The afternoon drive is at 3.30pm and back around 7.30ish (it gets dark shortly after 6pm and the light drops quickly, so you have at least an hour of a night game drive thrown in). This holiday is a relaxing, close to nature experience - no TV or entertainment, no mobile phones or internet and no kids under 12! It's game drives, good food, lovely people! Our ranger, Dan, was fantastic. He has worked at Mashatu for many years and he knows so much. He's a great driver and tracker and very patient when you want just another photo! He has a great sense of humour and really helped to make this a fantastic trip. Our spotter, who sat in the back of the vehicle, was also great (his 'name' was Commander). Ask for Dan as your ranger before you go and you just might be lucky. Mind you, I'm sure all the rangers are great! I should also say that I have a problematic knee and was a little concerned about climbing up into the vehicle - I needn't have worried as there are 'aeroplane steps' wheeled over to allow you to easily climb up into even the back row of the land cruiser and the same for getting down. Of course, you don't have these when in the bush, but I was able to manage with the iron ladder which the vehicle carries with it. The rangers are very helpful and make sure you are OK.

In July and August (their winter) it is VERY cold at night and especially in the morning. You get a lovely hot water bottle in your bed (all tents have twin beds close together) and also on the morning game drive. You also have blankets on the game drives. You need to take a woolly or fleecy hat that won't blow off, gloves, scarf, warm coat, long trousers, study shoes and lots of layers that you can gradually take off as the morning progresses, or put on as the evening gets cooler, plus a bag to carry them in. You don't need any 'fancy' clothes - no-one dresses up for dinner. It's all about relaxing, being comfortable and seeing wildlife. The small pool is too cold in July/Aug to swim (dangling our feet in was as far as we got!). It is around 25C during the day, so you need shorts and tops for between game drives but long sleeves and trousers for the drives themselves (and best in muted colours) and for the boma. We did lie at the pool reading one day but many folk take the opportunity to have a nap after brunch. Bring a Kindle or some books, or your ipad to use between brunch and the afternoon game drive. We also brought a small laptop to transfer our photos on to after each game drive. We took thousands! To get really good photos, you need an SLR camera with up to 400mm lens and monopod (tripods aren't any use in the vehicle) although I often used my 24-105mm lens, but you will also gets lots of nice images with a compact camera with a zoom lens in it.

The tents are very well appointed (although hanging space is limited) with plenty of drawers, mirror and an outside bathroom, open to the stars, with a fantastic shower. You can't leave anything out there, except towels, as the squirrels or monkeys will pinch it! There are electric lights, hairdryer, torch, mosquito repellent, candles, toiletries and towels (plus towels at the pool) and there is also a hooter if you feel you are in danger - the camp is open and animals do pass through. You are accompanied to your tent each evening by a ranger, for your safety. There is an English electric socket, an African one and a two pin one. We took an adapter so that we could use two sockets to recharge camera batteries. The tents have proper lockable doors and you can put things in the safe at reception as you won't need any money while you're there - you get a bill at the end of your stay (you also need some dollars or S African Rand for end of stay tips - there is a box in reception for general staff and an envelope for your ranger and one for your tracker, in which you put the tip and give to them yourself). You don't ever need Botswana money. Outside your tent are two chairs and a table, on a patio. Ours overlooked the dry river bed and was a very pleasant place to read. We had very little bother with insects - we each got a couple of very minor bites (not half as bad as bites we have had at home in the garden!) - and we did take a course of malaria tablets (Malarone) just in case, which you start a couple of days before you leave and complete once you're back home.

You can ask your ranger to take you to the Main Camp to visit the Curio Shop - that will be your only opportunity to buy any souvenirs as there is no shop at tented camp. Dan took us up at the start of our Day 4 afternoon game drive and we all found things to buy and could pay in Rand, Dollars or by card. It was also nice to see Main Camp - more luxurious and with a computer and internet connection - but we all agreed that tented camp was the one for us. It's more rustic but lovely and closer to the wildlife - and cheaper, but with exactly the same game drives!!

The holiday we booked through Steppes Travel was called 'Botswana Elephant and Predator Research Safari' and this meant that we got the following itinerary (sent to us before the trip with lost of useful info and followed up with phone contact) - pm game drive on arrival day (Sun), am game drive and pm Predator drive on Mon, am Ivory Drive and pm Predator drive on Tue, am in the underground hide and pm game drive on Wed, am in the underground hide and pm game drive on Thu, am bush walk and pm game drive on Fri and am game drive after full breakfast and on the way to the border at Botswana on Sat am.

On the predator drives we were accompanied by Aliene Brassine, who is conducting Cheetah research at Mashatu. This was fascinating, as she told us all about her work (details on Mashatu website) and we tracked a cheetah, who has a collar on for the period of the research, and has 3 cubs. On the Ivory drive we were accompanied by Bruce Page, a renowned elephant researcher who told us so much, not just about elephants but also about the reserve in general. In the underground hide we were accompanied by Mike Dexter, the professional photographer who works for C4 Images and Safaris, who own the hide - this is a fabulous experience, not to be missed. The hide is sunk into the ground and the viewing window is at ground level - elephants are so close you can practically touch them! Finally, we were taken on the bush walk by Bellamy, a ranger from the Main Camp and we walked for around 3 miles through the bush, with him showing us tracks and stalking animals. Tremendous!

Just a word about comfort stops on the 4 hour drives or in the hide - these are no problem as there are breaks built in for coffee/tea (am) or sundowners (pm) where you can pop behind a bush and you can always ask the ranger to find a suitable stopping place at other times. They understand totally and there is no difficulty. We also did make sure that we nipped into the loo just before we left for each drive, and that we didn't drink too much before a drive!!

Sorry for the length of this review, but I wanted to get as much in as possible! This is a holiday not to be missed. We have been on safaris before and always had a great time - but this was something else. There are no hippo, rhino or buffalo, but that didn't matter. We had also only stayed 2 or 3 nights on previous trips and in more expensive safari lodges. This was definitely better - less expensive per night and a chance to really see the reserve and its wildlife properly. I want to go back.......

(NB We also stayed a couple of nights at Bambelela nr Bela Bela on the way back to Jo-burg - it's a vervet monkey rehab centre where they help injured and ex pet monkeys and other animals to recover and get back to the wild. They have 3 lovely chalets - great way to finish a 10 day holiday. They do transfers back to the airport so no car hire needed.)

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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9 Thank Joy7mr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed July 12, 2013

Fantastic. The camp was terrific. Tents that are not tents (really!) staff that are very friendly, helpful & so knowledgeable . We saw over 200 elephant in one half hour! Sadly a dead one that then attracted many vultures, hyenas, jackals etc... Lions, giraffe, leopard (so close, 5feet away!) Jakes our guide was brilliant for our 3 days a real gem. We all thoroughly enjoyed the food & the entire experience. The area is rugged but so different from South Africa. A must see place.

Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
4 Thank Russell W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne Australia
Level 5 Contributor
69 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed July 8, 2013

We had read in Mark Nolting's Africa's Top Wildlife Countries, 8th ed, that: "This reserve has to be one of the best kept secrets in Africa for game viewing - a real 'sleeper'. This is one of the best game viewing spots on the continent". (p124)

We tried to keep our expectations in check but we need not have worried - it was everything we hoped and more. A real bush experience , albeit in surprisingly comfortable tents with facilites, terrific game drives, excellent staff all round and pleasant company.

The daily schedule was busy but relaxing with an early morning drive, brunch, a rest/relaxation period, afternoon tea, another drive, drinks and dinner. The drives were simply fantastic! Not just the animals but the amazing landscapes, which kept changing from lush jungles to lunar-like rocks to dry river beds and everything in between. The views from the hills were sensational. Our driver, Jakes, was terrific - outstanding knowledge and tracking skills and great company as well.

We stayed for 4 nights and were glad we did. Many others stayed just 2 nights and were regretting that they had to leave. Three nights would be the minimum I suggest.

A 5 hour drive from Joburg airport - plus stops on top of that - but all on very good to excellent roads, except for the many potholes in the last 20kms.

All in all, can be very highly recommended.

Room Tip: There are only 8 tents so really does not matter.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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3 Thank prahran
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mashatu Tent Camp

Property: Mashatu Tent Camp
Address: | Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana
Location: Botswana > Central District > Mashatu Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Mashatu Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Although safari rustic in character every facility is provided. The tents are insect-proofed, have comfortable beds and each has an en-suite shower and W.C. Facility. There is an open sided thatch deck where meals are served and a traditional boma for intimate campfire dinners. This camp also contains a very welcome plunge pool and hide from where guests can spend their time between safaris. ... more   less 

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