Distinctly Africa Manyeleti Trip Report

Amarula coffee stop!

We had three fantastic days with Distinctly Africa in Manyeleti!

It all started on the 19th December 2019.

After leaving Crocodile Bridge camp, we took a slow drive up through the Kruger National Park, through Orpen gate and into Manyeleti Game Reserve. We arrived at 12h00 and were warmly welcomed by Sharon and the Distinctly Africa team, with ice-cold welcome drinks...

Sharon showed us around and told us all we need to know for our stay in camp.

We had a lovely air-conditioned chalet (12), after unpacking and a quick nap, we then took a walk round camp.

Sharon and Johann were our Chefs and we had some delicious meals during out three day stay.

Chicken, corn, bean and onion salad for high-tea - delicious!
Chocolate pudding for dinner dessert.

You can read more about the camp and meals on our Distinctly Africa Manyeleti page.

Afternoon Game Drive 1

High tea was served at 3pm - mini kebabs, fresh fruit and juice. During high tea we got to meet our field guide Mpho Malapane and our tracker Reply.

We saw loads of elephant, buffalo, rhino and Hyena pups.

On our previous trip to Manyeleti, in June 2019, we had spent four days with Zondindi - this is the female leopard that can be seen on the Orpen access road and in Timbavati and Manyeleti.

 This is also the leopard that is featured on the cover of our book The Photographer's Guide to the Greater Kruger National Park.

Zondindi had a tiny cub so she would feed on the impala carcasses and then go and feed the cub at night, so we never got to see her cub.

This time, however, we got to see and photograph her cub!

You can watch the videos of us trying to find the cub here.

We then had sundowners at a scenic viewpoint.

Sundowners - what can beat a G&T as the sun is setting?

Morning Game Drive 2 

We had just left the camp on our morning game drive when we saw a male lion...

Male lion inside Manyeleti main camp!

...inside camp!

Multiple vehicles tried to herd him to the main gate but he was stubborn and kept turning around and running back into the camp!

After an hour we left the rangers to do their jobs and found another male lion with a Kudu kill a few kilometers from the camp, a large group of vultures on a termite mound feeding on the termites, a Reed buck and a Giant Eagle Owl at the bridge.

(You may be wondering how lions got into the camp? It turns out that elephants damaged the fence two months previously and the fence was not properly fixed. Then a buffalo was shot so that staff members could have a Christmas braai and the skin and entrails were simply dumped at the back of the camp. The lions smelled this and found the damaged fence and came into camp for a feast and then could not get out!

We heard the lions calling when we were at dinner on the first night and they sounded very close - now we know just how close they were!) 

Afternoon Game Drive 3 

The afternoon drive was quiet so Mpho had a close encounter with one of the elephants...!  

We then stopped for sundowners at the main dam, which is very open.

We spotted a herd of waterbuck and captured some great images of the male and female loving each other

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"...the majority of images are really impressive, each chosen for a practical reason, sometimes annotated to stress a point.

The authors clearly know what they are doing. For decades they have mapped their sightings, and in explaining how they achieved their images, they’re sharing invaluable tips on understanding wildlife behavior, reading the signs and getting yourself in the best position for the shot. 
There is a phenomenal wealth of information here; real substance."

- Craig Rix, Editor,Travel Africa Magazine, UK

Morning Game Drive 4a 

We spotted some giraffe that were staring intently behind us so we stopped and started to drive back the way we had come when a female leopard ran across the road and away from us! No time for even one photo.

Giraffe showing us the leopard

We looked back at the giraffe and they were still staring where they had been so we scanned and found a another leopard - in a tree with a kill!

The giraffe actually walked towards him and under the tree.

The male was chilled and posed nicely for us in a tree with his meal!

It's tiring work catching an impala and dragging it up into the tree!It's tiring work catching an impala and dragging it up into the tree!

We also saw a lioness and then stopped for our Amarula coffee. 

Note the scenic places that we stop at for our morning coffee and sun-downers - most other field guides stop in thick bush or where there are telephone poles and fences in the background!

Morning Game Drive 4b 

When we got back to camp the other guests said they has seen a male lion feeding on a baby elephant.

We realised that by the afternoon the lion could be finished with the meal so after breakfast Mpho and Leon took us to find them.

How many other lodges would do that for their guests...!?

We found the male lion with his baby elephant carcass but there was now a female with him!

We drove around the tree and found a tiny cub with the female!

The female and cub had stayed out of sight to the many vehicles coming to the sighting and once they had all gone back to the lodges, she brought the cub to the carcass. She was okay with just the one vehicle being there.

Afternoon Game Drive 5 

We found a pride of lions hunting and a large bull elephant.  

We then had gin and tonic sun-downers near a waterhole on the plains. 

Morning Game drive 6 

So far we had seen the big-five animals but had not found either wild dogs nor cheetahs but that morning we got two cheetahs stalking a steenbok- but it got away!

We then had our Amarula coffees on the plains near to where the cheetah had disappeared. 

After another great breakfast it was time to say farewell and head off to the Kruger National Park for the next leg of our December Trip. (Letaba, Shingwedzi, Tamboti and Lower Sabie camps). 

Our Manyeleti Sightings:

Lions x 6: male and female with cub at elephant carcass; 1 male in camp; 1 male walking; one male and then three females hunting at night and 1 female in the grass.

Leopard x 3: 1 cub; 1 in tree with kill and one ran away

Cheetah x 1: cheetah brothers

Plenty elephant, buffalo and rhino.

We highly recommend Distinctly Africa Manyeleti. Leon, Mpho and the whole team were excellent and provided us with a 5-star photo safari experience!

For more information or to book your stay @Distinctly Africa Manyeleti, please contact us as follows:




+27 (0)83 253 0161

Manyeleti Game Reserve - Place of the Stars & the Big Cats!

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"It's 768 pages of the most amazing information. It consists of, well, everything really. Photography info...area info...hidden roads..special places....what they have seen almost road by road. Where to stay just outside the Park...camp information. It takes quite a lot to impress me but I really feel that this book, which was 7 years in the making, is exceptional."            - Janey Coetzee, founder of CAROK (Camps and Roads of Kruger)  South Africa

"Having a passion for the region itself and having to know about all dynamics, water holes and ideal roads for a period of 6 years - I wish I had this guide on my first trip already!" - Morkel Erasmus, Secunda, South Africa

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