Manyeleti Trip Report

Sleeping Beauty.

This leopard, known as Zondindi, is the same one that features on the cover of our Kruger Park eBook.

Trevor Barnett, our co-author photographed her from the Orpen Gate entrance road and she is also often seen in Manyeleti, which is where we photographed her in the above image.

Trevor Barnett holding Margie’s oil rendition of his award winning leopard picture.

We started our trip from The Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland). We left the Sibanye Hotel first thing in the morning and sailed through Jeppe’s Reef Border post and arrived at Malelane gate around 8.30am.

We took a slow drive through the Kruger, going past many of our special spots. We took the S126 Sweni road and discovered a new loop which takes you around a rocky koppies.

The loop is about 6 km from the H1-3 main road and 5.5 km from Welverdiend waterhole, what a nice surprise.  

We had loads of sightings, including these elephants in Mazithi Dam, but no cats.

After leaving Kruger, via Orpen gate, we entered Manyeleti gate at around 3pm and headed for our first 3 nights at Ndzhaka camp.

On arrival we met Armand from Rhulani Safaris and our German guest Katja. It was great to finally meet her after months of planning her trip out here.

Ndzhaka camp has had a face lift, with new tent fronts and bedding, a lounge and a dinning room and small boma area and new en-suite bathrooms (no more bucket showers). 

Adelaide was our chef and she cooked delicious meals every day.

Manyeleti trip report: Day 1

Afternoon drive: Zondindi, the young female Leopard with her kill in a tree and a pride of lions with sub adult cubs.

Zondindi had a cub a few kilometers away in a den but it was too small for us to visit. 

The hyena was hanging around under the tree eating the scraps that the leopard was spitting out.

Manyeleti trip report: Day 2

Morning Drive: we saw a large herd of buffalo at the dam, Cheetah, African Wild Cat and best of all the female leopard still with her kill in the tree.

Afternoon drive: Prince our guide went south to find the lions with small cubs, but the lighting was not great when we did find them.

We then found a very young female leopard who was walking in the direction of the lions, we tried to follow her but lost her in the long grass.  

Luckily, she had changed direction and walked away from the lions.

After the sun had set we found wild dogs running in the road which is very rare to see at night…a great sighting!

We also saw a genet on a game drive - a first for us.

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Manyeleti trip report: Day 3

Morning Drive: We went back to see if the Leopard was still in the tree and there she was with the remainder of her kill. We then found a pride of 10 lions, 5 females and 5 males just chilling.

Afternoon drive: We went to Tortoise dam and found the lone Hippo, who put on a show for us. We then found a large herd of elephant, buffalo and a rhino with her calf.

On the way back to camp we saw a genet and a bush baby then had a delicious dinner.

Manyeleti trip report: Day 4

Our last drive at Ndzhaka, gave us lots of birds of prey sightings, two lionesses, one male lion, buffaloes, elephant and our female leopard once again!

After another great breakfast we left Ndzhaka and headed down south to Buffelshoek camp.

Buffelshoek has also had a face lift, the viewing tower now has a roof and the dining area has been enclosed.

The tents have been extended with a small lounge and the en-suite bathrooms have been upgraded. It is now very comfortable in the A-frame tents.

Afternoon drive: Our guide Louis took us back to see the Hippo at Tortoise dam, then on to see the lion cubs at another dam- 4 females with 4 small cubs. We spent 30 minutes with the lion cubs and photographed them from both sides of the dam wall.

We then saw the male lion on his own and then elephant and a bush baby on our way back to camp.

Manyeleti trip report: Day 5

Morning Drive: We got to see the very small lion cubs with their moms and then another sighting of different lions further up the road, 3 females and 2 males.

Rhino, elephant and hippo but the highlight was two ground horn-bills, one of which had caught a scrub hare and was proudly displaying his meal...! This was a first for us. 

then wild dogs interacting with an elephant in the road 

and, back at camp, we found a Redbilled Hornbill with a bat kill which it was trying to swallow. A great day for unusual sightings.

The hornbill was on the ground so the photographers got down low to capture their images...!

Afternoon drive: We found 3 rhinos drinking, elephants, one rhino walking in the bush and two cheetahs lying down. 

We got a call on the radio that the young female leopard, Zondindi, which we saw a few days back had a kill so we rushed off to see her... 

...but by the time we arrived, hyenas had stolen the kill and she was now walking in the road looking for another meal.

Our field guide called the sighting in and tells the field guide from one of the other up-market lodges that the leopard is hunting and is hiding in the road waiting to ambush the impala and we had switched off our lights so that the impala would not spot her and he should also switch off his lights. The other field guide agrees.

The other lodge vehicle arrives, with its lights off, but the tracker on the other vehicle then shines his spotlight right onto the leopard, that jumps up and runs off as it has been seen by the impala...!!!??? Now we see why some guides don't call their sightings in!! 

Manyeleti trip report: Day 6

Morning Drive: we had a great sunrise and two sightings of Giant eagle owls.

Afternoon drive: more lions; 2 females and 2 males, some buffalo bulls and two white tailed mongoose running in the bush plus an owl and nightjar. 

Four chameleons were spotted on our drive back to camp - all sleeping in trees.

Sundowners & Coffee stops 

On game drives, the field guides usually stop in the mornings for coffee and rusks (coffee with Amarula is the best!) and then at sunset for sundowners. We stopped only a few times for these breaks on this safari as we had so many good sightings! At some lodges the field guides have pulled out of sightings (we were watching a cheetah stalking impala) as it was now time for the morning coffee break!! We are grateful that Armand gave priority to the sightings and not to the coffee stops and sundowners!

Manyeleti trip report: Day 7

Morning Drive: We went to photograph the sunrise and then off to find the lion cubs.

Afternoon drive: Rhino and then a lovely sighting of the owl, with the lion cubs as a bonus.

Our last afternoon and evening were a lot of fun; Dudley took Katja and Martin in the TLB to the waterhole – a game drive with a difference! There was a lot of laughing and happy faces, while Patrick, Mario and I watched, photographed and videoed the whole scene.

Then came dinner and Katja got a wonderful surprise; Adelaide has baked her a birthday cake. What a fun time with loads of pictures taken, sore bellies from laughing so much and eating too much!

Manyeleti trip report: Day 8

Morning Drive: This was our last morning drive but I was sick so I stayed behind at the camp. I went and sat up on the viewing tower to scan because the impalas were alarm calling, but I could not see anything. I then went back to my tent to fetch something and as I walked onto our deck, I saw a male lion walking towards camp.

I ran as fast as I could to the viewing tower because I had left my camera up there – and we tell other people to always make sure they have their cameras with them…! I managed to get him walking past the camp...

When our guys came back from their game drive, I asked them what they saw…Hyenas and giraffe was the answer; I then showed them what I had seen at camp…you can guess the reaction.

After another great breakfast it was time to leave, we dropped Katja off at the Orpen gate where Armand collected her for her trip back to ORT and home to Germany.

We left for our last night in the Kruger at Pretoriuskop camp. The drive down was good, the first couple of kms on the Orpen entrance road we found a couple of Hyenas and vultures at a kill, then we saw our first H1-2 Leopard sighting - she crossed the road in front of us and went into a donga, sniffed a bush and then ran back over the road just before the Sand River Bridge. 

We took the S65 from Doispan Road and found another new route 11 kms from Doispan road turn off, turn right and its about 5,6 km of scenic road coming out on Napi road 9km from the Napi boulders exit road heading west.

At the Sabie low-level Bridge we found a herd of Buffalo lying in the river and on the sand bank and the lighting was perfect on them. 

We arrived at Pretoriuskop and enjoyed a quiet dinner at Wimpy. 

We left early the next morning for home, driving on the main roads down to the S118 and S119 to find the leopard with a kill that had been seen. No luck, but it was a lovely drive with many other sightings of game.

Thank you to Armand, Lynn and Dudley for a great time in Manyeleti and a big thanks to Katja for sharing her special  birthday trip with us, it was a lovely time enjoyed by all - and to Martin and Patrick who also made it a special time.

Summary of Sightings

Lions x 12

Leopard x 7

Wild dogs x 2

Cheetah x 2

African wild cat x 2

White Tail Mongoose x 1

Elephant - too many

Buffalo - too many

Rhino - many

Ground Hornbills x 1

Two months after our safari, Armand was back in Manyeleti with other guests and he was blessed to see Zondindi with her cub...!

For more information on the Manyeleti big-cat safaris or to book your stay, please contact us as follows:



+27 (0)83 253 0161

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