Matswani Private Reserve is located approx. 250 km north of Johannesburg at 1,200 meters altitude on the Waterberg Plateau. The name Matswani is formed from the original word Matswane which in the tribal language of Tswana means “Honey Badger”.
In the 40,000 acres Matswani Private Reserve you can experience more than 3000 animals spread over approx. 40 different species. Matswani is NOT hunted – it is a conservation area where wildlife and nature conservation are at the center.
Staying in Matswani is a luxury experience with gourmet food for all meals, champagne brunch in the bush, and good service 24/7. We could choose to join their game drives and tours, or just be lazy and relax by the pool and watch animals feed just outside the terrace.
2007-07 – Arrival in Matswani
We departed from Oslo, and changed plane in Amsterdam. From there KLM flew us directly to Johannesburg. We were met by our tour guides from Matswani. Before driving north we had sightseeing in Pretoria. After staying overnight in Pretoria we drove north towards the Limpopo province. This was winter in South Africa, and there was ice on a bush close to a fountain!
After several hours including stops we arrived at the Matswani Safari Lodge. There were not many rooms, so they changed out all guests every week. This meant that all the staff showed up to welcome us.
After a welcome drink we were taken to our bungalows – ours was a two-story building called ‘Giraffe’. Then we were free to relax until an overwhelming lunch.
2007-07 – Matswani Arrival Information
Before dinner we were gathered outside around a warming fireplace. All our tour guides were there to present themselves and inform us about Matswani.
Being winter it was cold in the evening – perhaps below 10 degrees C. July is the summer month in Norway, but we were prepared with winter cloths in our luggage.
We especially enjoyed their explanation about the bar’s opening hours – listen for yourselves!
2007-07 – Matswani Park Information
Next morning after breakfast we were driven by safari vehicles into the game reserve area for detailed information about their game drives and tours.
2007-07 – Jabu the Rhino
They had a rhino called Jabu in a special enclosure. He used to have a mate, but Jabu had killed her. We drove into the enclosure and stopped the car, and Jabu came to us. He was relatively tame, but still wild and strong enough to overturn our car.
After our guide had explained all about rhinos and Jabu we started our car to leave, but Jabu tried to block our way. After several stops and threats from our guide we managed to get out the gate. Jabu followed us inside the fence on our way to the crocodile dam.
2007-07 – De Wildt Schingwedzi Cheetah Farm Tour
One of our tours outside the Matswani reserve was to the De Wildt Schingwedzi Cheetah Farm. This was a private nursery for cheetah babies left in the bush when the mother had been killed by poachers. They were more or less tame, but were kept in a fenced enclosure.
First we were gathered to receive information about Schingwedzi and cheetahs, and information about the other animals they also had.
Thereafter we were driven by a safari car into another fenced area where wild dogs and cheetahs roamed freely.
Finally were allowed into and enclosure to meet and touch a tame cheetah.
2007-07 – Warmbath Tour
One day we joined the tour to town Warmbath (Bela-Bela). One of the Danish men who had not received his suitcase now had a chance to buy more cloths and things he needed. (He did not receive his suitcase until his departure for Europe).
We strolled through a market area where they sold African hand crafts.
Before returning to Matswani we had lunch i a nice restaurant.
2007-07 – Matswani Bush Walk
I joined an optional Bush Walk. We were taken to a starting point from where we walked slowly along paths while our guide talked about how to behave and walk in the bush. He explained the different animal tracks and animal behavior, and about trees and plants.
It was nice to walk for a change and feel the environment – smells, sunshine, clean air, etc. After our guide had talked about snakes we were careful not to step on stones where snakes might be hiding.
We had a stop for cold drinks where other crew had placed cooling bags.
2007-07 – Matswani Lunch
The lunches were usually served outside on the terrace as buffets. There were always some kind of game dish like impala stew, kudu burgers, warthog sausages, etc. plus many other dishes.
It was relaxing to be able to see animals on the other side of the small pond while we were eating.
After lunch we would relax before the next activities – sunbath, swim in the pool, or enjoy the warmth of the Jacuzzi. The weather was nice and warm during daytime, but chilly in the evenings.
2007-07 – Matswani Relaxing Morning
The days were relaxing. Breakfast was not too early, time to relax after lunch, before dinner, and in the evenings.
I usually rise early, and it was nice to sit by the pool with a good book, or take a swim or a dip in the Jacuzzi – or just sit on the terrace and watch the animals feed and listen to the sounds and small breakfast being prepared.
2007-07 – Christina’s Wallow
A short drive took us to the Christina’s Wallow, which was a place where we could observe animals from a shelter while they came to a pond to drink.
On the way we passed different animals, and in one place we left the car to stand on ostrich eggs to test their strength.
We walked stealthy from the car and into the shelter, and were asked to keep very quiet to avoid scaring the animals.
We waited a long time before a few giraffes appeared, and later a family of warthogs also came to drink.
2007-07 – Competition and Champagne Bush Brunch
One of the highlights was the champagne brunch. We started with a game drive, and stopped to find materials for a competition. We were two cars, and we were competing against the other car for the nicest bush hat.
The lunch place was a pavilion overlooking a watering hole where we could watch animals while eating. When we arrived we were served champagne – as much as we would like. The buffet had an even better selection than other lunches.
Our car won the competition. My daughter’s hat was impressing.
On our way back we drove fast and the cars competed.
2007-07 – Sunset Rock
One early evening we drove to Sunset Rock to watch the sunset.
We were met by our cook with a selection of snacks, and were served champagne.
Before sunset we had a ‘kudu shit spitting’ competition were the ones who spitted furthest won a bottle of champagne – boys against girls. I won, and I shared the champagne with the others.
After the sun had set we drove back to camp to relax before dinner.
2007-07 – Night Safari and Bush Dinner
Night safaris in South Africa in July are cold. We brought winter cloths, but it was still a little cold sitting still in the cars. Using powerful torches we could see reflections in the animals’ eyes before seeing them.
On our way through the park we stopped and turned off all lights to watch the stars. Without moon it was completely dark with trillions of stars, and we could actually see our shadows in the starlight!
After a few hours we came to the BBQ site where the staff had prepared a gourmet dinner.
2007-07 – Matswani Dinner (1)
Each dinner in Matswani was different with some kind of game. This evening they served Bush Pig.
2007-07 – Matswani Dinner (2)
This evening they served a buffet including Spring Buck and Impala.
2007-07 – Matswani Village with Dinner
One evening we visited the chief’s kraal in the local village to experience a traditional village. We were invited in through the only gate, through which the chief’s 3 wives (in the old days) were not allowed to enter. They had to climb the wall with 3 heights – the youngest the highest wall, the oldest the lowest wall. When the oldest were too old to climb she was sent to the village, and the chief got a new younger wife.
The chief’s hut was empty, but every evening one of his selected wives furnished it with her things, stayed overnight, and moved back with her things to her own in the morning.
We watched local dancers, and ate local food with our bare hands. An enjoyable evening with a feeling of Africa.
2007-07 – Pilansberg National Park Tour
One day we joined a tour to the Pilansberg Game Reserve. After a few hours we reached the park entrance were we were transferred to a safari truck. We saw several of the Big Five, but no leopard.
Compared to safaris in East Africa this game drive was somewhat disappointing. However, we saw several rhinos.
After the game drive we stopped at a restaurant by the park entrance before driving back to Matswani.
2007-07 – Last Dinner
This evening they served a 4-course dinner with Crocodile and Blesbuck.
2007-07 – Matswani to Johannesburg
After a really nice week in Matswani we said farewell to all the nice employees. They sang and followed us to the bus.
On our way back to Johannesburg we had a break at a highway resting place (Petroport Panorama).
In Johannesburg we visited the Apartheid Museum, and in Soweto we visited Mandela’s house (see my Johannesburg webpage).