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By Ricci Goldstein
This past weekend the Zali safari team were privileged to be invited to Pungwe Bush Camp in the Manyaleti.
For me this was my first time visiting the Manyaleti and to say I was blown away would be an understatement. There were so many incredible moments and authentic experiences that need retelling.
I will start at the beginning and try to paint a picture of what this intimate safari camp has to offer.
It had not been more than 30 minutes since the team arrived at Pungwe, which is located in the southern part of the Big 5 Manyaleti when our host and guide extraordinaire Tim came over excitedly to say “guys there is an elephant bull feeding in front of the central tent. If you follow me quietly and slowly we can go view him on foot”. Immediately we all left up excitedly and followed our guide. What followed was simply mind-blowing.
An impressive sized bull stood a few metres from us and suddenly I began to feel my heart rate go up. Little did we know he was not alone and within 5 minutes 3 elephants were casually roaming the unfenced camp. They peacefully made their way across and over towards the dam a few km from the camp.
“Welcome to Pungwe” Tim said with a smirk on his face. This was a start none of us could have imagined.
The day just got better from there. We were given an introduction whereby we were told that although animals will possibly roam through the camp both in the day and night, we would only need to be walked back to our rooms at night. By the end of the trip we had buffalo, elephant, civet and antelope in the camp which we saw. We could hear lion, leopard and hyena in the camp at night. It all added to the essence of a true safari experience.
We were fed like kings and got to try such delights as biltong nachos, home made brownies, chicken curry and a delicious braai. 3 meals a day as well as coffee and drink stops on drives meant that we never went hungry.
We ate under the stars at night surrounded by the sounds of the bush and next to a fire which seemingly stayed lit the entire trip.
After dinner we would sit around the fire to discuss the events of the day while Tim would recall tales of his experiences in various African parks.
We enjoyed each others company (not to mention the banter) and would make our ways to our tents where we would enjoy a nice hot shower and best of all a hot water bottle left in bed.
Our days started at 6am with a coffee and a rusk as we would warm up around the fire and it would be wheels rolling by 6:30 as the adventures of the day laid ahead.
The game viewing was diverse and rewarding as we were lucky enough to view great herds of elephant, a very special sighting of rhino, an incredible lion sighting in the golden light, various raptors including martial eagles, many different antelope species, hyena, civet, genet and best of all 4 male cheetah on a fresh kill.
The Manyaleti is a special reserve and its one big dam and many seasonal pans surrounded by a lush combination of open veld and dense thickets, make it very productive and scenic. The sunrises and sunsets were some of the best I have seen.
Pungwe fulfilled and exceeded my expectations. From its friendly and efficient staff, to its authentic safari charm, to its on foot experiences, prime location and more… really did create a lasting impression on me and I certainly will be visiting this gem often in the future.
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