Mashatu Main Lodge

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Mashatu Main Lodge

Mashatu Main-Camp

Mashatu is situated on the eastern fringes of the Kalahari Desert and water is its most precious resource. The sighting of the Mashatu camps in close proximity to water, and in thickets of vegetation, automatically locates the visitor into an enclave populated by birds and animals.

Mashatu Main Camp is an oasis among the undulating and seemingly endless plains of the wild. Burning torches at the camp’s entrance lure safari-goers home where they experience the embodiment of sublime hospitality.

For the client who is accustomed to luxury, this camp will meet every expectation. 14 luxury suites lie along the camp’s perimeter and are designed to allow absolute privacy and a communion with the bush and its inhabitants. Watch elephants splashing at the waterhole, listen to the lyrical melody of the woodlands kingfisher on a branch overhead, smell the grassy scent of the bushveld, and touch the bark of an ancient tree and inhale a breath of air so pure, it’s intoxicating.

Each of the air-conditioned suites at Mashatu Main Camp is tastefully decorated and includes impressive black and white prints of Africa’s most beautiful animals. A double bed and an extra-large single bed, together with a seating area that includes a single day bed, comfortably accommodates families with younger children. The ample en-suite bathroom with both bath and shower facilities and a separate W.C. complete the well-appointed suites.

This is the ideal camp for the family traveler. A large swimming pool is a focal point where MSH Main Campvisitors cool down and relax between game activities. The Discovery Room is the portal through which curious visitors get a glimpse of another world – one that existed long before the appearance of man. The animal specimens and relics will fascinate and educate visitors of all ages, as will the resident crocodiles – both great and small.

Meals are a sumptuous celebration of traditional African Cuisine – flavoursome, but lacking in ostentation. Fresh fruits, vegetables, home-made breads and pies, succulent meat dishes and delicious desserts will appeal to a guest who appreciates home cooking at its best.

For a touch of retail therapy, the fully stocked curio shop showcases a variety of African crafts, clothing and jewellery. Fear not – if you run out of sunscreen or your battery runs flat, you can replace these too.

Mashatu Main-Camp-Pool   Mashatu Main-Camp   Mashatu Main-Camp-Pool


Mashatu Main-Camp-Pool    Mashatu Main-Camp-Pool          Picture-mj3




  • Drying pools in the rivers attract flocks of storks and herons late in the rainy season (February – May).
  • Excellent elephant sightings at the elephant hides and out in the reserve.
  • Excellent birdlife for the bird photographers.
  • Open landscape that makes for easy photographing of wildlife.
  • Relaxed plains animals.
  • Excellent and varied birdlife with many good perches in certain areas making good bird photography very possible.
  • Excellent leopard sightings and photo opportunities.
  • Good lion and other predators.
  • Open landscape makes for easy photography with no distracting grass or thick bush.
  • Dry riverbeds frame subjects well.
  • Drying pools create fish traps attracting flocks of herons, stroks, etc.
  • Wilderness area relatively close to the major cities.
  • Good night skies and night photography.
  • Outstanding guides.


Mashatu Photography     Mashatu Game Reserve     Mashatu Game Reserve


Mashatu Game Reserve    Mashatu Game Reserve     Mashatu Game Reserve


Mashatu is situated in the eastern extremes of the Kalahari Desert and has had 92% rain-free days a year over the past 19 years.


Average Temperatures: Min 21ºC (70ºF) Max: 35ºC (95ºF)

The harsh, searing heat of summer begins to abate and there is less likelihood of rain. A few late kudu calves may make a bemused appearance at the beginning of the month. Large nursery herds of gawky Impala young are seen being kept under some control by the watchful eyes of their mothers. The bush is still dense but the bright shades of green are starting to dull as the year progresses. Due to the decrease in rainfall, the characteristic carpets of yellow flowers,so prevalent in the early summer months, begin to disappear.


Average Temperatures: Min 18ºC (64ºF) Max: 30ºC (86ºF)

This is a truly lovely time of year in the bushveld. It is now autumn and the daily temperatures are most pleasant, with balmy days and nights. The trees are still green and the bush is thick. Ground cover growing away from the larger watercourses begin to change colour to the browner winter shades as water becomes scarcer. A hush begins to fall over the bush as the myriad of insects; frogs and reptiles quieten down in preparation for winter. Flocks of migratory birds also begin to congregate in the treetops, gathering together in preparation for the long flight northwards to sunnier climes and greener pastures. The rains have abated although late, unseasonable showers may occur – but this is the exception rather than the rule.



Average Temperatures: Min 19ºC (66ºF) Max: 39ºC (102ºF)

Temperature begins a steady rise and conditions start becoming desperate for many of the herbivores as sub-region frontal systems touch on the Limpopo Valley, bringing superheated air into the region. October is referred to as ‘suicide month’ because of the heat ahead of the rains. There may be the odd tropical thunderstorm but the barren earth sucks up this early rain. This welcome water is not enough however and seldom results in a noteworthy floral display. Predators have a fine time as many animals are weak and restrict their activities to the area close to the waterhole. The lack of dense vegetation and dry powdery soil make tracking lions and leopards easier and often results in some exceptional sightings. Elephants listlessly wait out the dry season, moving from one waterhole to the next, where they take full advantage – wallowing and drinking for hours. They feed on the surrounding vegetation moving into the bush on feeding forays when the temperature has dropped sufficiently for them to forage out of the protective shade. It is also at this time of year that the eland begin to calve.


Average Temperatures: Min 22ºC (72ºF) Max: 37ºC (99ºF)

Summer is now in full swing at Mashatu. The temperatures are high and there is a lot of humidity in the air. The chances of convectional thunderstorms are good although the real rains are still a month away. Some of the summer migrant birds begin to arrive and the characteristic call of the red-chested cuckoo rings out clearly heralding the approach of better times for all. Once a good rainfall is recorded the small and drab but extremely vocal monotonous lark keeps the bush awake day and night with its irritating call as these birds perch on every treetop and announce their presences.

Traditional African Cuisine

Meals are a sumptuous celebration of traditional African Cuisine – flavoursome, but lacking in ostentation. Fresh fruits, vegetables, home-made breads and pies, succulent meat dishes and delicious desserts will appeal to a guest who appreciates home cooking at its best.

Mashatu-Boma-21 Mashatu-Dessert1 Mashatu-Meal1

Dress code is safari casual. Be sure to bring a sweater which may be needed at any time of year. During the winter months (May to September) very warm clothes, including a windbreaker or anorak, are essential.

Power supply – 220 V A.C. current is available 24 hours a day.

Rangers & Trackers – The guides and trackers are Tswana men from the region who have both a natural instinct as well as an intimate knowledge of the bush.  These guides average 13 years on Mashatu and are ‘career guides’. They are thoroughly trained in all aspects of ecology and are therefore able to impart valuable information and priceless insight – adding richness to your safari experience.

Travel Documents – a valid passport is obligatory if travelling from outside Botswana with a re-entry visa for South Africa for some nationalities.
Please be advised that Botswana Immigration no longer accepts temporary or emergency passports. There are no exceptions to this and you will be turned away at the border should you not be in possession of a valid passport. Please note that South Africa requires that with effect from 1 October 2014, all children under the age of 18 travelling to/from South Africa should be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate. Where only one parent is travelling, an affidavit for the child to travel is required from the remaining parent.   

The following nationalities NEED a visa to enter Botswana:

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
DRS – Democratic Republic of Congo
Côte d’Ivoire
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Guinea Bissau
Ivory Coast
Korea DPR
Laos PDR
Marshall Islands
Myanmar (Burma)
São Tomé and Príncipe
Saudi Arabia
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates

Mashatu is home to no less than seven of Africa’s “giants” – the African elephant, the lion, giraffe, the baobab tree, the eland, ostrich and the kori bustard. It is therefore fitting that these giants have a massive habitat, and some 29 000 hectares (72 000 acres) of pristine game land have been set aside as a refuge for these creatures.

Michael Timmons African Safari

The African Elephant – Loxodonta africana 
Africa’s largest mammals are by nature family orientated animals and may be found in herds of between 10 and 50, or more. The bulls usually have larger tusks than their female counterparts and a more rounded forehead to the cow’s angular one. The elephant’s tusks are in fact modified incisor teeth that are used as ‘weapons’ as well as an aid to procuring certain foodstuffs, like tree bark and roots for example. Another distinguishing characteristic of the elephant is its large ears which serve as a display function as well as to help to cool the animal down. The large number of blood capillaries in the ears cool down the blood as the ears are flapped. The elephant also has a long trunk which it uses to drink and to feed. There are over 55 000 muscles in an elephant’s trunk, making it an extremely sensitive, prehensile and dexterous aid to the elephants’ survival. An elephant’s trunk can hold up to 15 liters of water. It uses its trunk to locate food by touch and smell, as an elephant cannot see down its trunk. If an elephant loses the use of its trunk, in most instances it will die. At Mashatu there have been instances where elephants have survived with ‘stump trunks’ because these highly intelligent creatures will assist feed those in the herd with such disabilities.

African Lion Photography

The Lion – Panthera leo 
The lion is Africa’s largest cat. Lions are nocturnal and therefore most active at night, when it is cooler. They are highly social animals and are found in small prides of up to twenty individuals. A pride consists of related females and their cubs and they reside in a home range or territory. The males are nomads and gain custody of a pride through competition with other males. The mane of the lion is used as protection and to give an impression of increased proportions. Sometimes male lions will form a coalition; two or more males will group together to defend a pride. Hunting is done communally, often using driving and ambushing techniques.

Photography Workshops

The Giraffe – Giraffa camelopardalis 
Africa’s tallest mammals are gregarious animals with a keen sense of smell, hearing and sight. They move at speeds of up to 50 km/h. Both the male and female of the species have horns and their tongues can reach up to 45 cm in length. Giraffes have blotchy yellow and black or brown coats and each has a pattern unique to the individual.
Females and their young live in maternal herds, while males separate from their mothers in about their third year, initially joining a bachelor herd, before gradually becoming solitary as they mature.

baobab tree

The Baobab Tree – Adansonia digitata 
Like the elephant in the animal kingdom, the massive baobab tree easily eclipses its fellow species in age and longevity. It can grow up to 25 meters tall, and is known to live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for up to nine months of the year; the leaves are about 12 cm long and have three to seven glossy leaflets. It produces 12 – 18 cm flowers with five white petals and numerous purplish stamens. There is a delightful Bushmen legend concerning the origin of the baobab – in the beginning seeds and plants were distributed by the gods to the animals of the world to cultivate. The baobab was issued to the hyena, which was the very last in the queue, and he was so upset that he planted the tree upside down!

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The Eland – Taurotragus oryx
Africa’s largest antelope is a largely shy and peaceable animal although at Mashatu they are docile and very often viewed at close range. This excellent jumper stands almost 1.8 m tall and may weigh up to 910 kg. Its ox-like body is light brown with a few narrow white stripes running across the back and down the sides. It has a hump between the shoulders, a short, erect black mane and a long tail with a short, black tuft on the end.

Eland bulls have a strict hierarchy that determines their access to females in the herd. On the few occasions when they fight, they hardly every use their dangerous horns and hooves, preferring instead to prove their strength through neck-wrestling. Even these wrestles are a rarity; most eland conflicts are settled without violence through a series of ritual signals.

These signals include the knee-clicks which the bulls make with their front legs while walking. They sounds like castanets and can be heard hundreds of meters away. The clicks are a message to other males and their frequencies provide an honest and accurate measure of the individual’s size and fighting ability. The frequency of an eland’s knee-clicks reflects its size. The bigger the animal, the lower the frequency of its clicks and the deeper the resulting sound.

The clicks are made by the eland’s tendon. As it slips over a bone in the knee, I vibrates like a string, and like any string, the frequency of the sound wave it produces falls as its diameter and length increase. So as an eland grows and its tendon gets longer and wider, its knee-clicks deepen.

It is physically impossible for a small or weak male eland with weak tendons to produce the resonant clicks of prime specimens. Since eland territories rely on strength, and larger animals have an advantage over smaller ones, knee-clicks allow eland to accurately assess each other’s fighting prowess.

Other visual signals help. These include the greyness of the eland’s bodies, the darkness of the mask-like fur across their faces, the size of the brush-like knob of hair on their heads and the size of their dewlap – a flap of skin beneath their throats that can greatly increase the size of their silhouettes. The size of the dewlap increases with age. The darkness of the face mask, the size of the frontal brush and the greyness of the body varies from male to male. Those with extreme versions of one trait have extreme versions of all three. These traits most likely reflect the levels of testosterone and other male hormones circulating in their bodies, which could in turn convey their aggressiveness and temperament. So with a combination of colour, shape and sound, elands can tell one another about how strong, how experienced and how aggressive they are.



The Ostrich – Struthio camelus 
Africa’s largest bird has superb plumes and a vicious kick and is found throughout Southern Africa – from the bushveld in the east, to the dunes on the Atlantic coast in the west. The ostrich runs with its wings outstretched and at great speed. The inner of the two toes on each foot is much larger and bears most of the bird’s weight. Both the male and female birds have scantily feathered heads, necks and thighs. The male is glossy black with beautiful long white plumes on the wings and tail, while the female is a dull grayish brown colour. Males are polygamous and usually have from two to six females in their flock.

Kori Bustard

Kori Bustard – Ardeotis kori 
The kori bustard is Africa’s heaviest bird capable of flight and an adult male can weigh in the vicinity of 20 kg. Due to illegal hunting, the bird is a protected species and is seen either on its own or in pairs or groups in woodland, grassy plains and Kalahari scrub. The kori bustard walks slowly with measured strides and flies reluctantly although it is a remarkably strong flier. These birds take off with heavy wing beats, but once air-bourne, they fly fast and strongly. When in a group, the birds walk in a loose line across the veld searching for food. This bird is culturally very significant in Botswana and it is said that only the chiefs may eat them.

In a first for photography in Southern Africa, PhotoMashatu has an exclusive concession to provide dedicated photographic hides within Mashatu Game Reserve.

Guests can sit quietly and watch animals moving directly towards them, all the while taking pictures from unique angles, resulting in unique and exceptional quality photography. At an additional Fee.

What are photographic hides? Additional Fees apply

Photographic hides are structures built to maximise the photographic potential of the animal subjects that visit them. These hides can be used to view wildlife in the normal manner but have been positioned with consideration of the angle of the sun, the background and the angle the viewer occupies in relation to the animals and birds.

A professional wildlife photographer will accompany participants to the hides. They are on hand to tutor both aspiring and experienced photographers in camera techniques which will see a vast improvement in the quality of their images.

In a first for photography in Southern Africa, PhotoMashatu has an exclusive concession to provide dedicated photographic hides within Mashatu Game Reserve.

Guests can sit quietly and watch animals moving directly towards them, all the while taking pictures from unique angles, resulting in unique and exceptional quality photography.

  • Private land in Botswana
  • 29000 hectares of traversing
  • Situated in the centre of the proposed Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area
  • A true wilderness with a diversity of ecosystems and a variety of interesting landscapes
  • Excellent predator and elephant viewing
  • Over 350 bird species
  • Two very different camps
  • Adventure safaris; walking, cycling and horse safaris
  • Photographic hides
  • Archaeological ruins – sister ruins to Mapungubwe and archaeology that dates back over one million years
  • Eight perennial and non-perennial rivers on the property
  • Incredible vistas, unusual topography and wide open terrain
  • Beautiful sunrises, sunsets and night skies
  • Excellent value
  • Average employment of rangers – 15 years
  • 92% rain-free days a year over 19 years


mashatu mapMashatu Game Reserve is situated at the confluence of the great Limpopo and Shashe Rivers in the remote eastern corner of Botswana. This area is known historically as the Tuli Enclave and it is here where the three countries; Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe converge. In addition to this large conservation area, Mashatu Game Reserve offers refuge to the largest elephant population on a private reserve on the African continent

Our most commonly used entry point to Mashatu Game Reserve is through the Pont Drift Border Post between South Africa and Botswana.
Please note that officials at both the South African and Botswana customs and immigration offices strictly enforce the Pont Drift Border Post operating times which are to open at 8.00am and to close at 4.00pm.



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