Cycling vacations in Mashatu, Botswana

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Cycling vacations in Botswana, Mashatu


Intro to Botswana

Cycling tours in Botswana, Mashatu
Tuli Mountain Biking Safari

Itinerary for Tuli Mountain Biking Safari

Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Please note that this is only an example as is subject to change, due to weather or other logistics.

You will most likely be on safari with Horse riders, however the two groups separate each morning with their own guides and meet again in time for lunch and normally enjoy all afternoon activities together.

Wildlife that can be seen during the safari include elephant, lion, leopard cheetah, hyena and plains game.

Day 1: Arrival
After your charter flight from OR Tambo Airport in South Africa to Limpopo Valley Airfield in the Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana, you are received at the MTB Mashatu reception. There, you will enjoy a light lunch on the banks of the Limpopo River, receive a safety briefing, bike fitting and a chance to meet the guides. 
The route on this afternoon is from the reception to Two Mashatus, a ride of about 2 hours.  It follows the Limpopo River floodplains, with good opportunities for those first exciting encounters with elephant, giraffe, zebra, ostrich and wilderbeest.  The route crosses close to a large wetland area which acts as a magnet for game and there is even a chance to come across bat eared fox, black backed jackal and spotted hyena.  It then crosses the Majali River close to its confluence with the Limpopo. Across an open plain the famous Two Mashatus Camp awaits.
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Two Mashatus Camp

Day 2: Two Mashatus to Tree Camp
The first full day of cycling crosses the game rich areas of the central reserve.  Following breakfast at dawn, cyclists set off first along the Majali and then the Mataboli rivers in a north western arc towards the beautifully appointed Tree Camp.
The route typically yields rich encounters with elephant, waterbuck, giraffe, impala, wildebeest and zebra.  Signs of the many predators that make these rich riverine environments their home are bountiful, and chance encounters possible.  The trip typically takes between four and five hours.  The trappings of modern living begin to fall away as the sense of adventure and journey deepens.
Tree Camp will be reached in time for a refreshing shower and lunch.  After a welcome rest in the comfort of the camp, nestled in the cooling shade of the majestic Mashatu Tree, a hearty tea will be served.  This is followed by a guided bush walk up the Majali River in search of crocodile and other game.  Kudu, warthog, klipspringer and eland are all present in the area around the camp, as are elephant, lion and hyena.  Waterfowl fly low past the camp and birdsong abounds.  This is a truly beautiful place and it is impossible not to immerse oneself in nature and experience the exceptional qualities of Africa’s wilderness areas.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Tree Camp

Day 3: Valley of the Elephants – Tree Camp to Kgotla
Waking in Tree Camp is a magical experience.  One feels truly alive, surrounded by birdsong as the early morning light filters through the majestic tree’s leaves.  After a quick breakfast, you set off on the one of the journey’s longest rides – up onto the edge of the mini escarpment and then down, through the Valley of the Elephants and on towards the distant sandstone citadels guarding the Limpopo and Motloutse Rivers. 
The first part of the journey winds along well worn elephant paths, past giant baobabs and the occasional shallow watering pan.   This is prime elephant country and the guides are always on the lookout, using all their sharpened senses.  Once the path leaves the river, the terrain is once again more open.  A second river is then joined, which leads directly down to the veterinary control gate on the main road through Mashatu Game Reserve. 
The route then allows for a sprint along the dirt road for a short while before heading across sand country towards the intriguing Sacred Rock massif.  Here, the mopane vegetation is short and it is safe to ride quite fast across the plain.  Large herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala inhabit this area.  The guides plot their route using individual mashatu, leadwood and apple-leaf trees as their markers.  Soon you will reach the old leadwood enclosure (used in the past as a traditional law court of a Botswana village) known as  ‘The Kgotla’.  This open-air enclosure forms the perfect, secure camp for the night.  The camp is not far from the banks of the Motloutse River and, with high concentrations of game living along the river’s fertile floodplain, the area is home to large prides of lion and clans of hyena.  The sounds of these predators at night provide enduring memories!
In the afternoon, we search for the area’s resident lion on a game drive and draw the day’s adventures to a close with sundowners at the ancient “Amphitheatre” rocks. Whilst big cat sightings from the bikes are avoided (our guides are in radio contact with the Mashatu guides and we have a ride away policy), the opportunities to approach lion, cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena occur whilst on game drives are excellent. Here, the vehicle acts as a natural hide and is largely ignored by the predators.
Back at the Kgotla, dinner is enjoyed around a large log fire. The night is spent with a ceiling of stars and Africa’s night-time melody to sing you to sleep; a veraciously rare experience which is just about as far away from city life and the modern world as anyone can imagine.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Kgotla

Day 4: Sandstone Cathedrals
This day is more relaxed and tailored to the group, since a different camp does not need to be reached by nightfall.  A particularly interesting route to follow is first along the Motloutse River, stopping at well known elephant drinking holes to watch the herds come and go before winding down towards the impressive Solomon’s Wall, a tall dolomite dyke which was breached by the river in ancient times.  This is the favourite haunt of troops of baboon, which are always fascinating to watch.  The trail then follows the banks of the river, flanked by giant mashatu and leadwood trees, towards the mighty Limpopo.  This area is renowned for its dramatic sandstone rock formations, steeped in colour and home to eland, klipspringer and kudu. Some of the oldest civilizations in southern Africa settled in this valley. Archaeological evidence in the area includes middle and late stone age tools, rock art and the legendary Mapungubwe Dynasty.  Mapungubwe means “Place of the Jackal” in the Venda language and this dynasty existed around 1220 AD. The Mapungubwe topography itself is ancient and timeless and, combined with marvelous wildlife sightings, makes for an incredible cycling experience.
The game drive in the afternoon takes guests to the foot of the impressive Mamagwa massif, a free standing formation which was used by British troops as a defensive position against incursions from the Transvaal Boers at the end of the 19th century.  Sundowners are traditionally taken at the far western edge of the massif, with endless views over the wilderness landscape whilst watching the sun slowly slip over the horizon.  The drive back to Kgotla in the dark provides more excellent opportunities to spot lion, leopard and hyena.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Kgotla

Day 5: River Trails – Kgotla to Tree Camp
On this day, the journey turns northeast and follows a series of river trails on the way back to the centre of the reserve.  Life in this arid environment is always concentrated near water, and the ride promises sightings of elephant, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest.  The route crosses the watershed  and then winds along ancient paths adjacent to a stream flowing north towards the Majali River.  At these elevated heights, the sweeping views to the north reveal the true wilderness character of Mashatu Game Reserve.  Baobab trees scatter the landscape as they have for centuries, and remarkably two of these giants are found growing directly in the stream itself.  This provides an excellent spot to stop for a rest and a drink.
The remainder of the day’s journey is a mixture of elephant trail trekking and canters across relatively open mopane veld.  The final stretch is along the Majali River itself, past rocky pools, cliff faces and ribbons of green grass.  Encounters with baboon, kudu, klipspringers and crocodile are likely.  Tree Camp is finally reached after 4-5 hours of cycling.
That afternoon guests leave the bikes and will go either on a guided bush walk or, subject to availability, a game drive with Mashatu Main Camp guides (extra cost).  This opportunity, while provided at an extra cost, should not be missed as the near guaranteed sightings of lion and leopard, and sometimes of cheetah, are legendary.  The guides are very knowledgeable about the structure and whereabouts of the various prides and individuals, and failure to find them is very rare indeed.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Tree Camp

Day 6: Tree Camp to Two Mashatus
With an early departure from Tree Camp, this downhill ride offers sweeping views to the east and south, bathed in early morning light, as it traverses along the edge of a ridge near the centre of the reserve.  The path then descends to a game rich area along the Majali River.  The deep river pools are the favourite haunt of baboon and impala.  Sooner or later the great herds of elephant come past for their daily drink, to play in the water and enjoy a dust bath
The final part of the ride is first across open plains with some fast sprints, and then through cool riverine vegetation along the approaches to Two Mashatus Camp.   This is the original Tuli Trail camp and is beautifully situated nestled amongst giant mashatu and apple leaf trees close to the banks of the Limpopo River.  This area typically boasts the highest density of elephants in the reserve, who sometimes roam through the camp in a gentle yet determined way.  It is also excellent for lion and leopard as well as baboon, bushbuck and waterbuck. 
After four to five hours of cycling, this is the perfect place to relax.  On hot days the swimming pool at Two Mashatus is particularly welcoming.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Two Mashatus Camp

Day 7: Upriver along the Pitsane River
This the last full day on Mashatu Game Reserve and the route explores the game rich area along the Majali and Pitsani Rivers.  In the north there are open plains. Overall the pace is relaxed, with the guides responding to the herds.
In the afternoon there is the option of a bush walk or a short cycle, maybe to the banks of the Limpopo River where elephants are often seen crossing. 
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Two Mashatus Camp

Day 8: Departure
The final ride of the Tuli Safari safari is back to the reception, following the Limpopo River upstream.  The route passes game rich habitat, including a hyena den and a large wetland which can be home to large flocks of waterfowl.  Other notable sightings include Kori Bustard, the largest flying birds in Africa, bat eared foxes and ostrich. 
Once at the reception it is time for a shower and meal on the banks of the great river, and then a short journey to the Limpopo Valley Airfield for the flight to Johannesburg in South Africa.
Meals included: Brunch
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Tuli Mountain Biking Safari
Tour Code: ZZ-BK-BOCM01
8 days / 7 nights ~$3,910.00
Dates: Available all Year

Level : Fitness Level
Difficulty Levels Explained
1. Easy
Easy pace and an average-to-sedentary level of fitness. You should be in good health and fit enough for full day of normal sightseeing and walking.
2. Easy to Moderate
An average level of fitness or some experience with the featured activity is recommended.
3. Moderate
Requires you to have performed the featured activity regularly, with some periods on challenging terrain. Activities are mandatory and you may be traveling at high elevations. You need to be in good health and physical condition to enjoy these trips, with adequate muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance.
4. Demanding
You must be extremely physically fit and are expected to hike or ride four to six hours over steep or more rugged terrain.
5. Strenuous
Prolonged hiking/biking on moderate to difficult terrain (five to nine hours a day).
May include high altitude, rugged terrain etc..
Day to Day Itinerary
Rates | Dates
Airport: O.R. Tambo International Airport (JHB)
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