Describing the Tuli Block is a very different assignment to the rest of Botswana. The landscape is a crowded jumble of rocks, pebbles and stones of all shapes and sizes. Rocky outcrops jut out of the sandy landscape of river beds, large river beds support gigantic trees.
Game is plentiful and lives mainly on the private game farms, lodges and reserves on the eastern extreme of the Tuli Block. The vegetation throughout this area is spectacular, from the massive Nyala trees (Xanthocercis zambeziaca), also known as the Mashatu tree, to the fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea) on the banks of the Limpopo River.
Fever trees have been written about many times, a particularly famous fictional reference is Rudyard Kipling describing: “…the great, green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees”. Fever trees were once thought to cause malaria as they are always found near the water that favours mosquito breeding – an old piece of white hunter mythology.
There is a herd of around 600 elephant in the area which means the chances of seeing them are very good; klipspringers and rock hyrax are commonly seen; birdlife is exceptional because of the diversity of habitats within a relatively small area.
Only 530km from Johannesburg the area is often treated as an extension of a South African safari. A great combination is to fly into Cape Town for a few days followed by either the Garden Route or St Lucia Wetlands, and then a few days at Mashatu Game Reserve (“the Land of the Giants”), part of the northern Tuli Game reserve. The African elephant, the lion, the giraffe, the baobab tree, the eland, the ostrich and the kori bustard make up the seven giants and you’re likely to see all seven! A particularly good experience is on horseback – see our Tuli Horse riding safari
This privately owned wildlife sanctuary of 30,000 hectares is situated at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers. The history of the area dates back an amazing 80 million years. A team of specialists run an Ivory and Archaeology programme which visitors may take part in.
Historically the area has seen characters such as Cecil John Rhodes, one of the baobab trees bears his scratch marks. Frederick Selous was frequently seen here and this was the zone of the opening conflict between the British and the Boers in the second Boer war. Numerous Stone Age sites scatter the area and are of primary interest. Some of the walled stone cliff top sites pre-date Great Zimbabwe.
The best time to visit is anytime of the year! During dry season the landscape is parched and devoid of vegetation, but this is also when the animals congregate around any available water as they do elsewhere. In summer the landscape is stunning. The numerous streams and rivers are full, while grass and flowers are bursting with seed and blossom across the park.
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