Overview, trip report, images and reviews from our visit to Mabula Private Game Reserve.
We are privileged to own a timeshare week at Mabula Timeshare, located in the Mabula Private Game Reserve. We visit every year to spend time with our family, to revitalize ourselves for the year ahead and to enjoy and capture the beauty of nature.
“Situated at the foothills of the Waterberg Mountains in a private game reserve, is one of Africa’s hidden secrets. Whether taking a short break or a well-deserved holiday, Mabula Timeshare has it all. Situated at the foothills of the Waterberg mountains, within the 12 000 hectares Mabula Private Game Reserve, this bush resort offers prolific game which includes the “Big 5” and more than 300 recorded bird species.
The accommodation units are located in four separate camps each with its’ own unique setting. “Modjadji” has the bush and wide open plains, “Sunset Hill” has views forever and sunsets that only Africa can offer, while “Bush and Game Lodge” has magnificent views over the plains and distant hills. The chalets have been spaced to maximize privacy and enhance the feeling of being in the wild. All the units are fully self-catering and range from one-bedroom chalets to six bedroom bush camps.
A mere two hours drive from Johannesburg this malaria-free Reserve will ensure that you leave feeling rejuvenated, with memories of quality time spent with family and friends, having experienced the wonders of the African bushveld.”
Travels with Tshukudu: Mabula Timeshare Trip Report
Final preparations completed and Tshukudu, our Jeep, is packed. A final check of Google Maps indicates a two hour trip to Mabula Private Game Reserve. Departing at 12:00, it will make our expected time of arrival at 14:00. Mabula Timeshare has a check-in time of 15:00, thus the extra hour allows us time for stoppages along the way and sufficient time to purchase provisions and wood from the convenience store at Mabula.
Being a Friday, the road is fairly busy, but a visible police presence ensured a smooth flow. We always adhere to the speed limit as speed traps are always present. Traffic in Bela-Bela on a Friday afternoon is a challenge but nothing serious. The road from Bela-Bela to Mabula Game Reserve is not so good – narrow in places and with bad road surfaces. I recommend NOT exceeding 100 km/h.
Arriving at the game reserve entrance, a friendly guard confirms your reservation details and records your vehicle details. Driving up to the timeshare office already allows for game viewing and a certain tranquillity descends upon you. You are immediately disconnected from the hustle and bustle of city life and you enter a totally different world. Remarkable! All road surfaces are in good condition and easily navigated with a standard saloon car.
The timeshare office front desk is manned by friendly staff and check-in is quick and efficient. A conservation fee is payable before departure. Scheduled activities such as game drives are confirmed at the wildlife centre office. Free drinks and snacks are on offer to refresh after your journey. We also received a complimentary bundle of wood. A map with directions to your unit is provided.
Driving up to our unit, BH2 (which stands for Bush House 2, or as wifey calls it, Buys House) brings a sense of anticipation of what lies ahead; but it also brings back fond memories of time spent with our kids on our yearly family vacation. Such good times! The unit is located on a rocky outcrop, in the Bush Lodge camp, but it is very secluded and private in its location. It sleeps 8 persons in 4 separate bedrooms and has an amazing view of a small plain just underneath. It has sliding doors on two sides, opening up to the surrounding trees and boulders that provide shelter to various species of birds and small animals. True paradise!
Unpacking is a bit of a mission as all the gear and provisions have to be carried up the stairs to the unit in sweltering bush heat. Everything that is required for the 7-day stay needs to be taken with as there are no shops in the vicinity, apart from the small convenience store. There is ample storage in the kitchen cupboards and fridge/freezer combo to store everything. After settling in, a cold beer is enjoyed on the veranda, while we wait for our kids to arrive. We normally don’t reserve game drives for the first day to allow us to settle in and catch up with the family and their happenings. A light supper is prepared and enjoyed on the veranda outside. The rest of the evening is spent in quiet conversation until bedtime.
Depending on the departure times of our family members, we normally reserve game drives for the morning or late afternoon, the latter being the preferred option. It is much cooler at this time of day and more game is seen as animals go for a last drink of water before nighttime. The “Golden Hour” also provides much better opportunities to get that amazing photograph! The field guides at Mabula are of a very high standard in general and we always learn something new about animal- and plant life on every game drive. They allow ample time for game viewing and photographs at a sighting and are always willing to search for an elusive animal. Their driving skills are on par and the safety of their passengers is always a concern. There are no additional costs associated with the game drives as it is all included in the yearly levy. It is however in order to give a tip to a deserving ranger after a drive. All the game drive vehicles are kept in good order with proper seating and shelter from the elements. Ponchos and blankets are provided in extreme weather conditions. Trails get quite rough at certain stages but never impossible to navigate. Elderly, infirm and pregnant ladies however need to inquire about the driving conditions before embarking on a game drive. Beverages and snacks are allowed on game drives. Application of sunscreen is an absolute must. Also, remember to take a snug fitting hat that will not blow off during the drive. A light jacket might be required for the late afternoon drive – the wind gets nippy. Be aware of the weather as afternoon thunderstorms are prevalent during the summer months.
We visit the convenience store on a daily basis to stock up on staples like wood, milk, cold drinks, ice etc. They carry the normal, everyday use, convenience store type items. Prices are a bit expensive but still affordable. The curio shop is manned by a friendly assistant and caters for a wide selection of mementoes and curios. The grounds, in general, are kept clean and neat and all staff are very friendly and helpful.
Our meals are prepared in the well-equipped kitchen and on the outside braai (barbecue) and are a family affair. It is served on a huge dining table where the whole family gathers for the feast and long hours of conversation that follows afterwards. No need to do the dishes as the units are serviced twice a day: once in the morning and once again in the afternoon. Beds are made and a quick clean of floors etc. is done in the morning. A safe is provided for safekeeping of valuables and I also take along a light chain and padlock to lock away larger items in one of the storage cupboards. Monkeys and baboons are a real nuisance and the unit doors and cupboards should be locked when no-one is present.
A TV and DSTV decoder is provided for entertainment but we have a strict “NO ELECTRONICS” policy when we are in the bush! Apart from the daily game drives, we spend our time in conversation and relaxation. Photographs taken during the day are backed-up on a daily basis and the cameras prepared for the next shoot. The list of animal sightings is updated with the sightings of the day and our journal is updated to capture the day’s memories. The last evening is spent viewing the photographs taken during the previous days and reminiscing about the wonderful memories once again made.
Leaving Mabula is always a sad affair. Packing of all the gear and remaining provisions are done on the morning of departure. We used to go on a morning game drive but that was discontinued due to lack of participation. We now spend the morning taking photographs at the various camps and capturing landscapes from suitable viewpoints. A last stop at the convenience store to get provisions for the trip back to civilization and we are on our way. Counting the days until our next visit…
Mabula Timeshare does not have a TripAdvisor presence and therefore we could not do a review.
Please refer to our prior review posted on the Mabula Game Lodge TripAdvisor page.