Taaibos River Lodge: seclusion, tranquillity and Big 5

26 February 2018

Taaibos River Lodge: seclusion, tranquillity and Big 5

2BWild Safaris was privileged to spend two nights in this magnificent and exclusive lodge overlooking the Taaibos River in the Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve, a mere 2 ½ hours from Johannesburg.

Taaibos management James and Angela on the left with Viv from 2BWild Safaris on the right

Our hosts and lodge managers, Angela and James shared their friendship and enthusiasm of the African bush with us, and attended to our every need.

Click here for special rates and bookings

Angela, an accomplished gourmet chef of note, whipped up the most delicious 6-star meals, whilst chatting away about the history and origins of Taaibos.

Her partner, James, must be the the most knowledgeable and enthusiast range guide we have met in all our travels. His understanding and deep knowledge of the flora and fauna, and of the Welgevonden Reserve, is unsurpassed.

One of the most striking aspects of Taaibos is the breathtaking architecture, coupled with the bush ambience of the interior design and beautiful artefacts throughout the spacious lodge.

With five suites, two swimming pools (one heated), cosy braai area, a stunning kitchen and fully-stocked bar, state-of-the-art yet intimate conference facility, library, snooker table, a huge deck with comfy couches and a view of the cliffs and adjacent plains – Taaibos is a must for a family group; a family gathering; or a business think-tank.

The seclusion and tranquillity is indescribable, the pulse of Africa tangible, and the company enthralling.

Just 2 ½ hours from Johannesburg – or a 30 minute helicopter flight

Taaibos River Lodge is BA friendly. 2BWild Safaris has negotiated preferential rates for BA crew:

Click here for special rates and bookings

 

 

 

Kill skill – lions on the prowl in Pilanesberg

Kill Skill – lions on the prowl in Pilanesberg

Panthera leo – the African Lion – demonstrates its enormous power and kill skill

By John Thomé

Whilst on a recent visit to the internationally renowned Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, a Big Five reserve, Viv and I from 2BWild Safaris were thrilled to witness a lifetime experience – a lion kill – which unfolded right before our very eyes.

The scenario

A small pride of lion ambled listlessly towards Mankwe Dam in Pilanesberg at around 7:30am  this hot summer morning for a pre-snooze drink. We were fortunate enough to spot them – two large males, four cubs and two lionesses – with one of the lionesses leading by a few hundred metres.

We decided to stay abreast of the lioness as the gravel road ran parallel to her path, adjacent to the shoreline of the Mankwe dam. She wasn’t really in hunting mode, simply checking out the environment ahead of the pride. A fresh breeze was blowing from our right to left, straight towards her. Suddenly her ears flattened and she crouched down, the length of her body hugging the ground.

The reason? A small herd of about 20 Wildebeest were grazing some 200 meters away when something spooked them and they set off at a quick trot – directly towards the crouching lioness – quite oblivious of her presence.

We were astounded and couldn’t believe this was happening. The lead Wildebeest only saw the lioness when almost on top of her and veered off in panic, as did the rest of the herd.

The kill

But it was too late. The lioness announced her presence – standing up bear-like on her hind legs, and at full stretch – then gave chase at breath-taking speed. Running towards us now one Wildebeest made her desperate and vain attempt to escape. But the lioness powered forward and in clouds of dust launched onto the Wildebeest and pulled her down, the muscles of her immensely strong “forearm” visible as the pair crashed to the ground – the Wildebeest landing partially on top of the Lioness.

Throughout these few seconds I had both eyes open, monitoring the animals’ progress whilst simultaneously following the action on my Nikon DSLR, which was firing away madly at 5 frames per second !!!

And this sequence (13 of about 180 images!) is the result!

 

Mana Pools – A Remote and Enchanting Wilderness

Mana Pools

A Remote and Enchanting Wilderness

Mana Pools in northern Zimbabwe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site -a pristine, unspoilt paradise with abundant game, spectacular scenery, and an incredible variety of birds. Here 2BWild’s Viv Thomé recounts the indelible experience of visiting this unique part of Africa.

Sitting in our camp chairs on the edge of a dry riverbed after setting up camp deep in the far northern Zimbabwean bush, the four of us had been chatting after enjoying a quiet lunch. A hush fell over us all and my mouth opened in amazement as I pointed through the trees, speechless. We stared in awe through the foliage, too stunned to even move, let alone whisper, as a column of huge grey shadows approached slowly, steadily and silently down the dry riverbed towards us.

We could barely contain ourselves at the privilege of seeing this majestic herd of some 20 elephant, a breeding herd comprising young and old – matriarch, cows, adolescents, and tiny calves – right in front of us, seemingly an arm’s length away.

EXCLUSIVE CAMPSITE

Our camp was an ‘exclusive’ campsite (meaning no other visitors were permitted), situated beneath the generous and shady canopy of a massive Jackalberry tree in a clearing overlooking the riverbed which led from a spring. There are no facilities whatsoever, only our friendly trees. However, we travel fully-equipped and are completely self-sufficient. We had researched the area well in advance as this was a ‘recce’ trip to experience the route personally for recommendation to future guests.

The awesome pachyderms settled right in front of our campsite and, between gentle deep rumblings and slow shuffling among themselves, they began excavating small, but deep, holes in the beach-like sand for their regular evening drink. The process was slow and laborious, but they were in no hurry.

As the newly-dug holes filled slowly with freshly-filtered water, they slowly slurped up a little into the lower portion of their trunks, waiting a moment to let any sand settle before deftly flicking that away. They then raised their heads and drank deeply, repeating the process over and over for some four hours as we sat riveted to our camp chairs.

We silently soaked up this most incredible scene before us.

And then they gradually disappeared, as silently as they had come, into the dusk that had fallen upon us. This had been a very special experience and one never to be forgotten.

Another day in Africa!

Camping in an exclusive campsite in one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas was an unparalleled privilege

FULLY SELF-SUFFICIENT

We had set off from Sandton in Gauteng two days earlier with our travel companions, Rob and Di, in our trusty Land Cruisers which have, over the years, been kitted out specifically for such journeys, making us fully self-sufficient for a week or more at a time including carrying all the water and food necessary as well as a bush shower and loo.

We had arrived at Mana Pools that morning, having made our booking a year in advance. Visiting Mana Pools had been on our bucket list for a long time and, for many, it is indeed a lifetime experience. One of my main missions was to find the Red-Throated Twinspot, a 20-year-long dream of mine as an avid birder.

We wanted to visit and understand not only the Mana Pools environment, but also the best route options and accommodation along the way, including a few nights spent on a houseboat on Lake Kariba.

A herd of some 100 buffalo just 200 meters from camp

The concept of camping in an exclusive and remote campsite in one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas was an unparalleled privilege. At our first camp, the intention was to relax without any game-driving. We had discovered that the game was attracted to the nearby spring, which delivers water all year round.

The elephant herds visited us daily at roughly the same time – a photographer’s dream. We also had lions roaring within metres of our camp on the first night, not to mention hyena giggling away a bit further off in the African night. A large herd of buffalo quietly appeared at the spring on our second morning, as well as the ever-graceful impala.

Birdlife in the area is unsurpassed and birders can look forward to adding a few ‘lifers’ to their lists.

After three nights in this paradise, it was time to strike camp and head 40km north to the banks of the mighty Zambezi. This section of Mana Pools is truly magnificent, with wildlife grazing along the riverbank and spread throughout the surrounding pristine bush. Again, these camps are exclusive with minimal facilities – just the way we true explorers prefer it. A guided walk is also highly recommended. Our guide, Tendai, was extremely knowledgeable.

These camps have no facilities – just the way we true explorers prefer it

Just one thing: my little Red-Throated Twinspot eluded me, not to mention the famous elephant named Boswell, who stands on his hindlegs, lifting his five-ton body to get to the sweetest leaves of the massive Winterthorn trees! I will be back!

For those on a tight schedule, fly-in options to the luxury lodges in the area are available. There is also a large campsite with a number of ablution blocks for those with youngsters, or who prefer a hot shower.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

2BWild Safaris will work closely with you to plan your personalised itinerary, providing you with routing and undertaking all your reservations.

Options are fly-in or self-drive in your own vehicle, or a fully equipped 4×4 vehicle can be hired for you.

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Dry season – June to October

SELF-DRIVE

You will need to be completely self-sufficient, as there are no shops or petrol stations in the reserve. 2BWild provides a comprehensive Trail List with everything you will need, depending on where you choose to stay and the time of year.

FLY-IN

We will book your flights, accommodation and arrange transfers as well as any activities you may be interested partaking in, eg canoeing.

ZAMBEZI CANOE TRIP

For the fitter travellers, a canoe trip down the Zambezi is highly recommended.

HOUSE BOAT

For something completely different after your wild safari, relax on a houseboat for a few days on Lake Kariba, taking a tender-boat along the shore in search of wildlife, casting a line for a Bream for dinner, or simply just relaxing and being pampered.

2BWild Safaris will arrange your transfers and a boat to suit.

Zanzibar – exclusive luxury special offer – March to June 2017

2BWild Safaris has negotiated an exclusive special offer at the exquisite island luxury beach resort of Qambani in Zanzibar.

IMG_3340-2BWILD-QAMBANI

This special offer, valid for the period 1 March to 15 June 2017, has room rates for 2 guests from $432 per night. (See the table below for the detailed special rates per room for the period).

Rates are full board,  inclusive of coffee tray at the room in the morning and all meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
All soft and hard drinks not included.

All rooms are ocean facing with a private verandah  ocean view.

Click here to book now, indicating your preferred dates

[In 2016 John and Viv of 2BWild Safaris were privileged to be given a guided tour of Qambani by the legendary Axel Imhoff – Head Chef for the Our Zanzibar Group. At the time we were staying right next door at the illustrious world class Ras Michamvi, a sister resort].

IMG_3341-2BWILD-QAMBANIQambani’s generous proportions provide six bedroom villas, living spaces, two pools and lush tropical garden, a promise of complete relaxation and indulgence. A fusion of ancient Swahili crafts – perfected in the palaces of the sultans along the East African shores – and modern coastal design, it gives shady sanctuary, while turning the inside out, so every space takes great gulps of the sea and the balmy tropical air.

A full fly-in package from Johannesburg, South Africa will include a direct return flight to Zanzibar and all transfers – to be published here shortly.

IMG_3334-2BWILD-QAMBANIThe single greatest luxury in Qambani is undoubtedly the vast amount of personal space and how well it works. At the heart of Qambbani a ring of expanaive communal areas: generous, beautifully equipped and made for dream holidays. A huge living room extends along the garden’s ocean edge opening onto sun-drenched terraces. To one side stands a big, breezy, timber dining room and to the back, the kitchen and  entertainment room. The adjacent gym and hammam (steam room) open onto a tropical courtyard.

Guests from the US and Europe fly-in to Dar es Salam then take an air transfer to Zanzibar.

 

2BWild conducts a recce tour to the exquisite spice island - Zanzibar
2BWild conducts a recce tour to the exquisite spice island – Zanzibar

It is certainly difficult to say what the best thing about Qambani may be … : the splendid pools for endless afternoons in the water, the exotic gardens with palms and sunbirds – planted by one of East Africa’s best gardeners – or the Indian Oceans’ craggy coral edge with sea views splashed all the way along the front.

A stroll down through the grounds takes you to five wooden steps and the shore. From June to November, a miles-long white sand beach curls around the headland. From December to May, a smaller beach is no more than ten minutes walk away on the coral at low tide.

Click here to book now, indicating your preferred dates

 

Detail of room rates on this special offer – 1 March to 15 June 2017

IMG_3368-2BWILD-QAMBANI
Sultan

Sultan

Air conditioned | Bathrobes Provided | Ceiling Fans …

Rates from
$432.00
Cost for 1 night for 2 guests

 

3-africa-QAMBANI
Africa

Africa
Suitable for couples and honeymooners

Air conditioned | Bathrobes Provided | Ceiling Fans …

Rates from
$540.00
Cost for 1 night for 2 guests

 

4-Plantation-QAMBANI
Plantation

Plantation
Suitable for couples and honeymooners

Air conditioned | Balcony | Bathrobes Provided …

Rates from
$540.00
Cost for 1 night for 2 guests

 

1-CASTAWAY-IMG_3352-2BWILD-QAMBANI
Castaway

Castaway

Suitable for families

Air conditioned | Bathrobes Provided | Ceiling Fans …

Rates from
$630.00
Cost for 1 night for 1 guest
$630.00
Cost for 1 night for 2 guests
$720.00
Cost for 1 night for 3 guests
$810.00
Cost for 1 night for 4 guests

2-coastal--QAMBANI
Coastal

Coastal
Suitable for families

2nd bathroom | Bathrobes Provided | Ceiling Fans …

Rates from
$630.00
Cost for 1 night for 1 guest

$630.00
Cost for 1 night for 2 guests

$720.00
Cost for 1 night for 3 guests

$810.00
Cost for 1 night for 4 guests

6-sundowner-QAMBANI
Sundowner

Sundowner

Suitable for couples and honeymooners

Air conditioned | Balcony | Bathrobes Provided …

Rates from
$720.00
Cost for 1 night for 2 guests

Click here to book now, indicating your preferred dates

All photos below by 2BWild Safaris – 2016 – enjoy

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Direct flights available to Johannesburg include:

Direct flights available to Johannesburg include:

USA
New York
Atlanta

GERMANY
Frankfort
Munich

FRANCE
Paris

SPAIN
Barcelona

BELGIUM
Brussels

NETHERLANDS
Amsterdam

SWITZERLAND
Zurich

ITALY
Rome

UK
London
Gatwick

CITIES & LODGES in SOUTHERN AFRICA
Nairobi
Vic Falls
Zanzibar

2BWild conducts a recce tour to the exquisite spice island - Zanzibar - in June 2016
2BWild conducts a recce tour to the exquisite spice island – Zanzibar – in June 2016

Dar es Salaam
Windhoek
Cairo
Ponta Malongane (Moz)
Chilo Gorge (Zimbabwe)

Late afternoon sun catches the timeless Chilojo Cliffs
Late afternoon sun catches the timeless Chilojo Cliffs

 
Sabi Sabi
Skukuza
Maun, Botswana
Gaborone, Botswana
Chief’s Island, Botswana
Phalaborwa
Nelspruit
Inhambane (Moz)
Kariba (Zimbabwe)
Duba Plains (Botswana Delta)


Savuti (Botswana)
Komati Springs (world class technical diving)

IMG-20160725-WA0001dive-compare-ok

 

 

 

Greater Karoo

Favourable exchange rates favour 2BWild Safaris into Africa

2BWild- big five safaris
2BWild- big five safaris

Favourable exchange rates favour 2BWild Safaris into Africa

Visitors from the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australasia are currently enjoying significantly favourable exchange rates for the South African Rand (ZAR), enabling those planning “that safari trip of a lifetime” to become a reality.

Deena and family, on safari from Pennsylvania - June 2016. That's Viv at the back.
Deena and family, on a 2BWild safari from Pennsylvania – June 2016.
That’s Viv at the back.

Exchange rates at 07 September 2016:
US$ 1 = ZAR 13.7
€ 1 = ZAR 15.4

In recent months, 2BWild clients – usually comprising couples as well as family groups – from Germany, The Netherlands and the US have experienced the true wild of Africa, in Big Five country, with close-up sightings of elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard.

Many have also experienced the magnificence of the Victoria Falls “The smoke that thunders”, with associated activities such as zip-lining, white-water rafting and air flips over the Falls.

Cost effective internal flights, luxury hotel accommodation and transfers also open up the whole southern African region to some serious and exciting exploration – of vibrant cities such as Cape Town, and the true wild of the world famous Kruger National Park, the spice island of Zanzibar, and the annual wildebeest migration in Kenya – through to the option of self-drive 4×4 for the more adventurous, visiting remote wilderness areas of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and more, should that take your fancy.

White-water rafting at Vic Falls

The renowned elephant-back safari – Vic Falls, Zimbabwe, southern Africa
Crossing the Limpopo 2015
2BWild safari crossing the Limpopo in 2015
2BWild conducts a recce tour to the exquisite spice island - Zanzibar - in June 2016
2BWild conducts a recce tour to the exquisite spice island – Zanzibar – in June 2016

Itchy feet – and a taste of Africa – Hakuna matata!

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29 June 2016

IMG_1912Here’s a snippet of just some of our 2BWild Safaris recently completed, some in progress, and some in the future that we’re all still looking forward to: Zimbabwe-Gonarezhou; South Africa-Pilanesberg; Namibia and Botswana; South Africa-Welgevonden Game Reserve; Zimbabwe- Mana Pools; Botswana-Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP)… Read on…
To discuss with us and plan your next personalised safari in Africa diving trip click here.
Zimbabwe, Gonarezhou:
Terry & Party

Late afternoon sun catches the timeless Chilojo Cliffs
Late afternoon sun catches the timeless Chilojo Cliffs

Terry and friends (a group of twelve in total) returned a week ago from their annual safari together, this time to Gonarezhou. Instead of Beit Bridge, they opted to go through the Kruger and enter Mozambique at Pafuri border post and then through the Sango border post into Zimbabwe. They stayed in the south, travelled straight up the middle and stayed at a number of camps in the northern section, including two nights at the luxurious Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge. They returned along the same route, staying at a different camp in the south before crossing through Moz and back into SA.

South Africa, Pilanesberg – an international family reunion and 80th birthday celebration:
Colin and Family
3-IMG_6427Colin and his family (16 in total, some having travelled from the USA) are spending four days in Pilanesberg National Park this week, staying in chalets at Bakgatla Camp, where they will be celebrating his Dad’s 80th Birthday. They will have a sumptuous Champagne Bush Breakfast at the private Boma in the Park on his Dad’s special day. There will be many self-drive game drives as well as a Bush Walk for some members of the group.

Namibia and Botswana – Caprivi and the Okavango Delta:
Felix & Party

Chobe River waterfront (photo: JeT, 2Bwild)
Chobe River waterfront (photo: JeT, 2Bwild)

Felix and his party of nine will be on the road heading north from early tomorrow (30/6). They will be travelling through Botswana up to the Chobe waterfront, through the Caprivi to Mamili and Mudumu, and then around to the Okavango Panhandle for a few days’ fishing before heading back home via Maun, Gweta (to visit Nxai Pan) and Francistown.

 

 

South Africa, Welgevonden Game Reserve:
Graeme and Rowan
While in SA from the UK, Graeme and Rowan will spend three days next week in the malaria-free Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve at one of Rare Earth’s luxurious 5-star lodges, Ekhutuleni.

 

 

Zimbabwe, Mana Pools:
Frank and Party

The main destination for Frank and his group of six is Mana Pools (Nyamepi camp). They’ll be leaving SA in July and travelling via Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Elephant Sands and Kasane, with a visit to Vic Falls, before crossing into Zambia for an overnight stop and then entering Zimbabwe. Their return journey takes them through Livingstone, Zambia and Nata in Botswana before re-entering SA.

Mark and Party
Another group is headed for Mana Pools, this time in September, Mark and his group of six will be doing a very quick trip from SA via Elephant Sands to begin their safari in the Zambezi National Park. From there they will overnight in Zambia before entering Zimbabwe early the next day for their five-night stay at Nyamepi in Mana. Once again, they’ll do a lightning return from Mana, overnighting in Antelope Park and then back into SA the following day.

Bitterpan camp

 

Botswana, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP)
JJ & Susan – KTP
JJ and Susan are off to Kgalagadi in July. Initially they were going to do the Nossob 4×4 Trail but unfortunately their friends couldn’t make the trip and more than one vehicle is required for the Trail. They will be camping at Polentswa and Rooiputs on the Botswana side as well as camps on the South African side.

The 2BWild Team

Urikaruus Camp

Last but not least – we too/two, Viv and John, head off to KTP in December for a 10 day visit. A number of months ago our excellent personalised travel agency specialist, Viv of 2Bwild Safaris did a fantastic job in securing the best sites for us as booking opened for the year! On our return we’ll also visit the renowned and beautiful Augrabies falls. Can’t wait! Yeeehaaa!

 

To discuss and plan your next personalised African safari  trip click here.