Mziki Safari Lodge – A Bushveld Gem

Hello friends!

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Mziki Safari Lodge situated in Beestekraal just outside the town of Brits, North West Province. This quaint little lodge is owned and run by Manuela Pallamar, her husband purchased the 6000 hectare property in 1985 and itIMG_6916.JPG consists mainly of private houses, Mziki is the only commercially run game lodge on the nature reserve so you won’t be running into many other vehicles whilst out on game
drives. Therefore making Mziki an exclusive hideaway for those wanting to get away from the busy city life or for international guests who have a jam packed South African itinerary and still want to experience a safari. Mziki is a perfect “home away for home” for travellers young and old. Don’t miss a visit here if you’re in the area for a few days!

Day 1

Arriving just after check in time (1pm), we pulled up to a closed gate after travelling down a dirt road for a few kms in our VW Polo. The sign on the gate tells you to call reception so that they can open the gate for you, I did as instructed and shortly after we were heading straight for reception. Shani and Nicolene were there, waiting to greet us and show us around. Climbing out of the comfort of my air-conditioned car, I was immediately hit with the intense humidity of 35 degree heat that you tend to experience out in the North West.
We were taken into reception and offered a glass of homemade ice-tea before being given the grand tour of Mziki Safari Lodge. As you walk out of reception you are greeted by a lovely seating area shaded by a thatched roof and a very inviting looking swimming pool. Off to either side of the reception are 4 rooms all appropriately named after the wildlife you’ll find on the nature reserve.
You’ll find an indoor and outdoor boma area with a well stocked bar area. When there’s no staff around the bar is used as an “honesty bar” where you write down whatever you drink on a bar tab with your name on it.
After settling into our room “Giraffe” and having to get Nicolene to vacate the gigantic spider on our ceiling, lunch was served and we helped ourselves to a yummy homemade bobotie and sides of potato salad, rice and your usual lettuce salad.
Lunch was finished and we immediately retreated into the coolness of our room to unpack and relax until the game drive at 4pm.

The unique aspect about Mziki is their barge cruise which takes place on the Vaalkop DamIMG_6917.JPG. Meeting our guide Shani at 4pm, we all hopped on the game vehicle and had a mini game drive until we reached the water. Shani said it would take her about 10 minutes to set up and get the barge ready for us. Watching her lugging a coolerbox, lifejackets and a table out of the game vehicle, everyone immediately jumped off and lent a hand to carry everything down to the water and onto the boat. A great effort by all, we hopped onto the boat and were heading off towards the sunset and the open water.

Snacking on droewors, chips and pretzels as well as a cooldrink, everyone was enambered with the sights of families of warthogs grazing near the waters edge, huge herds of waterbuck and even farm pigs swimming in the shallow water. Spotting Goliath Herons, Cormorants, Pied Kingfishers and many types of Egrets, we were all settled in and appreciating the beautiful colours that the sunset was kicking up. Suddenly, a bang and a jolt forward! Everyone looked to Shani who had a look of shock and confusion on her face.
Looking over the front of the barge, there were large dark masses under the water. We had just crashed into rocks and we were stuck. Shani put the boat into reverse only to hear metal grinding and banging underneath us, we stopped, frightened in case we sprung a leak. Shani came to investigate and was shocked to see how much the water level had gone down, the other guide had taken the same route that morning. She grabbed a pole from the side of the boat and began pushing us away from the rocks. The dad of the Swiss family on board jumped up and took over while Shani tried to reverse us again. After a couple of minutes, the current kept pushing us back toward the rocks. Shani radioed to Vihann, the head game ranger and asked for assistance as the 2 young kids on board were becoming quite distressed. Waiting for back up, Shani jumped into the water and began physically pushing the boat away from the rocks while the Swiss father and his sons did their best to push us away with the metal rod. Shani jumped back on board and fired up the engine again with the Swiss family still using the rod to push us away. Finally, we managed to get far enough away from the rocks to successfully get unstuck, spin the boat around and head back the way we had just came which we knew was deep enough. Shani, who was absolutely knackered at this point, had radioed that we were free and began steering us IMG_6918.JPGsafely back to where we had parked the game vehicle. When we arrived we were met by Vihann and Starling who helped pack up the barge. I think we were all very happy to be back on land at that point and were ready to head back to the lodge for dinner. I sincerely commend Shani on how she handled the situation, there was no point where I sensed any panic from her about the situation which definitely kept us all very calm!

Arriving back to the lodge, the boma area was set up for dinner with two roaring bonfires. After the afternoons events, Manuela kindly offered everyone on board a complimentary drink. We grabbed a table in the outdoor boma area and ordered a some wine. The buffet was set up just next to the bar area in the inside boma. Biltong soup was on the menu for starters which was very different albeit a bit too spicy for me. An impala stew and chicken drumsticks with starch and veggies was the main meal and a very chocolaty sponge cake ended off the meal. While enjoying dinner, we heard jackals calling to each other in the distance and a herd of Eland came in for a drink at the waterhole in front of the lodge.
A perfect evening the South African bushveld..

 

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Day 2

Dragging ourselves out of bed just after 8am after deciding to skip the 6:30am game drive, we headed for breakfast. Tables were set up just next to the outside boma with the buffet being served inside the boma again. A delicious spread of hot and cold breakfast treats were laid out. I dived straight into the scrambled eggs and bacon before helping myself to still warm mini croissants.
The warmth of the day was already setting in but I still needed my morning coffee which was knocked back while appreciating the peaceful surroundings.
Manuela came to introduce the spa therapist to me while I was sitting. I had booked 2 therapies for myself and my mom. A full body hot stone massage and a pedicure with paraffin wax. Lolo of Helolo Mobile Spa introduced herself and told us that they had set up in the conference room and she would meet us there. We quickly finished up our coffee and headed to the conference room anticipating some much needed relaxation. My mom was slightly disappointed that we would be missing the archery and pellet gun shooting activity but Manuela promised we could do it before we left the next day.
Lolo’s second spa therapist gave me one of the best massages I have ever had, she just knew how to get into those knots in my shoulders. Already feeling thoroughly relaxed, I rolled over to have my much needed pedicure (Winter and boots does a number on one’s feet). It was my first time experiencing paraffin wax and it was a fantastic sensation leaving my feet feeling as smooth as a baby’s bum!
Emerging just after 12pm and looking slightly disheveled, we headed back to our room, noticing some new guests arriving as we passed reception.
After a shower, I left my sleeping mom and went to explore the grounds a little bit. It had started to get a bit overcast but was still bearably humid so I sat on one of the loungers by the pool and read my book while keeping an eye out for any passing wildlife. Just as I was getting into my book, the sun came bursting out from behind the clouds and I immediately retreated under the thatched seating area in fear I might burst into flames.
A Scottish family arrived and I had to retain myself from trying to find out where in Scotland they came from and what made them visit South Africa. (My whole family is Scottish, if you’re wondering why I found them so fascinating)
As I was sitting, lunch was being set up underneath the trees by the pool so I went to wake sleeping beauty and dump my book in the room. Today’s lunch was a variety of pizzas, deep fried calamari rings, sweet potato fries and salad. Pizza being my favourite food, I went back for seconds. Another family had arrived from France and it was now a pretty full house.
After lunch we browsed the curio shop and picked up a few things before my mom headed back to the room for a shower and I continued exploring and unsuccessfully attempting to climb onto the bamboo hammock.

As 4pm rolled around again, we headed to reception to meet Vihann for our game drive. We climbed on and greeted our fellow passengers. Richard & Gemma from London and Leeanne, Stuart and Gracie from Scotland. What followed was one of the nicest game drives I’ve ever experienced. Chatting to Richard about his career as a British Airways Boeing 747 pilot (He actually flew the plane in that morning) to advising the Scottish family where the best places to see in Cape Town are as they were heading there in a few days. They also all had many questions about my travel blog and I was happy to answer them. On the actual game drive we seen a jackal, a male rhino, a herd of buffalo, giraffes, eland and lots of different birds. We stopped just as the sun was going down to have a drink and enjoy some snacks. Vihann was a fantastic host and he was unbelievably passionate about his job. I have honestly never met a game ranger like him!

While heading back to the lodge, flashes of lightning filled the dark sky and we all prayed for rain as the surrounding environment really needed it. As we neared the lodge the smell of a typical South African braai filled the area and stomachs began to rumble. Arriving at reception Vihann took our steak orders and we all filed into the outdoor boma area hoping to finish our dinner before the heavens opened but the wind had already picked up while we were having our main meals when the rain started coming down and the embers from the fire were blowing towards us causing us to shield our faces from the scorching shards. Starling put the fire out and everyone grabbed their plates and retreated into the undercover boma which Manuela had made sure was already set up in case the weather turned. Once the outdoor blinds were closed over, we were nice and cosy until the power went out. Shani, Nicolene, Vihann and Manuela went around lighting oil lanterns. Manuela informed us that the power in the whole area seemed to be out, probably from a lightning strike, but not to worry as Mziki had a generator. The lights came back on with the generator and we all settled in to enjoy the rest of our meal. Sadly the thunderstorm never came to anything and disappeared as quickly as it came..

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Day 3

My alarm disturbed my slumber just before 6am and shortly after Vihann knocked at my door for my “game drive wake up call”. I decided that seeing as we were leaving that morning and I still hadn’t seen the resident herd of elephants that I would join the 6:30am game drive. Greeting my fellow sleepy passengers as I arrived in the reception area, tea, coffee and cereal was laid out for anyone who was hungry.
We all jumped onto the game vehicle and headed towards Vaalkop Dam for an early morning barge cruise. Stopping for a few different antelope along the way and a herd of “wild cows” according to young Gracie, we once again arrived at the barge and Vihann and Starling quickly set up. We were cruising along the water in no time and sipping on some much appreciated hot chocolate as it was a chilly morning. I said good morning to the Goliath Heron who was walking along the bank and the Pied Kingfishers eyeing the water from the power line above. Vihann suddenly shouted “Crocodile!”. We all spun our heads towards the back of the boat as he excitedly explained that he thought it was a rock but it definitely was a crocodile. We turned around to see if we could find it again but he had already vanished into the murky depths. On the way back however, he did make a sneaky appearance next to the rocks which unaware, I managed to snap a photo of him when I was capturing the Cormorant sitting on the rock above him. Vihann joked that he couldn’t wait to tell Shani she was sharing the water with a huge crocodile when she climbed into the water to get the barge unstuck a few days before. 
It was a quiet drive after we had disembarked the barge, we did spot two jackals within a few minutes of each other as well as the usual plains animals but no Big 5. We seemed to be tracking elephants for a while but unfortunately they evaded us so we headed back to the lodge for breakfast.

While enjoying my croissants at the breakfast table, I spotted movement by the waterhole and there was another Black Backed Jackal coming down for a drink. I kicked myself realising I had not kept my longer lens on my camera and did my best to quietly sneak closer to the electrified fence to get a closer shot. The photos I captured are not award winning by any means but actually managing to capture a jackal on camera was a reward in itself for me as when I see them they’re either running in the distance or disappearing into thick grass. The photo in the gallery below is what I managed to capture albeit cropped and zoomed in slightly.

There was a knock at the door while we were just finishing packing and it was Vihann inviting us to come try archery and pellet gun shooting. My mom who has always wanted to try archery was very excited and really enjoyed shooting the bow and arrow. I skipped the archery but tried my hand at the pellet gun shooting and managed to score myself a bullseye!
Ending the trip on a high, we said goodbye to our new frieds, thanked everyone for their hospitality and headed off back down the dirt road in our VW Polo back to the big city life.

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Some Info You Might Need To Know


Mziki Safari Lodge has 3 of the big 5. They don’t have the cats but there are probably wild leopards lurking.

They are very family friendly, there’s even a jungle gym for the kids.

Mziki is a malaria free nature reserve

Rates (Midweek: Sunday – Thursday)

31st October 2015 – 1st November 2016

Standard Room – Main Lodge
Sharing: R1550.00
Single: R2200.00

Superior Rooms – Chalets/Rondavels
Sharing: R1750.00
Single: R2400.00

1st November 2016 – 31st October 2017

Standard Room – Main Lodge
Sharing: R1750.00
Single: R2650.00

Superior Rooms – Chalets/Rondavels
Sharing: R2000.00
Single: R3000.00

Rates (Weekend: Friday – Saturday & Peak Season)

31st October 2015 – 1st November 2016

Standard Room – Main Lodge
Sharing: R1800.00
Single: R2600.00

Superior Rooms – Chalets/Rondavels
Sharing: R2000.00
Single: R2800.00

1st November 2016 – 31st October 2017

Standard Room – Main Lodge
Sharing: R1950.00
Single: R2950.00

Superior Rooms – Chalets/Rondavels
Sharing: R2300.00
Single: R3300.00

Rates include: All meals and 2 game drives/barge cruise.

If you’d like to make a booking, pop Manuela an email directly (manuela.pallamar@mziki.co.za) and tell her I sent you!

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I would just like to say a big thank you to Manuela for welcoming me to her beautiful lodge. To Shani, Vihann and Nicolene for making my stay amazing, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hospitality. To all the staff behind the scenes who do the cooking, cleaning and maintenance, thank you for keeping Mziki beautiful!

 

Make sure you give Mziki Safari Lodge a follow and a like on all their social media to keep up to date with the photos of their beautiful surroundings!

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Like Mziki’s Facebook Page

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Follow Mziki’s Tweets

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Like Mziki’s Photo’s on Instagram


Till next time friends,
Panda Kennedy
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