I remember my very first visit to Mabalingwe Game Reserve quite a number of years ago. The one memory that stands out the most, is when my grandmother joined us for a few days. We headed out on a short drive in the reserve as a family in my dad’s Toyota Corolla and having missed the sign for the 4×4 route, we bobbed along happily, looking for animals. And then we got stuck! A rather large rock was in the way. Looking ahead of us, it was then that we made the decision that forward was not an option. My sister and I were coaxed out of the car so that the weight would be less and we could clear the large rock. Luckily for us, we did not have to push the car out. My dad did a quick 360 and we made our way back down the road. Once we reached the junction, we saw a sign hidden behind some vegetation indicating that it was indeed a 4×4 trail.
Two weeks ago we spent a weekend at Mabalingwe again. It has been a long time since we were last at Mabalingwe and in this time I have discovered my love for bird-watching. We managed to cover 66 species over the 3 days, this is not all that much considering you can see a lot more in the summer months, but I was happy none the less.
On our first night after we had unpacked we were treated to a Small Spotted Genet on the patio. We decided to have a braai (a BBQ), and suddenly this little animal appeared.
The Small Spotted Genet is one of the rarer seen mammals as they are predominantly nocturnal. I have been fortunate enough to have seen them a number of times on my many adventures on camping trips with my family.
The next morning, we set out on a mission to find as many birds and animals as we could.
On our drive we were passing a cluster of dead trees and my sisters husband said ‘we need to check the dead trees as it is the most likely place to find owls’ and then ‘Oh look there is an owl!’
You could hear all the chattering and alarm calling of the smaller birds, so we followed the sounds and spotted a teeny tiny owl called a Pearl-Spotted Owlet.
We chased the little owl around the trees until he found a branch where he could rest for a bit from all the chasing by the smaller birds.
After the morning of exploring, we returned back to the chalet for some lunch.
The unit offers a fully equipped kitchen and so we decided to put together BLT’s. Something quick and easy and oh so delicious.
The next two days, we explored the rest of the reserve, finding plenty more warthogs, a number of new species of birds that I recognized from bird books but had never seen before and a pair of fighting/necking giraffe.
I think the highlight of my trip however, was seeing the usually nocturnal Bushpig. We had just finished our Sunday morning breakfast when I heard a rustling in the bushes, and out popped a family of Bushpig. They were quite nervous walking past the chalet, however, sitting still and enjoying them snuffling around was worth every second.
Mabalingwe Nature Reserve offers a variety of activities for their guests. We took advantage of the Plaaswinkel and spoiled ourselves to an ice cream. We didn’t make use of the facilities as we spent most of the time catching up with the family or driving around the reserve.
I loved the booklet that was given to us at check in with a checklist with the birds, animals and trees that can be found in the reserve.
Mabalingwe is a perfect getaway for families with children of all ages.
They have made a lot of improvements to their activities since we last visited and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. My parents have timeshare and we stayed in one of these units that sleep 6. They do offer other accommodation directly as well.
You can find their website here.