Time to take flight on the first trip of 2020. And where better to start that at Tented Adventures in the Pilansberg National Park. An easy and simple 2.5-hour drive, it is the closest Big 5 self-drive reserve to both Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Mankwe Dam, although not as full as it has been on my previous trips, seems to be home to a large population of Egyptian Geese. I spent 8 hours in the park (more of that in a different posting) before heading off to my overnight accommodation that was in the Manyane Resort, in the east of the park, just outside Manyane Gate.
My last visit to this camp was in April 2018, on my return recently I was happy that not much has changed. And if it ain’t broke, then there is no reason to fix it. The reception/lounge/dining room tent is still as welcoming and just as if I had been there more recently, I was greeted by the resident staff who remembered me (or they had been tipped off by reservations that I was returning)
Each tent sleeps two in spacious comfort. There are electrical outlets as well as lights and a fan! A lockbox in each tent provides secure storage for your valuables but remember to bring a lock! Fresh sheets, a warm duvet and towels are provided, but I suggest that an extra blanket might just be required during the winter months when it can get VERY cold in this region. The tents, like any consumable, have been updated and repaired where required, but in essence, they have remained the same since my first visit in 2017. If I was to nit-pick, then perhaps velcro ties could be utilized instead of string for the window flaps?
Ask any guest who has visited this Tented Adventures camp what their overriding memory is and more often than not, they will immediately mention Bennie and his cooking. He has been here since the inception of Tented Adventures camp and, in fact, I think that he was there first and the camp was constructed around him. His easy, outgoing manner is enjoyed by visitors old and new and his food has become legendary.
And speaking of legendary, this is his famous chicken sauce. It should be bottled and sold to departing guests. It turned what could have been a bland meal into something memorable.
Dinner, as prepared over an open fire by Bennie. Interestingly enough, cooking over an open flame is NOT as simple as it seems. With no temperature controls or readout, cooking becomes an art form. Knowing just how long to leave the meat on without ruining it is not easily achieved. Accompanying the chicken at this meal was a fresh salad, couscous as well as grilled peppers. And a Malva pudding and custard for dessert. A truly memorable meal.
Is there a more African way of celebrating a return from a successful safari than a G & T? Guests can bring their own beverage of choice and there is a fridge that can be utilized to keep this chilled if necessary.
A moment for quiet contemplation in a chair outside my tent. I was obviously NOT in this chair when I took the picture, but watching the sun setting over the distant mountain range is always special for me, especially if I can do that in comfort.
Sun gone? Parrafin lamp on! None of your battery adapted LED lamps here. This was the real deal…
I shared the camp with guests both local and international. There was a family from South Africa (the father was celebrating his 82nd birthday), two travelling companions who were teaching English in China (one of whom was also celebrating a birthday) and a couple from Sydney, Australia…who just happened to have attended a talk in Coogee given by my sister-in-law! What a small world.
Bush TV…the perfect way to end off a day in the bush. Having been up since 03h00, I decided to turn in shortly after dinner. However, the majority of the guests stayed on to chat and enjoy a nightcap.
The night that I spent at the camp was made memorable by a thunderstorm of note. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and the wind howled like a demented banshee. And then the rain came…in buckets…all night long. While the elements created havoc outside my tent, I was toasty warm and dry inside. I used this as an excuse for not going out on the early morning game drive. Other guests did and enjoyed some awesome sightings. While they were out, water that had pooled above each tent was being removed with a stick, wielded by the staff. The cascade of water from each of the rain covers showed just how much rain had fallen during the night.
When I was last there, breakfast was served at the nearby Manyane resort. Now it has been moved in-house with a variety of cereals etc as well as hot food on offer. A delicious way to start the day, either after sleeping in (as I did due to the rain) or after a game drive when sightings and stories can be shared,
Don’t take my word for it. The Tented Adventures guest book is filled with comments like this! Well done to all the staff for once again reminding me why I enjoy this camp so much.
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