This far eastern corner of Botswana is historically known as the Tuli Block and is an extremely picturesque and diverse wilderness. It has river-hugging forests, savannah plains, open marshlands and boulder strewn rocky outcrops, all punctured by huge peculiar-looking Baobab trees.
It used to be farmland, until it became obvious that tourism and game farming were better options. Farms were consolidated and became privately owned reserves, such as Tuli Game Reserve and Mashatu - which became the largest privately owned game reserve in Southern Africa. Fences are few and animals like Impala, Wildebeest, Kudu and Zebra, migrate on historic routes along a large section of the Limpopo River.
Mashatu Game Reserve is also a refuge for the largest Elephant population on privately-owned land: approximately 700 - with plenty in Tuli as well. You are almost guaranteed to see Leopard and Lion here and possibly Cheetah, as well as herbivores like Impala, Eland, Zebra and Giraffe. Bird life is prolific with 350 species recorded, from majestic Black Eagles and Eagle Owls, huge terrestrial Kori Bustards to colourful bee-eaters and darting kingfishers.
As this is private land, you are privileged to go on guided foot safaris and thrilling night drives, which may reveal such shy nocturnal animals as Porcupine, Aardvark and Kangaroo-like Springhare, plus smaller predators like Bat-Eared Fox, spotted Genet and tufted-ear Lynx. The Tswana rangers and trackers of Mashatu and Tuli have vast tracts of land at their disposal to show guests some really exciting game viewing.
Game drives are not the only option and mountain biking and horse riding safaris are a speciality of this area. A quote from a guest of the Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris says. 'There is nothing on earth that can beat this place.' While another said, 'An experience I will never forget.' Let these impressions by people who have been here, unleash your own sense of adventure.
Mashatu and Tuli are right on the South African / Zimbabwe border and 4 to 5 hours drive from Johannesburg. It is also only a short flight from Johannesburg International - which is the gateway airport for all Southern African safaris.
It is dry for most of the year and gets quite arid during the Winter months of June to August. The lack of foliage makes this the ideal time for a game watching safari. The added bonus is that there are very few biting insects around at this time. Days are warm with temperatures in the mid 20's°C (around 75°F), but nights get cold and slump below 10°C (50°F).
Hot and humid December sees almost 4 times as much rain as any other month, with November next in line. You can also expect sporadic showers in September and April. Temperatures from October to May hover around and above 30°C (86°F). These wet summer months are wonderful for birdlife, newborn antelopes and lush green landscapes.
The Tuli Block is a series of privately-owned farms, lying on the border between Botswana and South Africa, of which many are private game reserves supporting a wide variety of wildlife. The best-known of these reserves are the Mashatu and Tuli Game Reserves.
The Tuli is also known as the Land of the Giants because of the incidence of ancient baobabs, tall cliffs and herds of elephants. It is here where the wild Africa of legend stirs. It is a land that has experienced most of Africa’s human history - from tribal conflict to settlement and through to exploration – with the echoes of all these endeavours to be found in the area.
Apart from the elephant and baobabs the Tuli Block is also the home of the tallest mammal, the giraffe, the largest bird, the ostrich and the largest antelope in the eland. Africa’s heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard is also found in the Tuli.
Apart from a great game experience the Tuli also offers one of the most sought after birding safaris with more than 350 species having being recorded. It is not the number of species though that sets Tuli apart but the species themselves. Dry-land species are found side by side with waders and other water birds.
The geography of the Tuli area is in stark contrast to that of the more famous northern parks of Botswana. In the north the white Kalahari sands dominate and there are very few hills whereas in Tuli the earth is red and rocky, with hills and outcrops filling the landscape.
Cars, bikes and on foot:
The great diversity of Tuli can be experienced by game drive, night drive, on foot, on horseback and by bicycle. Special bicycle trails take you close to a variety of wildlife.
The Tuli may not be as well known as the northern parks of Botswana but it can certainly hold its own against these icons.