What can I say, life has been great of late, and the last seven days were so good I couldn’t miss the chance to tell you all about it.

I’ve just returned from South Africa after a five-day safari experience the incredible Makanyi Lodge in the southern Timbavati Game Reserve, to the west of and open to Kruger National Park.

My boyfriend Nick and I joined my good friend Lily and five close friends on what turned out to be the most inspiring, eye-opening trips I have ever been on. This was my first time to the African continent and I can honestly say it changed my life. I am so thankful that we were able to make the journey – thank you Seven League for allowing me the time off at such short notice! You know I can’t turn down a holiday…

Our stay started with a hefty 30-hour journey to the bush taking the London – Dubai – Johannesburg – Hoedspruit flight path on the way out. As epic as the flight time was, our adventure quickly began when we touched down at Hoedspriuit Airport on the tiniest runway and the smallest arrivals hall I’ve witnessed – monkeys we’re climbing on the departure lounge roof! I was past exhaustion and running on excitement by this point, and by the time we’d arrived at the Lodge and been taken to our rooms I was completely overwhelmed – we were in safari paradise.

For someone who is reliant on connectivity and internet technology to feel at ease with the world (okay, I admit it, I was very active on Instagram throughout our trip!), I’ve never felt so comfortable with nature and in such a remote setting.

Our room was just pure, pure luxury. Makanyi has eight sensational double lodges with private balconies, living areas, en suites and much more. I won’t go into too much detail about our sleep space, I will let the pictures tell you all. Quite simply, it was fantastic.

Nick-and-I-at-the-LodgeThe lodge’s private lake (which each room has sliding doors opening onto) was teaming with activity from the get go – hippos deeply laughing in the early hours and continuing to do so as I took a shower on the patio of our secluded room. Hoping I didn’t give them too much to laugh about during our stay as they seemed prett y vocal when I was trotting around naked, but anyway….

Guests at Makanyi are given a jam-packed itinerary and ours included three game drives a day. This made our stay feel like we’d been there for weeks rather than four nights, as the team to out of their way to ensure you make the most of your surroundings at every opportunity. 

In just four days we went on 9 game drives and saw so many animals I couldn’t recall them all. Truck-fly

A typical day started with a 5.30am wake-up call from our driver Brad to make sure we were up and ready to leave at 6am for our first drive of the day. A quick coffee and we were off, saying hello to rhino, buffalo and an incredible sight of the Avoka lion pride feasting on a kill in just one morning. We even returned the next day to see what they’d left behind and only the horns remained of their impala meal.

It was quite a sight.

Morning drive complete and we arrived back at at the Lodge for breakfast and a few hours of
relaxation by the pool before lunch, and later afternoon tea. You’ll notice food features heavily in this post as you certainly don’t go hungry at Makanyi, eating at least 6 times a day with meals cooked by extremely talented chefs. My favourite was definitely venison kebabs.

We headed out on our daily evening drives at 4pm, and sandwiched between regular sights of most of the Big 5 was a daily stop for drinks in the bush and to watch the sunset over the park. Snacking on biltong and drinking champagne as the sun went down is something I’d do again in a heartbeat. It’s hard to put the landscape into words; hopefully my pictures do it some justice. 

After a few days’ indulging on the finest food and enjoying the most amazing scenery the bush has to offer, our final night drive was something I’ll never forget.
We came across a lion pride looking for their next 
meal and closely followed them on their hunt. An hour later we found ourselves right in the middle of their stand-off with a 200-strong heard of buffalo in complete darkness. My heart was beating pretty fast when a lion slowly passed within feet of our truck! Fortunately they weren’t interested in us at all. 

This is a pretty long post for me and rightly so, Makanyi Lodge is a very special place. As the Lodge sits on private land you very rarely see any other travellers, only the resorts local wild residents. It’s amazing. 

I’ve never left a holiday before and shed a tear on the way to the airport! I really didn’t want to leave. I’m such a loser, but honestly, it was incredible and I’m confident Nick and I will be returning very soon. 

If you’re one of those people like me who has always wanted to go on safari but has never bitten the bullet and booked it, do it. You won’t regret it. It will open your eyes to the wonders of nature and you’ll struggle to explain it to others until you’ve witnessed it yourself. After escaping real life for a few days in safari paradise you’ll come back feeling relaxed yet energised, happy yet sad, ready to quit your job and to move out there for good. I certainly did.