Louis owns Big Tau Safaris and he is certified to guide in every province in South Africa. Very knowledgeable as to wildlife and African life in general, he really kept us entertained from the moment he picked us up. It’s about a three hour drive from eMalahleni to Hoedspruit, but Louis drove us through Dullstrom (Emnotweni) and a few other fun places along the way, all the while sharing information about the countryside we were traveling. We went up and down the Drakensberg Mountains – the Ndebele people live at the top. We passed two rivers, the Oliphants and the Blyde, that were flooding over their banks because officials had opened the sluice gates on the local dams.
After lunch at the Baobab restaurant and a quick stop at the PicNPay in Hoedspruit for meal supplies, Louis drove us to the Tshukudu (which means rhino in the Sotho language) Game Reserve. The Tshukudu Bush Camp is self-catering, which means you’re responsible for your own food and refreshments. It is not the most luxurious game reserve accommodations we’ve enjoyed. There were no warm cloths to wipe the journey’s dust off your face or tiny shampoos and lotions in the bathroom; no wi-fi or TV. But the thatched cottages are clean, the beds are comfortable, there’s hot water AND air-conditioning. There are two other accommodations, the lodge and the tent camp in the reserve, which undoubtedly create a different (not necessarily better) experience.
There’s a pool, an indoor dining room with a satellite TV, a community outdoor dining area, a community kitchen, and a boma. A boma is an enclosure; in this case just outside the kitchen, with tables and chairs around a big fire pit. The staff keep the fire going, and use a shovel to bring coals from the fire to the braai (grill) for cooking the food. There is also a dormitory area where learners stay on educational field trips. Behind the boma there are two sets of stairs. One leads to an elevated observation deck. The other leads to a suspension bridge that takes you to a blind overlooking the dam.