BIG SPACE, BIG IMPACT – NATURE IMMERSION AT MISAVA SAFARI CAMP

There can’t be a pool with a better view than the one at Misava. Or a bath tub, for that matter! If you’re eating lunch on the deck, basking on a poolside sun lounger, or soaking in a bubble bath in your riverfront suite, you’re guaranteed to have an eyeful of wilderness to keep you company. I am of the opinion that Misava Safari Camp has the best position in the whole 65,000-hectare Klaserie Private Nature Reserve.

It is high up on a raised bank of the Klaserie River, and on the other side of the river is nothing but tree-filled savannah, as far as the eye can see. The river flows down below and draws elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, giraffe, kudu, and every other member of the bushveld to its edge and at Misava, you’ll get to watch it all. There is such a big feeling of space here, but as we settled in, we realised that what it really is about Misava, is the little things.

BIG SPACE, LITTLE THINGS

There’s the big Klaserie River, which swells and shrinks with the seasonal rainfall; the enormous trees that line its banks and its connected drainage lines; the huge 11,000-hectares of Big Five traverse to explore; the expansive views; and the ever-present giants – the elephants. But as we trundled around as passengers in Nick Smith’s game viewer, we got to see just how many little things make up this tremendous ecosystem.

We spent time in quiet observation of a woodland kingfisher which was sending its cascading call shrilly through the riverine trees. Instead of cruising ahead to the elephants we could see in the reeds ahead, we opted to watch this bright bird go about its business. It was so rewarding to see its turquoise tail feathers disappear into its nest – a hole in the tree – and its sharp, red beak emerge seconds later as it flew off once again. On the way back to camp later on, we watched this same bird tenderise a tiny frog it had managed to catch, which felt like a continuation of our little kingfisher story and was immensely rewarding for us.

There were other bird moments, too. A dark-chanting goshawk was being mobbed by angry bystanders, some spoonbills perched on the uppermost branches of a drowned tree and preened themselves, a spectacularly adorned African hoopoe paused just long enough for a photo.

One of the little things I really loved was the purple-pod cluster-leaf which was blooming maroon all over the place. We stopped to have a closer look at the community nesting spiders that favour this tree, we reluctantly smelled its carrion-scented flowers, and (my favourite part) we wore its pretty purple pods as earrings.

CONNECTED AND CONSCIOUS

The best part about being guided by Nick was his connectedness to nature and his consciousness in the bush. We didn’t hear a single text book tale or get a standard delivery of animal facts. He allowed for quiet moments and silences that spoke louder than words, and he seemed to be guided by spontaneity and impulse when it came to the routes he took. It was freeing to feel like we were following our own path and not competing with anyone for sightings. When you’ve spent a bit of time on safari and you’re looking for something a little deeper, being at Misava with Nick behind the wheel is a prize.

FINDING SECRET SPOTS

Speaking of spontaneity, one morning game drive, Nick stopped the car and led us off on foot through some thick summer grass. A short descent later and we were standing in the shade of a rock fig whose roots had crawled in a latticework pattern across the rocky cliff-face next to us. We were in a sandy drainage line and instead of looking down at the roots of a tree, we were gazing upward at it. The world felt a little upside down in a strange and remarkable way and it felt like we’d discovered a secret spot where perhaps a leopard mother would stash her cubs someday.

SUNDOWNERS IN SCENIC PLACES

I love a sundowner, I do, so I really liked the fact that each place we stopped for our sunset beverage was chosen carefully and left an impact. On our first evening, we drove up to a high point and got to watch the last of the sun disappear beyond the horizon, and then we hung around to watch the full moon rise behind us. When the hyenas started calling in the distance, the moment was solidified in my memory forever.

But it was our last night that Nick really pulled out the big guns and gave us a sundowner to remember. The fact that the sunset was a particularly pretty blush that evening was a bonus! We pulled up at the edge of the Klaserie River and after a thorough assessment of all nooks and crannies, we waded, knee-deep through the clear water to a sand bank in the middle. Nick carried a table and a cooler box full of the good stuff (Sauvignon Blanc, if you’re asking), and set up a little bar in the middle of the river, while we cooled our ankles down and marvelled at the marshmallow sky.

This was the cherry on top for me. It was thrilling to be barefoot in the sand and the river water, and it felt like a culmination of what Misava had offered me overall – an immersion in the wonderful nature of Klaserie. The attention to experiencing the wilderness was what made it a cut above the rest, and I think I have Nick to thank for that, but also what Misava’s unique location allows.

Thank you, Misava, I needed that!