Awaken the Senses

Awaken the Senses

Awaken the Senses

24 October 2022 • Lodge Spotlight

Awaken the Senses at Pungwe in Manyeleti – where the bush beats and the campfire is always a'flame. 


As avid day visitors to Manyeleti Game Reserve, where we see the Big 5 on the regular πŸ™‹‍♂️, we were so excited to finally stay overnight at Pungwe Safari Camp. Pungwe is most definitely an authentic off-the-grid bush experience, and not necessarily everybody’s ‘cup of tea’. Even me, a few years ago, would have said “absolutely not” at the thought of staying at an eco-camp, in a Big 5 reserve, WITH NO FENCES. The JP (Joburg Princess) within me, would have objected. Not only have I become braver, but I enjoyed the unique and wild vibe of Pungwe.


Jesse and I arrived and immediately felt welcome (thanks to the great team😊) and relaxed (even though, literally anything could happen, any animal could arrive at any moment). We enjoyed a cup of coffee in the lounge, and chatted with our friends Julian and Mel, (Julian is also one of the guides at Pungwe) before beginning our afternoon sunset drive. From all our day visits, Jesse has learned Manyeleti quite well, but we got to experience a whole new section, exploring the private concession. 


We stopped to enjoy a sun downer at a beautiful water hole, with the sound of Hippos in the background and some classic South African snacks (Chips and Biltong – what else?). Julian got wind that Lions were seen on the move, heading in our direction. So, we got back in the vehicle to try and find them. On the way, we stumbled into a herd of Elephants and Buffalo. We tracked Lion spoor, and even heard a male lion’s call/roar. Unfortunately, we didn’t see them, we just enjoyed being out there on the lookout. πŸ‘€


When we returned to camp, the walkway was lit up with lanterns and a table was set up next to the campfire. We ate a delicious classic South African braai, a dinner under the stars. With dessert by the fire, just enjoying each other’s company. We heard a sound coming from the bush nearby, shined our spotlight at it, s’true’s bob, there was an elephant grazing some trees about 10-20 metres from us! WOW – that’s what I said, and it was wow. Jesse said, “And that’s why guests would love Pungwe.” I agree with him, having an elephant casually walk past the camp, while you’re sitting by the fire is special. Although it is undeniably scary, thankfully the elephant’s demeanor was clearly not aggressive. That’s the thrill of the bush.


The next morning after falling asleep to the sounds of the bush / Manyeleti’s night anthem, we woke up to the dawn’s symphony – a rendition of insects, birds and other creatures. It’s truly a profound feeling, awakening the senses of sound and smell, while breathing in the fresh morning air.


There is something to be said about the unfenced rawness that gives Pungwe a unique feel of its own.

It’s about being there, and who you’re there with.

It seems to me that only people who’ve experienced it will know what I mean by that. The fire that is ever-burning is proof. I can only imagine the bush stories the Pungwe fire pit and kettle have heard over the years.


Although we didn't see cats on our afternoon and morning drives at Pungwe, we had incredible buffalo, elephant (including the one in the camp 🐘) and eagle sightings. We also saw a Chameleon, which is one of my favourite things to see in the bush, period. For us, it only means we can't wait to be back! πŸ™Œ



1. Seeing a Chameleon by the campfire! πŸ‘€

2. Having a delicious dinner under the stars. ✨

3. Waking up to the sounds of the morning bush – which awakens you and your senses in a profound way. 😌

4. Tracking Lion Spoor (paw prints) on our drive 🐾🦁

5. Arriving back at camp after the drive, to a lanturn-lit pathway. πŸ₯°


Fast Facts

  • 🐾 Unique and authentic bush experience
  • πŸ’― Eco-camp
  • πŸ“΅ Off-the grid (limited signal, No WiFi)
  • πŸ† Wild and Unfenced
  • πŸ”₯ Ever-burning camp fire


To book or check availability for Pungwe, check them out here on the website.