Facts About the Bushveld’s Pretty Plains Game
Feb02

Facts About the Bushveld’s Pretty Plains Game

When we’re bumbling across the crunchy terrain in an open-topped game viewer in search of the famous big five, we have a game plan in mind that’s normally decided upon by expert trackers and guides. After all, they are the ones with the tracking skills and have monitored predator activity closely prior to our arrival at camp. If there’s no need to hurtle towards a rapidly disappearing elusive leopard, or a pack of wild dogs on the trot; we stop to observe the bushveld’s pretty plains game. Plains game is a term given to general game of the bushveld. These are the commonly spotted herbivorous species that add bulk to your wildlife sightings in the Kruger, and are generally incredibly photogenic. Plains game form a vital part of the ecology of a reserve, and provide a natural landscaping service to the ‘veld. In the Kruger, the most commonly spotted plains game include : zebra, giraffe, and impala. Of course, there are numerous other general game (bushback, nyala, kudu, waterbuck) that are also commonly spotted. But today we’re featuring the 3 species we deem to be the most popular. Herbivores are either grazers, browsers or both. Grazers graze on grasses, long and tall. Browsers feed off leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growing plants/shrubs. Zebra A group of zebra is referred to as a “dazzle”. They are arguably the most photogenic species to photograph, and their monochromatic colours provide such stark subjects. Zebra live in herds dominated by one male. You’ll often find males and their harems grazing on short, sweet grasses. It is though that when predators approach zebra herds, the herds scatter in a haphazard direction making it tricky for predators to target a single individual. The patterns cause confusion. Giraffe Giraffe are browsers and favour acacia trees. Their height means that they’re at an advantage and can access untouched greenery at the tops of trees. You’ll spot them feeding on acacias, but they do tend to move off quite quickly. Neighbouring acacia trees tend to “talk” and activate other trees warn other trees of the presence of a herbivore. The trees emit tannins that make their leaves unpalatable. They do this when under threat. Giraffe will move off in search of another acacia tree when the tannins become too much to bare. This is why you’ll often see a journey of giraffe on the move. Impala Out of all the plains game, the impala is probably the most commonly spotted. Thousands roam the Greater Kruger, and they’re certainly the most elegant of all the plains game. Because they are in abundance, they also make for easy prey, but...

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3 Luxury Kruger Safari Lodges Ideal for Newlyweds
Jan06

3 Luxury Kruger Safari Lodges Ideal for Newlyweds

Newlyweds are often on the search for relaxing, luxury holidays with an adventurous twist. Whether it’s a belated honeymoon, romantic holiday or a second honeymoon; newlyweds won’t be disappointed with our choice of 3 luxury Kruger safari lodges.  Iconic Legends at Londolozi Londolozi Is located in a premier private Game Reserve, a Reserve home to abundant leopard activity. The Sabi Sand is a big five region, and apart from the much-documented leopard sightings, the varied landscape and position on the banks of the Sand River ensures the ideal habitat for the big five. Londolozi is a first-choice for international visitors, and offers a wide variety of accommodation options for those seeking the pinnacle of safari luxury. Londolozi is split into 5 camps, which are : Pioneer Camp, Varty Camp, Granite Suites, Founders Camp and Tree Camp. Tree Camp and Private Granite Suites don’t allow children, while Pioneer Camp is the go-between; catering both couples and families. The larger camps are Varty and Founders; just perfect for big groups. There is a wellness Centre, boutique and gourmet cuisine on offer at Londolozi. All aspects of a wild safari that add to the overall experience. As newlyweds, we encourage a couples massage – you won’t be disappointed with the exquisite massage and pristine bushveld vistas. Londolozi really is a true sanctuary of elegance ! Romantic aspect : the honeymoon safari vehicle, a modified game viewer with a “couch for two” is a completely unique addition to a romantic safari experience. The bush dinners under the light of the moon. We recommend the Tree Camp or Granite for the ultimate romantic safari experience.   Romantic Treehouse at Lion Sands Lion Sands Private Game Reserve is also located in the heart of the Big five Sabi Sand, and offers guest an unsurpassed sense of luxury. Game drives and bush walks are available at the various lodges, along with magical sundowners and gourmet dinners. For newlyweds we recommend the iconic River Lodge, where there’s even a “memory lab” which is a place to print your safari in pics. There’s a safari bar and lounge, a huge deck overlooking the riverbed and a dining area under the canopy of trees. In short, It’s a sophisticated lodge with hints of Africa from centuries past. Another accommodation option is the elegant and spectacular Ivory Lodge, a contemporary lodge built from natural materials. It’s an intimate lodge, and each guest has their own villa complete with a private deck, plunge pool, fireplace and sweeping views. Newlyweds will love the treehouse aspect, a sleep-out option in the midst of the wild. A place where loved-up couples can express their love while...

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Where the African Wild Dogs Roam
Nov07

Where the African Wild Dogs Roam

African wild dogs are an endangered species of dog considered rare to see in the wild. The reason for this is two-fold : they’re notoriously nomadic and they cover a wide range with expansive territories. The best time of year to spot our twittering mottled dogs is for 3 months between May – Aug, during their denning period. And why is that? Wild dogs run as a pack, and for 3 months of the year the pups will be reared by these co-operative breeders. Wild dogs hunt together, hang out together and each dog has a role to play in helping to rear the pups. This means that when it comes time for the alpha female to produce her brood, she will need a secure den site. The pups are helpless and need to remain sedentary until they have grown. So this why, for 3 months, sightings of wild dogs increase. There are local packs of dogs in various reserves, and when these dogs aren’t traversing far and wide, they may return to their previous denning ground to rear the new pups. Wild dogs act as a single unit, and individual dogs fall into a particular role when it comes to looking after the pups. Some will select the fierce den guarding role (sentry duty) which requires a warrior attitude, others will conduct expertly crafted hunts and bring the food back to the den. Pups will call out for food, while practicing their high-pitched twittering which is the sound of a wild dog greeting ceremony. The hunting unit will regurgitate chunks of meat for the young pups, and if a kill is made close to the den site strips of meat will be taken back to the pack. The sentry roles are interchangeable with the hunting roles – wild dogs have such a sense of community ! The pup rearing period is perfectly timed with the end of the impala rut (isn’t nature fascinating?). At the end of the impala rutting season, the rams are tired and make for easy prey. Packs might be at the top of the food chain in terms predatory activity, but there are threats to the dogs safety in terms of other predators. This is why dogs will often move den sites during the denning period. In the Kruger’s Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, the dogs have been spotted during the predicted denning period and outside the denning period. Local photographer, Rogan Kerr, managed to take a few pictures of the dogs while he was on assignment at Africa on Foot....

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Natasha’s Top 5 Kruger Safari Lodges Part 2!
Aug28

Natasha’s Top 5 Kruger Safari Lodges Part 2!

One of our safari experts, Natasha Allan, is as passionate about her own safari experiences as she is about creating the best safari itineraries for her guests, and her knowledge is rooted in her first-hand experience. The Kruger Park is South Africa’s greatest destination for wildlife, and its surrounding private game reserves offer some of the greatest close encounters with the Big Five in Southern Africa. Natasha has equipped herself with 10 exceptional accommodations in the Greater Kruger Park, which suit clients with varying desires, dreams, and limitations. We have already shared five of Tash’s top 10 recommendations, and in this blog, we’re covering the next batch of Kruger safari lodges. If you want to know what else was on Tash’s list, click here. Shindzela Tented Camp, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve This is first choice for a truly valuable safari in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. It is affordable and offers a lot in terms of comfort and quality. The game viewing potential of the Timbavati is enormous, and the reserve constantly churns out breath-taking and spine-tingling wildlife encounters, so Shindzela is ideally located. It is quiet and intimate with only eight canvas tented rooms on offer, so the setting is tranquil, small, and private – a hugely sought after feature for young couples travelling to Africa. Families can be accommodated at Shindzela, but no children under 10 are permitted. Fantastic walking safaris are reserved for guests over 16 years old, purely because there are risks to walking in the wild and each guests needs to be capable of adhering to the camp’s guidelines for trails safaris. The camp is run on solar power and gas, and there are no electricity outlets in the rooms, but there is a device-charging facility in the main lodge area. Shindzela offers all you need in terms of accommodation, privacy, relaxation, wildlife, and value for money. It’s been one of Natasha’s favourites for many years, and her clients continue to enjoy their experience there. Budget: US$ 160 (2018) – US$ 200 (2019) (*all rates are per person sharing per night) Kambaku Safari Lodge and River Sands, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve Two sister camps offering up some spectacular quality in the Timbavati are Kambaku River Sands and Kambaku Safari Lodge. These two are operated with the same meticulous attention to detail, environmental consciousness, and professionalism, but Safari Lodge is more affordable and is surrounded by a perimeter fence, which is often ideal for families with children. River Sands is more exclusive at a higher rate and is unfenced to the wilderness, adding a thrilling element to the nocturnal goings on at camp. Each of...

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Agent’s Choice: 5 Top-rated Kruger Safari Lodges, by Natasha Allan
Aug28

Agent’s Choice: 5 Top-rated Kruger Safari Lodges, by Natasha Allan

Our people have spoken! We are sharing our safari experts’ top-rated camps and lodges in the Kruger Park this week. First is Natasha Allan who has been a specialist consultant at Sun Safaris virtually since its inception and she has created some of our clients’ best African journeys ever. We’ve given Tash the task of selecting her 10 favourite Kruger safari lodges, and (in no particular order) we’re featuring them here for ease of reference for our readers and clients. Read on to discover the first five of 10 places we consider some of the best accommodations in the Greater Kruger Park. Located in the private reserves that share unfenced borders with the famous South African national park, these Greater Kruger spots have all of the wilderness delivered to you on privately guided game drives and bush walks you’ll never forget. Part two coming soon! Khoka Moya Camp and Mantobeni, Manyeleti Game Reserve First to feature is Khoka Moya Camp in the vastly unchartered Manyeleti Game Reserve, sprawled between Sabi Sand and Timbavati, which border the Kruger National Park. It has 15 large tented suites which straddle a peaceful riverbed, it is family-friendly, welcoming children of all ages (and offering baby-sitting services), and it is eco-friendly in its construction and its operation. You’ve got to try out the bird hide and the walking safaris in this heavenly little place! Khoka Moya has a sister camp, Mantobeni, which is located nearby also in the Manyeleti Game Reserve. It is slightly more remote than Khoka Moya, hidden in a grove of Tamboti trees where its 15 free-standing tents are raised on elevated wooden platforms (about 5 steps up from the ground). This wild and wonderful tented camp enjoys all the comforts and hospitality of Khoka Moya, but there is a minimum age limit of 12 years old. Natasha recommends both camps and they are sold at the same rate. Budget: US$ 250 (low season) – US$ 350 (high season) (*all rates quoted per person sharing per night) nThambo Tree Camp, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve This is one of our go-tos for an affordable, romantic, and exclusive safari experience, and Natasha is quick to recommend it for adventurous honeymooners who are excited by the idea of treehouse-style chalets, positioned on wooden stilts to meet the trees at eye-level. nThambo Tree Camp has only five rooms and is entirely unfenced, so wildlife – including any members of the Big Five – have the freedom to roam through the camp, drink from the ground-level plunge pool, and sleep under your room! nThambo is casual and relaxed, but it is pretty and comfortable with an...

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Looking for High-end Exclusivity? Try The Royal Portfolio Hotels
Jul12

Looking for High-end Exclusivity? Try The Royal Portfolio Hotels

The Royal Portfolio is a handpicked selection of high-end hotels offering a sense of exquisite exclusivity. Catering for an international market seeking hotels and lodges of a superior standard, the Royal Portfolio certainly sets the benchmark in terms of elite destinations. This intimate collection is a portfolio of private residences, hotels and safari lodges located in sought-after tourist destinations. For those with an extended budget, and want the best-of-the-best, the Royal Portfolio is a must. The Royal Portfolio is a family-run business, and although its properties are upmarket, the ethos of familiar comfort is a primary focus. Royal Portfolio is about the luxury, the familiar and the experience. Each destination is in a must-visit area in South Africa. One of our consultants will happily combine an itinerary with a stay at the below properties, offering you a quintessential “South African” experience exploring the Cape winelands, whale watching town of Hermanus, Kruger bushveld experience and the buzzing Cape Town. Let’s take a peek inside their staggeringly elite hideaways. Royal Malewane in the Kruger’s Thornybush Private Game Reserve The Thornybush Private Game Reserve is a big 5 reserve forming part of the Greater Kruger region. Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge in the heart of the reserve, and was recently nominated as one of the best 50 resorts in the world by Condé Nast  Traveler. This classic safari lodge exudes a traditional safari feel combined with a modern take on decor. It’s understated and classy; and provides that much needed slice of luxury combined with the adventurous safari lifestyle. Game drives are led by highly qualified guides and trackers; and take place twice a day during the periods of time when predators are most active. During your down time between game drives, we encourage you to indulge in a spa treatment or simply soak up the bushveld atmosphere. In terms of accommodation, there are six luxury suites, two “Royal” suites that come complete with two bedrooms. Then there is the Africa House, which is an exclusive use villa. Birkenhead House in the Whale Watching Town of Hermanus The Birkenhead House is a stately coastal home overlooking expansive sea and cascading cliffs of Walker Bay in Hermanus. Hermanus is a bustling seaside village that enjoys hordes of visitors during “whale season”, which is the time of year when the southern right whales return to ancient breeding areas. Walker Bay is one of these destinations, and is a short drive from Cape Town, making it a popular add-on to a holiday in Cape Town. The Birkenhead sets the standard in terms of luxury destinations in Hermanus. Decor is contemporary coupled with tasteful beach-house...

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Why is a Safari Holiday Expensive? We Answer 7 Kruger FAQs.
Apr15

Why is a Safari Holiday Expensive? We Answer 7 Kruger FAQs.

If you’re a first time safari-goer it’s understandable that you might have a number of questions pertaining to finance, etiquette, meals and game viewing before you depart for your safari holiday. Given that you are travelling miles to a foreign country and have no idea what to expect, it’s understandable that you’d have a few questions in mind. Here we answer 7 commonly asked safari FAQs. Hopefully our answers will clarify a few things before you begin your intrepid journey into the Kruger bushveld. Why is a safari holiday so expensive? When you book a safari holiday in a private Kruger reserve you aren’t just paying for the price of the accommodation. Many people, when booking at a lodge, might balk at the price – whether it’s 3 star or a premier lodge. The price of a safari includes meals, accommodation and activities. Because you are in a wild, remote and private reserve; you cannot drive to the shops or use your own vehicle. There are also no restaurants nearby. All you have is the lodge and its facilities. A standard rate would include bush walks, morning and evening game drives, high tea, tea and coffee all day, game drive snacks and accommodation. There are rates at certain lodges that include all drinks in the cost. What is the difference between a Kruger private reserve and the Kruger National Park? Both the Kruger National Park and the private reserves form part of the Greater Kruger. The national park is owned by the parks board, and the private reserves are merely sections of the Kruger that are privately owned. These privately owned parts of the Kruger cannot be accessed by the general public unless they have a booking in a lodge within the reserve. There are normally gates and entrance/conservation fees before entering the private reserve. While day trippers can’t visit the private reserves, wildlife can wander across. Many of the private reserves share unfenced borders with the national park – this means that wildlife can roam across. Private reserves and concessions are also uncrowded and game drives are guided by a tracker and ranger. The rangers can normally go off road to get up close to sightings, which isn’t possible in the national park. Is it customary to leave a tip? You don’t have to leave a tip, but you really should. Your guide looks after you for the duration of your stay so it’s customary to tip your guide. Coupled with their tip you are also welcome to tip the housekeeping. Certain lodges might have a tip box in the main section, but most lodges will supply you...

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