Going on Safari? Here Are Your Kruger Airport Options.
Nov06

Going on Safari? Here Are Your Kruger Airport Options.

If you don’t want to self-drive to your safari camp, then you have two ways of getting to your Kruger safari destination, the first is for the more budget conscious traveller, and the second for a more flexible budget.  Budget style is to fly into a major airport and take a scheduled road transfer to your camp/lodge. These road transfers are generally in luxury small busses that seat up to 10 people. The road option does allow you to learn about the area, historical landmarks and enjoy the small towns en route. The ideal option, if you aren’t travelling on a budget, is to fly into one of the smaller safari airports via a connecting flight from South Africa’s major airports that include O.R. Tambo International (Johannesburg), Cape Town International and King Shaka International (Durban) airports. These smaller safari airports normally have a few flights departing and arriving daily. From the smaller airports, rangers from your camp or lodge will come and fetch you and transport you back to camp. Don’t be surprised to see a fleet of game viewers and sea of khaki clad rangers waiting in the arrivals. Here are your Kruger Airport Options : Northern Kruger Park: Phalaborwa Airport (Hendrik Van Eck Airport ) Phalaborwa serves the northern region of the Kruger National Park, and is a small airport. It serves guests flying on private charters and scheduled flights to/from international airports. The airport looks like a safari lodge, with its thatched roofs and plenty of wildlife statues. There are a few curio shops inside the terminal, ATM machines and also a car rental section. Central Kruger Park: Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport The Hoedspruit (Eastgate) Airport is a small but bustling airport that serves popular private reserves including the Timbavati Game Reserve, Kapama Game Reserve, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and Balule Nature Reserve. The closest gate is the Orpen Gate entrance to the National Park. The airport has a restaurant and one curio shop. It is crawling with safari vehicles, with gives it that authentic bushveld feel. You might even notice wildlife darting across the runway. Small, efficient and one of the most popular safari airports, Hoedspruit is a fantastic introduction to any safari. Southern Kruger Park: Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI) The Nelspruit Airport/Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport serves the southern region of the Kruger Park, which includes the world renown Sabi Sand Game Reserve. It’s quite a large airport in terms of safari airports, and certainly caters for the both the business and leisure traveller. With its premier lounge, and curio shop chockablock with African trinkets; this airport has certainly covered all bases! Kruger National Park : Skukuza Airport Skukuza airport has an...

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Elephants Drinking from Swimming Pool at Lodges in Klaserie
Aug09

Elephants Drinking from Swimming Pool at Lodges in Klaserie

The winter is in full swing, which means the bushveld is crunchy, arid and no longer boasts the luscious green vegetation that summer brings. With the thinning out of the bushveld, the water sources become scarce. For plains game, they gain most of their moisture from the vegetation they digest so they will congregate at waterholes dotted in reserves to replenish their thirst. Elephants are our swimmers and water babies of the bushveld, so they’re naturally drawn to pristine, fresh waterholes. When the waterholes dry up a bit, elephants will travel far and wide to find clean sources of water. The swimming pools at nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot appear to be their go-to destinations for a soak and slurp! Elephants Drinking from the Pool at nThambo Tree Camp Around the same time, on an almost daily basis, the elephants meander their way through the wooden treehouse units and straight towards the splash pool. There’s normally quite a jostle to get a place in the pecking order and guests delight in watching the young calves flaying their trunks over the side of the pool. Elephants have the capacity to soak up to 14 litres of water through their trunks and can drink up to 200 litres of water a day. Given that they digest a bulk load of coarse vegetation, access to water is vital and herds will travel many miles to seek out the perfect water source. Possessing a high emotional intelligence and excellent memory, these pachyderms will make a point of remembering where valuable water can be obtained – the pool at nThambo is clearly etched into their memory banks and its water source can be detected from up to 5 km away. Our pachyderms can naturally go without water for up to 4 days and if they don’t have access to waterholes and swimming pools, they will use their trunks to dig up the earth to access to ground level water. This has a knock-on effect for other animals because natural waterholes are created through this digging process. Elephants Drinking from the Pool at Africa on Foot There is a bull elephant that is a well-known visitor to the splash pool. He seems unperturbed by the presence of onlookers and loves to relax at the poolside. He has a routine, which is observed by curious onlookers on a daily basis. This bull casually consumes his intake of vegetation while en route to his local. Elephants can spend up to 12-18 hours a day feeding and digesting a variety of course vegetation, which means they need to drink plenty of water. Guides and rangers at both camps...

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Critically Endangered Pangolin Spotted in Sabi Sand
Jul05

Critically Endangered Pangolin Spotted in Sabi Sand

The pangolin (scaly anteater) is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. This prehistoric looking creature is immensely shy and is rarely seen. They have a scaly, protective armour that shields them from danger, and when under threat they tend to curl up in a defensive ball position. They’re active at night and this is when they feed, so even when spotted there’s only a slim chance of seeing a pangolin on the move! Renown Sabi Sand Game Reserve has an abundance of leopard sightings, but recently there have been a number of rare pangolin sightings in the area – in particular at Umkumbe Safari Lodge. One of their rangers, Nadia Bester managed to photograph a pangolin on the move. It is estimated that over 100, 000 pangolins are captured on an annual basis for their scales and meat – scales are mistakingly though to cure acne and cancer; none of which is true. In Africa and Asia, there are 8 species of pangolin, all of which are endangered. This is why guests and rangers always make a fuss when spotting one in the wild! Spotting one is worthy of celebration. If you’ve never heard of a pangolin or don’t know much about them, here are five interesting facts about these solitary nocturnal mammals: 1. The pangolin is often mistaken for being a reptile but is, in fact, part of the Manidae family whose members include anteaters, armadillos and sloths. 2. When under threat, a pangolin will become defensive and “play dead”. They do this by rolling into a ball. The scales on their body are incredibly sharp and will slice through an enemy’s skin like a knife. If approached, a pangolin may lash out with its tale and cut their enemy. 3. The scales are not their only defence mechanism. Pangolins, much like honey badgers and skunks, can emit a noxious smelling gas that drives predators away. 4. A pangolin feasts on ants, termites, insects and other small bugs. We often find them hovering around close to termite mounds, which provide an easy source of food. 5. A pangolin has an extremely long tongue covered in a sticky substance that traps food sources. To access termites, grubs and other insects, a pangolin must first dig up the earth and rip off bark. To do this, they use their curved claws which act as blades. All the below images were taken by Nadia Bester, a ranger from Umkumbe Safari...

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Will Thornybush Game Reserve Drops its Timbavati Boundary Fence?
Mar26

Will Thornybush Game Reserve Drops its Timbavati Boundary Fence?

The Timbavati Game Reserve shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park, the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and as of recently, the Thornybush Nature Reserve! The Thornybush Nature Reserve has recently begun to drop their eastern boundary fence to the Timbavati Game Reserve and the fence removal is rumoured to face completion come early May 2017. However, we have heard rumours the Timbavati is in negotiations for Thornybush to re-erect the fence due to difference in opinion with regards to anti-poaching initiatives. If the dropping of the fences continue, it means that there will be free flow of wildlife between reserves. In essence,  the 14 500-hectare Thornybush Reserve will be open to wildlife roaming over from the Greater Kruger National Park. The fence removal will be facing completion come early May 2017. When boundary fences are dropped it means an increased traverse for wildlife.  New bloodlines within lion prides are created, leopards increase their territory and wander further afield and, in general, the scope for more food and availability of water resources increases. There’s a world of wonder that opens up when boundary fences are dropped – we saw this happening in when the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve dropped their boundary fences with Timbavati and the Kruger National Park. If you’re looking to explore the confines of a private game reserve with some of the best game viewing in the Kruger, then we suggest a stay at one of our top lodges – the Thornybush Game Reserve is Royal Malewane. A firm favourite with guests seeking exclusivity and sophistication in a pristine setting, this lodge has plenty to offer its visitors. In terms of accommodation, Royal Malewane  offers guests a choice of suites, ranging from the luxury suites comprising an opulent colonial style decor; the royal suites complete with a shimmering pool and the Africa house which is an exclusive bush villa with six bedrooms. Game drives happen twice a day – in the morning and later afternoon. Predators are most active at dawn and dusk; and in between the predator sightings you might want to keep an eye out for birdlife. There are over 300 recorded species in the immediate area, which makes the Thornybush a prime destination for avid birders. If the spoils of the wild and the luxuriousness of the lodge aren’t enough for you, then indulge in a bush spa treatment. Royal Malewane? It comes highly recommended by our...

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Mala Mala Top Choice for Educational Family Safari
Nov23

Mala Mala Top Choice for Educational Family Safari

Ideally located adjacent to the Kruger National Park and the pristine Sabi Sand Game Reserve, is Mala Mala Game Reserve. This uncrowded reserve is home to the big five and over 400 species of birds, making it a sought after game viewing destination. Being one of the oldest and largest private reserves in the area, Mala Mala has strict game viewing protocols and the utmost respect for the wildlife roaming free throughout the reserve. Mala Mala has earned its reputation as being an exclusive crème de la crème of game reserves in South Africa and is a top choice for an educational family safari. Janelle, one of our consultants, enjoyed a luxury safari to Mala Mala with her young family. Mala Mala Main Camp is child-freindly and welcomes eager youngsters to their lodge. Children under four aren’t allowed on game drives, but there are plenty of bush bumbles and other game activities in which to participate. Upon arrival, guests are introduced to their ranger, who is their go-to person for the duration of teir safari. He/she is your teacher, host and wildlife ranger. Just like the majority of safari lodges, there is a set itinerary with scheduled times for game drives and meals. This is to take advantage of the times that predators and other animals are the most activie. If adults want a break and time to themselves, there is always the babysitting service which is at a nominal fee. Of course, in true bushveld lifestyle and the spirit of Africa, things are flexible. Although there is a suggested schedule, nature may interfere and game drives might be longer, depart later and other unpredictable events may occur. After all, we are governed by the power of nature. MalaMala Main Camp accommodation is in natural chalets that look like an extension of the wild. Chalets are interlinked via a myriad of pathways, which are hugged by tall trees and lush vegetation. Resting on the banks of the Sand River means that MalaMala certainly isn’t short of exceptional sightings. The camp is open, which means is free to wander throughout.   Here’s Our Interview with Janelle: 1. Is there a kids program at MalaMala? Yes!! When we arrived the ranger introduced herself (Casey) and then whisked the kids to  go and get their Mala Mala back packs and choose a toy from their curio shop.  Inside the bag were lots of activities for the kids to do at the lodge, but especially on the game drive. 2. Are children allowed to go on game drives?  Yes they are allowed from age 4.  Such a treat! 3. Is there a babysitter service in-house?  We never...

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Video of Lion Attacking a Leopard at Kirkman’s Camp in Kruger
Oct25

Video of Lion Attacking a Leopard at Kirkman’s Camp in Kruger

We’ve all watched the YouTube video about the Battle of the Kruger that made unsuspecting tourists gain recognition for their amateur video. A similar event happened to Matthew Poole, a professional guide and ranger from &Beyond Kirkman’s Camp. While taking guests on one of their game drives, they stumbled across a rather rare event that delivered predator-on-predator action! One of the large males from a coalition of two called the Matshipiris, slowly and silently stalked a dominant male leopard in the area called Bicycle Crossing. Guests were exceptionally lucky to witness these two species engaging in a tumultuous tumble. Both cats came away unscathed, but the dust, noise and scuffle proved to be quite the showdown.  The fight appeared to be more of an intimidation tactic from the lion’s side. This certainly didn’t appear to be a meal ticket! Here is the much anticipated video of a lion attacking a leopard at Kirkman’s Camp: Leopards are solitary creatures and spend the heat of the day resting in trees or on elevated areas where they can survey the landscape for potential danger. Leopards hunt by stalking quietly and they’re excellent swimmers, agile climbers and readily devour a range of prey. This leopard, due to its agility, was able to sprint to safety and use its limber body to outsmart this dominant cat. Leopards are notoriously sneaky, which enables them to get away with anything. Lions generally hunt by stalking and ambushing their prey. Hunts are normally done in prides or with other lions. In this case, the ranger thought the male was walking towards another member of its coalition but in fact, made a turn to chase the leopard off of its turf. Lions are incredibly territorial and can be aggressive if they feel under threat. When these two dominant male predators met, tensions were high! &Beyond Kirkman’s Camp in the Sabi Sand comprises 18 luxurious suites overlooking the pristine Sabi Sand. Well-manicured lawns surround the colonial style house and warthogs frequent the lawns. An old world atmosphere in a lodge with impeccable service. The Sabi Sand is a big cat paradise and is known for its high concentration of leopards. Sharing unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park, this reserve is a prime game viewing hotspot for visitors to South...

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Need an Airport Hotel in Johannesburg? Try Peermont.
Jul19

Need an Airport Hotel in Johannesburg? Try Peermont.

If you’re flying into Johannesburg en route to Kruger, the connecting flight and transfer service might be too much of an early start for those who aren’t morning people. There are a number of hotels based at O.R. Tambo airport, but they come with an often hefty and unrealistic price tag. We highly recommend a stay over at either one of the Peermont hotels, situated a 7 minute drive from the airport. The shuttles run every 20 minutes from the hotel to the airport, so you certainly won’t need your own transport. Here’s why we recommend the Peermont hotels for your airport hotel in Johannesburg: 1. 3 adjacent hotels catering for a variety of budgets Peermont has a selection of hotels catering for a variety of budgets. The hotels all have connected walkways leading into a central area comprising a world-renown casino, entertainment centre, theatre, movies, bars and restaurants. The five star Peermont D’Oreale Grande boasts 182 rooms and is all about opulent glitz and glam. There’s a huge swimming pool with a cascading fountain, pool bar, restaurant and rolling lawns. Plenty of plush interiors and gold await five star guests. The four star Peermont Mondior offers both conference and leisure accommodation. It’s simple and stylish but not quite as ostentatious as its five star sister. If you’re after understated luxury then stay at the Mondior. It’s quite art deco in nature and the rates are affordable for a four star. The three star Peermont Metcourt Emperors Palace offers guests aesthetically pleasing and comfortable accommodation for a rate which is next to nothing. Simple and modern comfort await you at this hotel. Hues of greys and natural colours ensure it’s not too over the top. The bathrooms, although smaller than their five star sister hotel, are far better designed and way more modern. The hotels all have access to the entertainment area via walkways and hotel corridors. The pool at the D’Oreale Grande is available for use if you’re staying at the Mondior or the Metcourt. 2. Complimentary shuttles to and from the airport This is a scheduled service that runs every twenty minutes between 06:00 – 23:00. For after hours transfers, the Peermont group will recommend a private taxi service. If you’re departing in the early hours, be sure to ask the front desk to pack you a lunch for your journey. You’ll need to do this the afternoon before. 3. Plenty of things to do on the property Restaurants, swimming pools with fountains, gambling, shows and arcade games are just a few of the many activities to enjoy while staying at the Emperor’s Palace village. There is also a wide variety of bars for the night owls. The...

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