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 thought 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 to 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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Gorilla trekking in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa
Sep12

Gorilla trekking in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is one of the most surreal, raw and adventurous experiences of a lifetime. It’s incredible to think that in such a fast-paced, commercial western world there still exists a country with the ability to transport you straight back to the purest form of nature. Gorilla trekking aside, Uganda is a remarkable country. Uganda is a developing country filled with humble, proud, patriotic people welcoming of tourists. They have every reason to be proud of their country. Around every corner, there are deep valleys with crater lakes, tea and coffee plantations, dense forests with mysterious elephants, banana plantations, jungles, lakes, national parks and the source of the Nile – the world’s longest river. Two other highlights include the third highest peak in Africa, a snow-capped range of mountains and the desert-like region of Mount Elgon which has a bounty of wildlife. Uganda is tropical jungle territory with plenty of subsistence farming happening in surrounding communities – life here is tough, and most people live off the land. Produce is organic and the fertile volcanic soils of the region provide naturally fertile grounds for a variety of crops to grow.  Popular crops include Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbages, mangoes, pineapples, bananas, and other fruit and veg. If you’re a coffee or tea addict, you’ll be pleased to hear that Uganda is a prime coffee and tea growing region. Don’t miss out on a strong cup of java! Now that we’ve given you a synopsis of Uganda, and a painted a general picture for you, it’s time to start discussing gorilla trekking in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. There are a few things you need to know before you go. Location: We recommend you book a few nights at a lodge outside of the Bwindi National Park where the wild gorillas dwell in absolute freedom. The price of the gorilla permit is per day and isn’t normally included in the cost of your stay. It’s advisable to stay at a lodge as close to the entrance as possible, as this buys you time in the morning. Lodges located further away can take up to two hours just to get to the entrance and briefing point, which means an early start of 5:30. Our team of explorers stayed at the Gorilla Safari lodge and it took 5 minutes to get there. Choosing the Type of Trek: Tourists are normally assigned a driver for the duration of their stay, and prior to embarking on your adventure he will assess the group, chat to you about the hike and organise everything for you. There are easy, moderate and advanced hiking groups. Spotting the...

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The King Has Spoken: nDzuti lions flee from their kill
Aug11

The King Has Spoken: nDzuti lions flee from their kill

Watching 4 sub-adult male lions gorging themselves on a buffalo carcass is a spectacular sighting in itself, but, as we always emphasise in nature: you can not predict what is going to happen. These guests were visiting nDzuti Safari Camp deep in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve of Greater Kruger. Guided by owner Bruce Meeser, the guests were led right to the site where these big males were feeding. Perfect lighting and beautiful specimens made this a safari sighting to remember. The nDzuti lions are called the River Pride, named for their beautiful territory, which encompasses the Klaserie River. As the video shows, in one swift movement, all 4 of these big males bolt from the buffalo they are eating, clearly running from something. What do 4 big male lions run from, you might ask? The king of the jungle, that’s who! With an aggressive grumble and a stampede of heavy paws, these lions take to the bush, chased by what Bruce refers to as ‘the big boy’. It is in a lion’s nature to feed himself, and it is a known fact that if the dominant male of the pride wants to eat alone, he will. Often stealing carcasses from the rest of the pride and chasing other members of his pride off the kill, the dominant male ensures he gets the prime cut. If you listen carefully to Bruce’s audio in the video, you will hear he says that these males are “getting stronger and stronger together, but they are by no means as strong as the dominant lion”. A few moments later, this dominant lion appears on the scene, and it is clear the young males know their place. What an awesome example of nature at its best, and lions at their most primal. Take a look…...

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Ross Pride Female Lions Spotted on Safari
Jun21

Ross Pride Female Lions Spotted on Safari

There’s nothing like waking up early on an extra cold morning in the African bush and breathing out steam after every sip of coffee, knowing that you’re about to go on a game drive. When the walkie-talkie radio goes off loudly and an excited voice announces, “Attention all stations: we’ve got 2 mafazi ngala”, you know you’ve got to drain that coffee and jump onto the game vehicle because you’ve got lions to see! This was the way my day started at nThambo Tree Camp this morning. The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve is abuzz with wildlife activity and we have had sightings of moms, dads and baby elephants almost every day. The birdlife creates a raucous noise every morning and the lions have been heard every night. This morning’s radio report caught our attention and Carolynne and I jumped aboard Airforce 1 (our filming-friendly Land Rover) with Kevin MacLaughlin in charge. We arrived at Jason’s Dam and there they were, defrosting in the sunlight. Mila and Lisa, these lionesses, are a part of the Ross Pride, which is a pride of lions famously known in this area. Guides at nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot have spent a lot of time introducing their guests to the local pride, and these girls were very comfortable with the vehicles. We had such a perfect sighting of these beautiful, relaxed females and just watched them dip in and out of their morning snooze. The only real movement was Mila’s lazy stroll to the shady patch of grass, which is fairly typical of a lion sighting such as this. The male lions we are looking out for is called The Trilogy – 3 big boys that have been hanging out with these lionesses. They couldn’t have been far off, but it seems they were leaving the ladies in peace today. For us lucky ones in the Klaserie, our resident lions are not far away. And with a herd of elephants, some giraffes, and an impala kill all spotted on the way back to camp, we know we are in for a treat. Watch this space… Images by Chloe...

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Hitting the Safari Jackpot at nThambo
Jun18

Hitting the Safari Jackpot at nThambo

You know you’ve hit the safari jackpot when you don’t even have to leave the lodge to see some excellent game. The thing is, we HAD been out on game drive and we had already had our fill for the evening. The fact that we had a honey badger, a herd of elephants, and a spotted hyena visit the lodge after dinner was a bonus! nThambo Tree Camp is an unfenced lodge, and we are escorted to bed by rangers with torches, just to be sure that there are no predatory creatures hiding out underneath our stilted chalets, or silent elephants walking their babies to the waterhole just a few metres in front of camp. For the lodge staff, it is not unusual to have late-night visitors, but any informed safari-goer will know one can never predict what will happen, so it was a thrill to experience such up-close and unexpected visitors. Yesterday’s game drive made my personal top 5. Our land rover, driven by guide, Matt, happened upon a ‘shlambi of indlovu’, or, a herd of elephants. There were about 50 individuals, ranging in age and led by one dominant female, the matriarch. She let us know that she was in control of the situation and stood in the road eating for longer than necessary. Her little calf kept well underfoot of her and made it difficult for us to get moving again after a wonderfully long visit with the whole family. We were well and truly stuck in an elephant traffic jam! Matt expertly managed the situation and we moved slowly through the herd. A couple of members objected, and Mrs Matriarch made resounding stomach grumbles, which we felt right to the bone.   By the time we were back at the lodge and had tucked into all 3 dinner courses, we were alerted to a violent rustling in the bin area behind the kitchen. Honey badgers! One of beasts’ most fearless members had returned to nThambo Tree Camp and was determined to find some tasty leftovers. We shot up stalked him as far as we could before catching his rear end disappearing into the dark. While we were being distracted by the antics of the honey badger, a small herd of 6 or 7 elephants had sidled up to the birdbath right next to our dinner table. A big momma and her baby drank first, as we stood merely 5 metres away, then the others stepped forward to drink. Their low, alto grumbles reverberated through the ground, but they were unfazed by our awe-struck presence. Photographs were difficult because of the poor light, but the experience...

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Another Castle in the Klaserie Kingdom: nDzuti Safari Camp
Mar25

Another Castle in the Klaserie Kingdom: nDzuti Safari Camp

We have a lot of experience in the supreme Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Kruger’s unfenced neighbour; we know the lion prides by name, what they’re feeding on where they hide their cubs. Although this quietly private reserve rubs shoulders with the world-famous Kruger, it offers nothing of the multi-vehicle sightings and traffic of the National Park, but it does contain the brilliant population of wildlife we love to see on safari. Adding to the repertoire of Sun Destinations (sister company to Sun Safaris) is nDzuti Safari Camp. This is Sun Destination’s 3rd camp in the Klaserie, and we are thrilled to have taken this nurtured establishment on board. Just as we like it, this camp is small and intimate, accommodating only 8 people in 4 bedrooms that lead off a main lounge/living area. High, thatched ceilings and leather, studded sofas set the tone, African inspired art and photography don the walls, while wooden furniture and bare cement keep in tune with the natural impression of the lodge. nDzuti is unfenced, but surrounded by a tripwire, making it perfectly safe for young children to enjoy the full, green lawn. There is no need to be escorted across the premises by guides, giving families the freedom to move between the pool area, the deck and the house as they please. Our home of walking safaris, Africa on Foot, and our luxury Treehouse accommodation, nThambo Tree Camp, are both unfenced and open to visiting wildlife, whereas nDzuti provides a worry-free safari location for parents with adventurous children in tow. The main building houses all 4 en suite bedrooms, connecting them via the spacious central area, which includes a comfortably furnished lounge, equipped kitchen and dining area, offering a place of gathering or for relaxing indoors. Across the green, shady grass outside is a wide wooden deck and brick patio overlooking a riverbed, a pool and some sun loungers, a sheltered bar nearby, as well as a traditional boma area where the fire will be lit at night. Guests can dine under the stars, enjoy evening drinks around the fire or spend afternoons at the pool with their comfortable air-conditioned suites only a walk away. Now that we know families will be well cared and catered for at nDzuti, let’s add to the appeal with the mention of the resident River Pride that has made the nDzuti concession their territory. Game abounds in the Klaserie, and we have already become familiar with 2 other lion prides that reside near Africa on Foot and nThambo. The Ross Pride and the Giraffe Pride both carry the white lion gene and have had their fair share...

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A New White Lion Cub in the Klaserie
Dec20

A New White Lion Cub in the Klaserie

After some speculation over the past few months about a pregnant female lion in the Klaserie, it seems that there is indeed a new addition! Guests at Africa on Foot  had one of the most spectacular and rarest sightings this morning when they came across a tawny lioness and her little white lion cub. There was a sub-adult male with the mother and baby and they were lying in the grass deep within the Ross Pride Territory in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. As of now, we are waiting to be able to confirm that these lions are part of the famous Ross Pride that takes residence near nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot. The white lion gene is highly uncommon and very few white lions exist in the wild. We know that one of the dominant males in the Ross Pride carries the white gene, as there has previously been a white lion cub born as a result of his mating with one of the Ross females. Sadly, there has been high cub mortality rate over the last couple of years and the white cubs that have been born in the area, have died. The Ross Pride has come back fighting and there are now 5 tawny cubs growing strong. The possible new addition of a little white lion cub to the pride is fantastic news and we certainly hope to see it...

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