Saturday 11 August 2018

Lion cubs

One of many highlights of our trip was finding two female lions with six, three month old cubs.

Tangala Lodge, Thornybush Reserve

We moved on to Thornybush Reserve, staying at Tangala Lodge. This is a much larger reserve with a number of lodges, which means more vehicles (but not too many) and as they are all in touch with each other via radio, more sightings.

Over the three days we had many fantastic sightings.
Our 2nd leopard of the trip 


Brown Headed Parrott




African Elephant 

White Crested Helmet Shrike

Helmeted Guineafowl

African Pipit

African Hoopoe

White Backed Vulture  

Cape Glossy Starling

Fork Tailed Drongo

Hippo at the watering hole at the lodge 

A few more pics

Slender Mongoose

Marshall Eagle]

Dark Chanting Goshawk 

Another exhilarating encounter with lions.   

Burchell's Coucal

Sunday 5 August 2018

Face to face with an angry Black Rhino

We moved on to Rukiya Camp, located on the banks of the Blyde River. Here we had luxury tented accommodation which was fine, but cold at night, being winter in South Africa. The river and lawn area provided a number of birds sightings including the monster Giant Kingfisher (44cms).

Wild Rivers is not a big 5 reserve and we had to drive around 30 minutes each morning to the Excellence big 5 reserve. The evening drive was at Wild Rivers, however, these were pretty quiet in comparison.   
Giant Kingfisher - one of 3 kingfisher species seen


Hadeda Ibis

We were advised to take gloves and hats for the early morning drives and we never needed them more than on the transfer along a motor way for the morning game drives, it was freezing! Only 2 vehicles, both from Rukiya Camp, have access to the private site, and on our first morning safari we were notified within 5 minutes of entering the reserve, that the other vehicle had located a rare Black Rhino. Our ranger advised us that there are only 2 Black Rhino in the reserve and they had not been seen for a few weeks since they had a fight, which left one, with serious injuries. The animal that had been sited was the victor who were told was quite aggressive and had previously attacked and damaged vehicles....gulp.            

At first the rhino was very wary and just ran when we got anywhere near it. We eventually tracked it down to a more open space where we could view and photograph it from a safe distance, however, I think it had other ideas. 

It became a quite scary experience as the rhino stopped, turned and ran at us. It done this a number of times until it was literally 20 feet away. Our hearts were racing as it snorted and kicked up dust, but luckily it didn't attack, turned and ran off. This was our cue to leave it alone and carry on with our drive. 

Despite our best efforts we couldn't find any big cats, but I was happy as the site was good for birding.  

White Fronted Bee Eaters 

Record shot of 1 of only 2 Purple Rollers seen all trip

Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill - very common

Black Collared Barbet

It was then back to the camp where I spent the afternoon birding from the bar, adding a few new species.

White Browed Scrub Robin 

A very dapper African Pied Wagtail

Southern White Crowned Shrike

Saturday 4 August 2018

Our last safari at Nzumba Lodge, Klaserie Reserve, South Africa - looking for Lions

On our final morning we had one last safari at Nzuma before we transferred to our next lodge. We had not seen lion on the previous four safaris or any further Leopard sightings.

Over an early coffee at 5.30am our wonderful guide Stefan informed us that lions had been heard during the night and we were off to try and find them. Both Stefan and our wonderful tracker Vusi carefully studied the dirt tracks for prints but after an hour there was still no sign. Then out of the blue Vusi spots two males around 100 metres away behind some trees and it was all systems go, to go see them at closer range.

We had brief but good close views of both lions before they hot pawed it into the bush and could not be located. We spent the next couple of hours looking for the rest of the pride. Stefan and Vusi, went on foot and found another male near a kill but it ran as soon as it saw them and could not be relocated.     

It was time to get back to the lodge, finish packing and make our way to our  next destination. 

About Nzumba:
  • 60 species of birds seen
  • White Rhino, (1) seen briefly by torch light on way back to camp, lions, leopard, wild dogs, hippo, crocodile, giraffe (many), zebra (very few), warthog, hyena, jackal, kudu, impala and waterbuck
Nzuma was a great location for our first stop. We saw 4 of the Big 5 (not Buffalo) but we had to work for it. The lodge itself is superb. The accommodation was very comfortable, and the food just could not have been better. 
High tea

Each day we got a 5.30am knock for our 6am safari. Hot drinks, muffins and breakfast was provided. It is winter in South Africa now so at 6am it was cold. For the first couple of hours we needed layers,  hats and gloves. During the day it got up to a a nice 25/26c. During our morning safari we would usually find a safe spot to stop for more drinks and snacks, before getting back around 10.15am, just in time for a lovely and massive breakfast. We then had a few hours to ourselves, before high tea was served at 3.30pm. Stuffed we then headed out on our afternoon safari. As the sun disappeared over the horizon we'd stop for a hot drink or cold beer etc, if you prefer, getting back at 7ish, for a quick shower before a sumptuous evening meal, served communally with other guests if there are any. The lodge has three rooms so it is never crowded.  

This lodge really was fantastic and could not be faulted. 5/5!         


Nzuma Lodge, Klaserie Reserve, South Africa - part 2

Our second full day was dominated by African Wild Dogs. The African Wild Dog is one of the most endangered mammals in Africa, with a small population of just a few thousand, dropping in numbers year on year. During our evening safari we encountered a pack on 7 individuals on the hunt. We followed the pack for around 2 hours. At one point they were hot on the hooves of an Impala which luckily got away. Seeing a successful Wild Dog hunt and kill is rare, and we were told is very violent and brutal with the unfortunate animal caught, pulled limb from limb and eaten alive, although our guide assured us death is quick. We were quite pleased to miss out on that to be honest.

10 meters behind an Impala 

The first of many Lilac Breasted Rollers (c50 seen)

Record shot of a Magpie Shrike

Zebra were surprisingly scarce 

We ended the evening safari with this impressive Verreaux's Eagle Owl - the only owl seen on our entire trip