Wildlife viewing of the savannah: We made another stop on our safari tour through the northeast of South Africa at Andy’s camp in the Ukhozi Nature Reserve. A cozy lodge with a collection of small tent sheds for a handful of visitors. The great thing about this camp is its location on a hill with a perfect view of a waterhole below. In the morning, at lunchtime and especially in the evening, the entire animal landscape of the area appears alternately there. Everyone has a thirst, especially when it’s so hot.
The reserve is part of the Olifants Game Reserve, which together with the Olifants River Eastern Conservancy, the York Game Reserve, the Parsons Game Reserve, the Grietjie Game Reserve and Jejane belong to the vast Kruger National Park complex and is a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserve (APNR ).
As part of an initiative to protect nature, all fences that separate APNR protected areas have been removed, such as Balule, Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat, Grietjie Private Nature Reserve and Kruger National Park. Thus, the animals can freely commit the entire area and the Kruger Park. Ideal to go to “Game Watch”. “Game” in this context means something like “wild animal show in the wild”. Some sections of the park are also accessible to visitors by jeep or with guided Bush Walks.
We spent two days in and around Andy’s camp, did a jeep safari and a “Bush Shit Walk”. The two rangers Jika Tibana and Joe Maiapane supervised the tours, informed, pointed and clarified. We already had an interesting interview with Jika: Maruleng – Balule Nature Reserve. At this small but important, because in the larger environment single water hole was a constant coming and going instead. As far as no thirsty (and probably also hungry) predator approached, the drinking and resting animals did not interfere with each other.
But then we noticed the approach of such a predator when the plain suddenly emptied quite fast. And this was certainly one of the highlights: the visit of a leopard! This animal is rarely seen, we were lucky. This big game cat is one of the famous “Big Five”. The other four are lion, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. But there are also the “Small Five” or the “Ugly Five” and now a lot of other five-rankings. Unfortunately, the Big Five have been and still are hunted extensively for their horns or skins and are now under special protection. Nevertheless, poached and illegally killed, currently especially the rhinos.
The lodge is a beautiful, clean and well-organized observation camp in the middle of the nature reserve. The two Rangers are on a regular basis to look after the reserve and the animals, and when a safari tour comes in, there is an additional service staff with them. The camp has six small tent houses for two to three people, in the middle of the camp there is a lodge with kitchen and a large salon. For a cool and wet refreshment even a pool is available. None of us used it, we were more focused on discovering nature and observing the fascinating wildlife. But who wants to jump in, the pool is here.
In front of the lodge there is also a fire pit for cozy barbecue evenings, the rangers are also professional chefs and grill masters. After a discovery tour by the fire with a good wine or a Castle beer, it’s just great to talk about the abundance of new information and perceptions while watching the warming colorful flames in the middle of the South African steppe. Although it is very hot during the day, it can be quite cold at night. And to make the view even more perfect, an approximately six meter high lookout tower was also built. If you visit the camp so or go on an animal watching tour, then you should not forget a good pair of binoculars and the best possible camera lens.
Below is a photo selection of our animal sightings. Including: Tree Squirrel, Buffalo, Giraffe, Gnu, Green Monkey, Helmet Guinea Fowl, Impala, Kudu, Savannah Chick, Leopard, African Fish Eagle, Ibex, Shrub Hare, Southern Yellow-Billed Toco, Termites, Warthog, Zebra. At night in the lodge we still visited a 20 cm long Scorpion Spider, but fortunately they are harmless.
SOUTHERN YELLOW-BILLED TOCO
GNU – WILDEBEEST
IBIX – SPRINGBOCK
TREE SQUIRREL (they are very quick…)
SCRUB HARE, WARTHOG, HELMET GUINEA FOWL and SAVANNAH CHICK
Website Greenfire: https://www.greenfire.co.za/project-details/greenfire-game-lodge/
Website Siyabona: http://balule.krugerpark.co.za/
Website Krugertravel: https://krugertravel.com/hotel-lodges/green-fire-game-lodge
Website Safaribookings: https://www.safaribookings.com/balule
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