The Veroude family started their safari along the Elephant Coast, first visiting Mkuze Game Reserve! We entered the park over the foothills of the Lebombo Mountain range, through Mshopi gate and headed for Mantuma camp. The next few days they enjoyed finding and spotting different antelope species and birds, learning about the history of the park and relaxing next to the pool!
Some of the highlights included walking through the spectacular Fig Forest and encountering a bull elephant whilst having a braai at night! Unfortunately we didn’t find the Pel’s Fishing Owl on the Fig Forest walk but the Veroude’s got a good look at the Narina Trogon, Trumpeter Hornbills and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher to mention a few. The bull elephant that graced us with his presence was on his way to the bird hide for a drink. He got our guests really excited and allowed us to jump into the bus and to watch him walking across the road as he was set on quenching his thirst!
We then set off to our next stop, Kosi Bay Lodge. On arrival we quickly settled into a very tropical environment and got ready to go on a boat cruise on the lake system. Going through shallow channels from one lake to the next allowed us to see what lives and depends on this ancient lake system for survival. Hippos, fish, water birds, mangroves, dense dune forests and local fishing traditions were the highlights of this extraordinary ecosystem!
The following day we drove over rolling hills en-route to Kosi Bay mouth for a day at the beach. We stopped at a view point to look at the intriguing traditional Tonga fish kraals and Kosi Bay mouth. Thulani our guide demonstrated how the locals use wild banana leaves to build and fix their fish kraals. Julia learned quickly and showed her brothers how it’s done! Having never snorkelled before the Veroude’s were very keen to get in the water, put on their snorkelling gear and followed myself and Nick into the water. Amazed by the diversity of life under the water we went through books to see which species of colourful reef fish we had seen.
Tembe Elephant Park never seems to disappoint our guest’s expectations! We were warmly welcomed on arrival, with the Tembe ladies singing and making our guests feel at home. First game drive got the Veroude’s very excited to find some tuskers and to see what Tembe had to offer! We found three elephants close to the marsh and watched them play fighting right in front and next to our vehicle. Stijn never thought he would be siting eye to eye with Africa’s largest mammal!
Although a cold front was passing by we were lucky to see some amazing birds like the: Martial Eagle, Ret’z Helmetshrikes and African Harrier-Hawk. We also followed eight lions walking through the bush and watched them drinking at a waterhole whist having a coffee! If that wasn’t enough we found tracks of a female leopard with two cubs, stopped to see where they were going, heard nyala alarm calling, turned around and went to investigate. Turning onto the road where the nyala alarm call came from we spotted a leopard in the road! Great timing as we stopped to give her time to relax and to try get another look at her as she had started heading for the thicket.
Arriving in St. Lucia and the next few days being busy with activities, the Veroude family were looking forward to their stay at Avalone guest house. The next few days they were guided through the town, looking for birds, hippos and crocodiles. They also enjoyed the boat based whale watching and a sunset boat cruise on the estuary. We had superb sightings of purple swamphens fighting, goliath herons soaking up the last bit of heat from the sun and pods of hippo’s meters from the boat! A day interacting with elephants, cheetahs and serval allowed our guests to get even closer to the animals they've always wanted to see.
The all amazing Ithala Game Reserve had our guests in awe at its sheer beauty! Very different to any of the other game reserves our guests visited, Ithala has an amazing open landscape, mountains with deep valleys and different bird and mammal species that live there! We did early morning and afternoon game drives and found secretary birds, ostriches, bald ibis’s, jackal buzzards, eland, tsessebe, a black rhino bull with a massive horn, three more black rhinos running up a hill and moved trees off the road that elephants had pushed over! We also did a walk up the mountain to find where the Vereaux’s Eagles were nesting and encountered a couple of big elephant bulls close to the path!
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park was the last game reserve the Veroude’s visited. Morning drives in the south allowed us to find two lion cubs walking in the road by themselves and plenty of white rhinos which our guest were really happy to see. We found ourselves far in the south of the reserve having a lunch stop next to Black Imfolozi River with three elephants crossing. The north of the reserve brought us great luck as we spent time with lions feeding on a buffalo kill and watched a pair of African Crowned Eagles soaring and calling above us whilst having lunch at Hilltop Camp!