Golden Kruger Park Safaris
South Africa: A Pot of Golden Memories at the End of a Rainbow Nation. With over 20 national and private parks, the oldest and best known is the Kruger National Park. It's concentration of all manner of life forms spread out over nearly 2 million hectares means it's one of the most pristine ecological havens anywhere on the planet and those who oversee it's operations, jealously guard it's pristine qualities. Thats why we at Nhongo Safaris guarantee you an unforgettable experience with only the best golden memories to take home and share.
Highlights from Phalaborwa Northern Kruger with Matthew
As the dry season intensifies over the month of August, it has opened the door to some incredible experiences. One such occasion comes to mind. I had planned an evening boat Safar with my guests. This entails a night safari on the Olifants river within the Greater Kruger National Park. The nighttime changes the bush into something special and different to what you would normally experience during the day. The senses of smell and sound become heightened as the cover of darkness takes over, and the types of animals we are looking for changes. We are focusing on our nocturnal species, including our large cats like lion and leopard. It is a lso a time to take note of the thousands of glowing stars above. I took the spotlight scanning the banks of the river, while slowly idling forward. I taught the guests how to scan and use the spotlights successfully and safely. One young chap, spots eyes and calls me to confirm it may be. I grab the light and immediately recognize the eyes, the type of eyes that as a ranger brings instant excitement. Leopard! These cats are elusive and shy. As we approached closer, shy he was not. He lay watching us in the boat, while lying on the banks of the river. Enjoying this moment in complete wilderness under the night sky was unforgettable. He slowly stood up and walked along the bank, as we slowly moved with him as he walked. It is moments like these that create lifetime memories for the witnessing party of this great event called nature. He slowly disappeared into the darkness, we then concluded the night with a traditional south African meal called a Braai or Barbeque while on the boat.
Lion vs. Buffalo stand Off
I love the afternoons, the feeling of a hot beautiful day coming to an end, while being orchestrated the songs of birds as the start perching. The coolness in temperature intensifies all the smells of the bush, which creates aromas as we drive. The best is the golden light embracing the trees and forming unique silhouette patterns and shapes as you look over the bushveld landscape. It is also an exciting time, as this is normally when your nocturnal species slowly start getting active. We arrived at waterhole 30 min before sunset. It was a hot day and so the small waterhole was overcrowded by buffalo a few antelope and elephant. I decide to stop for a while and scan the area for any other animals, I noticed 11 lions on a great vantage point looking and waiting for the buffalo. It is always exciting finding hungry lions, even though they fail more times than making a kill. We waited patiently as we slowly watched the buffalo walking into a trap. The excitement started to build up, when I noticed a massive dust cloud behind the lions, and mentioned to my guests it could be another herd of Buffalo coming from behind the lions. The lions turned as both herds not aware of their presence edged closer and closer. The herd that approached behind the lions walked straight into an ambush, and the lions took full advantage, and where fully prepared. They pounced onto a young buffalo, and brought it down. The Buffalo herd scattered, but not far. The cry of the calf intensified causing the great herd of around 200 buffalo to turn and face their enemies; forming a black train they pursued the lions. Chasing the lions off the calf, and allowing a safe rescue. The calf survived. The lions where so close, you could tell they were hungry and could not give up. The lions tried to give chase, the herd of buffalo would not allow it. The herd formed together again and proceeded to chase the lions. It is a funny sight, the king of the bushveld, chased around by its prey. Lions are risk takers, working together allows them to be successful at taking down buffalo, however they have to be patient and choose the right time. It was an exciting sunset, and order of events that we were privileged to be part of. It is definitely something we dont get to witness and experience every day.
A Final Surprise
It was our second day, to continue the search of some animals and birds. I had the privilege to have Albert Maso as a guest on my vehicle. He is a very well known in Spain as a Biologist, Professor and photographer. He was leading a group of professional photographers. We were searching for everything big and small. What is extremely brilliant in the North of the Kruger, is the remoteness and wilder ness. Many safari travellers don’t understand the diversity of birds the Kruger National Park boasts. On a 3 Day safari in the North one can tick off more than 500 different bird species. That is what makes it special. I always stop for birds and sometimes by listening to them, they give away the presence of predators from snakes to something serious as a leopard. It was early morning and the golden glow , was slowly starting to warm up the cool air. We were driving slowly along the small Shivulani drainage line. I suddenly heard the Helmeted Guinea fowl, giving they’re not so happy whistles and alarms. I stopped immediately, anticipated to find something serious, as the Natal spurfowls joined the chorus of alarms a s well. There he was; our culprit he lay well hidden among the leaves of an apple leaf tree. We got closer, and the sighting many wish for was in play. He moved into the open, it was a young male leopard with a porcupine kill in the tree. He started feed ing in front us. It was always a great experience when you find a leopard on your own. We enjoyed watching and learning how he feeds and avoids the quills. I was very surprised with his kill, some leopard die trying to kill a porcupine, it takes guts and skill. His mother must of been the legend, that passed on this knowledge. What I love the most about conducting safaris in the north is the remoteness and the low amount of tourists, so we sat with two other cars enjoying this magnificent and elusive cat. The moral of the story is, embracing all your senses in the bush, notice what you smell, listen to the sounds and watch the behaviors it produces magical moments like this.
On Safari With Gert
23 August 2017
Today we started a new Safari with Cecilia and Martin from Uruguay. After a quick lunch and checking in at our Hotel, we left for a late afternoon Game Drive. We stopped off at a large waterhole where we found 17 Hippo, including a few small calves, lying on the bank sunbathing. We also found our first Giraffe of the Safari, which is always a highlight and in this case it was quite a large extended family group of 9 animals, including an a dult male, adult females and youngsters of various ages; slowly moving along and stopping off to browse here and there. We had a bit of luck quite late in the day, driving along one of the major rivers. I saw a quick movement of something that had just crossed the road and when we got there it turned out to be a female Leopard with a cub of about 5 months old ! As soon as they realized we'd spotted them, they both lay down flat on the ground, but there was no cover for them, so we had a great view of them in the clearing. The cub was very nervous and jumped up to run a few meters in, trying to get into a thicket, while the mother lay still for a while and as she relaxed, getting used to our presence, she got up and slowly started walking away from us with the cub rejoining her and they walked off, eventually out of sight. A great sighting and very nice way to start the Safari!
24 August 2017
We entered the Park early for a full day drive amid quite cold conditions, but luckily it warmed up steadily after sunrise. Initially, we saw plenty of general game and were spoilt for Giraffe sightings, as they were out in their numbers! We saw a Spotted Hyena at a den, lying in the den entrance with just her head out in the sunshine and also caught a quick glimpse of a Leopard in a riverbed, just as it disappeared into the reeds. We were also lucky enough to find 4 Lioness lying in the sun in a different riverbed, basking, but with their heads up, looking around and although a distant sighting, they were out in the open and we could see them quite well. As the day wore on and got much warmer, we had some very good Elephant sightings along the river, with one particularly large breeding herd drinking and dust-bathing. One very large female seemed to have her hands full trying to keep the herd together when moving away from the water, needing to cross the road and negotiate the gathering vehicles. Adding to her distress, was the fact that the herd had many youngsters in their midst and she was moving back and forth with mounting agitation, trying to keep an eye on all her herd members! Shortly before exiting the park we encountered a large bull Elephant in full musth, walking down the road towards us. He was in no mood to change course and we had to make space, until, eventually, hunger took over and he stepped off the road to browse, giving us enough space to make it past and to make sure we end the day with a bit of excitement!
On Safari With Kara
23 August 2017
Our first morning started with a bang with two Spotted Hyenas running in the road, faces covered in blood all excited and investigating the vehicles. A big Crocodile was laying sunbaking on the side of the river escaping the cold. We had a Mother Hippo with a very tiny calf leaving the water and heading out to go eat on some reeds too. My guests were all about spotting the animals themselves which helped a lot and we got to see a Buffalo walking in a drainage line next to the road and a few giraffes in the distance which I missed. Everyone joining in the fun makes things enjoyable. Later as the sun was setting we had 3 ground hornbills pecking the ground for food and also a big herd of Elephants that came to a big water Traft where they put their trunks over the side wall and sucking in water and poring it into their mouths. The youngsters weren’t to please to not be able to reached but kept on trying.
24 August 2017
We had more luck with the predators and had a Lioness walking in the riverbed for a few kilometers on a mission. We stuck with her for about 30min just watching her explore. After breakfast the wind picked up and we had some Giraffes all antsy running away from a silly warthog that startled them. While stopping for lunch we heard there was a cheetah in the area with youngsters. We found her on a small dirt road eating on a freshly killed steenbok with her 3 youngsters. Bloody faces and all. A big herd of buffalos was also pushing and shoving one another moving the herd towards water for a drink in the heat.
25 August 2017
Our last morning together we finally found one White Rhino eating in-between a strip of Qaurie bushes. And a few busy Zebras grooming and cleaning one another in the morning sun keeping a clear visual on anything dangerous coming from their blind spots. After a great trip we said our goodbyes all the Auzies heading into different adventures throughout SA.