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April 2019

The African Mourning Dove, Streptopelia Decipiens, is well known in wildlife reserves in Botswana and East Africa. For many years, it was known as the Angola Mourning Dove. It is easily recognised by its diagnostic red skin around a yellow eye.

African Mourning Dove

African Mourning Dove

 

In South Africa, it is restricted to Kruger Park and environs. My first encounter with this beautiful dove was in the late 1960s at Shingwedzi Camp in the far north of Kruger. By 1970 it had made an appearance at Letaba Camp, some 100 km south of Shingwedzi. I then found it at Satara in 1974 when my friend Willie Ackermann was Camp Manager. I recall my involvement soon thereafter with Dr Alan Kemp, renowned ornithologist, who was researching this dove at Satara.

Recently I have found the African Mourning Dove at Tshokwane Picnic Site some 50 km south of Satara and well as in Hoedspruit, the nearest town to our lodges. It seems to thrive in village environments. I am not exactly sure as to how it spread to various locations but have a suspicion that there was human involvement.

Of course, I am not criticising the process of introduction of endemic species. White Rhino were extinct in Kruger Park and in the late 1960s were re-introduced from Imfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve situated in my home province, KwaZulu Natal. At the Balule Nature Reserve, where Tremisana Lodge is situated, Black Rhino were introduced very recently and have thrived to the degree that our guests at Tremisana see Black Rhino more often than White Rhino.

 

GAME-VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES

ELIAS Reports

The bush surprises us every day. On a Sunset Drive, I drove the Olifants road. It was very quiet.

As we approached Campfire, we saw 21 lions including cubs. It was crazy and unbelievable.

When we got to Marula Boma we saw hyena and honey badgers.

On a bushwalk with Rex, we saw impala, zebra and giraffe on the way to our parking. There we found 2 lions, so we had to park our vehicle elsewhere. On the bushwalk we saw hippo, waterbuck, elephant, impala and crocodile.

Elephants playing

Elephants playing

 

SHANNON Reports

April was full of fun experiences and sightings that brought smiles to many faces.

Morning drives

Beautiful Autumn colours of orange, pink, purple and yellow fill the sky and the horizon, covered in mist, yields a truly scenic start to the day. We encountered animals such as elephant, lion, giraffe, zebra and various antelopes. Crisp air and chirping birds induce a sense of peace and happiness as we end our guests’ safari and say goodbye as they head back to Johannesburg.

Young lion near Tremisana

Young lion near Tremisana

Bushwalks

We have seen elephants, hippos and crocodiles on most walks.

Sunset drives

We experienced a few quiet drives and others full of excitement. We viewed a pride of 19 lions roaring as a choir, a leopard less than 5 metres from the vehicle, plenty of elephant and buffalo as well as zebra, giraffe and our trusty Impala. Driving back from Boma we often see small spotted genet, bushbabies, elephant, hyena and chameleons – a great first experience for our guests.

 

REX Reports

It has been a better month than March – I have on a few occasions seen lions near Naledi and herds of elephants all over.

Bush walks always yield impala, zebra, kudu and giraffe. There has been an increase in the sightings of Bushbuck.

Sunset drives have been good with regular sightings of elephants. We have had good sightings of Black Rhino.

Good shot of Black Rhino near our vehicle

Good shot of Black Rhino near our vehicle

 

On a Sleep out, we saw one elephant, 3 hyena, 2 honey badgers and a porcupine at Marula Boma. A herd of buffalo is often seen east of Marula Boma.

 

JANNEMAN Reports

Another month has come and gone in beautiful Balule.

During a Sundowner drive we found 2 giraffe and 2 kudu bulls right at Tremisana. On our return drive to the lodge we saw 2 big buffalo bulls fighting on the road and then the whole herd of 70 buffalo !

To the guests’ joy and amazement during a Sunset Drive, we encountered a civet that had caught a bush baby. The guests were thrilled! Closer to Marula Boma we discovered 2 chameleons in the beam of our spotlight.  The guests were in awe because chameleons are small and camouflaged and not easy to spot in the dense bush.

That same night at Marula Boma a big bull elephant was busy taking a sand bath to the joy of all.

Elephant at Marula Boma

Elephant at Marula Boma

 

VICTOR Reports

Another day in KRUGER PARK – AMAZING KRUGER PARK

Temperature ranged from 25C to 35C. Between the Orpen gates we saw general game including  zebras and giraffes. Near Nwamatsantsa viewpoint we saw elephants crossing the road and as we turned onto the S106 we saw a leopard right next to the road.

Near the Timbavati picnic spot we saw two white rhinos and at Girivana waterhole we saw a big buffalo herd. At Satara I was informed about lions on the H6 – we went there and had a great sighting of two lionesses and one lion lying down on the tar road – Big Five in one day yet again !

Big buffalo herd

Big buffalo herd

 

CHARL Reports

April 2019 was a great month for elephant sighting in Kruger. Our lucky guests had amazing opportunities to see elephants close and personal.

Elephant close and personal

Elephant close and personal

 

One of the best sightings was of two cheetahs close to Tamboti junction. That same evening when we returned we found the same cheetah walking towards a herd of impalas while on the other side of the road we had 3 white rhino !!

 

RAYMOND Reports

KRUGER
28th :
We found 13 Wild Dogs 0n the H 7 about 13Km from Satara lying down on the road. On the S100 we found a big herd of buffalo crossing the road. On the S40 we found a big herd of elephant walking towards Ngirivana water hole.

BALULE
15th :
On the Olifants road near Marula Boma we found a lioness on giraffe kill. 2 km further we found a big male leopard walking on the road.

7th : We found big pride of lions on York 7 on the southern side of Richard’s dam.

Good sighting of lion pride

Good sighting of lion pride

 

BERNARD Reports

My third month with Viva was my best so far. I was privileged to see a lioness attempting to catch a warthog. She almost ran into my vehicle. On one morning drive there was an African Goshawk hovering next to the road. I stopped to look at it and he came and sat on my roof right above my head. My guests thought it was a circus act!!!

On my first day back from leave, I did a long morning drive with guests who could not manage the Bush Walk. We saw giraffe, elephant, buffalo, hippo and rhino twice.

On a Sunset Drive, my guests were thrilled to see a Flap-necked Chameleon on a tree right next to the road.

Flap-necked Chameleon near Marula Boma

Flap-necked Chameleon near Marula Boma

 

PATRICK Reports

4th : Windy and cold, sightings difficult : lions at Nyamari waterhole near Ngotso dam, elephants s100, buffaloes Rabelais, three white rhino near Orpen .

9th : Elephants  and buffalo Rabelais, cheetahs Rockvale pan on s36, more elephants Sweni road, mating lions on s90.

13th : Lions near Tamboti camp, three white rhinos Orpen, buffaloes h7 before Ngwenya, more elephants Nsemani dam.

19th : Leopard on Marula tree before Orpen, elephants Orpen waterhole,  lioness sleeping near Kingfisherspruit, rhinos, Secretary bird Rockvale waterhole, Wild Dogs after Rockvale, more elephants Nsemane dam.

Great leopard sighting

Great leopard sighting

22nd : Lions mating at Xibotwana waterhole on s100, leopard crossing s100, buffaloes and elephants Sweni road.

 

MBUZO Reports

3rd : Leopard on h7 and elephants crossing road.

5th : Buffalos  h1-3 and elephants h7 and leopard h1-3. Lions 126.

6th : Elephants s100 and buffalo h7 and Wild Dogs 0n h7 next to the road. Lions at h1-3.

Elephants crossing the road between Viva Safaris vehicles

Elephants crossing the road between Viva Safaris vehicles

 

26th : White Rhino and elephants h7. Buffalos s39 , Leopard h7.

 

JORDAN Reports

It has been an exciting and eventful month.

A young female leopard has taken up residence at Marcs. Her tracks can be seen on the road between Masango Camp and the Treehouse Lodge.

Her mother holds a territory in nearby Kapama. We are really privileged to enjoy regular sightings of this beautiful, young and relaxed leopardess.

Young female leopard near Marc's Treehouse Lodge

Young female leopard near Marc’s Treehouse Lodge

 

Walks have been interesting : Autumn has presented a medley of colours and smells. Certain trees Common Spikethorn are flowering now and there is a unique scent in the bush.

The golden orb spider webs have done their breeding and contain the remains of the insects.

 

NEWS FROM OUR LODGES

TREMISANA LODGE has had some good rain this month. Riana and Janneman have moved into their flatlet and are happy.

Riana outside her new flatlet

Riana outside her new flatlet

 

Happenings around Tremisana Lodge in April – sent by Riana

People say that February is the month of love, but here at Tremisana we can safely say that April is. We had the opportunity to host a couple of guests that came here on their honeymoon and also had a guest that came here to propose to his girlfriend. We also had a couple of guests that celebrated their birthdays. To all those guests we extend once again our congratulations and good wishes!

We had so many exciting things happening around the lodge and these included a wonderful sighting of a Leopard feeding on its kill close to Tremisana dam just outside the lodge. We also had a breeding herd of elephant at the lodge and a herd of  70 buffalo came to our waterhole behind the Lapa. Our waterhole is also frequented by hyena and jackal in the evenings.

As always the monkeys were quite mischievous and are always looking for all kinds of ways to grab items and run for dear life. As soon as they realize the item is not edible , they simply chuck it away.

Our little resident tortoise always brings a lot of joy to our guests. He is always hanging around the pool area and also loves the soft juicy grass around the fishpond.

And to top it all off in this month of love at Tremisana we had the most beautiful pink full moon on the 19th of April.

MARC’S TREEHOUSE LODGE has been very busy. Game drives on Motlala have been great with rhino and buffalo sightings almost guaranteed.

KATEKANI LUXURY TENTED LODGE has again been relatively quiet.  The guests are enjoying personalised treatment.

MASANGO CAMP has had its busiest month ever. Our floodlight illuminates the whole camp and one night the young female leopard was seen near the swimming pool.

At MARULA BOMA, we are offering all guests a complimentary shot of Amarula liqueur.

Camera trap shot of hyena

Camera trap shot of hyena

 

We have received the following from Frances Cripps, reservations and marketing manager of Ezulwini Lodges where we accommodate our luxury lodge guests :

MATUMI SUITE AT EZULWINI RIVER LODGE
We have upgraded one of the suites as follows :
Guests will use a Private Land Rover, with dedicated Ranger and Guide – two daily game drives (Sundowner and Sunrise); complimentary bar including a selection of fine wines and spirits, Silver Service Private Dining with all meals (full South African breakfast, light lunch and four course evening meal) including Butler Service, all teas, coffees and mineral water, Massage Service – an individual massage for each guest on one of their preferred days.

Matumi Suite

Matumi Suite

 

NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS

You will have received my notice of the changes to the 3 day Treehouse and 3 day Tent safari packages. Tourists on these packages no longer visit Tremisana Lodge, but now enjoy 2 nights in the same camp.

These altered products are significantly cheaper than they were before and compare exceptionally favourably with similar products offered by other operators.

You will also have received our 2020 tariffs. There has been an increase of between 7% and 8.6% for our products. I always struggle with these calculations as there are so many unknowns, not least of which are fuel and electricity increases. Viva Safaris’ tour operation is very fuel-dependent as we transfer all our guests to our lodges from their homes/hotels/hostels in Johannesburg and do not have a central departure point like our competitors and other transfer companies. We collect guests in this way to ensure their safety and security, despite incurring additional fuel costs. We travel great distances from our lodges to Kruger Park. In Kruger, we cover an average of around 200 km daily. Transfers to Tshukudu Game Reserve and Moholoholo Rehab Centre also are fuel-consuming.

The electricity saga and ESKOM are worrying – all my negative friends reckon we shall have more load-shedding after the General Election on 7 May 2019. I think and sincerely hope that they are misguided but I do expect various electricity tariff increases during 2020.

With respect to Moholoholo and to a lesser degree Tshukudu, I have spoken to the respective owners in relation to the SATSA (SA Tourism Services Association – of which Viva Safaris has been a member for 28 years) discussion on human interaction with animals. Viva Safaris does not endorse any handling or unnatural interaction. We do not support any tourism venture that encourages touching or walking with or riding on any wild animals.

Our reviews continue to impress in terms both of quantity and quality. This explains the ever-increasing number of enquiries and visitors we have. Thanks to all our staff for their dedicated and passionate work.

I include some reviews posted during April 2019 :

VIVA SAFARIS

“This was Amazing!”
– ericbrawders, Denver Colorado

My wife and I went on safari at the end of March/beginning of April 2019. You can read my reviews on both Tremisana Lodge and Marc’s Treehouse lodge on their pages. Everyone at Viva Safaris was wonderful. From the van drivers who picked us up, to the guides at Tremisana and in Kruger, our experience at Moholoholo Rehab center, every one we encountered was happy and helpful and knowledgeable. Like many people, we thought a safari was not affordable for us. We were wrong. Viva was priced well and delivered in a huge way. We were able to see the Big 5 and lots of other animals also. Even when animal viewing slowed during a day, the guides worked so hard to find us more wildlife. My advice to people going on safari with any company: these are wild animals and not animals in a zoo. It is not the company’s or the guides’ fault if you don’t see all of the animals you want to see. Kruger National Park is the size of the Netherlands. If you think you could find a single animal in an area that big, I would love to see you try. These guides are amazing and knowledgeable and work so hard to deliver what the safari-goers are looking for.

 

MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE

“Great location, camp and staff, really well run and organised”
– Topcat_TC2014, Peterborough UK

We stayed here as part of a 6 day safari with Viva Safari’s and had a great time. Staff were brilliant, food superb, grounds of the camp are great and everything was incredibly well organised. Game did their part too with us seeing all of the Big Five on drives here plus so much more. We cannot recommend the place highly enough and the staff make it so, right from the lady who cleaned our tent daily (we stayed in the camp part) through to the grounds staff and organisers who keep everything running smoothly, the kitchen and bar staff, food was just so good, and the guides who took us on the game drive and were so knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

 

TREMISANA

“The Best Experience of My Life”
– Carlos

Through Viva Safaris, and the wonderful General Manager- Piero Colia- as well as awesome Camp Manager at the Tremisana Game Lodge – Rianna Broodryk- made this trip the most memorable and amazing trip of my life. The service, the amenities, the food, the lodge, and the wonderful safari tours led by Mr. Janneman were second to none. It was beautiful to see the Warthogs come into the lodge with the cute little monkeys and graze next to you on a routine basis. A minimum of a 5 Day Safari is a must to get the full experience. I felt treated like a king and truly appreciated as a guest. Everyone was so kind, humble, and gracious that it made it difficult to say goodbye. I am recommending them very highly to my family members and hope that they can share in the same unbelievable experience as I had.

 

Read more reviews for:
Viva Safaris,  Marcs Treehouse LodgeTremisana Lodge and Katekani Tented Lodge on TripAdvisor.

 

Until next month…

With kind regards,
Piero
General Manager
Viva Safaris