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April 2021

The Banded Mongoose, Mungos Mungo, is so named after the conspicuous transverse bands on the lower part of the back.

Banded Mongooses at Marc’s Camp

Banded Mongooses are seen regularly at all our camps, scurrying around in small groups of up to 15 individuals. They are diurnal and sleep in burrows. When disturbed, the pack disperses quickly but the mongooses maintain contact with one another by uttering a high-pitched twittering. They may therefore be heard some distance away. When potential danger is suspected, they utter a higher pitched shrill chitter (not too dissimilar to that of tree squirrels) and the pack freezes and individual adults rise on their back legs to full standing positions, keeping balance via their tails and looking around in all directions. They then usually retreat to a thicket, appearing a little later to resume foraging.

The food of the Banded Mongoose includes insects, grubs, snails, eggs and young of ground nesting birds as well as wild fruits. They produce litters of up to eight young, born mainly in the summer months.

GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES

April has been a good month. The grass is drying out and visibility into the bush is improving.

Patrick had some excellent lion sightings in Kruger. The lions appear a lot more confident now that there are fewer tourists to harass them and are seen on the roads as witnessed by the following photos :

Lions nearby the vehicle afforded our guests excellent photographic opportunities

Victor had his own personal shot taken near a lion on the road.

Victor and lion

Victor also took a good photo of this big elephant bull.

Elephant near Satara

VICTOR and PATRICK report as follows :

Monthly Report for Victor April 2021

On the 7th April 2021 we started our game drive from Orpen gate reception where we saw wildebeest and impalas. We continued our drive on the H7 road to Satara and just before Phelwana Bridge we saw a herd of buffalos crossing the road heading to Rockvale waterhole. We turned onto the S36 road to the Muzandzeni picnic site where we saw Elephants drinking water at Shimangwaneni dam. 

Elephants at Shimangwaneni Dam

We then took the S126 road leading to Sweni waterhole where we saw giraffes, zebras and warthogs. Further on we saw a hyena crossing the road. 

After lunch we saw Elephants busy drinking water at Nsemani dam. We continued with our drive along the S39 road that leads to Leeubron waterhole. When we arrived there we saw a leopard eating an impala under a tree. On our way out we saw wild dogs running on the H7 road just before Orpen rest camp.

Monthly Report from Patrick April 2021

On the 4th in Kruger, notable sightings included elephants on the h7, leopard on the first Timbavati River viewing spot, lions before Nsemani dam, buffaloes on Sweni road.

Buffaloes on Orpen Road

On the 5th, there were lions before Rabelais road and a leopard on the h7 road. We saw elephants at Nsemani dam, lions on Sweni road, buffaloes and elephant on the s36. On the s126 there was an African rock python wanting to cross the road and it then changed direction and went back into the bush. There was a lot of general games on the h7.

Selection of great sightings in Kruger

ELIAS reports as follows :

It had been a while since my last drive and I was very glad to have the opportunity to go out into my beloved bush.  I drove down Oxford main where we spotted one male elephant which brought back joy for me and my clients. He didn’t give us a lot of time with him but the guests got their photos. On the Olifants road we saw lots of giraffes, impalas and zebras. We saw the wildebeest on Barnard airstrip and my guests were very excited to see them. I drove to Marula Boma for our BBQ dinner and while we were eating we saw a very big hyena which was very interesting. I saw that my clients stopped eating because they were scared but I explained carefully to them that the hyena was not going to harm them and then they were ok. After we left Marula Boma we saw a breeding herd of elephants. The guests were very happy to see the babies. 

Then the next day I took my guests for a bush walk accompanied by volunteer guide Luca. It was very good morning bushwalk because they were learning about the beauty of nature and the history and culture of South Africa. I had a great day with them. And we saw Wild Dogs.

TOLLI reports as follows :

It’s great to be back in the saddle, or should I say, driver’s seat! 

We are so happy to get more guests this month. 

Most people think a safari is about the big five. The chances of seeing all of the big five is getting slimmer every day because of rhino poaching… 

Black Rhino seen hear Tremisana Lodge

I include some photos of other amazing animals you might see on safari: 

We were privileged to see these animals, the big five and some really rare ones this month. 

And to our passionate guest who participated, thank you so much 

LUCA is back from Italy and has conducted the odd drive and reports as follows :

I have accompanied various guides on walks and drives, so you may be reading the reports twice – sorry !

9/4
Our drive started at 5pm, with me, the guide Elias and 2 guests. We saw 2 elephants, young males. After the sun went down we spotted a Wild Cat, I had never seen one before.

10/4
We woke up before dawn to go for the 4hour bushwalk. While Elias was driving, we found a dead Bushbuck on the road. The kill was fresh and we suspected that it was the work of a leopard. We reached a safe distance and waited hoping that perhaps the predator would come back again. It did not happen and we proceeded with the bush walk. 4 hours later, on the way back, we saw that the carcass had disappeared. During the afternoon drive we reached the same area as in the morning. We saw a leopard passing the same place.

18/4
This afternoon I was on a drive with a guest from America. She must be very lucky: our first sighting was a black rhino charging our vehicle. Luckily we kept our cool and the animal moved away. Later we saw 2 young male elephants.

19/4
This day I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Kruger National Park with Tolli. Before lunch we saw giraffes, buffaloes, crocodiles, elephants and 3 ground hornbills. The best sighting in the afternoon was a lioness that was lurking under the trees on which a female leopard and her cub had taken refuge.

22/4
During the evening I was sent to the Boma to prepare the Barbecue, while we were having dinner with our guests, a civet arrived.

27/4
I went to the Boma to prepare the barbecue. During dinner we managed to see a hyena.

Piero’s visit to Hluhluwe

I personally did yet another safari in Hluhluwe Game Reserve.

The more often I go there, the more convinced I am that the 7 day Kruger and northern KZN safari package we now offer will become extremely popular. I had brilliant sightings of White Rhino and Buffalo.

White Rhino and Buffalo in Hluhluwe

NEWS FROM OUR LODGES

Aron, head handyman, has done great work at Tremisana in checking every chalet, every borehole and every other item that may have degenerated during the period of non-usage. I am pleased to report that most things are still in excellent working order. Where necessary a coat of fresh paint has brightened things up. He moves to Katekani next and thereafter to the Treehouse Lodge.

The animals at all our lodges have become less skittish. Buffalo are seen regularly at Marc’s Camp and traverse the area between Masango Camp and the Treehouse Lodge every day. The nyala and impala have also become much tamer and may be approached fairly closely. As the winter season approaches, we can expect to see many more animals along the Klaserie River at Marcs and at the Tremisana Dam. The solar-powered borehole at Tremisana Dam is functioning very well and the dam is full.
 

Report from Tremisana Lodge April 2021 by Nyarai

The month of April saw an increase in the number of tourists visiting Tremisana Lodge. It turned out to be a very busy month compared to other months since the emergence of COVID 19. The increase in the number of guests in April points to the gradual return to normalcy and an encouragement to prospective tourists to visit and experience the great outdoors with us. The Easter weekend was quite busy as well and an indication that the tourism industry is indeed in recovery.

Most of our visitors come from the international market. This month has seen us receive not only international but visitors from the local market as well and they have really enjoyed themselves. We have received positive feedback and this is very encouraging. We believe that the packages that we offer are able to service both markets. We hope that in the next coming months we will see an influx of both international and local guests.

As winter sets in we are now experiencing longer cold evenings and darker mornings. With the sun coming out later the four hour bushwalk is easier to do. The bush is still dense but the animals are still making a show allowing our guests to experience wildlife that is unrivalled in diversity with the likes of hyenas, elephants, lions, rhinos, buffalo and leopard as well as general game. Special mention goes to the large herd of elephants that we have been encountering a lot of times on our drive down to the Boma. The elephants take their time crossing the road and sometimes come very close to the vehicle. The proximity is too close for my liking in that with the stretch of a trunk they could possibly reach into the vehicle and pass a greeting. The guides say I am neurotic. My highlight was a sighting of a leopard sitting in the road and just watching us as we drove by going to the Boma on the last Thursday of the month. I think it was just the perfect closing to the month.

NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS

As predicted in last month’s newsletter, there has been an increase in enquiries and bookings. Guests are more confident now to pay the 50% deposit and this has helped our cash flow situation. I am reasonably sure that this increasing trend in advance bookings will continue. May and June have traditionally always been our quietest months and although we have minimal bookings for these months, we anticipate an upswing in tourist numbers from July onwards.
 
I have had quite a few agents asking about 2022 tariffs. These are always difficult to produce too far in advance as there are unknowns that can affect our costs. Chief of these is the fuel price and we have no idea of how that is going to go. Viva Safaris has been operating for 30 years and we pride ourselves in the fact that NOT ONCE have our tariffs increased during the course of any calendar year. I would like to put out the 2022 tariffs and maintain these from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022. I shall do my best to have next year’s tariffs available by 31 May 2021.

I include a review posted on Tripadvisor in April. This is particularly pleasing as our guest has clearly spent some time thinking about what she would write.

Best African Tour so far
Londa N

I believe that one cannot separate human interactions from any activity. Sure, I signed up for a safari, but this tour reminded me of the importance of relationships. Good interactions make any experience so much richer. On this basis, I would really like to commend the team at Viva Safaris. Everyone – from management, to the office lady, to our field guides, to the ground & kitchen staff – engaged us and interacted with us at a very authentic and relational level. Having travelled a lot, I am seriously jaded by the gimmicky antics of many tourist establishments – there was not a HINT of that here, which was awesome. Many thanks to the team – I hope you folks survive covid!

Until next month,

With kind regards,
Piero
General Manager
Viva Safaris