When my family and I first moved to Umhlanga Rocks from Johannesburg over 25 years ago, there were sugar cane plantations all around. We had regular sightings of Cane Rats, Bushbuck, Red Duiker and the diminutive Blue Duiker. With the massive housing developments that have happened both in Umhlanga and the rest of the Natal North Coast, the habitat for these animals has been drastically reduced and they have all but disappeared. Some gated estates have attempted to accommodate the original wildlife of the area.
It is an international problem. As the world’s human population grows, so does the need for housing with the resultant reduction and degradation of natural habitats.
We are privileged that our lodges around the Kruger Park cannot be thus compromised. It is important therefore that places such as Olifants West Nature Reserve, open to Kruger Park and on which Tremisana Lodge is located, remain an integral part of and under the protection of SANPARKS, the South African National Parks. Recently, political infighting amongst landowners has threatened this ideal and fragmentation is possible. Viva Safaris has steadfastly committed our properties in OWNR, (Tremisana Lodge and Marula Boma) to remain part of the open system. We hope that sanity prevails and that other landowners follow suit.
GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
This month our fortunate guests witnessed many attempted kills.
ELIAS (SMILEY) reports:
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
Nyarai sent the following :
APRIL is one of my favourite months in the bush. It is warm by day and cool at night.
Guests on night drives and those returning from Kruger need an extra layer as well as the Viva blankets supplied. I note people arriving at Marula Boma for the Bush BBQ go straight to the tea/coffee station.
Tremisana is an amazing camp in respect of animal sightings. I am going on 21 days long leave and my heart breaks at the knowledge that I will miss out. I have asked the rangers to send me photos but it is never the same as being there and using ALL my senses to savour the sightings.
From the Lapa at Tremisana, I have seen lions, elephants, rhinos and hyenas. From time to time, I am lucky to go on drives. Last week I saw an interesting interaction between an elephant, two White Rhinos and the resident Hippo at Tremisana Dam – like it was a rehearsed show ! Two days ago, we had lions kill a kudu bull about 200 metres from Tremisana. Our guests were on the Quantum, homeward-bound and I got permission from the GM to delay departure – guests were ever so grateful. Ditto for guests who were on the OSV ( open sided vehicle) on the way to Kruger, where they also saw lions but not like these !!!
I am sure May will be equally good with more exciting sightings. I am so happy to have this job – waking up to the beauty of the African sun is awesome. Stay safe and take care.
CHARL reports as follows:
KATEKANI is still relatively quiet. We have done some deep spring cleaning. Kudu and Nyala are seen daily in the camp grounds.
We have been quite busy this month. Animal sightings have been good. The combing of thatched roofs is ongoing.
The Klaserie River is in full flow and all treehouses have a great view of the water.
We have upgraded the tents at Marcs.
DUMELA TENTED CAMP
All units are now ready. We rescued a young monitor lizard from the huge swimming pool.
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
We have had a fair month again. Our tired staff have started their well-deserved long leave – their first since Covid.
To further improve our tour operation, Viva Safaris seeks to appoint a Head Ranger.
As we become financially sounder, we can employ more staff. We are also looking into a project that will benefit long-serving staff.
I include the following Tripadvisor Reviews :
Best Safari Experience!!
Viva Safaris gave my family of four (two children ages 18 & 14) an unforgettable safari! From start to finish it was absolutely amazing. I don’t even know where to begin, but we had such a wonderful experience. All I can say is if you’re planning a safari in South Africa, don’t hesitate booking with Viva Safaris.
Viva was easy to book with and quickly responded to a few of the questions I had when planning. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel in Joburg which was very convenient. We chose the 4 day/3 night Tremisana Lodge because it provided a nice mix of safari adventures including the bush walk, multiple game drives on the surrounding reserves, and a full day at Kruger National Park. Just an hour after arriving to the lodge, we were already on a sunset game drive which ended with a delicious bush braai – cookout/bbq dinner in the bush!
We had our own chalet which slept the four of us comfortably. The grounds on the lodge were nice and had plenty of areas to find a place to relax and take in the views. We were constantly fed – breakfast every morning, lunches and dinners. We were never hungry! Even during our bush walk, we were given a little baggie with an apple and crackers, which I though was a nice touch. We were given bottles of water here and there as well, including on arrival. My wife and I enjoyed a few drinks from the bar for dinner or after dinner on each day. Some of the others we met during our safari also stayed at Marc’s Treehouse or the luxury lodge and said they enjoyed those too. We chose to only stay at Tremisana for the four days just so we didn’t have to keep unpacking/packing, etc.
The most special part of our stay were all the Viva Safaris employees we interacted with! Everyone there (and I mean everyone) from the kitchen staff to all of the guides that took us on our game drives, and the ones I met at the lodge (who we didn’t drive with) were awesome! That truly made our experience and stay special – genuinely great people who we’ll miss.
And speaking of the safari guides, our unforgettable safari experience is probably all owed to them! We rode with George, Rocky, Victor, and unfortunately I can’t remember the names of our two guides on our first night, and all of them were great! They were informative, funny, and made sure all of us were being taken care of on all the game drives. My family and I thank them so much for such a great experience!!
And lastly, we were able to see the Big 5 and just about every other animal that you would expect to see on an African safari. It’s weird because at times it seems like you can be driving around for hours and see nothing, but then all of a sudden you start seeing animals everywhere! Spending a full day at Kruger N.P. greatly enhances your chances of spotting a diverse group of wildlife.
Some of our safari highlights:
– Seeing two black rhinos during our bush walk!
– At Kruger, seeing a leopard resting in a tree with his half eaten impala hanging on the branch in front of him – only to find out later we were approximately 5 km from Mozambique!
– The entertaining monkeys at the lodge
– Seeing a lion to complete our Big 5 on the final morning, the sunrise drive before heading back to Joburg. Saw the male lion and two cubs only about 5-10 minutes from our lodge! Shortly afterwards, we found ourselves in the middle of a herd of elephants. Very close to them, big and small. And to think this was (again) our last game drive before saying our goodbyes. Talk about putting the icing on the cake of an incredible safari!
I’m sure there are many other great safari companies in South Africa, but all I can say again is my family and I truly enjoyed our safari with Viva Safaris. I can’t imagine another better all-around safari experience then the one we just had!
Karyanne L, Canada
We took a 5 nights 6 days tour with Viva Safari and we really loved our first safari experience ! The guides that we had, Victor, Raymond and Smiley were really good and friendly ! They truly know their bush and animals that live in it and they made our experience unforgettable. If you want to enjoy your trip in Kruger National park, I think it’s better to go with a tour like Viva Safari than to go by yourself. We stayed one night at Tremisana lodge and had a wonderful braii in the bush. We were the lucky ones who saw 7 lions around Tremisana house 30 minutes after our arrival in july. That was insane and a good way to start our trip ! After this, we stayed at Marc’s treehouse. The hosts were amazing, everything was well organized and perfect. We recommand it and hopefully will come back one day !
Exciting safari with great staff
Meghan M, USA
I did the 4 day-3 night Tremisana Safari with Viva and I am so glad I did! The staff from Viva took great care of me from the transfer drivers, safari guides and drivers, and all of the Tremisana team.
My main goal was to see lots of animals, and that was more than I imagined! I saw 4 of the Big 5 (just missed the illusive rhino, though we did spot one at the gas stop on the way from Joberg). I loved the structure of the 4 days and would recommend this for most people. Any less and you will miss out on sightings, but it was enough to leave wanting more.
First night we had our evening drive and bush braii, we had a delicious dinner and spotted a female lion we were able to get pretty close to, plus an elephant. At dinner listening to the hyenas under the bright stars and then spotting one on our way back to the lodge was so cool.
The next morning was the bush walk, we spotted our first hippos and giraffe. We saw these animals again but it was totally different to try to catch up to the giraffe on foot- I was surprised by my own reaction when I gasped aloud, it just is so graceful.
In the afternoon we had a couple hours to relax by the pool, that was the only day when I had time for a dip and I loved watching the monkeys playing nearby. That night was our sundowner drive. Halfway through we returned to Tremisana and dropped off a couple who were transferring to Marc’s, then went back out again. The evening drive allowed our incredible spotter/guide-in-training Rocky to show us cape buffalo and a leopard across the river! I don’t know how he first spotted it, but I was so glad to have binoculars to get a better view!
Day 3 was the Kruger day and it was also incredible! From Tremisana you drive in the open-air vehicle over an hour to Orpen Gate, so make sure you have sunglasses and a long-sleeve layer, and bring over-ear headphones if you have them. We saw plenty of elephants, impala, zebras, giraffe, wildebeest, kudu in the morning. Patrick was pretty down until after lunch when we spotted a male lion, a cheetah, an ostrich, and warthogs. He kept at it right until the park closed.
After all of that, I had no expectations for the early morning Day 4 drive, but we spotted Ezulwini the elephant early on. Towards the end, our guides got the call and drove as fast as possible to a pack of wild dogs! I hoped to see the dogs but they are very rare so I was ecstatic to see them.
Our return finished with a quick stop at the beautiful 3 rondavels in Blyde River Canyon which was a great way to end.
Before booking, I was concerned about what it would be like as a solo female, but I had a great experience, felt totally safe at all times, and befriended several people. The size is small enough that you see people again and again, but large enough that you can still meet some new people each day.
My room at Tremisana had air conditioning, which was very nice in the heat of March. It does cool down at night enough that the treehouse would probably be fine to sleep in, but I appreciated the a/c. Tremisana rooms all have their own toilet and shower as well so for me that was more comfortable, but the people I spoke to who stayed at Marc’s liked hearing the animals there at night so that’s something to consider.
I would definitely recommend Viva and in general I am so glad I opted for a guided safari rather than doing a self-drive. The guides shared so much knowledge and spotted so many animals I would not have seen in the tall March grasses.
If you’re going: bring the spray-on kind of bug repellent! You get dirty in the vehicles and trying to use the lotion at the end of the day in the vehicle made it hard to get it all over, and if you are prone to mosquitos like me, they will find you. Of course sunscreen, cash for tips/drinks (you will need to buy water plus any alcohol you want), binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens if you have it.
Special props to Rocky and King George (Shinagaroumafata?) for making everything so fun and for their great teamwork.
Fantastic experience and organisation
Everything was perfect!!! ALL transport organised perfectly, from the airport to Tremisana Lodge, to Marc’s Camp, to Kruger…without ANY delay. Game drives at BALULE GR even better than in Kruger. EVERYBODY of the staff VERY competent, friendly and helpful. SEE ALSO: MARC’S CAMP AND TREMISANA LODGE!!!!!
The time spent at Ezulwini Game Lodges far exceeding our expectations (we stayed at Billy’s Lodge). From the time we were greeted by the staff upon our arrival until they gathered to bid us safe travels at the end of our stay, the entire time was magical. Our guide/tracker (Hector and Conrade) were so knowledgeable about the animals and did an amazing job locating them. We saw the Big 5 twice. The food and hospitality were not to be out done by the game drives. We were treated like family and felt very much at home during our stay. Thank you to Sue, our hostess for our stay, and all of the other staff that worked so hard behind the scene to make this trip so very special.
Until next month,
With kind regards,