The Sable Antelope, Hippotragus Niger, is a stunningly beautiful animal.
Both sexes are blessed with magnificent recurved horns and I rate the adult Sable bull as the most majestic antelope in all of Africa.
They are uncommon but recently Viva Safaris guests have had some luck in seeing them. In Kruger Park there is a large herd along the S 36 between Mudzanzene and Hlangulene picnic spots. On Balule we see a small herd on the van der Merwe property bordering Tremisana as well as three individuals that move around the York properties. Sable are grazers of medium length grass.
My psychoanalytic children tell me that I have a soft spot for Sables because they are black and white. We chose the Zebra as our emblem on all Viva Safaris staff clothes and both the football side I support, Juventus of Torino, and the rugby side I support, The Sharks of Durban, are kitted out in black and white. My children falsely believe this is why I have no grey areas ! Absolute nonsense !
Besides sightings of Sable Antelope, our guests have had some incredible luck this month : Lions and Elephants have been seen on each and every safari into Kruger, Rhino sightings have been good and Motlala Reserve has had a pack of Wild Dogs all month. Our guests saw 2 kills made by this pack – one of a Bushbuck near Marcs Treehouse Lodge and another of a Kudu that was pulled down on the tar road right at the entrance of Marcs.
In addition, leopard sightings on Motlala have never been better – one lucky group saw a pair mating. I am very jealous !!
Marco, Webmaster Extraordinaire, has put all of these on our Facebook.
Sightings on Balule and Tshukudu have also been very good – the rangers’ reports that follow are full of accounts of exceptional sightings.
GAME-VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
Nature will always surprise you.
The bush is always amazing and surprising.
We went out on a bush walk and while I was talking and giving the guests the rules of the bushwalk, I heard a tree fall down near to where we were.
I looked around and saw a bull elephant enjoying himself about 25 metres from us.
I stopped talking immediately and we enjoyed viewing him. He didn’t care about us but he knew that we were around. My clients were very happy to see that.
We later had great sightings of hippos and crocodiles.
Later the same day I conducted a sunset drive. We saw 3 giraffes close by and when we reached Marula Boma we saw hyenas and honey badgers.
Next day on the morning drive we saw a pride of 21 lions – it was very exciting – the guests couldn’t believe it. Thanks to Matthew of Sausage Tree Camp who called us in. We are so pleased that the smaller lodges are working so well together – everybody wins and all guests of all lodges are seeing a lot more animals. I am always so happy to let other drivers know when I have a good sighting.
Later that day I went out on my sundowner drive which was amazing. I drove down Olifants road toward Dean’s dam and we saw White Rhino. My clients were very happy about that and as we were driving along I saw 3 lionesses lying down in the shade. The Rhino was not far from them. A few km further on we also saw elephants – it was a lucky day !!
29th July on Marula road extension we found big herd of elephant and a black rhino (Zulu). Immediately thereafter we found three male Lions. Just before Hardekool turn off we found a big herd of buffalo. It was clear that those Lions were following the Buffalo herd as always happens in the dry season. So we found four of the big five in 30 minutes within 4 km of one another !!!
30th July we found one lion up a tree about seven m high with a chunk of meat. Most unusual. Below him there were other lions looking on with envy.
4th August we found a pride of Lion at Rosy’s pan on a buffalo kill – 15 altogether with Cubs – all with full bellies lying down lazily.
In KRUGER on 8th near the S147 we found a leopard up a tree with an Impala.
11th On Imagine Africa property we found rhino and leopard and on the southern side of Deans dam we found a pride of Lions so we got three of the big five in one area that Viva traverses.
Bush walks have yielded the usual : impala, giraffe, hippos, baboons, kudu and crocodiles. Sunset drives have had regular sightings of lions, buffalo and elephants.
I conducted a few drives on Motlala Reserve at Marcs Treehouses and was very impressed : there is no better reserve that I have ever worked at, and I am a guide for over 30 years, that offers such brilliant leopard and rhino sightings. Along with zebra, wildebeest, impala, nyala, waterbuck, giraffe, buffalo and bushbuck this is one great reserve. We also have seen a pack of Wild Dogs regularly – on one occasion they chased a bushbuck into a dam and then went in after it and killed the animal in front of us. Some of my guests were a bit traumatised but that is the African bush !
In Kruger Park we had good sightings of general game and regular daily sightings of elephants, lions, buffalo and leopard. I personally had bad luck with White Rhino sightings and the other guides think it is very funny – not really.
My pic of Black Rhino near Tremisana is as good as anything they took.
I also saw Cheetah a few times in Kruger near Nsemane Dam.
2nd : Was a windy day in Kruger, but good day also as we nailed Big Five : three white rhinos near Orpen, lions h7 Ngwenya khaya, elephants Nsemane dam, Buffaloes s100 and leopard 1km after Kumana waterhole.
6th : Lions with cubs before Orpen gate, buffaloes Orpen waterhole, elephants Nsemane and s100.
12th : Ngwenya khaya 3 male lions sleeping, elephants also, general game plus lions at Xibotwana waterhole.
19th : Lions Ximangwanini Dam on s36 road, elephants Muzanzeni picnic area, Sweni road buffaloes and elephants drinking.
23rd : Nsemane dam general game and elephants, Girivana waterhole female lion with 3 Cubs plus a big Male lion next to the waterhole, buffaloes Sweni waterhole.
24th : 18 lions at Nsemane dam, elephants also there, Girivana 5 lions, buffaloes s100, cheetahs s100 and hyenas, 3 big white rhinos near s 41.
25th : a mating lion pair before s36 and s39 junction, elephants Nsemane and s100, huge crocodile s100, buffaloes s100, cheetahs on s90.
On the 12th August 2019 it was nice weather between 22 to 32 degrees Celsius. We started our game drive from Orpen boom gate to the reception and saw general game including zebras and wildebeest. On the H7 before Kingfisherspruit we saw a BIG buffalo herd heading south to Nwamatsatsa waterhole. Further on the H7 we saw a dead impala up in a tree. We looked around and sure enough there was a Leopard lying down under a tree in the shade. We then took the S39 to Timbavati picnic spot and saw plenty general game including zebras and giraffes. Near Ngotso new road s147 we saw a big male lion lying down very close to the road.
After lunch we took the H6 to Nwanetsi picnic spot and we saw two white rhinos – little bit far. We took the S126 Sweni road to Ximangwaneni dam where we saw elephants busy drinking water. We saw two hyenas crossing the road near Rockvale waterhole. It was a very good day – we saw big five in one day – my guests thought I was very talented – not really – just very lucky !!!
Sightings were good the past month.
One morning whilst driving to the walking spot, I noticed a half-eaten Impala on the side of the road. We stopped close by and were just in time to see a leopard vanishing in the bush. But that was not the end of it. All of a sudden a hyena popped out from behind a bush and grabbed what was left over of this fortunate meal.
Sundowner drives were equally exciting. We came across black rhino, hippos, white rhino, elephant, Lions and cubs, buffalo and giraffe. Photos were taken aplenty by the guests, making their special moments into memories never to be forgotten.
Dinner time at Marula Boma had so much to offer. One lucky night guests were entertained by a serval, (extremely rare sighting) hyena, honey badgers and porcupine. What a special night it was for them to see all this while dining under the stars.
Morning drives, still a bit chilly, although spring is upon us, were also packed with good sightings. This included a lazy black rhino taking a nap, giraffes, African wildcat, and a pride of lionesses with the cutest cubs.
All in all, it was a wonderful month and I am sure that all the guests enjoyed it thoroughly.
It has been a quiet month for me as I did very few drives and spent lots of time around the lodges.
I have had some lucky sightings of black rhino on night drives on Motlala as well as the odd leopard moving around but one sighting that really stands out for me was finding a mating pair of leopards a few times on night drive we watched them first with a male nyala kill then mating in the road something seldom seen by many rangers. I also happened to find one of our old female leopards with two young cubs moving around the outskirts of the Treehouse lodge. I also had good sightings of Wild Dog on Motala on numerous occasions. For the few drives I have done this month, it has nevertheless been a very special month with once in a lifetime type of sightings.
Spring is well on its way and in many ways it has arrived – at Marcs certain trees have started flowering signalling the beginning of Spring.
The beautiful wild pear Dombeya is one of the first to flower with its beautiful white and pink flowers. This is a historically and medicinally important tree especially in this area.
It was also regarded as one of the best timbers for ox wagon building, thus many of the larger specimens were felled a long time back.
Sightings at Marcs have been fantastic, the walks being fresh with beautiful sunrises and wonderful buffalo sightings as well as a few territorial eagle species getting ready to start nesting and laying eggs.
On the beautiful Motlala drives, sightings of black rhino, leopard and wild dogs have been common. Guests getting to witness leopards doing all sorts of different behaviours and wild dogs hunting and killing.
It’s getting hotter as summer approaches and I can’t wait!!!!!
Herewith some photos :
This month is my first with Viva and we were lucky.
My highlights include Lions feeding on a near Sweni bridge with hyenas, black backed jackals & vultures around.
3 male Lions at Shibotwana tank watching zebras desperate to drink at the waterhole. Old bull elephant came to the tank fora drink and chased the lions away and the zebra quickly took advantage and rushed in to drink under the elephant’s protection – amazing !
Pride of lions at Nsemani dam trying to catch Buffalo but failed – my guests were so happy that they clapped !
Two Leopards on s147 : one was up in a tree feeding on a Steenbok. The other leopard was on the ground watching. The carcass fell down and the leopards had a fight over the food.
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
Riana reports :
Aurora Borealis….or better known as the Northern lights. A beautiful sighting…….when you’re in Norway!
But you don’t have to travel 6300 miles to see something equally beautiful here in the bush, although not of that magnitude. At Tremisana you just have to take the pathway over the fish pond into the Lapa to see the most beautiful coloured sunrises from the deck. Orange…yellow…and pink mixed in its own natural eclectic phenomenon. Not even to mention the sunsets on the other side. It is absolutely spectacular!!
This past month in particular, the Elephants have been constantly around the lodge, seeking that extra bit of greenery not found deeper in the bush. The guests loved it!
The warthogs were equally entertaining, but they were inside the lodge parameter and they even went looking for a late afternoon snack in our dinner boma.
Early evenings the buffalo like to graze behind the lodge and the guests were very lucky to see them and the elephants around frequently.
Smaller critters like squirrels, mongoose, guinea fowl and other birds also bring their own special attendance to our waterhole and the guests can frequently see and hear a scuffle going on there in a cloud of dust as the bigger ones try to stake their claim!
Charl reports :
The lodge has been very busy this month with lots of guests. Tiger our star chef has had the pleasure of cooking for many international guests with his new stove fitted in the camps kitchen. We have also had some time to touch up some spots in the bar and kitchen area making it look as good as new. We have had a leopard around the property – probably after the bushbuck, impala and nyala.
Charl reports :
Staff have been hard at work with putting in new reeds in some areas around water tanks as well as working on uplifting the front of the lodge. The leopards have been moving around the lodge at night while the guests sleep – even managing to make a kill of a young nyala in the lodge that one of the lucky guests was able to see. Our full time night-time guard, Renek, tells us that he sees leopards almost every night.
There certainly has been an increase in leopard numbers and activity.
Jordan reports :
It has been a busy autumn at Masango camp – lots of starry nights and chilly mornings filled with the sounds of the African bush.
We have had a new record number of guests and I am told by our Office that the next few months will be even busier.
Guests have enjoyed the cosy accommodation of Masango arriving from game drives and walks to a hearty meal made by our top chef Caroline, who has been transferred from Tremisana. I am told she was head chef at the Cheetah Inn which Viva Safaris used to run.
Guests at Masango have enjoyed very good sightings both in Kruger and on the Motlala game reserve within which Masango is situated. Porcupines and civets are not uncommon around the camp in the evenings while guests relax around the fire to the sound of lions roaring and night jars calling. The buffalo herd are seen drinking from the cement trough alongside the waterhole. The whole area is illuminated by a powerful spotlight all night long so the guests can sit on their stoeps ( patios )and watch the wildlife show.
Looking forward to a hot spring and I’m sure the guests will make use of the big swimming pool on these evenings.
All in all happy guests happy staff and happy wild animals.
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
We are pleased that you support the changes to our 3 day Tent, 3 day Treehouse (Marcs Camp) and 3 day Affordable Best Value (Masango Camp) safari packages. Now that guests on these packages no longer stay at Tremisana Lodge, we have found that our logistics are more streamlined and manageable. Tremisana has been bursting at the seams and we are pleased that we have slightly reduced tourist traffic there. We are now able to offer longer safari packages at Tremisana.
In view of the added number of guests doing Sunset Drives at Motlala Game Reserve, we have bought 2 new Landcruisers. Thanks to Charl, Given and Timothy who came to Durban and drove them up to the bush.
I went to Cape Town last week for the installation of Bishop Sylvester, who was previously our parish priest at Umhlanga. While in Cape Town I saw some of our supportive agents who all seemed very happy with the Viva products.
August 2019 was another exceptionally busy month and we once again extend our gratitude to all our travel friends who support us so strongly.
I can remember my first visit to Kruger Park in 1960 when I was a young boy and am always amazed that every trip yields something different.
On 10 August 2019 we saw a steenbok with a difference :
Now that Viva Safaris has over 2000 ha of traversing on Olifants West Nature Reserve, our game viewing has improved dramatically. What is even more personally pleasing is the exceptional relationship that now exists between 5 different game lodges. The guides are very courteous towards one another and I am amazed at the level of cooperation between the lodges.
Viva guides on the Afternoon drive are first out and report by 16h00 whatever has been seen to all other stations who in turn advise and update the Viva drivers going out on the Sunset drive at 17h15. Similarly our drivers leaving at 05h00 on the way to the Olifants River where they conduct bush walks update all other drivers as to the location of animals.
We have a similar cooperative system at Motlala Game Reserve where African Impact also traverse. The game viewing on Motlala last month was the best it has ever been. With the increased presence of game viewing vehicles, both the leopard and rhino populations are becoming less nervous and generally stick around long enough to allow our guests to take some brilliant pics. I personally am thrilled as we are pretty certain of seeing elephant, buffalo and lion in Kruger and struggle a lot more to get leopard and rhino. So we are very pleased that these elusive Big Five animals are being seen so frequently on Motlala.
This month we had the added bonus of seeing Wild Dogs on Motlala. They have taken their toll on the bushbuck, nyala and impala numbers but will move off to another area soon.
I attach the following reviews posted in August 2019 :
“Geweldige kleinschalige lodge”
– Rene G, Bergen op Zoom Netherlands
Samen met onze kleindochter verbleven we hier 5 dagen. Wat een fantastische ervaring! Alles mooi en piekfijn in orde, volop ruimte in het verblijf en geweldig personeel. Maaltijden van uitstekende kwaliteit, ook als je vegetarisch wilt eten. Door de kleinschaligheid heb je al snel boeiende ontmoetingen met andere mensen uit andere delen van de wereld. Ik kan me geen beter verblijf voorstellen als basis voor safari’s in het Kruger park!
“Heaven on Earth”
– Lance Thompson, Fish Hoek South Africa
Oh my word no words can explain how beautiful this place is. Luxury at its finest, the beds are massive and super comfy. The splash pool is great to cool off the food has been amazing.
And then there’s the safari trips into the Kruger park, wow nearly saw the big 5 on the first trip. The vehicles are comfortable as you drive around looking at the animals and the guides have incredible amount of knowledge that they share as you come across them
A definite must for anyone looking for a relaxed holiday.
“Amazing time at Masango Lodge”
– Abhishek Chawdry
Had an amazing visit at the Mansango camp and all the credit goes to Jordan, Caroline and Richard. Jordan was exceptional as a host and made us feel very welcome. He is also a great ranger and showed us 2 out of the big 5 on the very first game drive. Caroline is an amazing cook. She made some of the best soup I’ve ever eaten in my life. Also the braai was excellent. Richard was always there for us. We needed beer and ice last minute and Richard and Jordan totally sorted us out. Couldn’t recommend Mansango and this crew enough
– Evelienworldtraveler, Ziest The Netherlands
Weet niet waar ik moet beginnen. Een onvergetelijke ervaring! Ik verbleef in het Masango Camp, direct naast Marc’s Tree House Lodge. Warm welkom door Caroline en Jordan (Xlima ;)). Direct op de eerste safari en daarna bij het kampvuur napraten en genieten. Jordan verteld honderd uit en beantwoord al je vragen (nouja die van de andere dan, zelf ben ik niet zo’n vragensteller). Omdat het kamp ingericht is voor de budget reiziger komen er leuke ongedwongen mensen en hangt er een leuke vriendschappelijke sfeer. De huisjes zijn basic, maar hebben echt alles wat je nodig hebt.
Caroline is een fantastische kokin en ook de braaimaster zorgde voor een smakelijke maaltijd. Ontbijt ook echt prima en de lunch is niet inbegrepen, maar de aangeboden restaurants zijn budget vriendelijk. En ook de cash bar is budget vriendelijk.
Mocht ik terugkomen naar Zuid Afrika, dan boek ik zeker weer bij dit bedrijf en deze accommodatie.
MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE
“You are truly WITH NATURE”
– TravelAngler725, Seoul South Korea
If you like staying at a place that is away from some of the hassles and conveniences of modern life and helps you enjoy your safari experience in a truly authentic way, this is the place for you. I have been in “the wild” before. I have slept in the Khao Sok forest in Thailand and Mongolias Gobi Desert. However, never before have I woken up from a cozy sleep and walked downstairs only to find myself surrounded by wild animals! They are Nyala, a beautiful species of antelope. In addition, you will be greeted by dwarf mongoose and vervet monkeys. Other wildlife also frequent the surrounding area.
The wi fi service near the kitchen is excellent. Outside there it doesnt work but this for me was a good thing as it enabled me to get back to nature. The comfortable beds are provided with mosquito proof netting and extra blankets. You have your own bathroom and shower but a word of advicw is to use the communal shower since it WILL have hot water.
The guides provided by the lodge are excellent. I had three of my big five going into it. However, at Kruger I got my buffalo and leopard to round out the big five along with the added bonus of a cheetah. Jordan, in particular, is an excellent guide and truly knows his stuff. Stay at Marc’s Treehouse and experience the real Kruger.
And keep your food attended and out of the room. Those Vervet monkeys can be bad boys!
– ziadenny, Modena Italy
Sei giorni al Tremisana Lodge, un’esperienza che ricorderemo per sempre. Si tratta di una piccola struttura con bungalow dal tetto di paglia immersa nella riserva Balule. Le stanze, che vengono pulite tutti i giorni, sono molto semplici, climatizzate, con comodi letti dotati di zanzariere, bollitore con il necessario per prepararsi the o caffè. In bagno ci sono distributori di shampoo e sapone liquido ma non c’è l’asciugacapelli. C’è un giardino curatissimo con una piccola piscina che in caso di giornate molto calde può far comodo per un momento di ristoro.La colazione, buona e con discreta scelta, è servita nella Lapa, una bella terrazza a pochi metri da buche d’acqua dove durante il giorno si avvicendano tanti animali (compresi elefanti e giraffe, tutta la struttura è protetta da una recinzione elettrificata). Si potrebbe anche passare qui seduti comodi sulle poltrone tutte le giornate e già così sarebbe uno spettacolo. Le cene sono state una migliore dell’altra, in un giardino con al centro un bel falò. Non sono comprese le bevande che vanno acquistate di volta in volta al bar (accettano solo contanti, i prezzi sono modici). Tutte le persone dello staff sono sempre state gentili e sorridenti. Infine i rangers che ci hanno accompagnato nelle varie attività sono stati perfetti. Consiglio sicuramente il Tremisana Game Lodge per i safari al Kruger e nelle altre riserve.
“Best First Kruger Experience”
As this was my first ever time in the Kruger, I had the best experience with Viva Safari and highly recommend it to anyone that havent been or have been but looking for something amazing. Their staff is so friendly they felt like family, the places we stayd was absolutely amazing, and the drives were amazing and guides so well informed and friendly.Was defnitally an experience Id never forget. In one word summed up: Amazing. The entire experience was just incredible and unforgettable.
“Thrilling and carefree Tremisana Lodge”
– lucedilampo, Venice Italy
It was our first time on a safari and we had great expectations – and they were all fully fulfilled, some exceeded.
Everything is accurately organised and you do not need to think of anything – which is what a holiday should be.
Animals stroll around the lodge and you may have dinner with hyenas and honeybadgers, enjoy the company of elephants’ families just beyond the lodge’s fence, while monkeys keep you company at breakfast.
The programme is intense and thick, you never get bored.
The atmosphere at the lodge is informal and laid back, and it feels like being with good friends even if you have just met the people who are sharing the experience with you.
Food is plenty, and the bar charges very reasonable prices both for water and (good) wine.
We definetely recommend Vivasafaris and Tremisana Lodge.
Thank you for your care and work!
“BEST TRIP EVER”
Viva safaris was amazing!!! We booked this trip for my 30th birthday, as going on Safari has always been on my bucket list. Viva safaris exceeded my already high expectations.
Let’s start with the lodge – we stayed at the Tremisana Game Lodge and it was wonderful. The rooms were large, the property is gorgeous, and the food was fabulous. We also enjoyed the bar in the evenings. The best part was the watering hole right outside where you eat some of the meals — we saw monkeys, warthogs, baboons, lots of birds, and Elephants on a regular basis. We also loved the unique dinner experiences, including eating in the bush where hyenas and honey badgers joined us.
Now the safaris — oh my goodness I can’t even put into words how incredible they were. We saw all of Africa’s Big 5, plus lots of herd animals and birds – I counted about 30 species total. We loved the bush walk, where we hiked down to a river and saw hippos and crocs. And we got very lucky to see an entire pride of lions munching and napping after a big meal. A lot of the success on our safari drives can be attributed to our guides. Of course they are wild animals, but our guides used their knowledge and skill to help us find as many animals as possible. A huge thank you to Fortune, Raymond, and Smiley (Hakuna Matata) for being wonderful guides during our time with viva safaris.
If you’re considering going on safari I highly recommend going with Viva.
Until next month…
With kind regards,