The African Water Monitor, Varanus Niloticus, is common throughout the Kruger Park. If viewed from the back while swimming, it is sometimes mistaken for a small crocodile.
In fact, it is well-known as a poacher of crocodile eggs.
In South Africa, the Water Monitor is also known as the Water Leguaan. It can attain a length of 2 metres, of which about 60% is accounted for by its tail. I have personally seen a Water Monitor use its long tail to trap small Tilapia fish in the shallows at Tremisana Dam. The Water Monitor is sometimes found far from water and may be confused with the Rock Monitor, which is a little smaller, attaining lengths of up to 1,5 metres. Both species are often caught by Martial Eagles. An interesting relatively unknown feature of the Water Monitor is that the females often seek a termite mound near the water to lay their eggs. The termites seal the hole securely thus affording safety to the eggs. Once the young hatch (about 9 months later) they claw their way out of the termite mound and are immediately surrounded by soldier termites that provide the baby Monitors with their first meals ! Thereafter, the Water Monitors instinctively find their way to water.
GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
Game viewing at Kruger Park has outshone that on Balule Nature Reserve. There has not been one single day where we have not seen at least 2 of the 3 big cats!
LUKE, Head Ranger, reports:
It has been an exciting month of bush walks along the beautiful Olifants river. I have had the pleasure of seeing the Pels fishing owl on three more occasions, incredibly special.
The Pels Fishing owl has however not been the only moment of excitement – my guests and I experienced lions on foot. We had just left the Olifants river, after watching a pod of hippo relaxing in the water. The sound of monkeys and baboons alerted us to the fact that there might be a predator in the area. We of course headed in the direction of the sounds. Soon after spotting the monkeys, a lion and lioness popped out into the open.
We watched from a safe distance as the two of them made their way past us into the thick bush.
The sunset drives have also been full of close encounters with a variety of animals. A recent sundowner drive was highlighted with an up-close visual with a very rare Black Rhino. As we made our way down towards the Olifants river, he simply appeared out of the bush.
Black Rhino sighting are never boring, they often move closer to the vehicle sometimes mock charging. I had a group of South African guests who had been on many game drives in their lives, but this was their first black rhino ever.
ANDY has been transferred to Marcs Camp to replace Patrick who is on sick leave. All photos were taken in Kruger Park.
NHLANHLA did a lot more driving to Dullstroom than tracking or guiding this month. I took this photo of him at Tremisana:
Tolli took these brilliant pictures of a pair of mating lions just 1 km north of Satara. The lion caught a young buffalo.
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
TREMISANA GAME LODGE
Tremisana Lodge has had many improvements, most visible of which is the new fibreglassed swimming pool.
We have bought some new beds.
A firefighter has been acquired.
General maintenance includes painting of some chalets as well as upgrading of the gardens. We are grateful to Luke and his wife Zanelle for all the young Impala lilies they have donated.
Game viewing has been brilliant – Wild Dogs, White Rhino, Elephants and Lions are regularly seen on the property. The hippo at Tremisana Dam remains in residence. Last week I saw hyenas, honey badgers and black-backed jackal at the drinking trough.
Tremisana Report from Nyarai:
The month of August has gone by very fast. I was away for most of the month on break. I really missed being out here and it feels good to be back. The city crowds are no longer for me it seems. Winter is slowly coming to an end. It’s still essential not to pack away the winter gear. In the morning one is covered up in layers and as the day goes it becomes warmer, night time its back to layering up again. I can’t wait for summer. The amazing pool just got a facelift and it is looking amazing.
We welcomed a new chef Mama Bella who will be working with Mama Delina in our kitchen. With the amount of amazing food the ladies are serving I am not sure my body will be summer ready.
August has been a very busy month for Tremisana. The greater component of our guests were from Italy. Animal sightings around the lodge included elephants, giraffes and the hyena and warthogs. The gardens are looking great and more renovations are in the pipeline for the coming month.
Exciting times ahead. Till next month stay safe and take care
All eight units have had air conditioners installed. Every single bed has been replaced with a new bed. The interior walls have been repainted. New tea/coffee stations have been added.
The Nyala are especially tame and come to within 1 metre of our guests. I saw a huge porcupine on the night I had dinner there. Charl advises that there are many White-tailed mongooses on the property.
KATEKANI LUXURY LODGE
All eight suites have been spring cleaned. A firefighter has been acquired. Margrett got a huge fright while she was on the deck of one of the suites. A leopard that had been resting under the deck was disturbed by her and bolted into the bush. After her loud scream, we are sure it will not return.
MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE
The buffalo are regularly seen along the Klaserie River. Nyala and Impala are abundant and are seen everywhere.
The thatching of the roof of the main building is almost done. General maintenance of all treehouses continues.
The Pan at Pumusa is full after the late rains.
It’s the start of Spring at Ezulwini River Lodge, knobthorns and impala lilies in bloom:
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
We have had a great month in terms of visitor numbers.
Tremisana Lodge has been close to full most of the month and there have been days when all chalets were occupied. We remind all supportive agents to please check for availability with our Office before confirming any booking request. Our September bookings are looking good and we have already booked guests at another lodge.
There have been attempts to fragment the Olifants West Nature Reserve, on which Tremisana Lodge and Marula Boma are situated. Viva Safaris is not in favour of any fragmentation. We are convinced that remaining part of the Balule Nature Reserve makes eminent business sense. The Balule Nature Reserve authorities have granted us permission to continue to market Tremisana Lodge and Marula Boma under the Balule Nature Reserve banner.
I wish to congratulate Luke Ovendale, Head Guide for the very noticeable improvements he has made in terms of the professionalism of our rangers. Thanks also to Ricus Roets, our hard-working mechanic, whose efforts have not only improved the looks of our vehicles but have, more importantly, ensured that the vehicles are mechanically sound.
As we keep on growing, we can employ more staff. Welcome to Bella and Salphina who have joined the kitchen staff at Tremisana. We are pleased to re-engage Justice.
We welcome Nadine to Tremisana Lodge. She has recently completed her training at Campfire Academy and is doing a great job in hosting, tracking and guiding.
Reviews received in August:
Amazing once in a life time experience. The guides where amazing, finding all of the big five as we bounced around in a open top land cruiser. The accommodation, while basic, adds to the adventure. Plus elephants and hyenas often walk right up to the electric fence.
Respectful Game Drive with Fun and Information
Elena V, St Lucia, KZN
For our afternoon as well as sunset gamedrive we were lucky to get Rocky as our guide. He really knows his way around the area and we got to see three out of the Big Five in short time. He has a really good knowledge about the animals and shows a lot of respect for them especially while on tour. Thank you for the nice and informative talks! Would absolutly book it again🙂
Excellent value, thoughtfully constructed safari with super staff
hortn, East Anglia UK
This was an imaginative, well constructed safari which was exceptional value for money. The bush walks gave a different perspective, the botanical one in particular.We had excellent sightings and persistently cheerful expert guides. The accom. was basic but clean and gd value and 2 centres gave more options for bush drives. The candlelit dinner in the bush was magical.There was a collegiate international clientelle. The night skies blew us away.
A Remarkable Safari Adventure with Viva Safaris in Tresimana and Kruger National Park
Our recent safari adventure with Viva Safaris in Tresimana and Kruger National Park was an absolute masterpiece of wildlife exploration and natural beauty. From the moment we arrived, the exceptional hospitality and dedication to conservation set the tone for an unforgettable journey.
Kruger National Park’s sprawling landscapes and diverse wildlife came to life during every thrilling game drive. The guides from Viva Safaris showcased their expertise, sharing captivating insights about each animal we encountered, from elephants to lions. The lodge accommodations in Tresimana perfectly blended comfort with an immersive wilderness experience.
A highlight was the guided walking safari, where we tracked wildlife on foot, gaining a deeper connection to the environment. Under the African sun and starlit skies, moments around the campfire were filled with laughter and camaraderie.
Viva Safaris’ commitment to creating a sustainable and educational adventure shines through. This safari was a transformative journey, reigniting my passion for nature and leaving me with cherished memories. If you’re seeking an authentic and awe-inspiring safari, Viva Safaris’ Tresimana and Kruger National Park experience is second to none.
The experience was magical
The accommodations for the first night of our stay was sketchy at best !!! – when we transferred to our “tree house” camp, the accommodations were as expected and honestly, a step up from where we stayed the first night. The tours were fantastic – the drives/guides were knowledgeable and the vehicles were great – we spotted all the animals we wanted to see (except a Leopard) – was a great time of the year to go on Safari (warm days and cool nights/mornings) – also, since it’s outside of the “rainy” season, the vegetation made for great animal spotting! Overall, the experience was fantastic!
The team at Viva Safaris is excellent, the accommodations are perfect, the food is delicious, the tours are magnificent. Thanks for giving me this experience! A positive highlight for the excellent service provided by Patti Landau! The Safari guides are super experienced, by the second day we had already seen all the Big Five! Thanks Viva Safaris!
Un Safari da sogno
Roberto B, Italy
Io e mia moglie Isabella abbiamo trascorso delle giornate favolose, immersi nella natura e con uno staff che brilla in quanto ad “orientamento al cliente/servizio”.
Le guide sono state eccezionali in termini di competenza e gentilezza nello spiegare anche gli aspetti meno conosciuti.
Un’esperienza bellissima che consigliamo anche per l’ottimo rapporto qualità/prezzo
Luca V, Milan Italy
Location bellissima immersa nella natura e alle porte del Kruger Park. Serviti e riveriti per ogni necessità, con cibo locale preparato al momento sia a colazione che a cena. Struttura prenotata tramite Viva Safari, con organizzazione dei tour e dei Safari eccezionale. Super consigliato, un paradiso in cui sicuramente torneremo
Eine einzigartige Zeit
Wir haben über DetourAfrica eine 6-tägige Safari gebucht und habe dabei 4 Nächte in Marc’s Treehouse Lodge verbracht. Wir hatten dort eine wundervolle Zeit, das Personal ist super freundlich und versucht alles möglich zu machen, insbesondere Momma P ist ein Engel!
Unser Baumhaus war geräumig und hatte ein eigenes Bad mit Dusche, WC, Waschbecken. Das Zimmer war geräumig, allerdings war es bei 6 °C Außentemperatur extrem kalt. Wenn man sich einmal dran gewöhnt und richtig anzieht und Momma P einem eine Wärmflasche gibt, klappt es aber 😉
We also received this wonderful email from Astrid Leibowitz:
From: Astrid Leibowitz
Sent: Saturday, August 5, 2023 7:27 PM
Subject: Note of gratitude
Although I have not been on your safari vehicle in the Kruger but am doing a self-drive, I would like to bring to your attention of a wonderful guide of yours I met today. I do not know his name, but you might be able to track him down and relay my thanks.
I was at a lion sighting at Sony waterhole on the nwanetsi tar road mid afternoon where three lionesses were setting up a zebra hunt. Your guide relayed all the info he told his clients to me too. Advised me of the best spot to get the best view with him. We all laughed when he announced with a big laugh that the lions plan did not work out, as the zebra ran away.
It was an awesome sighting and you guys clearly have an awesome guide. His clients on the truck agreed with me.
Your company is certainly going to be my choice when next I do guided drives.
Please relay my thank you to your guide and it would be great if I can request him for future travel.
And this one from Kathie Bailey in the USA in response to our previous newsletter, thank you Kathie!
From: Kathie Bailey
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2023 5:57 PM
Subject: Most Recent Newsletter
I always look forward to your newsletters. Not only do they remind me of the two wonderful trips I had with Viva Safaris, but I also feel like I learn something from them. For example, until this newsletter, I’d never heard of a pangolin, caracal, or Pel’s fishing owl. I spent time this morning researching and reading about them.
I know teaching is part of your life, so thank you for continuing to do this through your newsletters. I eagerly await and read them each month.
Kathie Bailey (USA)
Until next month,
With kind regards,