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February 2021

When Donald Trump labelled the Corona virus the “China Virus”, the effect was to stir up more anti-Chinese feelings.

When the new variant first identified in SA was labelled the “South African variant”, the effect was to frighten more tourists away from SA.

On 28 February our President announced that we would revert to level 1 as a result of dramatic decreases in the number of infections and the number of deaths in SA. I hope our youth do not interpret this action as a licence to party wildly and alter the downward trends.

International tourism to SA has all but dried up. Viva Safaris have some bookings for later in 2021 but most new enquiries are for 2022. Thankfully, all our guests that have already paid a deposit have agreed to postpone their safaris, thereby saving themselves cancellation fees as well as ensuring that any increases for 2022 or later are not applicable to them. From our side, we are grateful that we do not put additional strain on our cash reserves.

With the arrival of the vaccine in SA, I am confident that we shall be on the go by October. Of course, we may never reach the dizzy tourist figures we had in 2019 any time soon, but my feeling is that the recovery, when it happens, will be reasonably swift. It is important, therefore, to keep our lodges in good working order.

To this end, Viva has employed some staff who maintain the grounds, swimming pools, facilities and rooms.

Our secretary, Nyarai, is somewhat bored at the moment as there are few phone calls and emails to handle. I have arranged for her to get a good bird book and a pair of binoculars so that she can improve her birding knowledge. There are plenty birds at Tremisana and the fig tree attracts specials such as Trumpeter Hornbill, Green Pigeon and Violet-backed Starling.

Trumpeter Hornbill in flight


Both Elias and Raymond had guests on walks and drives on Olifants West Reserve. They reported good sightings despite the thick vegetation.

Glistening tusks after the rains

Victor and Patrick saw 4 of the Big Five in Kruger.

They had a close-up of a leopard near Orpen:

Close sighting of Leopard crossing the road

Charl has done a few drives as well.

He had a good sighting of a close-up lion on Olifants West

Lion on the road – nice and close

Charl also had a close up of the 3 Machaton males on Barnards

The 3 Machaton males

Charl had good sightings of Wild Dogs on Motlala and a terrific encounter with a huge Crowned Eagle outside chalet 1 at Masango Camp.


TREMISANA GAME LODGE is looking good with all the rain. I believe we have had around 500 mm since October 2020.

The warthogs are assisting Caiphus in lawnmower duties.

Warthogs inside Tremisana

The monkeys are missing the tourists but have made themselves very much at home.

Monkeys enjoying the furniture at the Guest House

MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE is also very green. We had cyclone Eloise dump over 250 mm of rain and the Klaserie River rose rapidly.

Rapidly rising Klaserie River at Marcs

KATEKANI LUXURY TENTED LODGE has seen an increase in the number of bushbuck and nyala.

A young nyala was born near the Boma.

Young nyala at Katekani

A beautiful sunset was taken from the deck:

Lovely cloud colours

MASANGO CAMP has been visited by buffalo, rhino, leopard and wild dogs. The animals are very tame now and do not run off as they used to do before lockdown.

Nyala Bulls sparring outside chalet at Masango Camp.


I thank you for your understanding of the issues relating to transfers – we are pleased with the service offered by the new transfer companies.

We shall use Viva vehicles for all Tremisana and Katekani safari packages for 2 or more clients and will consider all requests for Lodge/Treehouse and Lodge/Tent packages for 2 guests on an individual basis.

We have been able to accommodate guests who were booked by some agents with other operators that have closed down.


Our daughter Natasha was meant to give birth to her twins on 14 March. However, the male twin appeared to be taking over the womb to the point that Natasha’s doctor was concerned that the female twin was not putting on any weight. As a result, Natasha had a C-section on 11 February and moved in with us.

Lovely new additions – these are grandkids numbers 8 and 9.

Some time in the future, I shall have to look into this matter of the boy dominating the girl.

Tash is one tough girl – she gave birth on Thursday and arrived at the church on Saturday for our son Marc’s wedding, attended by family only. Marc and Sune had originally planned the wedding for 11 July 2020 but Covid put paid to that. The next date was 1 May 2021 and again there were doubts as to whether this would happen so they decided they had waited long enough.

I include a review posted on Tripadvisor :

Can we come back please?

My partner and I did the 6-day Tremisana Safari in December 2020, mid-pandemic. Firstly, Viva followed every COVID regulation- temp checks, constant sanitisation of vehicles/accommodation, masks etc, and made us feel very safe and comfortable. Communication for booking was so easy and out transfers were bang on time.

The accommodation at Tremisana is fantastic. The rooms are so comfortable, the boma/bar area is lovely with good wifi and the pool/gardens are so relaxing, but it still has a really nice rustic feel. The food was delicious! My partner and I snack a lot, but we barely touched the snacks we brought with us due to how well we were fed and how filling the food was. The boma tree brai complete with Amarula shots was just brilliant too!

On to the safaris… Viva offer a brilliant combination of days in Kruger NP, greater Kruger reserves, bush walks, evening drives, excursions, and even the canyon en-route back to Jo’burg. It really is the little things such as taking cool boxes full of cold drinks on the sundowner drives! Really nice touch. Viewings were incredible and we were lucky enough to see 4 of the big 5 on the first night!

On to the guides… Each guide has completely different knowledge so you learn something new from all of them. But they are all equally as funny, attentive, kind and just a pleasure to be around. We actually miss them haha!

Thank you so much for a fantastic experience. Our only regret is that of our 3 weeks in South Africa, we did not spend the whole time on Safari with you 🙂

Until next month,

With kind regards,
General Manager
Viva Safaris