February 2023 will be remembered as the month in which the Kruger Park was severely affected by floods.
Viva Safaris thankfully was able to continue all operations as the main damage was done in the Southern Section of the Kruger Park. Our lodges are situated in the Central Section.
There were days when all the southern entry gates were closed and a lot of damage was done. The main road from Skukuza to Lower Sabie, probably the best game viewing road in the Southern Section, has been rendered undriveable as a part of the tar road was washed away.
Our Kruger rangers were able to drive unhindered on the tar roads from Orpen to Satara and on to Nwanedzi at the height of the rains.
On Balule where we conduct our Morning, Afternoon, Sundowner and Sunset game drives, all main roads were driveable although no off road driving was permitted for a few days.
In any event some of the properties on which we traverse do not allow off roading. The main reason for this is that serious damage may be done to fauna and flora. Animals that we do not see may be injured or killed. In fact, the serious conservationists on Balule send out reminders to avoid driving over elephant dung on the main roads as dung beetles may be killed. We have also had requests to drive extremely slowly through puddles to avoid killing terrapins.
The issue of off road driving is a contentious one. Tourists love the exclusivity of being able to get really close to the Big Five and this may necessitate going off the main roads. In Kruger this is not allowed. There are some very negative consequences. In Balule, I have noticed a madness in respect of leopard sightings. Leopard sightings are rare in Balule and the behaviour of some guides leaves everything to be desired. Three days ago, I was on a drive with Elias (Smiley) and we responded to a sighting of a leopard. Despite numerous warnings to guides to not go off roading, sure enough there were 3 vehicles off road and literally chasing the leopard so that the guests could get decent photos. The result of this unethical behaviour is that the leopard gets very anxious and will shy away from game viewing vehicles. The quest to have future leopard sightings is thus made a whole lot more difficult. On another property where we traverse and have far fewer lodges operating, we see that the leopards are much more relaxed.
On a recent drive with Victor, we saw a leopard up a tree. Victor did not drive right up to the tree as this would most likely have led to the leopard climbing down and disappearing into the high grass. Elias and Raymond also had their chances to show this leopard to their guests.
Tourist should not put undue pressure on guides. Recently one of our guides was coerced to drive off road to get the tourists a good lion photo. He knew very well that the rains had made off road driving strictly forbidden. Viva Safaris was penalised for his inexcusable action. The remarkable thing is that one of the three vehicles that I wrote about above, that were chasing the leopard, belongs to the very lodge that issues penalties. Viva Safaris can do without such dishonesty and duplicity.
GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
I have asked our guides to curtail their reports by sending photos only.
All my photos were taken in Kruger Park.
QUINTON reports :
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE
Charl sent the following:
This month has seen the bush receive a lot of rain. The animals do not have to travel very far to get water. Tremisana dam is full and our resident hippo is still there. I am sure he will not be moving anytime soon. The number of guests coming to the lodge increased significantly. Apart from individual bookings we were privileged to welcome two student groups from Germany. It was fun to have them around. Reminder of how young we used to be at some point.
I celebrated my birthday this month and I really appreciate the love I received from my second family out here. The gifts were highly appreciated. I can see a few grey strands in my head. It’s too early but I am excited. It is a blessing to be alive and experience the beauty out here every day I managed to go on a game drive. If it wasn’t for Piero and Sandy I am not sure my lazy self would have gone. I must say it was worth it.
We saw two elephants along Olifant main at the start of our game drive. Afterwards we saw two rhinos. I started to feel like I was the reason this was happening. We heard of a sighting about ten kilometres from Barnard’s and Elias did superbly. He navigated the bush so well until we managed to see a pack of wild dogs. We thought we had missed them but a bit of patience paid off and we saw seven of them. When we left the sighting we heard that they totalled ten. For the cherry on top we saw a breeding herd of elephants on the airstrip.
I love the bush braai at Marula Boma as always. Glad the hyena made an appearance while we were enjoying dinner.
February has been a good month for us and I am sure March will be much better.
KATEKANI TENTED LODGE
Charl sent this great photo.
Charl sent this photo of the old man at Masango:
Craig, Head Guide of Ezulwini Lodges, sent the following:
PUMUSA BUSH CAMP has been quiet with local tourists visiting on weekends. We hosted Durban High School First XV rugby side on a team-building exercise. The boys and staff had a great time.
Rumour has it that, despite their size, they were unable to finish the Pasta Napoletana prepared by my wife, Sandra.
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
Viva Safaris has always been marketed as an operator to Kruger Park. The fact that we have game drives in the greater Kruger Park does not detract from this ideal. In fact, most of our tourists love their day in Kruger. There are greater numbers and a far wider diversity of animals in Kruger when compared to Balule. Consequently, at the beginning of February we decided to add a second day in Kruger for all tourists booked on all of our 5 day safari packages. The guides will take different roads. On average, we drive about 30 km in Balule and over 200 km in Kruger.
There has been an increase in tourist numbers this month compared to January and we are now operating at around 70% of pre-Covid levels. This is very pleasing as we note that other operators and lodges are relatively quiet. My thanks go to Marco and Patti of Viva Safaris as well as the numerous travel agents that support us.
We are pleased ( and proud ) to announce that Viva Safaris once again was voted by SafariBookings as one of the Top Ten safari operators in South Africa.
There is a perception that Tremisana Game Lodge is a luxury lodge. This is certainly not the case. Tremisana is an unpretentious lodge that affords our tourists basic but clean accommodation and tasty meals. We do have better luxury options at the 4 star Katekani Tented Lodge and the 5 star Ezulwini Lodges. For the more adventurous, Marc’s Treehouse Camp offers a unique rustic experience. The Tripadvisor reviews we have posted this month bear eloquent testimony to the happy guests we have.
Tripadvisor reviews posted in February :
Best Experience at Viva Safaris
It’s been a couple of weeks we left Tremisana Lodge and we still think of it with goosebumps. Everything was perfect: the lodge, the food, the organisation of the day. What made the experience so special though were the team and the game drives. The excitement to spot animals with no guarantee (because there is no fence between Kruger and the reserve), the “chase” of the big 5 as soon as the guide received a signal at the radio, holding yourself in the car because we were on gravel roads and off roads, it made everything so real and fun. I don’t think you can have a better game reserve experience. We tried another one after, and we were so disappointed because we were expecting something similar to Viva Safaris, but it wasn’t.
During the 5 day safari it was my birthday and guides George and Rocky made my day with a beautiful surprise and a speech. 🥰
I can totally recommend you to book with Viva Safaris, really fair price and each day is different.
Thank you thank you !!! ❤️
clairewright21, United Kingdom
We had a great time with Viva Safari’s. We stayed at Tremisana for 1 night and Marc’s Treehouse Lodge for 3. We found everything to be very well organised and the staff were super friendly and helpful. We saw so many animals and loved being so close to nature. The food at the camps were delicious.
Could not recommend more!
We stayed here for 2 nights as part of our package with Viva Safaris and was blown away with the accommodation, which was clean, beautifully presented and very luxurious. The staff were beyond welcoming and couldn’t do enough for you, and the meals were delicious and there was plenty to eat! Viva safari’s exceeded all my expectations for my first safari in South Africa! The guides were so friendly, informative and knowledgeable and did everything they could for us to see the animals- managed to see the big 5! Could not recommend them enough!
Viva Safaris and Tremisana Game Lodge
My family and I stayed at the Tremisana Game Lodge in december 2022.
We had an amazing experience.
Always something going on.
The game drives, in particular the Kruger all day drive, was wonderful. Victor our ranger was perfect, such a nice guy, a permanant smile on his face and excellant at his job.
We chose Tremisana for its simplisity. Our daughter had already stayed here and loved it. It has everything you need. Its not luxurious but we were not looking for luxury, but somewhere authentique and genuine, and we found it 🙂
The meals were delicious thank you to the cooks.
The drive from Joburg airport to the lodge was long but full of breaks and meal stops.
During the drive back our driver, thank you for being so nice by the way 😉 stopped at the Three Rondavels in the Blyde River Canyon. The vista and the scene below us was breathtaking, what a super end to our safari.
And lastly a big thank you to Viva Safari, Piero and the team, you were wonderful.
Sylvia, Wilfried, Alexandre, Inès and Raphaël
Amazing and outstanding place to visit
This was my first time to come to Africa and I really enjoyed myself. I wish I had a booked a longer trip. I stayed at Tremisana lodge. The lodge is neat and has a very beautiful garden with a pool in the middle. The ponds and water features are a cherry on top. The rooms are clean and it was a plus that they are equipped with air conditioning. It was a very hot day when we arrived.
Our first activity was the sunset drive and it was fantastic. We managed to see four out of the big five. The bushwalk started early morning after some coffee and rusks. The walk was very informative, and I was happy to see the hippos. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and dark colored clothes. The sundowner drive was good as well. We completed the big five before even going to Kruger for the full day safari.
The full day in Kruger was indeed a full day we left for Kruger in the morning and came back end of day . The weather was fair and we saw a lot of animals as well.
The staff was excellent. Always smiling and quick to assist you. Thank you Mama D for the meals. The guides for the knowledge they shared and showing us so much in a short space of time.
I will definitely come back with my family.
Enjoy closeness to wildlife!
Alexandra B, Germany
Really relaxed, super atmospheric place where you hear the birds singing in the evening and the water of the river flowing at night. My favorite spot was a beautiful place right at the river… I was somewhat touched by the friendliness of the staff, and there was a (bon)fire prepared nearly every evening which I thought was lovely. Food was delicious.
Depending on your previous experience, for some people this may be a step out of their comfort zone (depending on the time of load chedding you may have to walk five minutes to your room or tent in the dark), for others a fun adventure (for everyone who loves being outside, this place will definitely bring you a bit closer to nature and there are amazing views from the treehouses to the river…) 😉
I fully appreciated my stay and felt being taken cared of very well. Thank you!!
BolUk, United Kingdom
Amazing stay! We stayed in one of the tents and it was great to hear the wildlife at night, we had a few nights of rain but the tent kept out all the water! The trips are very well organised and you get an update of the plan each evening at dinner! Quinton gave us a very informative bush walk on our last day. The food was delicious and the ladies cooking and serving are so friendly. I would 100% recommend this stay!
Until next month,
With kind regards,