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July 2019

The Cut-Throat Finch, Amadina Fasciata, is aptly named and the male is easily recognised via the bright red band under the throat. As with most birds, the female is less colourful and lacks the red band.

Cut-Throat Finch

Cut-Throat Finch

 

Cut-throat finches are found throughout the northern and eastern parts of South Africa. In Kruger Park they are common throughout the area. They are seen regularly at Tremisana Lodge.

 

GAME-VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES

VICTOR Reports

17/07/19 : It was a very nice day in Kruger Park between 24 to 34 degrees. Lots of general game  and near Kingfisherspruit we saw a hyena crossing the road. At Phelwana bridge we saw 17 buffalos and at Rockvale waterhole we saw Elephants drinking.  At the T junction of Sweni Road and H6 we saw two lioness and one male lion lying down right on the tar road – brilliant photos !!

Lions on the road

Lions on the road

 

After lunch we took the S100 and saw a leopard stalking impalas near the river. At Nsemani Dam we saw a HUGE herd of elephants and on our way to Orpen camp we saw two white rhinos. An amazing day as we saw all Big Five.

 

REX Reports

Now that Viva Safaris has traversing over new areas, our total area for traversing is over 2000 hectares and we are having better sightings. We are working extremely well with 5 other small lodges and every one of us is benefitting. I have been guiding in this reserve longer than any other guide and I am really happy that we are cooperating so well.

Oxford is yielding a lot of general game such as zebra, giraffe, waterbuck and kudu. We regularly see elephants and buffalo.

Buffalo seen on Oxford property

Buffalo seen on Oxford property

 

A new male lion has entered Olifants West and the big pride is now permanently in our region and we have excellent sightings.

Leopard sightings on Rome 1 and Oxford have been more regular and we are seeing a White Rhino bull very frequently.

 

JANNEMAN Reports

We have had plenty of exceptional sightings in July. With us being in mid winter and the bush dry and more open, it was easier to make the drives exceptionally good.

Highlights included the elusive wild dogs, cheetah and leopard.

As always the elephants were plentiful and one night on the way back to Tremisana from the Boma we were surrounded by a herd of at least 50. The babies stole the show and all the
guests were so happy to see this beautiful animal so up close and personal. That same night we encountered a large herd of Buffalo as well.

Oxford  is an amazing area to take guests on safari. It is an exceptionally beautiful section of Balule. On my very first drive through there we found 4 of the Big 5 in a very short period of time and also plenty of plains game.

Pride of lions near Tremisana

Pride of lions near Tremisana

 

The morning walks was also full of highlights and we were blessed one morning to find 20 hippos and 2 large crocodiles to the delight of all.

With all the good sightings we had there was one cherry on the top….the baby Leopard we saw with its mother. That safari ended with lots of oohs and aahs from the ladies and even some of the men.

 

RAYMOND Reports

09th in Kruger we found big pride of Lion at Khokha Moya Dam trying to catch a wildebeest on the road. They were using our vehicle to stalk !
On the 18th on S100 we found a big herd of buffalo together with a pride of Lion – the buffalo chased the lions into the bush. On the S41 we found seven Lions at Gudzane East waterhole with a fresh zebra kill.

Lions near Satara

Lions near Satara

 

On the 25th we found cheetah near Sweni bridge lying down on the road.  At S126 about 9 km from the H1-3 we found a leopard on a tree with an Impala carcass close to the road. At H7 where the river is very close we found the two lionesses in the river bed and Buffalos. Later we saw two rhinos – we got all the Big Five plus bonus.

 

ELIAS Reports

Good morning how are you guys doing. It was a nice and cold month.

Bernard and I went out on our bushwalk with the clients – we drove from the lodge toward Marula road and saw 3 buffaloes. Our clients were very happy to see them. They wanted to see giraffes and on Marula extension we saw five of them. It was amazing morning and then when we reached the place where we park our Landcruiser to start our bush walk, I spotted a leopard lying down.

That was crazy and unbelievable. Our guests were very, very excited to see that and I was happy too because the leopard gave us the time to take pictures and we viewed him nicely and he started to walk away and stalk a Bushbuck. We couldn’t get to see him again and some of our clients were so scared because we were about to start our bush walk.

After giving them the rules of the bushwalk, we went down to the Olifants river that’s where we saw a female lion carrying a baby in her mouth, and you can tell that’s a new born baby. That was amazing morning and then quickly we changed our direction because you don’t want to mess with lioness and her cubs.

It was a very nice and the best morning that we have had for a long time!!

That afternoon I did my sunset drive and we managed to see a White Rhino with a baby and we saw lots of elephants. At Campfire Dam we heard the lions roaring – it was amazing. My guests were very happy and scared at the same time.

Three Cheetah came into our area at the end of the month and along with the Wild Dogs kept the impala herds very vigilant.

Cheetah near Tremisana

Cheetah near Tremisana

 

On another day I did my first ever Motlala Reserve game drive at Marc’s Camp with Charl.

We had a group that told us that all they wanted to see is Rhino and then we can stop the drive ! Guess what – it didn’t even take us 20 minutes Our God was with us and we saw a Black Rhino !!

Our guests were very excited about it.

We had a great time.

 

JORDAN Reports

The past month at Marcs camp has been thrilling with amazing sightings and chilly mornings.

Sightings on the Motlala Game Reserve have been the best since I began working at Viva.

Wild dogs! Leopards! Black rhino! Aardvarks! Sable Antelopes! Chameleon! Water Mongoose!

WOW !WOW ! WOW !!!!

Sable

Sable

 

On one particular day we were lucky enough to see a big male leopard which had killed a baby buffalo and the remains scattered around by the current pack of wild dogs denning on Motlala.

Leopard

Leopard

 

Wild Dogs are a real treat for our guests : 5 adults and 10 pups!!

Hopefully they stick around!

 

SHANNON Reports

It has been an interesting month with days filled with many sightings.

Bushwalks 
On the walks we enjoyed sightings of the hippo and traditional stories of the bushveld as well as uses of the vegetation.

Afternoon Drives
Fortunate to find lion, elephant and other general game.

Sunset Drives
Evenings teeming  with great sightings of general game as well as Elephant, Lion, Leopard and a first for me : 3 Cheetah nearTremisana !

Lions near Orpen

Lions near Orpen

 

Kruger
The majority of my activities this month were Kruger trips. A new environment; a new experience and filled with plenty of game. From birds to plains game to big 5 as well as cheetah. A long and great day to spend with guests.

I have had an amazing experience during this month and with this has been an amazing 2 years with Viva. I have had a brilliant grounding in guiding and tourism – thank you!
I have been selected to do an advanced training course at Sabi Sabi. I leave you my last report and hope to return one day.

 

BERNARD Reports

The month of July was the best for sightings so far. I enjoy going to Cambridge and Oxford. It makes it easy to find animals. Even on a quiet day you will see hippos and possibly a big croc.

The highlight for me was seeing four of the big five in just one hour – it started with two dagga boys
( buffalo bulls)  and a female black rhino with calf. Making my way on Olifants road I found a female leopard on the Van der Merwe property. She had an impala in a tree. To the left there was two big male elephants. I joined Elias the following morning for bush walk and got to see 6 lionesses so that completed the five for the guests.

Elephant blocking the road

 

I also got to see my first African Wild Dogs on Olifants West – heading to Marula Boma we found 3 in the road. It was amazing, just a week later I joined Charl for a morning drive and we saw a single one hunting.

I am on special leave to do research on apes in Saudi Arabia in August. I am excited to join again in September.

 

CHARL Reports

This month has been really good for me with some awesome close sightings in Kruger and the private reserves Viva has traversing on.

One Kruger trip that stands out for me is a day where we had not one but two leopard sightings : the first was a female up in a tree with a kill she looked as if she was very comfortable resting with all her legs hanging over the branch. On the way out we stopped to see a cheetah resting under the bush in the shade and just as we left that sighting I spotted another leopard run across the road just ahead of me. I rushed to relocate it, then suddenly it appeared in front of me in the road and walked alongside us for 100 m before heading off into the bush. WOW  !!!

Leopard alongside our vehicle

Leopard alongside our vehicle

 

 

 

NEWS FROM OUR LODGES

TREMISANA Report July 2019:

This month has come and gone with plenty of laughs and also with some tears and some exceptional sightings.

Shannon is spreading her wings to do an advanced course in Sabi Sabi  and Bernard will be away for six weeks investigating Saudi Arabian primates. They are both exceptional guides and we wish Shannon all the best on her new adventure and also look forward to Bernard coming back in September.

We welcomed Fortune, a very well qualified and experienced guide to our team and we know that he will enjoy working with us.

One of the highlights just outside the lodge gate one evening around nine o’clock, was 3 beautiful Lions walking very casually over to our parking bays.  The guests had just arrived back from Marula Boma and the guides were still busy parking the vehicles. What a sighting!!

Elephant aplenty visited our waterhole again as well as a black backed jackal. The hyenas, although not always visible, can be heard almost every night laughing and scavenging for food around the lodge.

The little banded mongoose also run around the lodge frequently to the delight of the guests.

Warthogs are mowing our lawn – saving ESKOM some money !

Warthogs at Tremisana water feature

Warthogs at Tremisana water feature

 

MARC’S
We have been sending some time working on renewing the pool area at the camp getting it ready for summer for all our guests to enjoy. We have also been very lucky to have sightings of many buffaloes and other game moving through the camp allowing our guests some great game viewing in camp.

Wild Dogs have been seen almost every day and leopard and rhino sightings at Motlala are wonderful.

Nyala are so tame during the dry season -the guests love them.

Nyala at Marc's Camp

Nyala at Marc’s Camp

 

KATEKANI LUXURY TENTED LODGE
We have got our fancy Italian coffee machine up and running and busy training up our star chef Tiger in coffee making art. The lions surrounding us have been quite vocal the last few weeks letting our guest hear the night choir of the bush.  Together with the local hyenas, we have quite a bush choir !!

 

 

NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS

Once again, a big thank you for another exceptional month.

We have had to employ another fulltime tourist guide at Marcs- welcome to Ernest.

It makes us feel happy that we have provided employment for yet another person in these dire economic times  !!!

I wish others could see the need to offer employment and not attempt to obstruct any moves Viva makes to achieve this.

I attach the following reviews posted in July 2019 :

KATEKANI

“Something Special”
– BMGJK, Durban South Africa

My family and I had the pleasure of staying at Katekani Tented Lodge recently. What an incredible experience!! We literally can’t wait to go back again!!!

Accommodation:

The rooms are huge, we travelled with our three kids and all five of us fitted into the room with loads of extra space.
Each bed is fitted with a mosquito net, which allowed for a peaceful nights sleep. The main beds are huge, so comfy and when we arrived back from dinner, our beds had hot water bottles waiting for us!! What a treat!!!!
There is a bar fridge stocked with extra waters, a tea and coffee station with great coffee, which is always a win in the early mornings.

The bathroom area has not only a larger corner bath, but a large open shower as well as an outdoor shower. (Which was my eldest sons favourite place to be) Nothing better than taking a shower whilst watch the bush.

There is plenty of space in the bathroom, with lots of extra towels and space to put all your toiletries.

The outside deck is fitted with a plunge pool, loungers and a table with chairs. I really can’t explain just how peaceful it was, sitting on the deck and listening to all the birds around us. We were so lucky that three little bushbuck even walked up front of our room. We felt so relaxed and rejuvenated!!!

Food:

Tiger (the chef) and his team made the most delicious food!! He is so incredibly talented with the food he is able to produce. We enjoyed every meal! They blankets on the chairs were such a nice touch!!
It was my sons birthday whilst we were there and the staff all went out their way to make it so special for him and made him a delicious cake!! Don’t think he’ll ever forget this very special birthday of his, at Katekani!!

Staff:

The staff were fantastic!! They were always so quick to assist us with whatever we wanted and definitely exceeded any of my expectations!

The cleaning staff were very friendly and the rooms were impeccable!!

General:

Every staff member definitely went over and above to make our experience at Katekani one that we will most certainly never forget. It was such a magical experience and we all walked away feeling like royalty!!

Thank you to the Katekani team for EVERYTHING they did for us, to make this a very memorable, unique and special experience.

We will definitely be back!!!

 

MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE

“So much fun”
– Jim

I loved Marc’s Treehouse Lodge! The accommodations were cold (we were there in July, 2019), but very comfortable and with blankets, I slept like a baby. I woke up to lions across the river, baboons howling, and the ever present song of birds. Pretty, our hostess, was amazing. She has a wonderful sense of humor, knew our names as soon as we were introduced, and did so much to make our trip successful. Our time in Kruger park was also amazing. Our driver, Vincent, was excellent at finding animals, and he also knew about the birds and animal habits so it was not just looking, but learning. The food was also top notch. Best pea soup I have ever had the first night. The food was simple, not fancy, but hearty and delicious. Our last morning bush walk was also a good learning experience. We got very close to a herd of Cape buffalo, with our guide helping us get there without disturbing them. The staff made us feel like family, and there were actual tears as our group, none of whom knew the others prior to the trip, left to go our separate ways. Viva Safaris did an excellent job organizing my 4-day trip. I will definitely return!

 

TREMISANA

“Exceeded well beyond my expectations (and I have a pretty good imagination)”
– Jim

First of all, the staff at Tremisana are kind, considerate and competent. Collette, our host, made each of our group feel comfortable and welcome as we arrived. Hot towels to wash off the grime of the road, a quick change, then out on an evening game drive. Second, our guides were very informative about animal behavior and we were able to see elephants (and a baby!), leopard, civit, porcupine and many antelope the first night. The brai under the Marula tree boom was exceptional. Excellent food. Excellent company. Elvis the chef was a great hugger! The staff got our separate groups and made us feel like family. I now have two Swedish daughters, a Belgian daughter, and Italian daughter, a South African daughter, and an American son. We all were extremely happy with our rooms, food, conversation and friendly service. The next day we had a morning bush walk, and our guides led us down dusty trails were we observed animal tracks, elephants and hippos. Such an intimate opportunity to see life as it really exists in the bush (15 lions all piled up on each other to keep warm in the morning sun!). Our afternoon game drive was just as good. We then went to Marc’s Treehouse Lodge where we continued the high quality service and value. I highly recommend Tremisana and Viva Safaris, and will book them in the future. Make sure you sit down with Collette and the guides with a beer to just talk about life in the bush!

 

VIVA SAFARIS

“Exceeded our Expectations”
– Jill B

Our family did the 6 Day Safari – spending 1 night at Tremisana and 4 nights at Marc’s Treehouse Camp – and we all enjoyed every moment. We saw the Big Five: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino – plus cheetah and hunting dog which make the Magnificent Seven, apparently!

Our adventure started with a night game drive – we heard a couple of male lions calling for their brother, assuming they were some distance away but our guide Shannon, assured us they were within a dozen metres of the vehicle – Welcome to Africa! All up we did two sunrise game walks, two sunset game drives and one afternoon game drive all at private reserves and two full day safaris in Kruger National Park.

We were very well looked after by all the Viva Safari staff. Our accommodation was quite luxurious given we were in the middle of the African bush and all the meals – served buffet style – were freshly homemade, abundant and delicious.

All our guides were friendly, professional and knowledgeable. They were very adept at finding animals then positioning the jeep so we could all see the animals and they waited patiently while we took all the photos we wanted to.

We can’t thank Viva Safaris enough for our unforgettable adventure and we would highly recommend booking a safari with them. Very special thanks to Shannon & Charl for our sunset drives, the very brave trio of Elias, Bernard and Jordan for our sunrise walks, and the amazing Victor for our 2 full day safaris.

 

 

Read more reviews for:
Viva Safaris,  Marcs Treehouse LodgeTremisana Lodge and Katekani Tented Lodge on TripAdvisor.

 

Until next month…

With kind regards,
Piero
General Manager
Viva Safaris