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July 2021

The Hooded Vulture, Cathartes Monachus,  is so named in reference  to the thick, woolly buff-grey down on the side of the neck extending to the centre of the crown on its head. The Latin word, Monachus, means “pertaining to a monk” in reference to the hooded appearance.

It is relatively small when compared to the White-backed Vulture. It is primarily a scavenger, often arriving first at a food source. I have seen them associated with Steppe Eagles at sites where termites emerge. The Hooded Vulture is the most frequently seen vulture at Tremisana Lodge.

A new seven-strong pack of Wild Dogs has been seen frequently on Olifants West Reserve and, on one occasion this month, I personally witnessed a young Hooded Vulture keeping a close eye on the movements of the pack. It was no doubt hoping to get some scraps from the numerous impala kills that the Wild Dogs have made.



July has been the best month of game viewing this year. I, accompanied by my wife Sandra and sons Anthony and Marc and families, personally went up to the lodges for 10 days to have a look at things and I was very impressed.

Apart from the pack of Wild Dogs that I saw on Tremisana Lodge property on a few occasions, we were very fortunate to see a pride of 10 lions on a buffalo kill at Rosie’s Pan. Thanks to Kjell of Naledi Lodge for the tip.

In addition, we regularly saw hyenas, buffalo and elephants.

TOLLI reports as follows :
 I am not giving a day by day account this month. Instead I have written on the leopard, the elusive one:

I always tell my guests that you don’t see a leopard – it will reveal itself to you. Most people come to Africa on safari to see the Big Five but it is getting harder and harder to see rhinos and then it makes it even more challenging for guides because of the leopards cunningness to avoid human contact. Leopards are afraid of humans and their best defence is to hide you can go within metres of a leopard and you will not see it because of his hiding skills. The leopard is the hide and seek champion of the bush. This is because they live mostly solitary lives and cannot afford conflict with humans and other predators. It’s a matter of life and death. If you stumble upon them, most encounters are brief, but we were lucky this month : here are some photos I took this month :

YURI has sent the following :

Greetings from Tremisana Lodge, Balule Game Reserve. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control (covid & politics!) July was a bit quiet as far as guests go, but most definitely not as far as the bush goes.

It was a great pleasure to have Piero & family staying here with us for a few days, and boy, did they bring the good luck with them!

One quiet Sunday evening, just out on a leisurely drive, we came across a pride of 10 lions that had just taken down a buffalo, and we arrived just as they started tucking in! An amazing sighting. On another occasion, we had a pack of African Wild Dogs (Painted Wolves) very close to the lodge. It’s always such a special sight, taking into consideration their critically endangered status.

Then, on 24 July, on my sunset drive with a group of Hungarian guests, we came across hippo, elephants, wild dogs AND a pride of 12 lions, right next to the road! All this in one evening. How lucky can you get? The next morning, Tolli & I took them out on a bush walk, which also turned out quite exciting, as we came relatively close to a big old hippo, grazing in the bushes close to Olifants River, not too pleased with our presence and about an hour later, a bull elephant. It’s one thing to come across these animals while safely in a vehicle, but it’s quite a humbling experience to meet them on foot. Nonetheless, we all got back to the Lodge with clean underwear!

As things approach some sort of normality, we hope to see more & more people return to this beautiful country as we are all so very ready to show them our breathtaking landscapes, wonderful wildlife, and, of course, amazing people.

Till next month!

Yuri van Riel
Manager: Tremisana Lodge

TOLLI has spent a few days in Kruger and has taken some great photos.

I have asked Marco, our esteemed webmaster, to select a few : 



I was pleasantly surprised to note that all our lodges are in pretty good shape.

I must commend Aron, head handyman, for his efforts in ensuring that, despite the dearth of tourists, all units at all lodges are able to be used by clients.

I took a drive to Marula Boma, where we have our famous Bush BBQ’s and was pleased that everything was in good shape. I was concerned at the spoor of lions and leopard INSIDE the Boma but am told that on the occasions we held the Bush BBQs, there were no incidents of tourists being on the predators’ menu.

Buffalo near Marula Boma


TREMISANA LODGE gardens are looking good and we are watering the lawns regularly. I had the spare borehole at the parking lot cleaned and was told that it is now yielding 4000 litres/hour – excellent !

The solar-powered borehole at Tremisana Dam is going strong and the water in the dam should last until the first rains.

At KATEKANI LODGE we were amazed at the abundance of leopard spoor. Mandla, our caretaker, advises that he has seen 5 different leopards on the property, including mother and two 3 week old cubs. Mandla reckons that with the relatively quiet period we have had since Covid, the leopards are not as shy as before. I have instructed that all tourists that are staying at Katekani will henceforth have to be escorted to their suites by an armed guard after dinner.

MASANGO CAMP has had a major face-lift as master carpenter, Given, has renovated each one of the 8 chalets. The pool is looking the bluest it has ever done and the communal lounge/bar/dining area has had a fresh coat of paint.

MARC’S TREEHOUSE LODGE is also in good shape – Aron and Richard are replacing reeds and lats and are busy adding new reeds to some of the treehouses. The Nyala population is looking healthy and we saw some lovely kudu bulls along the Klaserie River.

Nyarai, our secretary based at TREMISANA LODGE, reports as follows :

After taking a leave break from the bush it really feels awesome to be back. The fresh breeze in the morning, the sounds of the birds, the wild animals – there is no other place I would rather be. It is still cold in the mornings but the sun during the day is just glorious. For a few hours one can forget it is still winter and then as the sun sets there is that cold air that reminds you that winter is still with us.

My first week back, the bush welcomed me back with one of the most breathtaking sightings. We went out around 5pm and we came across a pride of lions that had just killed a buffalo. The roars that filled the air, the sounds of breaking bones made me both excited and afraid. I once heard it said that even the brave are scared by a lion three times: first by its tracks, again by its roar, and one last time face to face. My feelings were justified right there.

It was quite a sight to behold; being so close to the lions as they feasted on the carcass. We spent close two hours watching them. I have learnt over the years that some sightings deserve for you to just sit, relax and let your mind record every scent, movement and sound before you move on to the next sighting. I would term this has the best sighting for me for this month. Other animal sightings in Balule included elephants, cheetahs, and a pack of wild dogs to sweeten up the month as well as lots of general game.

The month of July has really put my optimism to the test. The tourism sector has really gone through a lot through this pandemic. To add on we were hit with the protests. We are glad to say that we were not affected and we are still open and running smoothly. We thank our clients and agents who have continued to support us through this trying season. I still have hope that the rest of the year will be better and whatever happens we will come out stronger. Cheers to awesome experiences under the African sun.



The number of bookings and actual visits has increased sufficiently to allow us to employ yet another member of staff on a full-time basis: Mike our mechanic has returned in July and has made sure that we have 4 Landcruisers, 4 Open Sided Vehicles for Kruger Park and 3 Toyota Quantums fully serviced and operational.

Of course, the looting and chaos that went on in my home province, kwaZulu Natal, did nothing to convince prospective tourists to visit South Africa.

Together with my wife Sandra, and sons Anthony and Marc, I was at the lodges and missed all the drama. I returned to Durban to find everything normal and I am reliably told that there is very little chance of having repeat looting. From my informants’ mouths to God’s ears !!!!!
I include the following review posted in July on Tripadvisor :


5 Day Fly In Kruger Safari

We took a 5 day fly in Safari and stayed in Tremisana e katekani lodges. The lodges were very confortable especially katekani. The staff was very kind and attentive to our needs.
The experince of beeing in such close contact with nature and wild animals was unique and potenciated by the simpathy, experience and knowlege of our guides Tully and Yuri, who made our safari drives really wonderful.

The food prepared by Pauline e Delina was truly delicious.

The only thing to improve is the well funcionning of the heater!


Until next month,

With kind regards,
General Manager
Viva Safaris