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March 2024

Some 30 years ago, I gave a talk at the University of the Witwatersrand to graduate students who were about to go on their first Mathematics teaching practical. Teaching can be both very rewarding and extremely punishing. I tried to encourage these student teachers to look forward to going to work every day and to be excited to be at the school, despite the odd troublesome pupil or grumpy old colleague in the staff room.

Passion and enthusiasm wax and wane with every job. At Viva Safaris, I try to encourage all staff, especially the rangers, to be passionate about their work. At a meeting of rangers last year, I told them that the day that they are not excited to see yet another herd of impalas ( possibly their  10000th sighting ) is the day they should consider changing jobs.

I am pleased to note the pleasure and enthusiasm that our guides display when taking our tourists on game drives and walks. All the tourists I have spoken to this year are very quick to advise that the safari is made so much more meaningful by guides that try very hard to spot and are genuinely pleased to see the animals. The reviews posted on Tripadvisor and other platforms are testimony to a happy and hardworking group of Viva guides – well done to all !!!

Photos of happy rangers at animal sightings:

Rocky and Nadine

Victor and Nadine



Luke showing yellow bellied sand snake to guests

Smiley and wild dogs

I asked the rangers for good photos taken this month and, wow, did they deliver !



BNR stands for Balule Nature Reserve

KNP stands for Kruger National Park


Leopard in a marula tree, Kruger National Park

White Rhino resting in the open, Kruger National Park

Elephant Herd moving away from Nsemani Dam Kruger National Park

Cheetah on the move, Sweni road Kruger National Park

Monthly Report March 2024

Luke Ovendale Camp Manager Tremisana Lodge 

Balule Olifants West has provided another month of great sightings. The leopards have been out and about, especially near the Barnards property. Most of my leopard sightings took place en route, to, and from bushwalks. Most have been spotted relaxing in the branches of trees with a few quick sightings of leopards crossing the road.  

The bushwalks have been a great way to get some exercise and connect with nature on another level. The regular sightings have been hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and plenty of tracks and signs to enjoy along the way. 

My personal highlights for the month had to be during a day trip to the Kruger National Park. We entered through Orpen gate and made our way towards Satara rest camp. On route, we spotted a leopard in the distance, lying stretched out in a tree. 
Although it was far away, we could all see it clearly through binoculars.

We continued exploring with many general game sightings, especially zebra, and quite a few close ostrich sightings.  

After stopping for lunch and a stretch of the legs, we headed off on the search for rhino. 
We received an update regarding 4 rhinos resting not far from our location. We headed off, hoping they would still be there. It was our lucky day. They were still sleeping out in the open Savanah. These giant herbivores love to rest during the day.  

We continued on our way along the Sweni road, slowly making our way back towards Orpen gate. 
The sightings for the day were certainly not over. 

More excitement was still to come while viewing a steenbok alongside the road. I saw something moving far in the background. It definitely had a cat-like movement, but which one?

We turned around and headed in for a closer look. It was a cheetah.  
Cheetah are one of the more rare sightings in the Kruger and best known for their incredible speed. 

The rest of the afternoon consisted mainly of elephant herds, buffalo, and general game. 

A great day in the Kruger, packed with wonderful animal sightings.


At S36 next to Nhlanguleni picnic spot, KNP

At Campfire, BNR

At Tremisana, BNR

On S36, 500m from H7 towards Mudzandzeni, KNP


Guests observing the Nyalas on bush walk at Marc’s Camp

Dung beetle on bush walk at Marc’s Camp

Buffalo on bush walk at Marc’s Camp


3rd of March: Zebras east of Orpen in Kruger Park, very nice and relaxed

9th of March: Wildebeest around Satara KNP, while we were enjoying our lunch

15th March: Elephants around Rome 1 Leadwood Pan BNR, which was very exciting for my guests

27th of March: amazing sighting of a pride of lions on Campfire property, BNR

Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl at Tremisana Waterhole BNR

Leopard after hunting a Porcupine on the Satara Tshokwane Road KNP

Lioness and Cub on the Orpen Satara Road KNP

Klipspringer on the Phalaborwa Letaba road KNP

Elephant at Tremisana Waterhole BNR

Hyena at Tremisana Waterhole BNR


Black Rhino on Rome 4 BNR

H7 Kruger Park

S100 Kruger Park

Rome 4 BNR


Casper the famous white lion near Nwanetsi bridge KNP

Casper again

Herd of elephants crossing towards Nsemane dam , H7 Kruger National Park

White rhinos in Balule Nature Reserve

Hyena cub smelling Viva Safaris vehicle tyres KNP

Zebra sighting on the S12, Kruger National Park

A wonderful lion sighting on the H6, about 13 kilometres from the H1/3 in the Kruger Park


Lion cubs east of Ngwenya dam, Balule Nature Reserve

Female cheetah hunting north of Satara Camp, Kruger National Park

A pack of wild dogs east of S106 near Orpen, Kruger National Park

A male leopard up in a tree just north of Campfire dam, Balule Nature Reserve


Giraffe seen close to Marc’s Camp

Baby Nyala born in Marc’s Camp approx 4 hours old

Leopard tortoise spotted close to Marc’s Camp


Derby’s flower beetle (Dicronorrhina derbyana), Tremisana garden BNR

Spotted hyena, Marula Boma BNR

Wild dog, Marula road BNR

Lioness with cubs, Campfire BNR


Elephant herd at Tremisana Lodge BNR

Male lion on Olifants road during sunset drive BNR

Two white rhino bulls BNR

Leopard on Marula tree during morning drive on Barnard property BNR


CHARL sent the following:

Katekani report:
We have been very fortunate with a little late rain for the season, helping to keep the bush nice and green so long. The camp now seems to be frequented by hyenas at night while we have dinner. Generally they will pass by the boma and have a look in – quite nice for our guests. Some of you would have read on our report from last month about the baby banded mongoose we found – Moholoholo was able to integrate the individual with others they had and now they have been able to make a group which has been put into a soft release enclosure. This allows them to get used to being in the bush but in a safe environment. You can follow their progress on their Facebook page to monitor when they will be released. 

Hyena at Katekani’s boma unfortunately blured due to night light and movement

Nyala at gazebo at Katekani

Marcs Camp report:
The camp has had a few quiet days this month allowing us to catch up with some work and now we are back to full swing and very busy. The crowd favourite, the Nyalas, never disappoint. I dont think any guest has ever stayed at Marcs Camp and not had an amazing experience with the Nyalas. Unfortunately our efforts with the snared hyena have been unsuccessful, we have even started trying to trap the individual on other properties with no luck but we will keep at it till we are successful. We have been able to see the animal a few times at night on different camera traps to make sure it’s still healthy, so we just keep on hoping the animal will enter the trap so that we can help them.

Nyala at Marcs Camp welcoming committee

NYARAI sent the following:

Tremisana Report March 2024

We are still waiting for the rains in the Balule Plains. It has rained a few days only and my heart is sore for the animals. I get excited with even light showers right now. Maybe it’s high time we do a rain dance. We still have animals around the lodge. The warthogs, hyenas, impalas , elephants One elephant even decided to enter the camp. I was scared but you should have seen me act brave Infront of the guests. He did not stay long and went out after George the guide banged the pots. A hilarious sight if you ask me. I must mention my encounter with a hyena outside the lodge. I just stood still for a bit, took a picture and then panicked after. Thank God he turned around and walked away.

Elephant inside Tremisana Lodge BNR

Hyena on road near Tremisana lapa

This month has been a very busy month for me. Most of my days have been spent behind my desk. I find happiness in the balance that the lodge gives me. Doing office work and I step outside and it’s a whole different environment. I am able to detach and see a different world. A few steps into the garden opens up a very different world. Paying attention to everything has given me so much joy that words cannot express. I usually run away from spiders and never really pay attention to them. By the bridge going to breakfast I came across my first jumping spider. The cutest spider ever. I would describe it as a cartoon character that will almost say something if you pay attention to his face. They have excellent eyesight. The big eyes on that small body speaks volumes. Their bite is not poisonous so yes I was safe. I must admit only researched after getting close. I feel more trips outside will give me more little treasures.

Looking forward to April. I am certain it will be another blessed month for us. 

Until next month take care.


On 21 March, a public holiday, Human Rights Day, I decided to go on a full day safari to Kruger Park with Andy as our guide. The last time I did a full day Kruger safari on an Open Vehicle was in December 2022. It was raining in the morning. To further complicate our lives, we heard that there was a protest by the local community and that Orpen Gate was closed. It was fortuitous that I was on the vehicle as we now had to enter Kruger Park via Phalaborwa Gate. Here we do not have credit and I was able to pay the entrance fees.
From Phalaborwa to Letaba we saw precious little – an elephant sighting and a buffalo sighting were the highlights.

Once we crossed the Olifants River en route to Satara, game viewing improved dramatically. I was pleased to see the reaction of our guests at seeing species that are very seldom encountered in the Balule Nature Reserve. These included numerous herds of zebra and wildebeest, waterbuck, klipspringer, ostrich and a lovely sighting of a cheetah.

The strength of Viva Safaris’ packages came back emphatically to me – we offer an exceptional blend of exclusive and personal sightings in our private reserve, Balule Nature Reserve, and the wide diversity and great number of animal encounters in Kruger Park proper.


Welcome back to Christian seen here on Ezulwini Lodge game drive

Lion spotted on Ezulwini Billy’s Lodge plains


March 2024 started quietly but we ended up with large numbers of guests. Most of our guests are booking longer safaris at Tremisana. Marcs Camp and Katekani have been relatively quiet.  I thank our long-standing and loyal travel agents for their continuous support.

Busy Tremisana Lapa at breakfast time

Marco, our Webmaster, had a wide variety of reviews from which to choose. I am thankful to all our previous guests that take the time to write a review on their experience with Viva Safaris.

Amazingly Good Value Safari!
Kate B, Australia
Absolutely fantastic experience with Viva Safaris from start to finish! Accommodation for one night at Tremisana Lodge was a cosy little house with comfy bed and great shower. Two nights at Marc’s Treehouse Camp in a tent was amazing – large spacious tent with proper beds, electricity and a fan, with showers and toilet right next door – clean, nice, hot water. Accommodation exceeded expectations and I’ve done other budget safaris in Africa! All staff were friendly and helpful a the guided walks were both great and it was so good to be out of the vehicle for a while. Food was plentiful, simple, home style and great – catered for vegetarians. Appreciated coffee at 5am before the walks and home baked cakes and muffins at different times during the safari! The vehicle was fabulous – open sides and front door cool and lovely breeze with great view for everyone (max 9).

Animal wise – our day in Kruger was amazing! Saw lots of animals even though it was raining part of the day. We didn’t see elephants or lions or rhinos outside of Kruger but were unlucky – we saw hippos, buffalo, a hyena, giraffe.
This safari was exceptionally good value and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Sleeping in a tent is a must! The sounds of the insects and animals was something I’ll never forget!

Lovely experience for my first safari ever
Lillie M, USA
Viva Safaris exceeded all my expectations for my first safari. Initially I was really worried about safety and the food, but after the first 3 hours I knew everything was going to be just fine. Previously, we stayed at a five star hotel in Capetown and I was not able to eat much — the meals we had at Viva Safaris were home-cooked, tasty, nutritious, and best of all did not make me ill like when I was in Capetown. Their breakfasts and dinners were very filling and what I am used to: egg, bacon, beans and toast, or protein, rice, and vegetables for dinner with a soup to start. The photo is of the first dinner that they held outside at a nearby campsite.

In the first sunset drive, we were able to see hyenas, lions, an elephant outside the resort, baboons at the entrance, loads of impala, and even a giraffe. I remember feeling like if I had to leave, I would already feel satisfied.

The bush walk was not as physically straining as I thought it would be, the walk had to have been a little more than a mile and the rest of the bush walk was a drive. We saw many hippos near the river.

The day at Kruger was gorgeous. I have never seen so many animals living freely and happily. We saw a buffalo, rhino, leopard, cheetah, over 50 elephants, a warthog, hippos, zebras and ginoos, giraffes, Cape buffalo, and many exotic birds.

My advice to other first timers would be to keep an open mind and to dress for all sorts of weather. I found that I didn’t use the warm weather clothing I packed because of the rain and the windiness of the drives. Boots or sneakers (that you aren’t afraid to get dirty), tall socks, layers and water resistant outerwear were all useful to me — and don’t forget Lots of SPF and bug spray.

Thanks to Rocky who was our first tour guide he knew so much about the animals. Thanks to Luke who was our very knowledgeable tour guide for the bush walk and Kruger. Luke was able to answer so many of our questions about the animals and their behavior. I think the sign of a great safari tour guide is their ability to sight an animal from far away. Luke was able to sight a leopard on a tree in the distance.

Fantastic Safari
KarenP, USA
What an amazing experience!

From the initial email, communication was fantastic. We decided on the Tremisana Lodge package instead of the treehouse. Our pick up shuttle was running late, so we arrived at the lodge just in time to do the sunset safari and BBQ.

The staff were very welcoming. All guides and drivers were so friendly and knowledgeable. The staff at the lodge were great. The food was amazing!

All in all, it was everything we could have hoped for.

I highly recommend this tour and this company.

Professional, friendly – great experience!
Maks, Slovenia

We booked a 5 day Safari trip by Viva Safaris. Picked up and dropped at the airport. The restaurant, selected for the midway stop was great – kudos for that.

The rooms were small but OK, all what you need in such action packed days 🙂

My personal favourite was the pool!

The drives were great, special shoutout to Marc (full of knowledge, friendly, answering all the details,..He also came out of his way to make sure all is going well with us during his off hours) and KG (funny, lots of local knowledge, dedicated,..). We saw all the animals we could possibly want to see during our time in the Greater Kruger Area – the cheetah spotting by KG was a thing of a real expert!

The rest of the staff was also friendly and helpful – when a member of our group forgot her mobile phone in the Land Rover the hostess/manager jumped on the case immidiately and made sure the situation will be resolved.

Special thanks to Mama Bella for great food, kindness and a lot of “can i have one more please”! 🙂

Excelente hospedaje
Francisco, Argentina

Muy buen hospedaje, el lugar tiene todas las comodidades necesarias para lograr la mejor experiencia, desde habitaciones confortables hasta comida deliciosa!

Los animales rodean el lugar, elefantes, monos, impalas, de todo! Hacen de tu experiencia la mejor

Verblijf in lodge, tree house
Leonie W, The Netherlands

Mooie, goed verzorgde lodge. Midden in de natuur. Het personeel en alle mensen hier zijn heel vriendelijk, aardig en behulpzaam. Kamer was goed, voorzien van een klamboe en een ventilator.

Hier kom je echt even helemaal tot rust, zo midden in de natuur.

Until next month,  

With kind regards,
General Manager
Viva Safaris