To Be ( vaccinated ) or Not To Be ( vaccinated ) ? – that is the question !
It has been interesting to me that both my sons, one of whom is a physiotherapist, have steadfastly refused to be vaccinated against Covid, much to the horror of both my daughters, one of whom is a general practitioner.
The family group Whatsapp is inundated regularly with all kinds of evidence and references to prove their points of view. To their credit, none of my children has become personal in the printed discussion, although, privately, both sides have orally said various disparaging things about each other. It is an emotional issue.
I hold various degrees in Science and in Education and I have no doubt whatsoever that the sooner we ALL get vaccinated the better.
As is the case with another contentious issue, Abortion, my take is that, despite there being a fundamental right to personal choice, there is an overriding moral imperative to do what is best for ALL concerned, not only for the individual.
I was fortunate enough to be vaccinated on the very first day the vaccine became available in SA to the over 60’s. I feel happy that I have protected myself and contributed to the well-being of others.
As a result of pressure from an Italian agency that supports Viva Safaris, I have instructed all staff to see to it that they get vaccinated. The Italians are quite serious about Covid – probably because of the tremendous suffering the population experienced at the very beginning – and this agent told me bluntly that there would be no tourists coming on a Viva Safaris package unless all staff were vaccinated.
We are struggling with tourist numbers as it is, so it is expedient to take instruction from our valued travel agents. All the staff were happy to get vaccinated and I thank them for their cooperation.
GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
Yet another fantastic September !!
The tourists that have travelled on safari with us have all done extremely well.
There have been some absolutely exceptional sightings and the photos that follow below bear eloquent testimony to the greatness of Kruger Park as a wildlife haven.
TOLLI reports as follows:
What a month from the beginning right until an hour ago – all action packed !
The month started off with 5 lion sightings and cheetahs and lots more on the first day out then an amazing leopard with a waterbuck kill in a fig tree. We frequently visited hyena dens and so many cubs and found a new one today in Kruger Park. There where even a leopard with a cub in Katekani Lodge grounds.
We did a lot of work at Masango this month and had frequent visits of buffalo and hyenas, one even ate Richards’s shoes that he had left outside his house. We even saw buffalo at Marc’s camp tonight before dinner. We had the most amazing endangered and rare sightings: giant eagle owl, secretary bird, cheetahs, wild dogs, white lions, and a young kudu with white patches on her body, yellow bill ox peckers, ground hornbill and so much more.
Today, 30 Sept 21, my 7 guests saw 2 WHITE Lions on a Buffalo kill right at Orpen reception.
Tolli sent his usual brilliant photos :
YURI sent the following report :
What a funny place the bush is…Sometimes you think that you will never see any animals ever again. Driving around for hours.
Morning…afternoon…evening…nothing-nada-zip!!! Where are they? Surely if I go that way then I will find something. Tomorrow another route. Nothing. Then, just as you are about to lose hope the bush surprises you.
Lion before bed time
After driving around the whole afternoon and evening without seeing too much, my American guests and I stopped at Marula Boma for dinner. After a delicious braai, both of us a bit tired of driving around the whole day, we slowly make our way back to Tremisana Lodge. Then, out of the blue…a beautiful male lion, right next to the road! Day made! Off to bed with a happy heart.
Cheetahs under the power lines
A few quiet, frustrating days. Morning, afternoon, evening…Impala, kudu, giraffe, elephant. Repeat. Then the call comes one morning after our bushwalk: 2 cheetahs under the power lines. We rush to the site, and there they are. two beautiful brothers. Not often seen in Balule and right in front of us.
Wild dogs on the main road
A chilly, overcast morning in Kruger National Park. We had just passed through the main gate and there in the road was a whole pack of Wild Dogs, with pups. They are one of THE most endangered species in Africa and here they were, just playing around in front of us, with pups, none the less!
Last minute Rhino
Driving with my guest from UAE. Late afternoon. His last “proper” Game Drive. Almost time to return to the Lodge, but then I find tracks. Rhino tracks!!! Follow the tracks. Only half an hour left and then…there he is!!! A beautiful White Rhino bull about 50 metres from us just happily grazing away. Guest off to Cape Town the next morning with fond memories of Viva Safaris and Balule.
Leopard at Sunset
One late afternoon and starting to run out of ideas of where to go next, so I decide to just follow a random old track. Have I been this way before? Don’t think so. Boom! About 20 metres from us. Out in the open. Just lying there. Now let’s be clear when we talk about leopards. IF you are lucky enough to see one, it’s normally just a glimpse. That’s, once again, if you are lucky enough to see one. But not this one. It was very happy to just lie there and let us take pictures for at least 20 minutes, just before sunset. Amazing!
Looking for Rhino. Finding lions, lions, lions. 6 American guests on board for an afternoon game drive. I’d given up on finding lions, as reports were that they had moved to another part of the reserve where we don’t have access. I decided to start tracking a rhino. So I, hot on the heels of said rhino was very surprised when one Eagle Eyed guest shouted “lion!”. Yes, there they were, not one, not two, but 16!!! Yes, 16 lions under a tree in the shade. After spending a good half hour with them, I decided we should go and have a look at the Hippo Pool. Very active hippos, yawning and playing. So, hippos done, time to head back to the Lodge. What do we come across right next to us? 3 females and 1 male LION!!!
Never lose hope. The bush will always surprise you. Come over. I’ll prove it to you.
On one morning this month, Yuri and guests were very fortunate to see this extremely rare Sharpe’s Grysbok :
Patrick conducted a safari to Kruger Park and reports :
On the 29th, I conducted a Kruger Park safari with 4 guests. It was cold and windy, conditions not ideal for great game-viewing, but nevertheless, we has some great sightings: Elephants on H 7, lions near the junction of S36 and S39, lions again at Ngirivana waterhole, lots of general game on S 40. A big herd of buffaloes on the S100, wild dogs on the H6, crocodile and hippo at Nsemani and in both the Nwanedzi and Timbavati rivers and hyenas on the road on the way out.
The guests were very happy.
I, together with my wife, Sandra spent a few days at Tremisana and drove home via Kruger Park.
I took the following photos :
We were pleased to have 3 sightings of White Rhino in Kruger.
On Heritage Day, Tolli got some lovely ladies in traditional garb to pose with him at Satara :
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
TREMISANA GAME LODGE is looking very good. Martin has combed and rethatched every chalet.
Thanks to Aron who arranged for a friend to come and collect all the scrap metal lying around the staff quarters.
Game sightings have been good around the camp and we have had duiker, warthog, genet, civet and banded mongooses INSIDE the camp.
A negative consequence of spraying our grass around the pool is that the surrounding vegetation is luxuriantly green compared to the drab brown vegetation outside Tremisana. The elephants have had a glimpse of the various palms, strylizias, marulas, sausage trees and bushwillows in full leaf. Thus far, the electrified fence has kept them at bay. We pray there is no load shedding. Around every current-carrying conductor, there is a magnetic field ( in concentric circles ). The elephant’s trunk is truly amazing in that it detects the magnetic field and the elephant can then decide whether or not to bust the fence !
Nyarai sent the following from Tremisana Game Lodge :
The month of September is the month that we celebrate our heritage. I appreciate the vibrant colours of our traditional regalia, the food, and the poetry. Heritage encompasses our values, traditions, culture and who we are as a people. Where we have come from and that which our forefathers have passed on as people is a great component when it comes to heritage. I believe it has more to do with the intangible things more than it has to do with that which is visible. My heritage is what I carry in the depths of my heart more than my clan name and more than what I dress up as.
What stands out for me when we talk about heritage is the aspect of animal totems for they are symbols of family unity and allow us as Africans to identify each other. Being in the bush allows me to look at the animal totems in live form. I often wonder what was the criterion used to determine which animal totem a family chose. For those whose animal totem is the lion could it be the strength, the cheetah could it be its speed. My totem is eland “mhofu” in my language. It is the second largest antelope in the world. It is one of the most adaptable ruminants, able to live in a wide array of environments, from desert to savanna, grassland to mountain. My ancestors chose well. I believe that it’s the ability to adapt that stood out for them.
In a twisted way my spirit animal is antelope but whenever I am in the bush I seem to attract elephants. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. I don’t know. Speaking about elephants we had quite a large herd of elephants at the lodge. I was super excited because I love them from the depths of my heart. They came to drink water at the watering hole close to the Lapa. They took their time and the guests were very happy. The elephants always put on a good show without any effort. We also had sightings of lions, leopard, rhino, giraffes and other general game.
The pandemic is still with us and we are doing all we can to ensure that our guests and staff members are safe. We encourage wearing masks, the use of sanitizers and social distancing. All the staff at our lodges were vaccinated at the beginning of the month. We strongly believe in safety first. We are still carrying on our renovations in and around our lodges. The gardens are becoming livelier with awesome bird sightings. I think I should start using my binoculars and bird book more. We have seen a steady increase in the number of guests and we are hopeful that this upward trend continues. We continue to persevere in these trying times because tourism is at the core of our hearts and giving up is not an option at all.
Stay safe and always remember an elephant does not die from one broken rib and surely does not get tired carrying his trunk.
KATEKANI TENTED LODGE is looking good.
I attach the following aerial photo :
MARCS TREEHOUSE LODGE has undergone more maintenance in terms of creosoting all poles.
The Nyalas are looking healthy.
MASANGO CAMP has had a repaint. Tolli has chosen a charcoal colour for the Lapa and Guest Lounge, Dining Room and Bar area.
Together with my family, I visited Lauren and Giles and my future granddaughter in law, the adorable Isabella. I was surprised to hear a familiar voce saying “ Hello Sir “ as I alighted from the Landcruiser and there he was: Pieter Janse van Rensburg, who worked for Viva Safaris in the late 90’s. The legendary “ Os van die Bos” ( Ox of the Bush ) is looking well and looks after Laurence Saad’s stunning villa overlooking Cape Hangklip near Hermanus in the Western Cape.
I include a lovely shot of one of the units where our Luxury Lodge clients stay :
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
We are anxiously waiting for the UK government to change SA status from RED to Green. Given that the UK supplies more of South Africa’s inbound tourists than any other country, it will be most welcome.
Like most other tour operators, Viva Safaris is just “hanging in there “. There have been the odd tourists, but, by and large, the numbers are still very low. We remain very confident that December will be a relatively busy month and advance bookings are promising.
I am pleased to advise that there is a possibility of adding another 1200 hectares of traversing on Olifants West Nature Reserve.
We already have traversing on over 2250 hectares so, if we come to an arrangement, Viva Safaris will traverse over around 3500 hectares.
This may necessitate a change in 5, 6 and 7 day programs with guests on these packages spending more time on OWNR. I understand that there will be a total of 12 lodge vehicles on the Oxford and Cambridge 1,2,3 and 4 properties. As indicated in previous newsletters, the chances of having good sightings are directly proportional to the number of game viewing vehicles simultaneously traversing on a property. With the aid of radios, we can update one another on locations of sightings. A proper protocol is in place to avoid having too many vehicles on a sighting at any one time.
We are all very grateful to the Heuer family for buying Cambridge 2, 3 and 4 and are relieved that friendliness now exists.
I am also pleased to advise that rhino sightings have improved somewhat in Kruger Park. I have confirmed with the authorities that a limited rhino horn removal program is in place. On the one day I travelled in Kruger, we had 3 different sightings of White Rhino. Two of these sightings were of dehorned rhino.
Our guests are essentially having private safaris most of the time and feel very pampered and well looked after.
I include the following reviews posted on TripAdvisor in September 2021 :
Amazing safari! Everything was well organized. The food was excellent every day and the guides were kind! We almost saw the big 5.
The lodge was not the biggest but totally adapted for us and we found everything we needed.
Thank you very much!!
Yuri, Nyarai and the team at Tremisana were absolutely fantastic. Very welcoming and caring. The place is clean and tidy. I was lucky enough to see more game than I had anticipated on my drives with Yuri and Tolli.
I would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for a great safari experience at an affordable cost.
Until next month,
With kind regards,