Mpumalanga

South Africa’s most romantic hidden gems

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, scouring the globe for that patch of perfection is top of mind for a lot of people. Now, we all know South Africa has unforgettable sunsets, breathtaking views, magnificent beaches and out-of-this-world cuisine making it the ultimate romantic destination, but did you know about these lesser known winners?

Text: Desiree Haakonsen

1. Paternoster, West Coast

This quiet, laid-back fishing village on the West Coast is filled with Mediterranean charm, and is both romantic and serene. With its traditional, whitewashed cottages and gorgeous beaches, Paternoster makes for a perfect place to leave your footprints behind in the sand. More information…

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious 'chill' appeal.

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious ‘chill’ appeal.

Credit: www.whatsonincapetown.com

2. Hartbeespoort, Magaliesberg

Are you in Gauteng and wanting something laid back but close by? We’d recommend the Hartbeespoort and its country markets, cafes and restaurants, water sports, mountain trails, golf, wildlife encounters, canopy tours, hot-air balloon rides and the aerial cable way. It’s definitely a getaway with options: choose to keep yourselves busy or simply enjoy doing very little. More information…

It's difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

It’s difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

Credit: www.functionvenues.co.za

3. Clarens, Eastern Free State Highlands

Clarens is a fairy-tale town waiting to be discovered. It’s known as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’ because of its wildlife, golden mountains, winding rivers and flower-strewn gardens. It’s also an artistic haven with lots of quirky spots to visit. More information…

One of Clarens' enexpected treasures.

One of Clarens’ unexpected treasures.

Credit: www.theclarens.co.za

4. Parys, Northern Free State

As chilled as Clarens is, if your partner’s style is more leaping out of planes, consider Parys! Mind you, although it’s big on adventure, it’s still a small town and you can definitely make equally happy memories there if you are after something more relaxed like chilling on the riverbanks! More information…

Stroll along the Vall River in Parys.

Stroll along the Vaal River in Parys.

Credit: www.getaway.co.za

5. Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Dullstroom is definitely not dull! It might appeal more to nature lovers than those looking for ritzy holidays though as it’s a slice of paradise with little more to do than relish the mountain and wild-flower vistas. You might have heard about it being a popular trout fishing destination, but given trout fishing is a winter activity, you’re pretty safe that your partner won’t have divided loyalties. More information…

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

Credit: www.tripadvisor.co.za

6. Knysna, Garden Route

Whether you prefer opulence or rustic stays, Knysna is a great option! Take your time getting there by meandering along the stunning Garden Route, and be rewarded with a peaceful lagoon, beautiful beaches, thick mountain forests, good weather and a tangible sense of ‘holiday’. More information…

Knysna lagoon.

Knysna lagoon.

Credit: www.africanbreezeguesthouse.co.za

7. Bela-Bela, Waterberg

Do we need to say more than ‘hot springs’ when it comes to the Limpopo’s Bela-Bela (previously known as Warmbaths)? The perfect spot to soak away any stress from the work week or a long-haul flight. More information…

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Credit: www.roomsforafrica.com

8. Hermanus, Overberg

Hermanus is a wonderful option for the romantic at heart and those who enjoy a little indulgence. If spending a day pottering the Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route, enjoying a seaside candlelit dinner and then taking a gentle stroll on the beach is your idea of heaven, Hermanus will be your home away from home. More information…

If you can't get in to Hermanus this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

If Hermanus isn’t on the cards this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

9. Langebaan, West Coast

Langebaan is a hot favourite. It’s a place to unwind from the whirlwind of everyday busy-ness. The calm lagoon, soothing bird calls and untouched flora of the West Coast National Park make it an idyllic nature haven. But it’s not a completely sleepy town so don’t rest on your laurels. Places like Strandlopers beach restaurant get really busy so make sure you get in early! More information…

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Credit: www.high-five.co.za

10. Margate, Hibiscus Coast

Thinking subtropical, Hawaii-wannabe beach vibes where you only wear a cozzie and flip-flops for your special out-of-town break? Margate will be spot on. And if its palm-speckled beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters become too much for you to bear, there are lots of great shops, art galleries, craft markets, pubs and quaint restaurants to visit. More information…

Margate Beach.

Margate Beach.

Credit: www.booktravel.travel

And if your main squeeze happens to be a foodie, there are so many delicious delights to discover that will make him or her weak at the knees. What about a lazy lunch or dinner at Moyo in Durban? Or The Test Kitchen in Cape Town?

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

Credit: www.planyourholiday.co.za

Whatever your pleasure, head to South Africa and get romantic! For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African getaway, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

South Africa’s most romantic hidden gems

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, scouring the globe for that patch of perfection is top of mind for a lot of people. Now, we all know South Africa has unforgettable sunsets, breathtaking views, magnificent beaches and out-of-this-world cuisine making it the ultimate romantic destination, but did you know about these lesser known winners?

Text: Desiree Haakonsen

1. Paternoster, West Coast

This quiet, laid-back fishing village on the West Coast is filled with Mediterranean charm, and is both romantic and serene. With its traditional, whitewashed cottages and gorgeous beaches, Paternoster makes for a perfect place to leave your footprints behind in the sand. More information…

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious 'chill' appeal.

Traditional fishing village Paternoster has serious ‘chill’ appeal.

Credit: www.whatsonincapetown.com

2. Hartbeespoort, Magaliesberg

Are you in Gauteng and wanting something laid back but close by? We’d recommend the Hartbeespoort and its country markets, cafes and restaurants, water sports, mountain trails, golf, wildlife encounters, canopy tours, hot-air balloon rides and the aerial cable way. It’s definitely a getaway with options: choose to keep yourselves busy or simply enjoy doing very little. More information…

It's difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

It’s difficult to beat a Hartebeespoort Dam sunset!

Credit: www.functionvenues.co.za

3. Clarens, Eastern Free State Highlands

Clarens is a fairy-tale town waiting to be discovered. It’s known as the ‘Jewel of the Free State’ because of its wildlife, golden mountains, winding rivers and flower-strewn gardens. It’s also an artistic haven with lots of quirky spots to visit. More information…

One of Clarens' enexpected treasures.

One of Clarens’ unexpected treasures.

Credit: www.theclarens.co.za

4. Parys, Northern Free State

As chilled as Clarens is, if your partner’s style is more leaping out of planes, consider Parys! Mind you, although it’s big on adventure, it’s still a small town and you can definitely make equally happy memories there if you are after something more relaxed like chilling on the riverbanks! More information…

Stroll along the Vall River in Parys.

Stroll along the Vaal River in Parys.

Credit: www.getaway.co.za

5. Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Dullstroom is definitely not dull! It might appeal more to nature lovers than those looking for ritzy holidays though as it’s a slice of paradise with little more to do than relish the mountain and wild-flower vistas. You might have heard about it being a popular trout fishing destination, but given trout fishing is a winter activity, you’re pretty safe that your partner won’t have divided loyalties. More information…

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

The Critchley Hackle Hotel in Dullstroom.

Credit: www.tripadvisor.co.za

6. Knysna, Garden Route

Whether you prefer opulence or rustic stays, Knysna is a great option! Take your time getting there by meandering along the stunning Garden Route, and be rewarded with a peaceful lagoon, beautiful beaches, thick mountain forests, good weather and a tangible sense of ‘holiday’. More information…

Knysna lagoon.

Knysna lagoon.

Credit: www.africanbreezeguesthouse.co.za

7. Bela-Bela, Waterberg

Do we need to say more than ‘hot springs’ when it comes to the Limpopo’s Bela-Bela (previously known as Warmbaths)? The perfect spot to soak away any stress from the work week or a long-haul flight. More information…

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Bliss out in the warm baths at Bela Bela.

Credit: www.roomsforafrica.com

8. Hermanus, Overberg

Hermanus is a wonderful option for the romantic at heart and those who enjoy a little indulgence. If spending a day pottering the Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route, enjoying a seaside candlelit dinner and then taking a gentle stroll on the beach is your idea of heaven, Hermanus will be your home away from home. More information…

If you can't get in to Hermanus this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

If Hermanus isn’t on the cards this weekend, definitely make a note to visit during whale season!

Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

9. Langebaan, West Coast

Langebaan is a hot favourite. It’s a place to unwind from the whirlwind of everyday busy-ness. The calm lagoon, soothing bird calls and untouched flora of the West Coast National Park make it an idyllic nature haven. But it’s not a completely sleepy town so don’t rest on your laurels. Places like Strandlopers beach restaurant get really busy so make sure you get in early! More information…

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Kitesurfing spot at Langebaan.

Credit: www.high-five.co.za

10. Margate, Hibiscus Coast

Thinking subtropical, Hawaii-wannabe beach vibes where you only wear a cozzie and flip-flops for your special out-of-town break? Margate will be spot on. And if its palm-speckled beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters become too much for you to bear, there are lots of great shops, art galleries, craft markets, pubs and quaint restaurants to visit. More information…

Margate Beach.

Margate Beach.

Credit: www.booktravel.travel

And if your main squeeze happens to be a foodie, there are so many delicious delights to discover that will make him or her weak at the knees. What about a lazy lunch or dinner at Moyo in Durban? Or The Test Kitchen in Cape Town?

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

moyo uShaka Pier, Durban.

Credit: www.planyourholiday.co.za

Whatever your pleasure, head to South Africa and get romantic! For more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African getaway, join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page.

Affordable Adventure in South Africa

South Africa is a paradise for those travellers with a thirst for adventure! There are plenty of outdoor activities in South Africa which will get the heart racing, but won’t break the bank. You can hike a mountain, surf a wave, dive with sharks, take on South African mountain bike trails or even jump off the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at The Big Rush.

When visiting South Africa there is no excuse not to take a good long walk. No matter where you are staying there is ample opportunity to get out there and get moving. In Mpumalanga, some of the best hiking on offer is in and around the scenic Blyde River Canyon and along the Panorama Route (which offers lots of great adventure activities too). The Free State is another great place for hiking and there are several world class trails on offer in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. If you’re in the Western Cape then hot-footing it up Table Mountain is always an option – with a cable car offering amazing views of Cape Town you could always treat yourself on the way down! Another great hiking option is the Garden Route’s Dolphin Trail with its gorgeous views of the coastline and mountain ranges.

Mpumalanga Trail

Image source: SA-Venues

Surfing is an integral part of South African culture. From the colder Cape waters to the tropical warmth of the Indian Ocean, young and old mingle at popular surf spots from early morning until sundown with a single goal – to pick the best wave of the day and ride it all the way to the beach. Big wave surfers should try their skills at extreme surf spots such as Kalk Bay Reef on False Bay and Dungeons in Hout Bay. Such sections of water should, however, only be attempted by those who know what they are doing.

For the beginners, South Africa offers a choice of surf schools that will have you out there in the breakers, learning to surf and making new friends in no time at all! If you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave in Durban, don’t look past Addlington Beach for small, consistent waves guaranteed to ignite your passion for surfing.

south-africa-surfing

Image source: TNT Magazine

The Big Rush Rope Swing asks adventurous travellers to take a leap of faith by stepping off the roof of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Big Rush is listed in the Guinness World Records as the tallest swing in the world! Those brave enough to take the leap will face a 60 metre free-fall at a speed of over 120kph. If you’re travelling with people who don’t share your taste for adventure, they can watch your jump from the comfort of the Base café in the Big Rush Stadium Shop – so don’t forget to smile for the cameras! The stadium jump will set you back $74 (AUD) and takes place daily from 9am – 5pm, weather permitting.

Enjoy the experience of a lifetime and go shark cage diving on the Great White Trail. Great White sharks are seasonal animals so get yourself to the Cape in June, July or August where you’ll not only have an excellent chance of seeing them, but also to watch them breach and hunt. SharkExplorers in Cape Town offer a range of cage diving experiences. The White Shark adventures take place in False Bay, which is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town and is a Great White Shark hotspot. The tour starts out before dawn and as well as getting close and personal with these sharks in their natural habitat you’ll be able to witness the power of the Great White Sharks as they launch themselves out of the water to catch their prey safely from the SharkExplorers boat. Prices start from $158 (AUD).

Great White Shark Diving

In South Africa, mountain biking has become a tremendously popular sport, and there are new trails opening up all the time. There are some timeless classics though, in glorious surroundings. The Cederberg Mountains and the Drakensberg within sight of whales at De Hoop or in the forests of Knysna. Mountain biking in South Africa offers options for all skill and fitness levels. Some trails and tracks are as short as 10km, while others, like the magnificent Cederberg Mountain Bike Trail in Clanwilliam, can take you over 170 km of the most dramatic rocky terrain you could wish for!

These affordable adventure activities are bound to make your South African trip a memorable one.

Affordable Adventure in South Africa

South Africa is a paradise for those travellers with a thirst for adventure! There are plenty of outdoor activities in South Africa which will get the heart racing, but won’t break the bank. You can hike a mountain, surf a wave, dive with sharks, take on South African mountain bike trails or even jump off the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at The Big Rush.

When visiting South Africa there is no excuse not to take a good long walk. No matter where you are staying there is ample opportunity to get out there and get moving. In Mpumalanga, some of the best hiking on offer is in and around the scenic Blyde River Canyon and along the Panorama Route (which offers lots of great adventure activities too). The Free State is another great place for hiking and there are several world class trails on offer in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. If you’re in the Western Cape then hot-footing it up Table Mountain is always an option – with a cable car offering amazing views of Cape Town you could always treat yourself on the way down! Another great hiking option is the Garden Route’s Dolphin Trail with its gorgeous views of the coastline and mountain ranges.

Mpumalanga Trail

Image source: SA-Venues

Surfing is an integral part of South African culture. From the colder Cape waters to the tropical warmth of the Indian Ocean, young and old mingle at popular surf spots from early morning until sundown with a single goal – to pick the best wave of the day and ride it all the way to the beach. Big wave surfers should try their skills at extreme surf spots such as Kalk Bay Reef on False Bay and Dungeons in Hout Bay. Such sections of water should, however, only be attempted by those who know what they are doing.

For the beginners, South Africa offers a choice of surf schools that will have you out there in the breakers, learning to surf and making new friends in no time at all! If you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave in Durban, don’t look past Addlington Beach for small, consistent waves guaranteed to ignite your passion for surfing.

south-africa-surfing

Image source: TNT Magazine

The Big Rush Rope Swing asks adventurous travellers to take a leap of faith by stepping off the roof of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Big Rush is listed in the Guinness World Records as the tallest swing in the world! Those brave enough to take the leap will face a 60 metre free-fall at a speed of over 120kph. If you’re travelling with people who don’t share your taste for adventure, they can watch your jump from the comfort of the Base café in the Big Rush Stadium Shop – so don’t forget to smile for the cameras! The stadium jump will set you back $74 (AUD) and takes place daily from 9am – 5pm, weather permitting.

Enjoy the experience of a lifetime and go shark cage diving on the Great White Trail. Great White sharks are seasonal animals so get yourself to the Cape in June, July or August where you’ll not only have an excellent chance of seeing them, but also to watch them breach and hunt. SharkExplorers in Cape Town offer a range of cage diving experiences. The White Shark adventures take place in False Bay, which is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town and is a Great White Shark hotspot. The tour starts out before dawn and as well as getting close and personal with these sharks in their natural habitat you’ll be able to witness the power of the Great White Sharks as they launch themselves out of the water to catch their prey safely from the SharkExplorers boat. Prices start from $158 (AUD).

Great White Shark Diving

In South Africa, mountain biking has become a tremendously popular sport, and there are new trails opening up all the time. There are some timeless classics though, in glorious surroundings. The Cederberg Mountains and the Drakensberg within sight of whales at De Hoop or in the forests of Knysna. Mountain biking in South Africa offers options for all skill and fitness levels. Some trails and tracks are as short as 10km, while others, like the magnificent Cederberg Mountain Bike Trail in Clanwilliam, can take you over 170 km of the most dramatic rocky terrain you could wish for!

These affordable adventure activities are bound to make your South African trip a memorable one.

10 places where you can find the world in South Africa

Desiree Haakonsen of Travelground gathered this amazing selection of lookalike spots in South Africa that compare well with international destinations.

You’ve heard it before: South Africa is diverse. We didn’t realise quite how true this statement was until we embarked on a snapshot journey to find how many places in South Africa resembled destinations around the world. You’d be surprised!

1. Miami/Durban
The art deco buildings, palm trees, long sunny days, and warm tropical waters of Miami can be found on the Durban city coastline.

Miami. Image Bigstock

Miami. Image Bigstock

Durban. Image Bigstock

Durban. Image Bigstock

2. Piva Canyon/Blyde River Canyon
The famous Piva Canyon in Montenegro National Park could be the European sister of ourBlyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga.

Piva Canyon. Image Bigstock

Piva Canyon. Image Bigstock

Blyde River Canyon. Image Bigstock

Blyde River Canyon. Image Bigstock

3. Sub-Sahara/Karoo
We might not have the vast desert dunes of the Sahara, but the Karoo bears a striking resemblance to the scrubby terrain of the sub-Sahara.

Saharan landscape. Image Bigstock

Saharan landscape. Image Bigstock

Karoo landscape. Image Bigstock

Karoo landscape. Image Bigstock

4. Great Barrier Reef/Sodwana Bay
Why fork out your life savings to scuba in the Great Barrier Reef when Sodwana Bay is one of the top diving destinations in the world?

Great Barrier Reef. Image Bigstock

Great Barrier Reef. Image Bigstock

Sodwana Bay. Image Bigstock

Sodwana Bay. Image Bigstock

5. French Winelands/Cape Winelands
We may not be able to call it Champagne, but our Methode Cap Classiques are just as good!

French winelands. Image Bigstock

French winelands. Image Bigstock

Cape Winelands. Image Vergelegen Estate

Cape Winelands. Image Vergelegen Estate

6. Blue Mountains/Mpumalanga
Sometime less is more. Pinnacle Rock in Mpumalanga is just as inspiring as the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains of Australia.

Blue Mountains. Image Bigstock

Blue Mountains. Image Bigstock

Pinnacle Rock. Image Bigstock

Pinnacle Rock. Image Bigstock

7. Lake Nakuru/Kimberley
Lake Nakuru in Kenya is home to thousands of pink flamingos, but you’ll find a similar spectacle at Kamfers Dam in Kimberley.

Lake Nakaru. Image Bigstock

Lake Nakaru. Image Bigstock

Kamfer Dam. Image courtesy of Winston Mcleod

Kamfer Dam. Image courtesy of Winston Mcleod

8. Assateague Island/Bot River Lagoon
Assateague Island, off the coast of Maryland, United States, is home to more than 100 wild ponies. You can also find approximately 25 wild horses living freely in the dunes of the Bot River Lagoon in the Overberg.

Assateague Island. Image Bigstock

Assateague Island. Image Bigstock

Kleinmond. Image Travelground

Kleinmond. Image Travelground

9. Angel Falls/Tugela Falls
Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, with a height of 979m, while the Tugela Falls in the Drakensberg is the world’s second highest waterfall with a total drop of 948m in five free-leaping falls.

Angel Falls. Bigstock

Angel Falls. Bigstock

Tugela Falls. Bigstock

Tugela Falls. Bigstock

10 New Zealand/Wilderness
The forests, mountains and waterways that make New Zealand such an attractive destination can also be found in the little Garden Route town of Wilderness.

Forest trail, New Zealand. Image Bigstock

Forest trail, New Zealand. Image Bigstock

Wilderness. Image Travelground

Wilderness. Image Travelground

10 places where you can find the world in South Africa

Desiree Haakonsen of Travelground gathered this amazing selection of lookalike spots in South Africa that compare well with international destinations.

You’ve heard it before: South Africa is diverse. We didn’t realise quite how true this statement was until we embarked on a snapshot journey to find how many places in South Africa resembled destinations around the world. You’d be surprised!

1. Miami/Durban
The art deco buildings, palm trees, long sunny days, and warm tropical waters of Miami can be found on the Durban city coastline.

Miami. Image Bigstock

Miami. Image Bigstock

Durban. Image Bigstock

Durban. Image Bigstock

2. Piva Canyon/Blyde River Canyon
The famous Piva Canyon in Montenegro National Park could be the European sister of ourBlyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga.

Piva Canyon. Image Bigstock

Piva Canyon. Image Bigstock

Blyde River Canyon. Image Bigstock

Blyde River Canyon. Image Bigstock

3. Sub-Sahara/Karoo
We might not have the vast desert dunes of the Sahara, but the Karoo bears a striking resemblance to the scrubby terrain of the sub-Sahara.

Saharan landscape. Image Bigstock

Saharan landscape. Image Bigstock

Karoo landscape. Image Bigstock

Karoo landscape. Image Bigstock

4. Great Barrier Reef/Sodwana Bay
Why fork out your life savings to scuba in the Great Barrier Reef when Sodwana Bay is one of the top diving destinations in the world?

Great Barrier Reef. Image Bigstock

Great Barrier Reef. Image Bigstock

Sodwana Bay. Image Bigstock

Sodwana Bay. Image Bigstock

5. French Winelands/Cape Winelands
We may not be able to call it Champagne, but our Methode Cap Classiques are just as good!

French winelands. Image Bigstock

French winelands. Image Bigstock

Cape Winelands. Image Vergelegen Estate

Cape Winelands. Image Vergelegen Estate

6. Blue Mountains/Mpumalanga
Sometime less is more. Pinnacle Rock in Mpumalanga is just as inspiring as the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains of Australia.

Blue Mountains. Image Bigstock

Blue Mountains. Image Bigstock

Pinnacle Rock. Image Bigstock

Pinnacle Rock. Image Bigstock

7. Lake Nakuru/Kimberley
Lake Nakuru in Kenya is home to thousands of pink flamingos, but you’ll find a similar spectacle at Kamfers Dam in Kimberley.

Lake Nakaru. Image Bigstock

Lake Nakaru. Image Bigstock

Kamfer Dam. Image courtesy of Winston Mcleod

Kamfer Dam. Image courtesy of Winston Mcleod

8. Assateague Island/Bot River Lagoon
Assateague Island, off the coast of Maryland, United States, is home to more than 100 wild ponies. You can also find approximately 25 wild horses living freely in the dunes of the Bot River Lagoon in the Overberg.

Assateague Island. Image Bigstock

Assateague Island. Image Bigstock

Kleinmond. Image Travelground

Kleinmond. Image Travelground

9. Angel Falls/Tugela Falls
Angel Falls in Venezuela is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, with a height of 979m, while the Tugela Falls in the Drakensberg is the world’s second highest waterfall with a total drop of 948m in five free-leaping falls.

Angel Falls. Bigstock

Angel Falls. Bigstock

Tugela Falls. Bigstock

Tugela Falls. Bigstock

10 New Zealand/Wilderness
The forests, mountains and waterways that make New Zealand such an attractive destination can also be found in the little Garden Route town of Wilderness.

Forest trail, New Zealand. Image Bigstock

Forest trail, New Zealand. Image Bigstock

Wilderness. Image Travelground

Wilderness. Image Travelground

Leopard gets revenge

Our intention that morning was to go back to an area where we had heard lions calling the night before, to see if they had crossed into our property – well, that was the plan anyway…

Not long out of Bush Lodge, we spotted a hyena crossing the road in front of us. It crossed rather hurriedly and looked as if it was carrying something in its mouth. We followed up, and sure enough, it was a female spotted hyena carrying the remains of a bushbuck kill. The actions of the hyena told us that the kill had been stolen from another predator – in this case, more than likely a leopard. We understood why she was in such a hurry.

Knowing that the hyenas had a den on the property, we decided to keep following. It was evident by the fullness of her stomach that this female had already eaten her fill from the carcass. Carrying a half eaten bushbuck isn’t all that easy, and she had to keep stopping to adjust her grip on the carcass, each time looking very nervously behind her for the predator who might be following the drag marks and scent being left behind. She was right to be nervous.

The hyena stopped to drink from a small pan, dropping the carcass in the water for protection. It is very unlikely that a cat would go into the water to fetch it. She had a drink, picked up the carcass again and as she got to the edge of the pan, dropped it and spun around, facing the direction she had just come from, looking as alert as ever and extremely nervous.

As we watched, a male leopard came bursting out of the surrounding bush, growling and intent on getting his kill back. The sound of the charge is something I never want to experience on foot, and I’m not surprised the hyena took the sensible choice and tucked tail and ran, as this is one of the biggest male leopards on our reserve. He searched frantically around the water for the carcass, located it, and with what seemed like lightning speed, snapped it up. True to my tracker’s predictions, he went straight to the nearest Marula tree and hoisted himself and the kill out of reach of the hyena, which had come running back onto the scene.

The power and strength of the leopard was awesome. It was up in the tree in no time. By the time we had moved around for a better angle, the hyena was back and the leopard had positioned the kill securely. He stood proud in the tree over his kill catching his breath and surveying the surrounding bush for any other possible intruders. Once satisfied he settled in to eat what remained of his bushbuck.

After a short while another twist unfolded. A young female leopard had obviously also come across the drag marks and followed them. She sheepishly approached the area, going first to the pan of water, sniffing around and then made her way over towards the tree. We thought we were in for a tussle between the two leopards, but the male appeared too engrossed in eating and only gave a few warning growls. The female took up position under the tree and in a way begged for some food. All she was going to get were scraps that would fall as the male ate – definitely not enough to satisfy her hunger. The male had now eaten most of the kill and the remains could no longer be secured in the tree, so he brought the little that was left down to finish on the floor under a nearby thicket of vegetation. The female went up the tree to see what scraps had been left there, but after seeing there wasn’t much, she came down and went to drink some water from the pan.

The leopard, triumphant on this occasion and with a satisfied hunger, lay in the shade of the thicket to sleep the day away, recovering his energy levels to be ready for another night of hunting.

Written by

Malcolm Stirk

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Leopard gets revenge

Our intention that morning was to go back to an area where we had heard lions calling the night before, to see if they had crossed into our property – well, that was the plan anyway…

Not long out of Bush Lodge, we spotted a hyena crossing the road in front of us. It crossed rather hurriedly and looked as if it was carrying something in its mouth. We followed up, and sure enough, it was a female spotted hyena carrying the remains of a bushbuck kill. The actions of the hyena told us that the kill had been stolen from another predator – in this case, more than likely a leopard. We understood why she was in such a hurry.

Knowing that the hyenas had a den on the property, we decided to keep following. It was evident by the fullness of her stomach that this female had already eaten her fill from the carcass. Carrying a half eaten bushbuck isn’t all that easy, and she had to keep stopping to adjust her grip on the carcass, each time looking very nervously behind her for the predator who might be following the drag marks and scent being left behind. She was right to be nervous.

The hyena stopped to drink from a small pan, dropping the carcass in the water for protection. It is very unlikely that a cat would go into the water to fetch it. She had a drink, picked up the carcass again and as she got to the edge of the pan, dropped it and spun around, facing the direction she had just come from, looking as alert as ever and extremely nervous.

As we watched, a male leopard came bursting out of the surrounding bush, growling and intent on getting his kill back. The sound of the charge is something I never want to experience on foot, and I’m not surprised the hyena took the sensible choice and tucked tail and ran, as this is one of the biggest male leopards on our reserve. He searched frantically around the water for the carcass, located it, and with what seemed like lightning speed, snapped it up. True to my tracker’s predictions, he went straight to the nearest Marula tree and hoisted himself and the kill out of reach of the hyena, which had come running back onto the scene.

The power and strength of the leopard was awesome. It was up in the tree in no time. By the time we had moved around for a better angle, the hyena was back and the leopard had positioned the kill securely. He stood proud in the tree over his kill catching his breath and surveying the surrounding bush for any other possible intruders. Once satisfied he settled in to eat what remained of his bushbuck.

After a short while another twist unfolded. A young female leopard had obviously also come across the drag marks and followed them. She sheepishly approached the area, going first to the pan of water, sniffing around and then made her way over towards the tree. We thought we were in for a tussle between the two leopards, but the male appeared too engrossed in eating and only gave a few warning growls. The female took up position under the tree and in a way begged for some food. All she was going to get were scraps that would fall as the male ate – definitely not enough to satisfy her hunger. The male had now eaten most of the kill and the remains could no longer be secured in the tree, so he brought the little that was left down to finish on the floor under a nearby thicket of vegetation. The female went up the tree to see what scraps had been left there, but after seeing there wasn’t much, she came down and went to drink some water from the pan.

The leopard, triumphant on this occasion and with a satisfied hunger, lay in the shade of the thicket to sleep the day away, recovering his energy levels to be ready for another night of hunting.

Written by

Malcolm Stirk

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Wild Facts Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve – Klipspringer

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1. The Klipspringer (‘rock jumper’ in Afrikaans) is a small African antelope that lives…

on rocky outcrops from the Cape of Good Hope all the way up East Africa and into Ethiopia

2. Known for their remarkable jumping ability, klipspringers live singly or in life-long monogamous relationships – in which pairs spend most of their time within a few metres of each other. The males are fiercely territorial.

3. Their enemies include leopards, hyaenas, baboons and large birds of prey. Klipspringer pair behavior relative to predators is that, while one klipspringer eats, the other acts as a lookout.

4. Klipspringers have specially adapted hoofs for living in their rocky territories. They stand, walk, leap, and land on their tiny hoof tips like ballerinas constantly on tip toe. Their hooves are the consistency of hard rubber, absorbing the shock of their huge leaps.

5. Klipspringers have remarkable dense, coarse coats consisting of hollow hairs that rustle when shaken or touched. This unique quality hair helps to cushion their bodies from any abrasion from sharp rocks.

6. Klipspringers attain a mass of only around 12 kgs, with the females being slightly larger than the males. Only males have horns.

More Sabi Sabi Wild Facts

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Wild Facts Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve – Klipspringer

via sabisabi.com

1. The Klipspringer (‘rock jumper’ in Afrikaans) is a small African antelope that lives…

on rocky outcrops from the Cape of Good Hope all the way up East Africa and into Ethiopia

2. Known for their remarkable jumping ability, klipspringers live singly or in life-long monogamous relationships – in which pairs spend most of their time within a few metres of each other. The males are fiercely territorial.

3. Their enemies include leopards, hyaenas, baboons and large birds of prey. Klipspringer pair behavior relative to predators is that, while one klipspringer eats, the other acts as a lookout.

4. Klipspringers have specially adapted hoofs for living in their rocky territories. They stand, walk, leap, and land on their tiny hoof tips like ballerinas constantly on tip toe. Their hooves are the consistency of hard rubber, absorbing the shock of their huge leaps.

5. Klipspringers have remarkable dense, coarse coats consisting of hollow hairs that rustle when shaken or touched. This unique quality hair helps to cushion their bodies from any abrasion from sharp rocks.

6. Klipspringers attain a mass of only around 12 kgs, with the females being slightly larger than the males. Only males have horns.

More Sabi Sabi Wild Facts

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Sabi Sabi Bush Sighting – Life in the Fast Lane

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Streamlined and elegant, the cheetah strode purposely down the road in front of us. The late afternoon sun glinted off his eyes, giving them the impression of polished amber; his velvet coat glowing gold in the receding light. His long legs and slight frame hinted at the explosive power that lay beneath them. His eyes, perfectly adapted to diurnal hunting, scanned the bush on either side for his next meal. Driven by the need to find food, and constantly aware of the stronger competition that might take it from him, the cheetah leads one of the harshest lives of Africa’s most revered predators. Rarely is he able to finish a meal without the interruption of hyena or lion.

Today he was hungry. His beautiful eyes betrayed the need to eat as they analyzed every inch of the landscape, searching for potential prey. His sharp vision soon picked out a herd of impala casually grazing close to a waterhole. Instantly his demeanor changed. With delicate precision, the cheetah circled his prey. His deliberate approach was borne out of a life of missed opportunities and experience; the ability to see but not be seen essential in his success as a species. Keeping plenty of cover between him and his target, the cheetah finally settled in the lengthening shadows of a knobthorn tree to plan his attack. Between him lay a no-man’s-land of short grass, affording him no cover. For some of the larger predators this would be an unassailable obstacle but this would pose no problem for the blistering speed of the cheetah.

Trained to observe for hours and wait for the perfect moment, he watched the movements and actions of the impala. His long thick tail, so important for balance and maneuverability at high speeds, twitched occasionally, the only sign of his growing excitement. Finally, the trap was set. Inching forward, low on his belly, the cheetah positioned himself, ready to strike. Like a coiled spring, toned muscles rippled as they tensed for action. We waited, breath held as we watched for their release. We knew we were about to witness something special. A cheetah in full flight in the wild is not often seen by people, especially in thick savanna vegetation such as where he had now chosen to hunt. They have to develop new hunting strategies to compensate for less room to operate at high speeds. This time the cheetah had worked the opening that nature had designed it for.

Cheetah-on-the-run

Without warning, the attack came. With incredible speed the cheetah exploded from his concealed position with acceleration that defies belief. Faster than some of the top production cars on the planet, the cheetah hit 60km/h inside 2 seconds. He was a bolt of black and gold streaking across the grass, a feat of natural engineering doing what natural selection has chosen it for. The lightweight frame, enlarged nostrils, non-retractable claws for grip all worked in perfect harmony to propel him towards his target. The impala saw him coming and fled, they themselves also aware that danger can come from any side at any moment. For an instant the cheetah looked beaten but then he hit the afterburners… With so little time to get up to speed, the impala stood no chance. Legs pumping like pistons, massive strides eating the ground beneath him, the cheetah singled out one of the ewes and employed the classic ankle tap. His over-sized dew claw clipped the impala’s back leg and sent it stumbling into the turf. Like a flash, the cheetah was on top of her, strong jaws clamped down on her neck stifling any cries that would alert other predators and cutting off oxygen to the already exhausted impala.

We watched in awe as the entire event unfolded in front of us in the blink of an eye. However, we were not the only audience to this performance. As the cheetah lay beside his prize, panting heavily, trying to get air back to his oxygen-starved limbs, 3 rhinos now approached the spectacle. With no real enemies to worry them, they approached the scene with apparent curiosity, their poor eyesight unable to resolve the situation to their satisfaction. A sighting is always magnified by having interactions between species. It lends itself to the bigger picture, rather than just witnessing individual characters go about their business. Though out gunned and facing about 2000kgs in body weight, the cheetah stood its ground, ready to defend his kill against these armoured giants. Nose to nose, with only a meter or so separating them, the cheetah stood resolute over his kill, hissing and spitting at the spectators. Seemingly perplexed by this fiery little adversary, the rhinos soon moved on no doubt chuckling at the plucky little cat’s defiance.

With the battle won and his prize defended, the cheetah settled down to a well-earned meal. With relish, his sharp teeth opened the soft flesh of the hind quarters and he began to eat, needing to replenish some of the energy expended during the hunt. But this unbelievable sighting was not over for us yet! From the tree line skulked the unmistakable figure of a spotted hyena, the cheetah’s arch nemesis. We knew instantly that all the hard work would come to nothing with the arrival of natures’ principal scavenger. Although quite capable of hunting for themselves, hyenas are brilliantly adapted to reaping the rewards of others labour. The cheetah knew that his meal was lost. He stood his ground trying to get as much nourishment as possible before the inevitable happened. In the human world we always say that death and taxes are inevitable, but I’m sure in the cheetah world, it’s death and hyenas! For a moment, we thought that the two would share the spoils but with a look that could kill, the hyena took one bite and casually dragged his plunder away. The cheetah knew it had met its match and merely watched, before turning away and continuing his unending fight for survival.

Watching this filled me with so many emotions. The excitement of witnessing my first ever kill will live long in my memory but the interactions that followed will make this unforgettable. To see just one of the 3 principle characters in this soap opera would have been special in itself but to see them all was special. Of course we were rooting for the cheetah. It is not often we see this fascinating animal and get to marvel at its abilities, but also to see its weaknesses first hand. To possess such blistering speed means sacrificing strength – a point perfectly highlighted in his decision not even to defend his kill against the more powerful hyena.

by: rika venter – bush lodge ranger

Website: www.sabisabi.com

Sabi Sabi Bush Sighting – Life in the Fast Lane

via sabisabi.com

Streamlined and elegant, the cheetah strode purposely down the road in front of us. The late afternoon sun glinted off his eyes, giving them the impression of polished amber; his velvet coat glowing gold in the receding light. His long legs and slight frame hinted at the explosive power that lay beneath them. His eyes, perfectly adapted to diurnal hunting, scanned the bush on either side for his next meal. Driven by the need to find food, and constantly aware of the stronger competition that might take it from him, the cheetah leads one of the harshest lives of Africa’s most revered predators. Rarely is he able to finish a meal without the interruption of hyena or lion.

Today he was hungry. His beautiful eyes betrayed the need to eat as they analyzed every inch of the landscape, searching for potential prey. His sharp vision soon picked out a herd of impala casually grazing close to a waterhole. Instantly his demeanor changed. With delicate precision, the cheetah circled his prey. His deliberate approach was borne out of a life of missed opportunities and experience; the ability to see but not be seen essential in his success as a species. Keeping plenty of cover between him and his target, the cheetah finally settled in the lengthening shadows of a knobthorn tree to plan his attack. Between him lay a no-man’s-land of short grass, affording him no cover. For some of the larger predators this would be an unassailable obstacle but this would pose no problem for the blistering speed of the cheetah.

Trained to observe for hours and wait for the perfect moment, he watched the movements and actions of the impala. His long thick tail, so important for balance and maneuverability at high speeds, twitched occasionally, the only sign of his growing excitement. Finally, the trap was set. Inching forward, low on his belly, the cheetah positioned himself, ready to strike. Like a coiled spring, toned muscles rippled as they tensed for action. We waited, breath held as we watched for their release. We knew we were about to witness something special. A cheetah in full flight in the wild is not often seen by people, especially in thick savanna vegetation such as where he had now chosen to hunt. They have to develop new hunting strategies to compensate for less room to operate at high speeds. This time the cheetah had worked the opening that nature had designed it for.

Cheetah-on-the-run

Without warning, the attack came. With incredible speed the cheetah exploded from his concealed position with acceleration that defies belief. Faster than some of the top production cars on the planet, the cheetah hit 60km/h inside 2 seconds. He was a bolt of black and gold streaking across the grass, a feat of natural engineering doing what natural selection has chosen it for. The lightweight frame, enlarged nostrils, non-retractable claws for grip all worked in perfect harmony to propel him towards his target. The impala saw him coming and fled, they themselves also aware that danger can come from any side at any moment. For an instant the cheetah looked beaten but then he hit the afterburners… With so little time to get up to speed, the impala stood no chance. Legs pumping like pistons, massive strides eating the ground beneath him, the cheetah singled out one of the ewes and employed the classic ankle tap. His over-sized dew claw clipped the impala’s back leg and sent it stumbling into the turf. Like a flash, the cheetah was on top of her, strong jaws clamped down on her neck stifling any cries that would alert other predators and cutting off oxygen to the already exhausted impala.

We watched in awe as the entire event unfolded in front of us in the blink of an eye. However, we were not the only audience to this performance. As the cheetah lay beside his prize, panting heavily, trying to get air back to his oxygen-starved limbs, 3 rhinos now approached the spectacle. With no real enemies to worry them, they approached the scene with apparent curiosity, their poor eyesight unable to resolve the situation to their satisfaction. A sighting is always magnified by having interactions between species. It lends itself to the bigger picture, rather than just witnessing individual characters go about their business. Though out gunned and facing about 2000kgs in body weight, the cheetah stood its ground, ready to defend his kill against these armoured giants. Nose to nose, with only a meter or so separating them, the cheetah stood resolute over his kill, hissing and spitting at the spectators. Seemingly perplexed by this fiery little adversary, the rhinos soon moved on no doubt chuckling at the plucky little cat’s defiance.

With the battle won and his prize defended, the cheetah settled down to a well-earned meal. With relish, his sharp teeth opened the soft flesh of the hind quarters and he began to eat, needing to replenish some of the energy expended during the hunt. But this unbelievable sighting was not over for us yet! From the tree line skulked the unmistakable figure of a spotted hyena, the cheetah’s arch nemesis. We knew instantly that all the hard work would come to nothing with the arrival of natures’ principal scavenger. Although quite capable of hunting for themselves, hyenas are brilliantly adapted to reaping the rewards of others labour. The cheetah knew that his meal was lost. He stood his ground trying to get as much nourishment as possible before the inevitable happened. In the human world we always say that death and taxes are inevitable, but I’m sure in the cheetah world, it’s death and hyenas! For a moment, we thought that the two would share the spoils but with a look that could kill, the hyena took one bite and casually dragged his plunder away. The cheetah knew it had met its match and merely watched, before turning away and continuing his unending fight for survival.

Watching this filled me with so many emotions. The excitement of witnessing my first ever kill will live long in my memory but the interactions that followed will make this unforgettable. To see just one of the 3 principle characters in this soap opera would have been special in itself but to see them all was special. Of course we were rooting for the cheetah. It is not often we see this fascinating animal and get to marvel at its abilities, but also to see its weaknesses first hand. To possess such blistering speed means sacrificing strength – a point perfectly highlighted in his decision not even to defend his kill against the more powerful hyena.

by: rika venter – bush lodge ranger

Website: www.sabisabi.com

Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges, Ranger Story – Its Never A Surprise!

It’s never a surprise to see game at Xivambelane, our staff village about one kilometre from the lodge. Unfenced, we often have an elephant drinking from our pool or lions walking past our doors.

So once again, one morning, while waiting for our staff vehicle, I had the pleasure of looking at a male bushbuck. He was eating the new grass in front of my neighbour’s room. I always marvel at how much these wild animals are at ease around us, because he was less than ten meters away from me.

A female cheetah caught my attention as she was sprinting at great speed towards the bushbuck. She might have come from the top of a termite mound about fifty meters to my left. The only object dividing us was a tree that was pushed over by elephants a couple of days ago.

She obviously never noticed me standing there, because she had kept her eyes on her prey. She seemed to be moving in on her kill exceedingly fast with head up and ears alert. Her movements reminded me of a greyhound, but with the added stealth of a cat. I had her in full sight for only a couple of seconds before she reached the bushbuck.

She did not alter her speed for a second as she yanked the buck off its legs and on its rear with her paw. It almost seemed as if they fell together, but she rammed him in mid-air, with force, into my neighbour’s door.

The loud bang drowned out the sound of her ferocious growl and the agonizing bleat of the buck for only a moment. In one movement was she on top of him, pinning the struggling buck down with both claws and chest while lunging for his throat. She somehow ended up behind the buck, with her death hold secured, still pinning him down. His flailing hoofs did not help him escape from such a vice like grip, even though he was almost bigger than she was.

The moment the bushbuck’s struggle has ceased, her sub adult cub, making a high pitched yapping sound, came over to join her. It was at this moment that I realized I was still standing at my open doorway. Quickly reaching over to close it, I alerted them of my presence. She started dragging her kill away, keeping it between her legs. It was a task that proved difficult for her since it was so heavy. She also kept her attention on the predator that has interrupted her kill – me.

I was a threat and even when she dragged her kill away into the long grass, she didn’t relax. They did not lose sight of where I was standing for a second, by then I was inside my room, dialling my sleeping neighbour’s numbers to have them share in my experience.

Our guides have told me that out of hundreds of studied cheetah kills, only half of them are successful and that I was extremely privileged to have experienced one of nature’s most amazing hunts. I agree with them – it was almost indescribable.

Johalien Coetzee

Receptionist – Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Read More Ranger Stories

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges, Ranger Story – Its Never A Surprise!

It’s never a surprise to see game at Xivambelane, our staff village about one kilometre from the lodge. Unfenced, we often have an elephant drinking from our pool or lions walking past our doors.

So once again, one morning, while waiting for our staff vehicle, I had the pleasure of looking at a male bushbuck. He was eating the new grass in front of my neighbour’s room. I always marvel at how much these wild animals are at ease around us, because he was less than ten meters away from me.

A female cheetah caught my attention as she was sprinting at great speed towards the bushbuck. She might have come from the top of a termite mound about fifty meters to my left. The only object dividing us was a tree that was pushed over by elephants a couple of days ago.

She obviously never noticed me standing there, because she had kept her eyes on her prey. She seemed to be moving in on her kill exceedingly fast with head up and ears alert. Her movements reminded me of a greyhound, but with the added stealth of a cat. I had her in full sight for only a couple of seconds before she reached the bushbuck.

She did not alter her speed for a second as she yanked the buck off its legs and on its rear with her paw. It almost seemed as if they fell together, but she rammed him in mid-air, with force, into my neighbour’s door.

The loud bang drowned out the sound of her ferocious growl and the agonizing bleat of the buck for only a moment. In one movement was she on top of him, pinning the struggling buck down with both claws and chest while lunging for his throat. She somehow ended up behind the buck, with her death hold secured, still pinning him down. His flailing hoofs did not help him escape from such a vice like grip, even though he was almost bigger than she was.

The moment the bushbuck’s struggle has ceased, her sub adult cub, making a high pitched yapping sound, came over to join her. It was at this moment that I realized I was still standing at my open doorway. Quickly reaching over to close it, I alerted them of my presence. She started dragging her kill away, keeping it between her legs. It was a task that proved difficult for her since it was so heavy. She also kept her attention on the predator that has interrupted her kill – me.

I was a threat and even when she dragged her kill away into the long grass, she didn’t relax. They did not lose sight of where I was standing for a second, by then I was inside my room, dialling my sleeping neighbour’s numbers to have them share in my experience.

Our guides have told me that out of hundreds of studied cheetah kills, only half of them are successful and that I was extremely privileged to have experienced one of nature’s most amazing hunts. I agree with them – it was almost indescribable.

Johalien Coetzee

Receptionist – Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Read More Ranger Stories

Website: www.sabisabi.com


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Sabi Sabi Wildfacts – Termites

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1. Insects, including termites, are the most successful group of living creatures in the world today. Termites are the only insect order in which all species are highly social. They have been on Earth for over 50 million years, and although they are sometimes called “white ants”, they are not ants, nor are they closely related to them..

2. In a termite colony there is a caste family structure: the workers – blind, sexless nymphs: the soldiers – with large heads and long jaws: and the reproductives including the queen.

3. The termite queen is the largest of all individual social insects. She produces one egg approximately every 3 seconds.

4. Just before the rainy season, some of the worker termites complete their development and become winged adults. These leave the nest in swarms and eventually land on the ground, shed their wings and mate, and create new colonies.

5. Termites are probably the most efficient creatures contributing to decomposition in the bushveld. They are also an important food source in Africa.

6. The termite species Macrotermes are the builders of nearly all the large termite mounds in Africa. There are many wonderful examples of these termitaria at Sabi Sabi. Macrotermes termites are fungus-growers, bringing plant material back to the colony, chewing it to a pulp and using it to cultivate the fungus on which they feed.

Website: http://www.sabisabi.com

Sabi Sabi Wildfacts – Termites

1. Insects, including termites, are the most successful group of living creatures in the world today. Termites are the only insect order in which all species are highly social. They have been on Earth for over 50 million years, and although they are sometimes called “white ants”, they are not ants, nor are they closely related to them..

2. In a termite colony there is a caste family structure: the workers – blind, sexless nymphs: the soldiers – with large heads and long jaws: and the reproductives including the queen.

3. The termite queen is the largest of all individual social insects. She produces one egg approximately every 3 seconds.

4. Just before the rainy season, some of the worker termites complete their development and become winged adults. These leave the nest in swarms and eventually land on the ground, shed their wings and mate, and create new colonies.

5. Termites are probably the most efficient creatures contributing to decomposition in the bushveld. They are also an important food source in Africa.

6. The termite species Macrotermes are the builders of nearly all the large termite mounds in Africa. There are many wonderful examples of these termitaria at Sabi Sabi. Macrotermes termites are fungus-growers, bringing plant material back to the colony, chewing it to a pulp and using it to cultivate the fungus on which they feed.

Website: http://www.sabisabi.com

Summer = Mud = Happy Elephant

This morning we got a call on the radio that a large elephant bull was on his way to a nearby pan, so we headed off hoping to get there before he had drunk. We arrived with 10 minutes to spare and found the bull eating less than 100 meters from the pan. He was very obliging and walked down the road towards us with the awesome presence that only an elephant bull can muster. More →

Summer = Mud = Happy Elephant

This morning we got a call on the radio that a large elephant bull was on his way to a nearby pan, so we headed off hoping to get there before he had drunk. We arrived with 10 minutes to spare and found the bull eating less than 100 meters from the pan. He was very obliging and walked down the road towards us with the awesome presence that only an elephant bull can muster. More →

Sabi Sabi Ranger Story – Ultimate Walk

It was a sunny morning at Selati Camp when we started off on a walking safari. My guests, Ian and Heather MacPherson (father and daughter), as well as a honeymoon couple, Neil and Tracy Bantleman, who had been staying with us for 3 nights, were unaware of the extraordinary walk they wer about to experience.
They were all wildlife enthusiasts and loved their walking safaris, so I asked them whether or not they would be interested in doing a longer walk than usual. They were excited at the idea.

After having a wonderful breakfast in the comfort of the camp, we all set off with our backpacks, water and walking shoes. The sun was getting higher in the sky and the temperature was beginning to soar. This meant that the animals were most likely starting to take to shady spots to keep themselves cool. That would make also make it harder for us to find them.

Shortly after leaving the camp, I found up some fresh Giraffe spoor. The tracks were larger than normal, which suggested that they were from a big male. I estimated that he had walked there within the past hour. My guests were very keen to see the giraffe, so off we went to track him.

Sometimes people think that because Giraffes are so tall they are easy to spot, and it always amazes them just how camouflaged the tallest animal in the world can actually be. We followed the tracks through an Acacia thicket, and into and out of a small drainage line. As we came over a small hill, there, 50-60 meters away was the Giraffe we had been searching for. He was a nice big male, with a darker than normal coat. I tried using the cover of trees and bushes to get closer in order for my guests to get some good photographs, but with the Giraffes keen eyesight he spotted us creeping towards him. We still managed to get within a short distance of him, while he stared at us with a cautious eye. We got some great shots and Heather was amazed at just how tall the Giraffe really was. When you are sitting in a vehicle, it can give you a false sense of the size of animals, but by going on a walk, you become fully aware of just how big they really are. That’s one thing that makes a walking safari so worthwhile, as you are now on foot in the animals kingdom, walking on their terms.

During the walk Tracy started talking and asking about scorpions. I decided to head towards a rocky outcrop which is usually a good place to look for them. After scouting out a couple of rocks, I found the perfect one. Rock scorpions normally like to hide under rocks that are fairly large, ones that baboons will find difficult to lift as they search for their scorpion snacks. With a bit of effort we managed to lift the rock just far enough off the ground for me to be able to get a good look underneath. There lay a medium sized rock scorpion. I picked it up by the small tail and began to explain to my intrigued guests just how advanced a scorpion’s senses are. With tiny little hairs called trichobothria, they can detect a termite walking 40cm away, and they can feel the vibrations of thunderstorms still hundreds of kilometers away. Every animal big and small is just so interesting in its own way, which makes my job one of the best in the world. We managed to get some great photographs of our arachnid friend before placing him back underneath its rock home.

We carried on with our walk looking at all sorts of interesting trees, plants and tracks while I shared as much knowledge as I could. After some time we stopped under a big shady tree, where we drank water and took in the peace that the bush has to offer. We saw some fresh buffalo tracks and we could hear the lone bull disturbing all the dry, fallen leaves on the ground as he moved off in the far distance.

After rehydrating ourselves, we put our bags back onto our backs and began to make our way back to the camp which was still about an hour away. We were walking across a big open area, when Neil spotted a beautiful pinkish flower. It was an Impala lily, which even for a colour blind person like myself, is really just so beautiful. We moved closer to it to take some photographs. Ian hadn’t brought a camera, so he stood a few meters away from us, looking around with his binoculars.

Once we had got all our photos, we carried on walking. We hadn’t gone more than 10 meters when we heard a growl, a growl so deep and distinctive that you could feel it throughout your whole body. I raised my head, and there, lying in the shade of a lowveld mikberry tree about 20 meters away, was a big, dark maned male lion. His tail was lashing from side to side, which, combined with the deep growl, is a very definite warning not to come any closer. At this stage Neil, Tracy, and Heather, who were right behind me, were fully aware of what was happening. Ian on the other hand, who was still standing a little way away, had heard the sound, but due to his older age and weaker eyesight, could not see where it was coming from. With a calm soft voice I told Ian ‘Please get behind me.” He was more interested in putting the binoculars to his eyes to see if he could pinpoint what was making that terrifying noise. So, once again, but this time with more firmness, I said, “Ian get behind me now”. He reacted straight away, and joined the rest of the group.

I told them all to back away 10 steps, while I kept a very close eye on our angry lion. After backing off our 10 steps, the lion was still growling and his tail was still lashing from side to side. I told the group to back off another 10 steps. At this point, the lion stopped growling and his posture became a lot more relaxed. I assessed the situation, and deciding that we were now safe, we all took the opportunity to quickly and quietly take a few photographs, being very careful at the same time not to overstay our welcome. At this stage we were all just smiling hugely from ear to ear, as we couldn’t believe what had just happened.

We began moving again, giving our lion friend a nice wide berth as we passed by him. We could see Selati Camp in the distance, but it was still a fair way off. We moved off the open area and entered the tree line on a big game path that animals often use to go to and from the waterhole in front of the camp. On the path I found some more male lion tracks. These were going in the same direction as we were, but I thought that they were possibly the tracks of the same male we had just encountered. However, the fact that the spoor was going in our direction, left a little niggling doubt in my mind.

As we exited the tree line and onto the open area in front of the camp we saw another male lion about 70 meters away. He had heard us coming, but due to the distance between us, he was still very relaxed. I couldn’t believe that in the space of 30 minutes we had walked into two separate male lions. It was just so extraordinary. We were a safe distance away, so we took some more photographs, and then began to move off.

The lion was, however, lying right on our path home, so for safety we once again had to make a wide detour. This meant that we would have to get back via a drainage line, where the bush is a little bit denser. Before we descended into the drainage line, I explained to the guests that with the presence of 2 males around, there was a chance that there could also be some lionesses in the vicinity. I needed them all to stay very close behind me, and remain completely quiet as we passed in and out of the drainage line. We revised our hand signals and then carefully started to make our way through.

We encountered no more animals and proceeded back to the camp which was now only a short distance away. On arriving at the camp, we were all just so ecstatic about this incredible 3 hour walk we had just experienced, that we couldn’t wait to share our amazing saga with the staff and the rest of the guests.

We were all standing on the deck telling our story, when, from exactly where we had entered the drainage line 10 minutes earlier, out came 2 lionesses. They were on their way to drink water and join the male.

Everyone just looked at each other in amazement and laughed. It was one of the most incredible days in my game ranging history.

Craig Foaden – Ranger

Read more ranger stories at http://www.sabisabi.com/

Sabi Sabi Ranger Story – Ultimate Walk

It was a sunny morning at Selati Camp when we started off on a walking safari. My guests, Ian and Heather MacPherson (father and daughter), as well as a honeymoon couple, Neil and Tracy Bantleman, who had been staying with us for 3 nights, were unaware of the extraordinary walk they wer about to experience.
They were all wildlife enthusiasts and loved their walking safaris, so I asked them whether or not they would be interested in doing a longer walk than usual. They were excited at the idea.

After having a wonderful breakfast in the comfort of the camp, we all set off with our backpacks, water and walking shoes. The sun was getting higher in the sky and the temperature was beginning to soar. This meant that the animals were most likely starting to take to shady spots to keep themselves cool. That would make also make it harder for us to find them.

Shortly after leaving the camp, I found up some fresh Giraffe spoor. The tracks were larger than normal, which suggested that they were from a big male. I estimated that he had walked there within the past hour. My guests were very keen to see the giraffe, so off we went to track him.

Sometimes people think that because Giraffes are so tall they are easy to spot, and it always amazes them just how camouflaged the tallest animal in the world can actually be. We followed the tracks through an Acacia thicket, and into and out of a small drainage line. As we came over a small hill, there, 50-60 meters away was the Giraffe we had been searching for. He was a nice big male, with a darker than normal coat. I tried using the cover of trees and bushes to get closer in order for my guests to get some good photographs, but with the Giraffes keen eyesight he spotted us creeping towards him. We still managed to get within a short distance of him, while he stared at us with a cautious eye. We got some great shots and Heather was amazed at just how tall the Giraffe really was. When you are sitting in a vehicle, it can give you a false sense of the size of animals, but by going on a walk, you become fully aware of just how big they really are. That’s one thing that makes a walking safari so worthwhile, as you are now on foot in the animals kingdom, walking on their terms.

During the walk Tracy started talking and asking about scorpions. I decided to head towards a rocky outcrop which is usually a good place to look for them. After scouting out a couple of rocks, I found the perfect one. Rock scorpions normally like to hide under rocks that are fairly large, ones that baboons will find difficult to lift as they search for their scorpion snacks. With a bit of effort we managed to lift the rock just far enough off the ground for me to be able to get a good look underneath. There lay a medium sized rock scorpion. I picked it up by the small tail and began to explain to my intrigued guests just how advanced a scorpion’s senses are. With tiny little hairs called trichobothria, they can detect a termite walking 40cm away, and they can feel the vibrations of thunderstorms still hundreds of kilometers away. Every animal big and small is just so interesting in its own way, which makes my job one of the best in the world. We managed to get some great photographs of our arachnid friend before placing him back underneath its rock home.

We carried on with our walk looking at all sorts of interesting trees, plants and tracks while I shared as much knowledge as I could. After some time we stopped under a big shady tree, where we drank water and took in the peace that the bush has to offer. We saw some fresh buffalo tracks and we could hear the lone bull disturbing all the dry, fallen leaves on the ground as he moved off in the far distance.

After rehydrating ourselves, we put our bags back onto our backs and began to make our way back to the camp which was still about an hour away. We were walking across a big open area, when Neil spotted a beautiful pinkish flower. It was an Impala lily, which even for a colour blind person like myself, is really just so beautiful. We moved closer to it to take some photographs. Ian hadn’t brought a camera, so he stood a few meters away from us, looking around with his binoculars.

Once we had got all our photos, we carried on walking. We hadn’t gone more than 10 meters when we heard a growl, a growl so deep and distinctive that you could feel it throughout your whole body. I raised my head, and there, lying in the shade of a lowveld mikberry tree about 20 meters away, was a big, dark maned male lion. His tail was lashing from side to side, which, combined with the deep growl, is a very definite warning not to come any closer. At this stage Neil, Tracy, and Heather, who were right behind me, were fully aware of what was happening. Ian on the other hand, who was still standing a little way away, had heard the sound, but due to his older age and weaker eyesight, could not see where it was coming from. With a calm soft voice I told Ian ‘Please get behind me.” He was more interested in putting the binoculars to his eyes to see if he could pinpoint what was making that terrifying noise. So, once again, but this time with more firmness, I said, “Ian get behind me now”. He reacted straight away, and joined the rest of the group.

I told them all to back away 10 steps, while I kept a very close eye on our angry lion. After backing off our 10 steps, the lion was still growling and his tail was still lashing from side to side. I told the group to back off another 10 steps. At this point, the lion stopped growling and his posture became a lot more relaxed. I assessed the situation, and deciding that we were now safe, we all took the opportunity to quickly and quietly take a few photographs, being very careful at the same time not to overstay our welcome. At this stage we were all just smiling hugely from ear to ear, as we couldn’t believe what had just happened.

We began moving again, giving our lion friend a nice wide berth as we passed by him. We could see Selati Camp in the distance, but it was still a fair way off. We moved off the open area and entered the tree line on a big game path that animals often use to go to and from the waterhole in front of the camp. On the path I found some more male lion tracks. These were going in the same direction as we were, but I thought that they were possibly the tracks of the same male we had just encountered. However, the fact that the spoor was going in our direction, left a little niggling doubt in my mind.

As we exited the tree line and onto the open area in front of the camp we saw another male lion about 70 meters away. He had heard us coming, but due to the distance between us, he was still very relaxed. I couldn’t believe that in the space of 30 minutes we had walked into two separate male lions. It was just so extraordinary. We were a safe distance away, so we took some more photographs, and then began to move off.

The lion was, however, lying right on our path home, so for safety we once again had to make a wide detour. This meant that we would have to get back via a drainage line, where the bush is a little bit denser. Before we descended into the drainage line, I explained to the guests that with the presence of 2 males around, there was a chance that there could also be some lionesses in the vicinity. I needed them all to stay very close behind me, and remain completely quiet as we passed in and out of the drainage line. We revised our hand signals and then carefully started to make our way through.

We encountered no more animals and proceeded back to the camp which was now only a short distance away. On arriving at the camp, we were all just so ecstatic about this incredible 3 hour walk we had just experienced, that we couldn’t wait to share our amazing saga with the staff and the rest of the guests.

We were all standing on the deck telling our story, when, from exactly where we had entered the drainage line 10 minutes earlier, out came 2 lionesses. They were on their way to drink water and join the male.

Everyone just looked at each other in amazement and laughed. It was one of the most incredible days in my game ranging history.

Craig Foaden – Ranger

Read more ranger stories at http://www.sabisabi.com/