Le rapport – en triple exemplaire

So … Super busy days …. again! What’s going on? Well, loads … from my “desire” for a somehwat quieter year, I have now the busiest of all years, ever. And to be honest, I quite like it that way. What else would I be doing? I like a project (or two, or three).

So, that one thing I thought I would never be doing, I am doing it now … creating a brand. At least it is “Vuyani”, not “Koppes”. haha ;-)

So, how’s the Villa Vuyani in Antibes coming along? Well, very well, as a matter of fact. It has a lot of my signature showy elements in it (not all things Trumpian are bad, you can also learn from him), but I don’t go as far as using gold-plated. That’s a bit much for me. I always think to myself … people laugh at the exaggerated bodies of a big bodybuilder … but they do look at them!!! Showy cannot be that bad then. And I like it a bit showy. How else can you stand out? And I don’t like the concept of “also ran”, I like No.1. We did it in South Africa, where we are now towering over 95 competitors (driving them before us, and listening to the lamentations of their women ;-) ), so I am thinking, why not do it again, and show the Frenchies how a showy bathroom or kitchen is done? At the end of the  day, the Saudis and Russians are to be impressed. Bring it on! I know what they like. ;-)

Anyhow, I got back last night from Antibes, and I am confident that in 4 weeks all will be done. Air cons are already in (See photos), and the front gate and garage door have now remote controlled openers. Very posh indeed.

While I was away, Louis has learnt to smile, and he’s showing a very curious mind. Amazing. I jsut spent an hour with him, he’s such an easy and calm soul.

I might be off to South Africa in a few days, when do I get a rest? But then again, apart from nannies, noone is getting any rest here. Life in the fast lane, as John said. He got that right.

Here the photos from our Antibes house:

WP_20160525_16_36_46_Rich WP_20160525_16_26_52_Rich WP_20160525_16_26_11_Rich WP_20160525_16_25_44_Rich WP_20160525_16_25_37_Rich WP_20160525_16_25_26_Rich WP_20160525_16_24_44_Rich

And then loads of kids’ photos:

IMG-20160525-WA0024 IMG-20160525-WA0018 IMG-20160525-WA0016 IMG-20160525-WA0014 IMG-20160525-WA0008 WP_20160521_12_22_33_Rich WP_20160520_20_01_35_Rich WP_20160520_20_00_08_Rich WP_20160520_15_48_59_Rich IMG-20160521-WA0017 IMG-20160521-WA0015 IMG-20160521-WA0014 IMG-20160521-WA0013 IMG-20160521-WA0012 IMG-20160521-WA0011 IMG-20160521-WA0009 IMG-20160521-WA0008 IMG-20160521-WA0007 IMG-20160519-WA0006

 

Surrounded by elephants!

Ellies…..Ellies…..Ellies…. We found the herd between MRL and the Vuyani Safari Lodge in the block. They were on the move. We stopped in the road and the herd pretty much “surrounded” us. We got some amazing photos and the elephants got quite close … make that a British “quite”. Amazing moment for our guests, that’s for sure.

We also spotted the male lion near Big Dam in the evening. We decided to follow up the next morning and found they (male and two females) had taken down a wildebeest not too long before our arrival. The male had started feeding and as customary (first things first!), the females waited nearby for their turn. Great sighting and some very nice pics too……

What a start into May

We have started May off in a super fashion – the sightings have been superb so far. Not that it surprises us, the quality of sightings is always second to none here, but it still doesn’t cease to amaze us.

We have seen giraffes in all shapes and sizes – one animal you can never get tired of photographing, in my opinion. It is also an all-time favourite with our guests.

Elephant herd - with playful baby
Elephant herd – with playful baby

We also tracked and found the Lions in the evening near Diep dam – they were quite hidden in the thicket but we managed a snap of one of the sub adults peeking through the branches. We didn’t sit with them long as the visual was quite poor.

Lion sub-adults
Lion sub-adults

We also saw Nyala, Vulture, Vervet Monkeys and some Wildebeest. Amazing shot, see below. It doesn’t get much more iconic African nature than that.

Nyala
Nyala
Herd of wildebeest
Herd of wildebeest

We tracked and found the Cheetah on Jackal Plains – they were on the move and we snapped a photo of the one brother crossing the plains. Very cool.

Cheetah on plains
Cheetah on plains

We spotted the wild dog pack near porcupine dam – they were taking a nap. We spent around 10 minutes or so in the sighting and then pressed on. Having said that, this is the second rarest carnivore in Africa, with only about 2000-3000 still out there in the wild, so to see them is as rare as it gets. Well, the only rarer animals is the Ethiopean coyote. That’s about it. Enough said, conservation here is taken extremely seriously.

Pack of super rare wild dogs
Pack of super rare wild dogs

On our way back to the lodge we picked up fresh elephant tracks and they crossed right in front of us a mere couple of seconds later. Lucky!! They were on Nyala road near the bridge crossing heading West. The whole herd together and the bull gave us a bit of a dominance show (as usual). See below. He’s the boss. We get it. ;-)

Meet the boss!
Meet the boss!
Elephant herd crossing right in front of us
Elephant herd crossing right in front of us

 

Predator’s days

It’s been a “hectic” couple of days … we have seen loads of large game and loads of predators … cheetahs, lions, wild dogs, bird predators, … all sorts.

We tracked and found the Ellies south of Big dam – the whole herd together – the bull was again showing us who is bigger. ;-) great sighting!

Elephant bull
Elephant bull

We then picked up fresh tracks of the Wild Dogs and spotted them at the Giraffe Road / Nyala Road split. Three of
them have veered off from the rest of the pack – but our guides are convinced they will reunite soon.

Wild dogs
Wild dogs

Amore snapped some great photos of Togara driving in the riverbed and on sundowner stop – one of the perks of working at the Lodge – you can sometimes join the Safaris. Amore, as an avid photographer, managed this great shot.

River bed cruisen'
River bed cruisen’

This morning we tracked and found the lions at Seekoei dam. The female with the sub adults had managed to take down not one – but TWO wildebeest!!!! They were feasting on the remains (which were pretty gruesome, see photo below). We snapped some incredible photos and let them be after about 15 minutes. Our guests have had a seriously spectacular couple of days … gruesome at times, but that’s nature. It’s raw and real here. And we keep it that way.

Lionesses on kill
Lionesses on kill
Beautiful Goshawk
Beautiful Goshawk

Stunning photo of lions

Mike owns a small private lodge on the reserve, and he is sometimes in touch with me to share news and sightings. He sent me over some stunning shots of the lion pride drinking at a water point near his lodge … and I thought to myself, why not post and share this with our fans? These are truly iconic photos, and it’s a pleasure to see our pride do so well. Our guests can be assured that they will see some of the most stunning lions on our reserve. Our male lion is one of the largest ones I have ever seen, and he is a truly handsome boy.

But see for yourselves … many thanks to Mike for allowing us to share this photo with our fans!

Lion pride at water hole!
Lion pride at water hole!

Unbelievable luck … !!

Why am I never there when the most amazing stuff happens? Sod’s law. But I am happy for our guests who witnessed something so insanely unique, I mean, to be honest, I am bloody jealous actually … I really am.

So what happened? We had seen Zebra and then picked up fresh Cheetah tracks, it was the mother with the cubs and we decided to follow up. That in itself was already exciting enough …

We found them near Jackal Plains – they were stalking some Wildebeest. We didn’t think anything would come of it! And then………….They raced past the ranger and our guests and took done a young wildebeest calf right next to the vehicle. Unbelievable!!!! We witnessed the entire hunt from start to finish. One of the young cubs injured his leg in the hunt – we hope he has a speedy recovery. We got some cool photos of them feasting. A real cheetah kill, so close … this is something that some film crews spend months and months on capturing. Sometimes years … and our guests saw it right in front of them. It was a highlight for everyone on that game driver, including the ranger and tracker.

Here the photo footage, right after the kill. How exciting. I am lost for words … envy can be so cruel.

Zebra in the early morning
Zebra in the early morning
Whole cheetah family having a good breakfast
Whole cheetah family having a good breakfast
... obviously a very bad day for this young wildebeest calf ...
… obviously a very bad day for this young wildebeest calf …
... but that's nature!
… but that’s nature!

Very big stuff

The month kicked off with regular sights of lions, and the many other frequent game we see … and then of course there was the huge animals. Actually, the largest to roam the planet (these days at least).

Rhinos and elephants!

The weather has been warm with cooler mornings. We have now moved our game drive times to 06h00 AM and 16h00 PM as the days are much shorter. We tracked and found the herd of Elephants just south of Scheepers Khaya. They were happily munching away and even came closer to inspect the vehicle. We got some very nice photos. They are truly immense, and no photo will prepare you for when you see them right in front of you. Many tons heavy, measuring up to 4m shoulder height, these animals are true giants. They need to eat 22 hours out of 24 to sustain that weight, and eat up to 400 kg of grass to do so. Incredible.

Elephant herd
Elephant herd

MRL tracked and found Rhino strolling down a bush track. We followed him for a bit and also got some cool photos. I mean … just imagine. They weigh close to 2 tons. A cow is about 250kg. So they are about 8 times the size of a cow. Just try to imagine.

White rhino up-close
White rhino up-close

Very gruesome …

… but nature’s reality. It’s not for the faint-hearted though.

A couple of days ago, we tracked and found the lions again in the morning with the help of the Leadwood guides. The female and her cubs had taken down a baby zebra. They were already munching away when we got there. Poor little one. Very short life. Sad.

Otherwise, we have had many great sightings. We actually bumped into the elephants on our way in for game drive in the morning and decided to follow up. We found them again on the Main Gate entrance track. We got some great photos.

A very pretty giraffe sighting also …they were “necking” (which is fighting, really). It was an amazing sighting for our guests. Just see the photos taken! That’s what giraffe men do when they fight over a woman. It’s really always about women actually … ;-)

Last but lot least … an amazing eagle sighting: a Wahlbergs Eagle. Many great shots. These eagles are larger than they seem to be on photos. This always produces a lot of “aaaws” and “oooohs”. See the photo: stunning! :-)

Wahlberg Eagle
Wahlberg Eagle

Finally, finally …

Finally … it has been such a dry season so far … We have had over 90 mm of rain in the past three days. Internet connection has been shady to say the least as a result of the storms. But it is a price worth paying. The rain has been more than welcome. And we could definitely do with more. We need another 100mm before the dry season sets in and that’s the barest minimum.

Parts of the Kruger Park have seen some serious flooding – roads and camps have flooded and been closed.

But sigthings on our reserve over the last days have been amazing at the same time!

On our drives we saw elephants at 5 star junction – we tracked them along with the MRL guides and we had a
great sighting. This was before the rains came and one can see the dry conditions and sand. Now there is
water pretty much everywhere.

We tracked and found the lions at Big Dam in the afternoon. They were taking in the sights and spent some time watching an Impala across the dam.

The next morning we tracked and found them near the Essem open area. They had taken down an Impala, ironically and the lioness was happily munching away.

We also tracked and found a Rhino – see how close you get to see these giants here! You really can’t beat that.

I received hundreds of photos, I tried my best to select the best. I love the one with the lioness overlooking the lake – her home! Just beautiful, such an African iconic moment.

Lioness enjoying breakfast
Lioness enjoying breakfast
Male lion ... stunning!
Male lion … stunning!
Lioness at one of our lakes
Lioness at one of our lakes
Super rare Southern Ground Hornbill
Super rare Southern Ground Hornbill
Rhino!
Rhino!
Rhino taking a close-up inspection
Rhino taking a close-up inspection
Giraffes
Giraffes
Elephant herd
Elephant herd

What a start into March!

Moditlo Nature Reserve has a serious tendency to out-do any expectation every time guests go out on another safari. And March started off the way February ended. In amazing fashion.

These past three days have been absolutely outstanding. Finding the gorgeous lion pride, giraffe, elephant, rhino, cheetah, zebra and last but not least, wild dogs! It should be kept in mind that there are only two lodges on the reserve, so finding these animals takes skill since there aren’t as many vehicles moving around compared to other reserves. Of course this means that the experience here is much more authentic, even old school, and the actual wildlife encounters are the way they should be: unstressed, and you will get proper time with these animals. No 5-minute policies here!

Our recently introduced pack of wild dogs have been tracked since their arrival. As you know, wild dogs are unfortunately endangered, one of the main reasons being human encroachment. So it’s fantastic news that this reserve has been “handed back” to them. Sometimes it goes the other way.

Wild dogs have quite an off-putting hunting method, although it may be very misunderstood. Putting aside their means of hunting, these animals are extremely social amongst themselves, and have a very unique way of raising their little ones.

There are breeding pairs within each pack, and each dog in that pack takes part in raising and teaching their young. Every single dog in a pack is unique, no two dogs have the same markings. Just like no two people have the same finger print. It’s fantastic news to see them roam our reserve again!

Zebras
Zebras
Rhino pair
Rhino pair
Pack of wild dogs
Pack of wild dogs
Lioness in a tree - what a rare sight!
Lioness in a tree – what a rare sight!
Cheetah up-close!
Cheetah up-close!
Leopard tortoise on her morning run - will we get some rain soon?
Leopard tortoise on her morning run – will we get some rain soon?
Male lion overlooking the river bed
Male lion overlooking the river bed
Close elephant encounter
Close elephant encounter
... and last but not least ... a giraffe journey
… and last but not least … a giraffe journey