Interesting impressions of size

Many African animals are simply huge: elephants, lions, rhinos, hippos, and scores of others …. but it is hard to get across their sheer size on the blog, because there only rarely are points of reference. I can talk about a rhino weighing well over a ton, as much as a car, or an elephant weighing twice the amount of a large pickup truck, or a giraffe measuring over 4m in height, it really is just numbers.

But sometimes, I get a photo that really runs home the point!

See below. :-)

What does this animal look like next to another one?
What does this animal look like next to another one?
Well ... zebras are the size of a horse, more or less ... so this gives you an idea!
Well … zebras are the size of a horse, more or less … so this gives you an idea!

I think this explains why many guests say “giraffes” when asked which animals they were most impressed by. This is the tallest mammal walking the earth … and it is massive, by any stretch of the imagination. It is like being in a Jurassic Park film, except that this is the real deal.

And how about a 2-ton rhino? What does it look like when you sit on our game driver, and one of these massive biests gets up-close?

Well, like that!!!
Well, like that!!!
Yes, rhinos are truly massive animals!
Yes, rhinos are truly massive animals!

With those impressions, I will leave you for now … much more to follow soon, as always!

Spoilt for choice

Every day, I get a full report of most of the day’s best sightings, with photos. Indeed our tracker, Aggi, has been equipped with an excellent small camera to capture all interesting things we see with our guests. This gives me huge amounts of material for our safari blog, keeping our past and future guests informed about all the safari happenings here. They also give our fans and future guests a good idea of what they can expect to see here.

Going through yesterday’s photos, I realised that I could write 5 blog stories, that’s as much material it was. It’s truly amazing to acknowledge how much better and above all plentiful sightings on our reserve have become, from the traditional (and misunderstood) Big5 and the super-rare to the weird & wonderful. It’s simply amazing, that’s all I can say.

So I have picked a few great photos (I had a choice of 54 photos!), just to give you an idea of what a “typical” day out may look like when out on safari with us. Not that any day is ever the same. Nature has its own rythm and ways, and one has to go with the flow. It’s like that proverbial box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get. But it’s usually outstanding what you get.

Here the proof of that!

Lion family resting with all 3 cubs at a dam
Lion family resting with all 3 cubs at a dam
Lone cheetah moving past our guests in the plains ... amazing!
Lone cheetah moving past our guests in the plains … amazing!
African Harrier Hawk sitting on dead Leadwood branch
African Harrier Hawk sitting on dead Leadwood branch
Elephant herd protecting one of their little ones
Elephant herd protecting one of their little ones

Honeybadgers don’t give a shit!

Yep, that’s right … these are some of the most fearless animals on earth. They are so nuts, despite their small size, that even lions stay out of their way. They are tough, mean, aggressive, eat anything, hunt the most venimous animals, don’t mind being stung by a million bees … yes, this is one badass animal.

Our security guy Rex was even attacked by one once, and this thing chased him up a tree. Yep, the honeybadger doesn’t give a shit. And this tactic works. Attack is the best defense.

Here a photo of a honeybadger we saw a few days ago. Very cool sighting!

Honeybadger!
Badass Honeybadger!

Here also one of the funniest videos on Youtube about the honeybadger. It gives you a good impression what makes this animal so totally famous (and hilarious).

One reserve – so many different cats

Every day is different and you never know what you’ll get.

Today was definitely a cats’ day. Several truly amazing photos were taken, and our guests were blown away by the sheer variety of cats they saw today, how close-up they saw them, and how much time they got to spend watching these super rare creatures. A true privilege indeed …

So how did the day go?

First off, having barely left the lodge, we tracked and found the cheetahs along with MRL guides. They were lazy as usual and flopped down for a much needed nap. What a life. We saw them again in the evening, out and about, and our guests snapped some mind-blowing shots. See below, and tell me I am lying. ;-)

Just saying ...
Just saying …

In the evening we tracked and found the lions on a Waterbuck kill!! Aggy, the tracker, has some serious skills managing the spotlight and taking photos through the thicket. I have never heard of a waterbuch kill, this is a rare one. It is usually wildebeest, impala, or a zebra. But a waterbuck? Our lions have a wide spectrum of hunting skills. So that was yet another spectacular sighting and we spent nearly 40 mins with them, just listening to the munching and crunching of bones. Gruesome, this is something our guests won’t forget.

Who's that?
Who’s that?
fresh kill!
fresh kill!
... and munching away happily
… and munching away happily

We also saw a Serval with Hendrick – this was a cool sighting as they don’t usually sit very still for long. But we managed some awesome photos, if I may say so. I personally have never seen one so close-up … I am a little jealous, but at least I get to see the photos! ;-)

Serval ...
Serval …
... making for the third cat sighting in one day!
… making for the third cat sighting in one day!

Lion cutie pies

Maybe it’s the season of year, or maybe it’s the new camera that we bought our tracker, but many of the photos we are getting through these days are just simply stunning. I am in awe.

We saw the little lions cubs again yesterday. Well … they are rapidly growing out of their cub status. They are big now! In a few months they will be roaming the reserve with the whole pride, and learning every trick of the lion’s trade. And the spectrum is wide: our pride has reportedly taken down a grown giraffe, at least once. That’s a tough one!

There is not much I can say about this amazing sighting … the photos speak for themselves. We tracked the pride together with the MRL guys, and we found them in a riverbed on the Leopard’s Bent section of our vast reserve, taking in the sun. Great teamwork!

The three cubs
The three cubs
Enjoying the sun ...
Enjoying the sun …
... under the watchful eye of their dad
… under the watchful eye of their dad
Family photo
Family photo

Love galore

We probably had THE best Giraffe sighting EVER today! First it was a journey of giraffes (that’s what a group of giraffes is called) and then a female and her littlest little baby appeared: CUTE ALERT!!! He even suckled and Aggy snapped this precious moment perfectly! And to add to the “aaawws” the mother gave the little cutie pie a big kiss. Now that’s motherly love! Super sweet.

Here the photos, you must enjoy. :-)

Tiny giraffe baby
Tiny giraffe baby
Where's the family?
Where’s the family?
... moving in ...
… moving in …
... aaawww ... :-)
… aaawww … :-)

Get in line!

The dry season is in full swing, and as water gets scarcer (we do have about 30 lakes of various sizes on our huge reserve), the battle for water heats up.

It is also a particularly dangerous and vulnerabe time for the many herbivores when they are drinking. They better keep it short and swift, and move off as quickly as they can. Any predators will be waiting at waterholes for opportunities. These opportunities are also there for the safari guides out there with our guests. We witnessed such a drinking “changeover” yesterday, when we watched arguably one of the prettiest zebra sightings that I remember, just to spot a male rhino move in for his drink just as the zebras had left. It’s everyone’s turn, and it certainly felt like there was a waiting line behind the bush.

We then shortly later saw another rhino VERY up-close, which made for some spectacular shots. Our guests were, unsurprisingly so, over the moon and really enjoyed this unique opportunity to witness and observe one of the world’s largest, and, sadly enough, now rarest animals on earth.

Enjoy the photos. I salute you all from beautiful South Africa!

Herd of zebras at a waterpoint
Herd of zebras at a waterpoint
Zebras taking off after a quick drink ...
Zebras taking off after a quick drink …
... to make way for a lone rhino!
… to make way for a lone rhino!
ok, this thing weighs over 2 tons, so it's the same as a pickup truck ...
ok, this thing weighs over 2 tons, so it’s the same as a pickup truck …
... so it is much bigger in real life than it appears on photos. They are truly huge!
… so it is much bigger in real life than it appears on photos. They are truly huge!

Playful hippos and fearless lions

We got a wide spectrum of sightings yesterday …. from peaceful herbivores such as Nyala to (very) playful baby hippos to sleepy lions, not minding the presence of humans at the nearby … Vuyani Safari Lodge.

And I must say, it is surprising how much time the lions spend on the Moditlo Game Reserve portion of our conservancy reserve. I fear that noone in the far north of the reserve actually ever sees them. I am not sure as to why that is, but our impression is indeed correct: a heat map shows them spending approx. 90% of their time on the Leopard’s Bent land and Moditlo Private Game Reserve, two pieces of land we traverse on, so we see the lion pride several times each week. Maybe it’s the abundance of game (ie. food for them) because of the many water points, or it is just their habit. But whichever the reason, that’s what it is. It is of course nice for our guests to hear and see the lions so often close to the lodge. We even caught them sleeping very near the swimming pool, several times actually. It’s always a shocking surprise in the morning when you spot the whole pride lying around, 10 yards from the swimming pool. That’s real adventure, I say.

Well, here the photos we took of a Brown Hooded Kingfisher (very cool shot, Aggie, awesome work!), the hippos as seen yesterday, fooling around in front of our guests, and then some very cool night shots of the lions, near the lodge itself. Gives you an idea of what one can expect here …

Enjoy!

Brown Hooded Kingfisher
Brown Hooded Kingfisher
Hippos - with hippo baby ...
Hippos – with hippo baby …
... fooling around ...
… fooling around …
Our guests enjoying an African sundowner
Our guests enjoying an African sundowner
Lioness ...
Lioness …
... and the very big boy!
… and the very big boy!

A huge honor indeed

The Vuyani Safari Lodge has recently been added to an up-and-coming website called “The EcoCompanion”. Their credo is to give advise on the various options if one wants to travel in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.

Well, we don’t shoot lions here … we re-introduced them instead, and then so much more: cheetahs, rhinos, even the super rare black rhinos, elephants, hippos, giraffes, … they all now roam are vast reserve, making it one of the most exciting animal conservation projects in South Africa. Believe me: hunting is not a good or the only way of preserving these rare animals. Quite the opposite: true wildlife diversity and conservation is the result of safari tourism where people shoot photos, not animals. The success of “no hunting” reserves is, thank God, much larger than these sad hunting reserves, and the conservation successes are equally bigger. So much for my educated opinion when it comes to the current discussion that is happening worldwide after the tragic death of Lion Cecil.

So, in that spirit, it was great to see us being added to this website! Great news indeed.

Here is the link:

http://www.ecocompanion.com/lodges/the-vuyani-lodge

 

And also today’s “photo du jour”. Just stunning. And also very cute.

Lilac Breasted Roller
Lilac Breasted Roller

Truly iconic elephant pictures

The best photo season is upon us! Maybe the overall nature look seems a little dry, but the crispness of the shots, the brownish tinge, and the sharpness of the wildlife contours, it all makes for iconic African safari photos.

It is the good thing about the July-Sep season. It has its drawbacks (cold mornings and evenings), but the photos come out amazing, no doubt about it.

But see for yourselves below.

We had seen so much in the opening days of August: lions, cheetahs, hippos, rhinos, the list goes on and on … but the shots that struck me the most were the up-close elephant ones. Just stunning! We also caught the baby elephant, super cute! The baby is growing very nicely, so we are all pleased by that. And something tells me that there will be more babies coming soon.

We also saw some impressive birds, from the big to the pretty. Aggie (our tracker) managed a stunning shot of a Kingfisher. The man’s got an eye … and a calm hand. This is a very good performance, well done!