Giants up-close … very up-close …

It is very difficult to imagine what meeting up-close with the world’s largest, tallest and heaviest animals is like … and no photo does it justice. A 4.5m tall elephant, weighing over 10 tons (that’s truck weight!) is so shockingly awe-inspiring that it leaves quasi all our guests’ jaws dropping when we get close to these gentle giants.

And it is one thing to see them grazing and drinking from far, at a lake …

Elephant herd at lake
Elephant herd at lake

… but seeing them caring for a little baby is quite another …

Elephant baby
Elephant baby

And then there is this! Very up-close encounters with these truy enormeous animals. You can hear their voices, their breathing, the flapping of their ears … it doesn’t get any more intense than this.

Now that's up-close!
Now that’s up-close!

Elephants lead, next to primates, immensely complex and socially rich life structures. It takes an elephant many years to learn the thousands of complex mechanics of social cohesion, survival tricks, and even down to moral values. That is why elephants only raise a relatively small amount of babies over a lifetime. It is a lot of work! And this is something they share with us humans, by the way.

And that’s why elephant mothers are also fiercely protective of their little ones. They are very precious to them. They invest a lot of time, energy and love in raising their little ones, so they try to protect them at almost any cost.

So, when we run into a mother with a baby with her. EXTRA caution! Once they feel threatened … good luck to you!

 

Spectacular days!

These recent days have been truly astonishing again – the spectrum of wildlife you can see on our reserve is truly spectacular. It goes from the rarest to the most famous onto the bizarre & funny.

We tracked and found the Wild dogs. They were on the move so we didn’t manage to get many photos.

Always a great treat to see them. The second rarest carnivores in Africa! It’s  a privilege.

We saw Jackal, Kudu and the funniest little Baboon sitting next to the road, just chilling and taking life day by day. Hilarious!

What's it all about? ;-)
What’s it all about? ;-)
Jackals
Jackals

Togara and Uyai tracked the elephants and found the herd East of Nyala Road near Rooikat dam – the bull was being a bit of a grump (that’s his style) and proceeded to give us a spectacular dust bath show.

We saw Grey Loerie, Giraffe and Impala napping together in the tall grass, giraffe, Monkeys and a Kudu.

We tracked and found the Lions just west of False Thorn plains – the “younger” pride all together and sleeping (as usual). We snapped some cool photos of one of the young males. They are growing into proper adult males now.

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We saw and could snap a quick shot of a BUSH PIG! Yay! They are VERY rarely spotted and even harder to capture on camera – but we got him! Super excited.

Bush pig !!
Bush pig !!

We ALSO saw a LEOPARD! AND managed a quick photo – between maneuvering the vehicle and keeping the spotlight steady it is quite the task to capture these spotted cats on a photo. But all went well. He was there for a bit and then vanished ever so quickly into the dark of the night. Our guests loved it!!

Leopard out at night!
Leopard out at night!

March indeed is an amazing month for safaris, at least to judge by this year.

I wish I had more time to go out myself and see the many animals our guests get to see. Lucky them! :-)

 

Lots of rain!!

It’s been raining – A LOT – Feels like a European winter. ;-) The sun is coming back out now again, though. The major depression that passed over us brought a lot of rain, and that is actually great.

The Blyde River Dam is at 110% and all the slues gates are open. Water EVERYWHERE! After last year’s drought, this is amazing news!! What a relief.

However, game drives are much more challenging in such circumstances, and it is harder to take photos.

We tracked and found the young male lions on Leopard’s Bend twice – they are wet and miserable. But what beautiful sightings.

We also saw the cheetahs in the riverbed, the riverbeds on Moditlo are still dry – but the guys say on Bloubank there is water. It has been softly raining for three days straight, so we expect the water to start coming down the Mbezi any day now.

Reserve management is busy assessing the roads to make sure it is safe to go out there. But it is looking good!

Male cheetahs in the riverbed
Male cheetahs in the riverbed
Giraffe
Giraffe
Zebras up-close!
Zebras up-close!
Young male lions
Young male lions

The beautiful, the rare, and …. the amusing

February is just a continuation of an amazing January, and our guests are blessed with a vast range of daily sightings. But just see below some of our best shots!

For example, an amazing elephant sighting – took us about a week as they have been in Madrid. But along with MRL we tracked and found them on Marula Loop in Wilderness. Aggy took some great photos of a young one (too big to
suckle) but went on his knees and tried anyway …hahaha … that’s positively amusing!

We also saw Giraffe, Impala and Wildebeest.

We also tracked and found the Lions at Ratelpan – the “teen” group were all together and taking a nap. Now that’s iconically beautiful! No comments needed …

Also great shots of a Ground hornbill and Yellow billed hornbill. The Ground Hornbill is a very rare bird, so it is a real privilege to see this animal. They are on the brink in many areas, so to see them breed successfully here – that’s what gives me personally the biggest smile. This is exciting.

Update – January’s prettiest sightings (so far!)

We had some fantastic drives the past couple of days! We tracked and found the elephants in the South of Moditlo at Marula Pan – they then moved into the river bed and we got some truly great photos. See below!

We also spotted Nyala, Kudu and then tracked and found two White Rhinos as well as some Egyptian Geese. I personally have a thing for them. I find them to be very pretty birds.

We saw Wildebeest and Krest captured a Kudu bull beautifully.

We tracked and found the Cheetah at Seven star junction – they were very lazy, we spent around 15 minutes here, then they got up and moved into the thicket. It’s not often that you get to take photos that up-close of cheetahs in the wild … but you can on our reserve. It’s one of our speciality here!

The lions were tracked and found near Knob thorn wallow – the big male and female were on the move and it seems like they are looking for potential kill – snapped some amazing photos. Here’s one of them! Stunning.

A day’s description – from a guest’s point of view!

Alan Hiatt stayed with us in October 2016. And he is such a fan of our lodge that has has written up a typical day’s description for us, to be posted on ur blog. That’s the sort of guests we have here. Awesome, simple as that.

“On 24th October we got up early as usual dressed and were escorted to the main lodge for coffee and Rusks. We talked to the other guests about what we’d see. The anticipation of the upcoming drive and what we’d see was palpable. 

The weather was overcast and looked like rain. There was thunder and the occasional flash of lightning.

We climbed aboard our game vehicles snuggled down under a blanket and we headed off into the bush.

No sooner underway a shout on the radio came in and Uyai changed from excited to very excited and said another vehicle had spotted some Lions. With a brief look to the sky he said we should get there before it rains. But we might not get back before it started. He asked what us guests what we thought. We all said. “Yeah let’s go for it”

 So off we went. We went fast, or as fast as you can go on a bush road. We were all told to sit close and in the middle of the vehicle. Crest overhanging on the spotters seat. Uyai driving, using the radio and occasionally shouting “mind the trees” where we would all squeeze together a duck a bit more.

Round corner after corner with Crest somehow holding on. Slowing down for potholes and humps then back up to speed corner after corner.

Eyes kept looking to the skies. It’s getting darker, was that a spot of rain, that lightning is getting closer, that that clap of thunder was loud. Still we drove into the bush, corner after corner and then in the distance we saw a couple of game vehicles. More corners, another spot of rain, another flash of lightning, another clap of thunder and then while Uyai’s driving round corners, “mind the tree” he sees them.

We’re still looking in front of us and all we can see is trees. “he’s mobile” and immediately turns right. Points across to the left where we see two lionesses and the most beautiful Male Lion. We stop, we take pictures and within a minute of arriving the lions slope off into the bush.

The lightning feels close the thunder is now very loud. Uyai turns slightly towards us and says. “I think we’d better get back to the lodge”

We were sat with these wonderful animals about a minute when we suddenly became aware that it was raining.

For those that don’t know. When it rains in Africa…..It rains.

How Uyai could see on the way back none of us knew but we got back to the lodge: Soaked but happy.

The rest of our stay was much the same, without the rain. A truly superb place with superb people and accommodation. Just too many people to praise.

Everybody on holiday says, “I can’t wait to come back!”

How many people actually go back a second time?

How many people go back a third time?

Well in October 2017 we’re booked in for a fourth time!!”

 

Alan also sent in this Youtube video he published when they saw the lions.

and

Great Christmas present!

Sometimes it seems that nature knows that our guests are due a lovely Christmas present.

And nature didn’t disappoint this year either! :-)

Jackals, cheetahs, giraffes, big herd of wildebeest, vultures … everything and quite a lot more was on the Christmas menu. What a way to celebrate before a huge Christmas dinner!

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Something very cute for Christmas :-)

Christmas is upon us, and that is always a very busy time for us at the lodge. No Christmas for us! ;-)

But the festive season is a time of reflection, looking back at the past year, and looking forward to the new year. And of course it is for most people a time to catch up with family, friends, and enjoying some time together.

Speaking of family … we got this superb shot on our reserve a few days ago, and I thought it was a lovely image to publish for Christmas: a Leopard Tortoise and her little one. There is a lot of love in this world, and that also in the world of animals. Very cute!

And with that picture, we wish all of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS !! :-D

Leopard Tortoise and her little one
Leopard Tortoise and her little one

Great rains and great sightings

After the severe drought we have had over this year’s dry season, rains have been quite regular and plentiful, just what the doctor prescribed. This is great for nature – and for our guests! The reserve certainly looks all the prettier for it! See for yourselves.

Moditlo Private Game Reserve
Moditlo Private Game Reserve

We have been lucky as it seems all the animals have moved to the south of the reserve, and that’s very close to the lodge.

The elephants were tracked and found just off Nyala road and it is amazing if you sit very quietly how close they get to the vehicle. Great photos to prove that if the animals feel comfortable, it is an amazing sighting.

We found them again west of Lodge road and had another amazing close encounter.

Elephant up-close
Elephant up-close

The Lions were tracked and found first at Porcupine dam by both Vuyani and MRL guides. They were napping and not fazed by the Hippo in the dam. Great sighting. The following day we tracked and found them off Eastern River road – in the same vicinity as the Wild dog – the wild dog were on the move so we only managed a couple of shots. But still – what a quick succession of unique sightings!

Lions napping at the lake
Lions napping at the lake
Super rare wild dog !!
Super rare wild dog !!

The cheetahs were just off the fence line of Bloubergbos heading west – as soon as the Lions entered the southern area of the reserve, the cheetahs moved out. Amazing how all these predators live in “harmony”. They certainly know how to stay out of each other’s way. Well, more like everyone stayng out of the lion’s way, I suppose. ;-)

Cheetahs crossing the river bed right in front of us
Cheetahs crossing the river bed right in front of us

 

Outstanding leopard sighting!

On Monday, Hendrick and his guests were treated to an amazing sighting. Unfortunately it all happened so fast that no one really captured all of it on film. It was one of those sightings that you can’t stop looking and completely forget to film.

Dawn and Alan captured the Leopard and kindly gave us the photos. Amazing guests! Many thanks! :-)

So what happened? Hendrick was driving along and tracking the lions on Nyala road. He saw the tracks move off and took a little to track. He saw the lions through the thicket and decided to approach. They were quite active and noisy and kept looking up into a very big Marula tree, it looked like the female was chasing something. As the vehicle approached Hendrick could hardly believe his eyes. There was a young leopard up the tree!! The Lions had managed to chase it up there and the leopard was looking rather nervous. The lions were circling the tree at the bottom and kicking up quite a fuss. The leopard jumped from one tree to the next and down and ran for his dear life! The lions did not see this happening and kept looking up the tree for Mr. Leopard (who was long gone by now) it was an amazing sighting, and that’s putting it mildly.

Even Hendrick said this was a once in a lifetime sighting, even for an experienced guide! Wow !! I wish I had been there myself, tell you what!