An interesting first

Because of my work, and also children not being permitted at the lodge, I actually almost never get to spend time with family on the reserve. Plus: my kids are very young, Oliver and Sophie are both 3 years old only (yes they are twins). But this year I decided to take them out on a few safaris, to show them what daddy does for a living. It was experimental, one doesn’t know how such small children react to seeing many of the world’s largest animals, but to our surprise, they were very well-behaved and they absolutely loved the experience.

We saw elephants, rhinos, giraffes, wildebeest, monkeys, lots of impala, lions and we even tracked cheetahs up-close. My wife and kids were absolutely blown away. Seeing a stilling monkey mother from the patio was also a fascinating experience. So touching!

See some of our many photos we took. It made me also realise the true scope and quality of sightings our guests get these days. I am not always aware of it, but, boy oh boy, have we come a long way. It is truly first class now. We see many of the world’s rarest animals in a setting that really blows you away, and the sightings are reliable. The many lakes create photo opportunities that, well, there are not many places that compare. There really aren’t.

Stilling monkey mummy

Checking out the Landcruiser with Maddie, their friend:

Tracking cheetahs:

Checking in on the wildebeest and their (very) new offspring

Massive elephants up-close!

A quick visit at the new Vuyani Tented Camp building site (4km north of the Vuyani Safari Lodge!). We shall continue with the construction in 2 weeks.

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And also the 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster was in action. We had so much fun! You must try it when you are at the lodge. It takes you all the way back to a special time in history. Makes you feel like Bonnie and Clyde. Without the Tommy gun, of course. We don’t have that one. ;-)

A beautiful start into the wet season

Very often, when I mention the w0rd “wet season”, our many British guests shriek … they fear more of the grey and miserable weather they are trying to get away from. Fear not! Our wet season is the best time of the year. Lots of bloom, lots of colors, lots of lucious green and a true explosion of wildlife. And even if it is called “wet season”, truth is, we often go many days on end without any rain at all, sometimes weeks. Rain tends to be short-lived, and very strong. This is no boring drizzle days on end! It’s the sort of monsoon type rain that we need so much more of. Water is scarce here, and some years you are blessed, and some years are tough. Last year was a dry wet season, so nature suffered. This year, things are looking better, and we have had a few good rainfall events, so wildlife is doing well.

See some of our best shots over recent days, showing how all things are greening up. November saw a lot of offspring being born, and this contiues into December. Fingers crossed for a lot more rain to come this summer season. It’s great for nature, and it produces the sort of wildlife sightings that our guests travel around half the world to witness. Truly spectacular!

Cheetah
Cheetah
Nyala
Nyala
Zebras
Zebras
Our "Hollywood" male lion
Our “Hollywood” male lion

Pure elephant joy

There has been an enormous amount of elephant action over recent days and weeks. The herd “visited” the lodge several times, and this has caused a lot of smiles and excitement in the camp. One doesn’t have to go on safari anymore, you can observe the elephants while having tea. Nice!

This is what that looks like:

And that hasn’t been the only excitement around elephants! A little baby elephant was born a few days ago, and the little one is still getting used to life on earth. Mishaps included. See below. ;-) poor little one! You live and learn.

Otherwise he (or she?) is enjoying the many amusements that our reserve offers to elephants. How about a splash park?? Lovely! All free of charge …

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Let’s go for a proper swim then!

 

Everyone loves mummy! :-)

What little cutie pies these three little lion cubs are! They are now starting to grow up, but there is still some time to enjoy their sweetness towards mum and dad. They enjoy them very much (I do feel sorry for the mum trying to get some sleep actually), but who can fault them? They are very sweet indeed.

The mother has done a great job at raising them, and she has brought them all through. That’s a great result. Our reserve is of course a perfect environment for rare and fragile animals to prosper, as seen by the reproduction of our cheetahs also, wild dogs, leopards, and all others as well. And this is the truly great news: the bigger picture. It’s heart-warming to witness the success of the reserve as a whole, a pure haven for many of Africa’s (and hence also the world’s) rarest and most endangered species.

Just visit us here at the Vuyani Safari Lodge, and your visit alone helps to maintain, and grow, the reserve. Our guests should always be pleased and proud of visiting here. If it wasn’t for them, then this reserve would not be what it is. And so our three little lion cubs are sending their many thanks to you all, and they would love to see you here :-)

 

What is it like for guests here?

I do get this question very often … and the answer is: well, what it looks like on photos, just even more fun and interesting! But for our guests, it is not all about the amazing animals sightings, but of course about spending time with the Vuyani team as well. Very often friendships develop, and many of our guests stay in touch. I am proud to say that a stay here at the Vuyani Safari Lodge teaches not only about the hundreds of fascinating African animals, but also about its lovely people, its cultures, history and its quirks, but of course also about the universality of human nature and dignity. In other words, it brings people from all over the world together, and that is just fantastic! If this helps to bring about world peace, along with wildlife conservation, and I am sure it does, then this is a legacy that is above and beyond words that I know to describe it.

So here some photos that Fran, from Australia, sent us in a few days ago. They had a blast here, they got engaged here, and we are thrilled to hear that they will come back here, hopefully with friends and family.

Many thanks to Fran for sharing these lovely photos with us, it’s so heart-warming, and real. Lovely! :-)

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Hopefully it is over now

We always can’t wait for the end of the dry season … wildlife is exhausted, hungry, lethargic … it’s a tough time. But that’s nature! Such yearly periods of harsh weather make sure that nature remains healthy by eliminating old and weak elements in its system. This is a reality that we humans, through ingenuity, have managed to escape to a very large extent (thank God for us!), but in real nature, that’s the rule, and that’s the rythm of life.

So over recent days the weather has been way warmer than average, and we have had first rains. Seems like an early rainy season might be upon us. We are excited.

Regarding sightings, the last weeks have been simply stuning. Having more game drivers out, with more eyes on the ground, has made epic sightings even more frequent. But see for yourselves!

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Guest photos :-)

I do get the comment sometimes … “Nice photos, but what do the guests actually see?”. Well, the same! Exactly the same, actually. Our photos are taken by the tracker, which he happily does, while on safari. So what he sees, that’s what our guests see.

Sometimes we are lucky, and a guest sends in some of their best shots while here, and, boy oh boy, there are always real treats amongst them. Our guests are a lucky bunch. And some of them are amazing photographers!

Theresa took about 1400 photos while here (!!!!!), and these are just some of the best. There were hundreds of stunning shots, I just can’t post them all. Here a selection. Many thanks for sharing them with us, that’s awesome!

Please visit us again, it was a pleasure having you here with us!

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Dry season in full swing

August is usually the driest month of the year, and indeed, it’s dry out there. The grass is yellow, and all leaves are brown. And yet … we’ve had a bit of rain this month: twice! That’s a first, I don’t remember that ever happening in August. Is it a good omen for a good upcoming rainy season? We certainly wouldn’t mind. We love rain here! Speaking of which, rainy season! We do get a lot of questions about that. When we mean “rainy season”, we are not talking about miserable wet drizzle for weeks on end like a European (or worse, dare I say, a British) winter. Our rainy season falls into the warm summer, and by rain we mean quite regular (2-3 times/month only) of strong but short-lived downpours. We would love to have rain for days on end, but we almost never have that. When we do, we celebrate.

But our guests can be reassured: losing several days of safari due to rain is rare here. It happens, but it really doesn’t happen much. You’d have to be unlucky.

Back to the current dry season: it lasts usually from May to early September. There are variations, of course, but that is broadly speaking the pattern.

If you look at the last days’ pictures, you will see what “dry season” means. A lot of game is showing signs of lack of nutrition, and many simply can’t wait for the end of it all. Our predators are doing well though. The game is slower and more lethargic. ;-)

Cheetah brothers
Cheetah brothers
Giraffe
Giraffe
Elephant eating awy close to the game driver
Elephant eating awy close to the game driver
Crocodile chilling away at one of our lakes.
Crocodile chilling away at one of our lakes.
Lioness out for a drink!
Lioness out for a drink!

Spectacular cheetah kill

I wasn’t sure whether I should share this with our many fans and future guests … or not. In a way, it is brutal, ugly, gruesome, and yet, in a way, it is honest. This is nature. True nature. Eat and be eaten. Evade a predator, as best as you can, until that one day when you run out of luck.

We as humans like to think that we have nothing to do with this cycle of life, but the truth is, we all run out of luck one day. It just isn’t a cheeatah or lion, usually. ;-)

As our guests were absolutely blown away by what they saw, I decided that best is to just share how absolutely spectacular animal sightings can be here on our reserve.

So here is last week’s cheetah kill!

 

Very regular good sightings

When we started off, almost a decade ago, we were the only lodge on the reserve, with only one game driver. As a result, tracking and finding game was a tough game. It took time, very hard work, and quite a bit of luck. We got there, but there were “quiet” days.

No more!

There are now 2 lodges, with a total of 6 game drivers (which is still extremely low density for a 36,000 acre private game reserve), and as all guides share sightings and intell, we now have quasi guaranteed daily sightings, whether it be one of the “Big5″ (I hate that term), or one of the many hundreds of other spectacular animals.

Just a quick example of some of what we saw over two days, between the 7th and 9th of July. Great stuff indeed! This is not all we saw, very far from it, but just the best shots our tracker took. The reality is that you see an animal on average every 5-10 minutes. It’s that spectacular here.

Giraffes

Up-close leopard sighting in the evening

Elephant encounter!

And a well-known, and quirky, yellow bill hornbill