I always complain about not being able to go out on the reserve as much as I would like to, because of work, family, commitments, … but I now did, and it was so worth it! These are my own pictures.
We specifically set out to see the wild dogs, which are denning far away at the northern end of the conservancy. After almost 2 hours (we stopped often to see other game), we finally got there. And it was so worth the drive! We bumbed into two of the pups, playing around at the den. After a short while, the rest of the pack got back, and we were fortunate enough to see one of the rarest sightings in Africa: social interaction between wild dogs!
Due to their specific ways of life, habits, social interactions, wild dogs have become quasi extinct in Africa. Only 2000-3000 specimen survive in the wild in Africa. So to know that not just one, but actually TWO packs are denning on our reserve, that is as exciting as one can imagine it. Conditions must be perfect here, and indeed they are.
It is a true privilege to witness such super-rare animals, and it is all the more rewarding to be sharing this sort of sightings with hundreds of guests from all over the world. It’s worth the trip, I can tell you that much.
After such excitement, an African sunset feels all the more special. I took a photo of our renovated swimming pool at dusk. Just beautiful …
Please note also that all photos were taken by means of my Lumia 950. Just for those who are wondering.
I cannot really go into full detail of all animals we have been spotting over recent days, as it is just too many. Having said that, here some of the best pics our tracker managed to snap.
We saw a Croc at Diep Dam for instance, and that made for an amazing shot. See for yourselves!
We went to the den site and got some great shots of the Wild Dog – the puppies are growing SO fast. This is Africa’s second rarest carnivore, with only about 3000 specimen left in the wild. To be seeing them like that … it is arguably better than finding the rarest of gems. A true privilege. And a source of huge pride for our wildlife conservation efforts.
We also tracked and found the Cheetahs north of Pieter Janneke’s Khaya land. They had just caught a young
Kudu cow. We sat and watched them feed for about an hour. Amazing – we must have missed the kill by
We tracked and found the elephants after days of searching on the Bokmakiere cutline – we took some great photos when we finally did find them.They were pretty relaxed and feeding. What a sighting … our guests were excited, to say the least.
One doesn’t see large elephants that up-close in many places …
We tracked and found the bull elephant near Porcupine Dam – he was being the perfect “model” and posed for
photos (even playing with a stick and giving himself a dust bath): a perfect photographic opportunity. I think the photo below is one of the most stunning shot we have ever managed of the male elephant. Great work!
The lions have been rather near each other (only about 3 kms apart), they were seen near Anaboom camp. The male had taken down a very skinny warthog and was snacking on it by himself. The rest of the pride were on the move – and we lost them in the thicket after a while. But our guests managed some stunning photos, and that’s what a safari is all about – experiencing these animals close-up in their natural habitat.
We are starting to be hopeful about the beginning of the rainy season soon(ish) … our reserve, of all reserves, seems to have suffered the least, but this year’s drought has been tough on many reserves. Food is scant, and you can see what the concept “survival of the fittest” sometimes really means in nature. It’s toughest near the finish line.
Now and then I have guests email in some of their best shots that they took during their stay with us. And I am happy to admit, it always makes me smile how amazing many of these sightings are. I myself don’t get to go out there nearly as often as I would love to, so it is a huge reward to see at last what our guests see … and boy, do they see things … wow!!!
Hilary had a great time here, and she has sent me the following shots, her favourite photos. And I can see why! Stunning, simply stunning.
Many thanks for allowing us to share them with our fans and future guests, that’s really kind. And many thanks for sharing these wonderful memories with us!
August is the peak of the dry season … but this year, things are particularly dry. This year’s rainy season wasn’t much to write home about, and that means tough times for wildlife in the dry season. Most of the animals have moved west nearer the mountain for feeding purpose – we are lucky in the sense that our reserve goes all the way to the foot of teh Drakensberg, so compared to other reserves, we are doing ok.
Nonetheless, we saw loads of amazing game … and visibility is superb, which most certainly is an advantage of the dry season. Very crisp photos too!
We saw Giraffe, Vervet Monkeys, Grey Turaco, Kudu, White Backed Vulture & Nyala.
We tracked and found the cheetahs on the Khaya Ndlovu line, they flopped down and started to groom each other, a bit of brotherly love in tough times
We also saw a crash of White Rhino … amazing!
We tracked and found the young lions on Muruti in a dry river bed – we snapped some great photos.
They were quite active and the young male’s mane has really started to “blossom”. I wonder how long daddy will tolerate him being around … I reckon not too much longer. He’s on his way to becoming competition, step by step. And dads don’t like competition, don’t we know that all?
Leopard spotted last night on Safari on the “Leopard’s Bent” portion of the reserve! An unusually outstanding sighting. We stayed with him for about 15 minutes … this is the sort of sightings that make a trip to South Africa worth it on its own. I wish I had been there myself … lucky guests!
I often bemoan the obsession about the “Big 5″, and it is right … many of the very largest animals are not in the Big 5 (how about the giraffe, or the hippo?), and also many of the prettiest or most interesting aren’t in that group either (cheetahs anyone?). It’s an old-fashioned hunter term that should really be done away with … but it is proving to be having many lives.
For me, what an African safari is all about is discovering the full range of animals, and that’s many hundreds of them. In fact we have about 400 species of birds alone on our reserve … some of them tiny, and super cute, to the most impressive, such as the elephant, the largest animal on land.
Here’s what I mean by tiny and cute: the bush baby! It’s the smallest of all primates (yes, it is a small monkey), and they are just adorable. Hard to see them up-close, as they are very shy, so it is all the more amazing to see them so close-up. Adorable!
And when I talk about impressive and close-up, well, this is it!!
We have had some amazing sightings again over recent days. The elephants and lions are back down south on the reserve and we are spoilt for choice once again.
We spotted Zebra, Giraffe (as always MANY) and beautiful photo opportunities.
We tracked and found the cheetahs near Riversdale gate cuddled up together to fight the cold. These two brothers truly are inseparable. And they are so photogenic!
We had audio of the elephants the whole day at the lodge, we heard them breaking branches and trumpeting around the Presidential Suites. So we had an idea of where they were. We set off in the afternoon and found them smack bang right on the Vuyani entrance road. About 500 m from the lodge. The whole herd together!
They posed no threat whatsoever as they were just curious. Really cool sighting! And I imagine for some quite nerve wrecking. We spotted them again in the morning on the entrance road. And they were once again calm and cool and munching away.
We tracked and found the Lions along with MRL guides just west of the Vuyani Safari Lodge near the riverbed.
Rex had audio of them in the morning and informed the guys. They all set out to find the cats and spotted them not too far from Vuyani Lodge having a snooze in the morning sun. Just amazing sightings … !
We added 3 amazing honeymoon suite chalets, with large private decks, and stunning double outdoor showers. But not just that … we added a large additional building, for dinners with open kitchen, a spa room, and an outdoor space for drinks right in the heart of African nature. See the photos below of the additions that have, again, moved the needle for the Vuyani Safari Lodge.
We had a professional photographer, who managed to take some stunning shots of the new spaces, as well as a mind-blowing air shot of the entire complex. Amazing.
Gives you a very good idea of what I mean when I say “Bush Lodge”. It doesn’t get any closer to the bush experience. You’re not right in it, you’re part of it.
For all our future guests: a lot to be looking forward to!
For guests who have already stayed with us: Come back, there’s a lot of new things to discover!
To me it often still feels like the Vuyani Safari Lodge is a relatively new lodge. But that simply isn’t true. We have been running for over 7 years now, and that can only mean that we are not really the “new kid on the block” anymore. About 30 lodges have opened in the area since we launched, and we are now ranked No.1 of all safari lodges in the Hoedspruit area on Tripadvisor, so no, we are not really a challenger lodge. Far, far from it.
What I have noticed this year is that the density of sightings is totally different from what it was as recently as 2 or 3 years ago, as well as its reliability. We used to have “quiet” days, sometimes 2-3 in a row. No more! It’s 2-3 of the Big5 now every day, and then so much more … cheetahs, hippos, crocs, …
The last 2 days show what I mean. Loads of amazing sightings, and this is only a portion of what we managed to show our guests.
We saw the elephants just west of Lodge Road – they were in the thicket and munching away.
We tracked and found the Lions twice near Nyala Crossing on Riversdale. We got some amazing photos of the male and he is looking exceptionally regal. So pretty, not a single scar on him.
We knew the Rhino would be near a feeding spot and we were lucky! We saw two of them munching on the grass that has been put out. You will notice that their horns have been cut, which is a very effective way of preventing poachers. Our rhinos have no value for them!
In the evening we drove past Diep Dam and there was a large Hippo bull out of the water looking for some grass. This is a fairly rare sighting, they are usually in the water, during daytime anyway, but they don’t like to be disturbed during feeding time. But we saw this one …. fascinating.