The bush is about to green up

We have had some drizzle – again! We have had such a long dry season, and we were getting very concerned.  Then 4 days ago, for the first time ever in living memory, we got a huge hale storm, which caused a lot of damage to many cars in the area. We were spared though, so lucky us. Since then, the weather has been extremely unpredictable and can change in seconds.

This morning was the first sunny morning we have had in days. We tracked the elephants deep into the south of Moditlo, it took us around 45 minutes to find them – so the reward was fantastic! We had a great sighting and the matriarch was cool, calm and collected. We spent quite a bit of time with them as we worked hard for this sighting.

Uyai tracked the lions up into Bloubank and found them on a fresh wildebeest kill. Two of the females and the cubs! The kill must have happened in the night. They were not phased by us and had eaten most of the carcass already. Clearly, all help came too late for this wildebeest. ;-) The lions were taking periodic naps and we sat with them for quite some time. Amazing memories for our guests …. this is the sort of sightings for which you fly all the way over here.

With the sunshine today and the rain we’ve had we are sure that the bush will be flourishing this afternoon. The cycle of life begins anew!

Elephant herd spotted today!
Elephant herd spotted today!

Lions - and their breakfast!
Lions – and their breakfast!


We achieved 2000 fans on our Facebook page a couple of days ago, and currently stand at 2018 fans … and getting to that amount of fans kind of made me sit down, and reflect on all the many things that have been going on here at the Vuyani Safari Lodge, the thousands of guests we have hosted here … it’s staggering what has been achieved here. The reserve is now one of the most vibrant wildlife sanctuaries in South Africa, with many of the world’s most endangered and rarest animals thriving and growing in number: Southern Ground Hornbills, wild dogs, White Rhinos, the super rare black Rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, and so many others … It’s a life’s worth of achievement, it certainly feels that way.

So when I looked at the photos of yesterday’s sightings, I had a big smile on my face. What we have done here might only be a drop in the ocean, or maybe it’s more than that, but all the years of hard work, worries, everything, it was worth it. We have done our bit to change the world, and we are not only proud of that, we are even more so immensely grateful for the many thousands of guests who have visited us over the years. It’s to them that we all, and also the reserve, owe everything. Some guests might not be aware of it, but they are the real heroes here.

Here some of the best photos taken yesterday. Greetings to all our fans! You are always welcome at the Vuyani Safari Lodge! :-)

Elephant herd crossing right in front of our guests
Elephant herd crossing right in front of our guests
Our male lion - he's a handsome boy!
Our male lion – he’s a handsome boy!
Zebra herd - you will see zebras here every day!
Zebra herd – you will see zebras here every day!

Lots of Ellefun – small and big

The herd of Ellies kept us entertained as one of the little ones decided that it is just too hot and flopped down in the middle of the herd. It was amazing how carefully the adults stepped around it and protected the little one.

Two young bulls were play fighting and showing off for us. The matriarch made sure we didn’t venture too close
making her presence known. It was a great sighting just north of MRL and we were the only vehicle in the sighting so we spent nearly an hour with them, with all our guests. Amazing quality sighting of the world’s largest mammal. Actually, that’s not quite true … largest mammal living on land! Quite some whales are bigger.

We also saw lions, and quite a few other animals, but yesterday’s sighting du jour was the elephants – top quality, and amazing footage too. Our guests had loads of smiles on their faces when they got bacl to the lodge.

Young elephant ...
Young elephant …
... ok, this is a big one!
… ok, this is a big one!
... and a tiny baby elephant!
… and a tiny baby elephant!
Very tired!
Very tired!
Family moment
Family moment
Male bulls showing off!
Male bulls showing off!

When the rainy season is late – the water holes become busy

Usually the rainy season starts in October and builds over November …. but this year, temperatures got unusually high in August and September, and the rainy season hasn’t gotten going yet … so things have gotten awfully dry. If we don’t get some good rain soon, then first animls will start being in trouble.

Until then … of course, it’s all about tying themselves over, and that only works by means of getting regular water supplies at waterholes, and they are now also starting to run quite low. So they are getting busy. For us and our guests, this is actually very interesting, because we tend to see a lot of game, quasi queuing up at these waterholes, and it makes for stunning photos.

See some of the ones we took yesterday … gives you an idea of what’s going on. From a safari tourist point of view, it’s fascinating stuff.

Zebras, ...
Zebras, …
...rhinos, ...
…rhinos, …
...wildebeest, ...
…wildebeest, …
 as well as an elephant herd ...
as well as an elephant herd …
... and the opportunistic lions are never far either!
… and the opportunistic lions are never far either!

This is ridiculous!

Some days start off a bit quiet, and as things get going, it keeps getting better and better, and by the end of the day, you know that it was one of the best days out on safari that month. And today was one of those days.

But see for yourselves (and these are just the highlights!)

After three days trying to track the elephants, finally we got to see them crossing the road at the Essen cutline and bok- makiri. You could see that they were having a get together family moment along with the small baby elephant. Cuter than cute. Our guests were ecstatic about seeing this little cutie pie.

A few minutes later after our coffee break, east of cotton field Hendrick & Aggy spotted again two cheetahs (we had seen two other cheetahs earlier that day, how crazy is that?) who had killed a baby wildebeest, and who seemed to be having a good breakfast meal.

Close up enough? Our guests agreed it was.
Close up enough? Our guests agreed it was.
... and the vulture is never far ...
… and the vulture is never far …

On our way back to the lodge, we then picked up fresh lion tracks (male & female lion) and we found them south of the River Lodge on a dried riverbed, just relaxing there. Our guests took loads of stunning photos …

Well, this was a day to treasure for our guests, for a lifetime actually. And I didn’t even mention the rhino we saw, chilling in the water, or the giraffes we saw, and the many birds, … the blog story would just get too long.

This reserve keeps getting better and better, for all our guests who have visited us in the past … come back, and enjoy some of the best safaris you can get in South Africa. It’s never been better than now!

Air con – rhino style

If you’re hot, and you don’t have high tech solutions, and it gets desperate, then desperate measures are called for … and that’s what that looks like!

Rhino cooling - as seen this morning
Rhino cooling – as seen this morning

What a way to chill, literally. Hilarious. Our guests were very amused, and understandably so. To see such a “cool” rhino is as such already exciting enough, but in this pose, that’s quite special.

That said, he’s been seen like that before (obviously only in the warm season), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t special to see such a rare rhino. There are not even 20,000 rhinos left in the world anymore, and of those 20,000 about 90% live in South Africa. So this country, with its odd 50 reserves or so, plays a central role in the long-term conservation of this seriously endangered species. It is a struggle that is taken very seriously here, and with the de-horning program here, as well as anti-poaching units, so far, we have done very well. This is also thanks to our many guests which are pivotal long-term funders for all conservation efforts here.

So when you visit, don’t feel guilty, not for one second, but actually the opposite. We are not only delighted to welcome you here to this small piece of nature paradise, but we appreciate you also as a part of the long-term solution. Without our many guests, this reserve would not survive long-term, and that’s something we are always mindful of and grateful for.

Our guests are more than welcome here, and the wildlife is thanking you for your visit! :-)

Chilling lions, curious rhinos and very happy guests

Today, we had some cool Lion and rhino sightings … and some seriously happy guests.

We tracked and found the Lions in a pan area on Leopards Bend – it has been VERY hot with the temperatures going up to around 37 Degrees. The lions were so lazy and hot that they had flopped down in the watering hole trying to cool down. Nice.

We also saw a crash of White Rhinos – near the vehicle and we found a half munched Kudu that was overtaken by Vultures. Gruesome, but how interesting is that? That’s nature … nothing is left over. Fascinating stuff.

Our guests posed for us on drinks stop and we got some cool “viewing” picks with Tom and Kim.

Beautiful moments

I have been immensely busy with new bookings over the last few days, and so it has been a little frustrating to not being able to share the many outstanding and beautiful sightings we have had last week. Time to catch up!

No better day than yesterday, our guests really enjoyed some very unique moments, to say the very least.

We had a cool sighing of Giraffe lying down and spent a while with them as this is quite a seldom sighting.

This is rare to see!
This is rare to see!

The highlight of our safari yesterday were the lions – the male is truly magnificent and we had quite a “show” as he was mating with the older Lioness. Naughty boy! ;-)

After all that excitement, it was off to the Porcupine Lake, to enjoy the sunset, and a few lovely gin and tonics! :-)

How about that?
How about that?

This is also a kill!

It doesn’t always have to be a kill by a lion, cheetah or leopard … all sorts of kills are interesting .. and this one was one of those that get even the most seasoned rangers such as Togara excited: A Goshawk on a fresh kill!

What is it?
What is it?

Turns out, on closer inspection, that this Goshawk had killed a Plated Lezard. This is a very rare thing to spot in nature, and Togara was beyond excitement. Our guests took some nice shots too. Let’s be honest … when have we ever actually seen a raptor bird on an actual kill? Probably not many of us … one can see it here, that’s for sure.

We saw lots of really amazing stuff yesterday: Cheetahs resting in the riverbed, lions, a resting rhino, cooling off in a lake, giraffes, loads of zebras, … but this one stood out! :-)

Enjoy! :-)
Enjoy! :-)

A wildebeest for breakfast

It is often said that male lions aren’t good hunters … that might be true for many of them, but definitely not for our big boy! We found him at Groendoring on the Leopards Bend section of the reserve, and he had caught himself a tasty wildebeest as a snack. We sat with him for nearly an hour – watching him munch away. Awesome sighting, our guests were delighted. See the photos, took my breath away. What a handsome lion he has become.

Breakfast time!
Breakfast time!
What a stunning lion
What a stunning lion
... and now it's time to digest
… and now it’s time to digest

We also tracked and found the cheetah brothers on a two track near Muruti. They were on the move and we got some stunning photos. We followed them for around 30 minutes before they disappeared into the thicket.

Definitely a day heavy on big cats, with a quality second to none. Great day!

One of the two cheetah brothers
One of the two cheetah brothers
This is the sort of sighting that is rarer than rare!
This is the sort of sighting that is rarer than rare!