Best of – Diane Heinrich

I am always particularly pleased to receive photos from guests that stayed with us. It shows me the immense treasures of experiences that we leave with our guests, and the incredible spectrum of wildlife that one sees here.

One of the things that one has to know about this place … because we have kept the amount of lions relatively low density, we have a truly spectacular amount of night wildlife: leopards, wild dogs, wild cats, cheetahs, civets, honey badgers, hyenas … all these animals would be “pushed out” by lions if over-abundant. It is all about the right balance, and I think we got it just right, thanks to wise reserve management. Nature comes first here, and the conservation successes are beyond our wildest dreams. We have so many super rare species here … I mean … where do you experience fights between lions and honey badgers?? As a guest … unique!

Diane Heinrich sent in a lot of amazing shots, please see a short “best of” list. Many thanks for allowing us to share them! They all prove my point …

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The rarest of the rarest – and what luck!

Some animals are so rare, it’s not funny … it’s actually tragic. And one of those animals is the cheetah.

Thank God our reserve has become a haven for these super endangered animals. Only about 300-400 cheetahs still live in the free (like on our reserve) in South Africa. And South Africa is twice the size of France! If that does not make it clear how rare these animals are, then nothing will.

So seeing cheetahs in the wild is in itself a chance and luck that really goes way, way beyond the usual.

But some guests are just lucky beyond lucky.

See the pictures that a guest of ours emailed in a few days ago. No comment. Just wow.

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Lazing about

Cats, as they are known in more northern spheres, are quite busy most of the times, especially at night of course.

But this is not really true for most African cats. Most of those are really, really lazy. Or sleepy, whichever way you look at it.

Cheetahs are not active at night for instance, but at daytime, as they need perfect vision for their untra-high speed chases. But after a 5-10 second chase and kill, they eat … and then chill for up to a day. Speak of efficiency!

And speaking of cheetahs … they are one of the most endangered of animals that are “known” to humans. By “known” I mean their existence in public conscience. Every day 5-7 species go extinct (which is a shocking statistic!), but most of them tend to be obscure species that noone has ever heard about. But cheetahs, literally everyone knows what they are. It is the world’s fastest animal.

So the fact that only a few hundred are left in the wild in South Africa shows how extremely rare they have become.

I am glad to report that we have several cheetahs roaming freely on the reserve and that we have witnessed mother cheetahs successfully raising cheetah cubs on the reserve, several times. This is truly amazing! So if you want to see this super rare cat in the wild, up-close, then there is probably no better place than our reserve to do so. Here photos of yesterday to prove the point.

A great late wet season and spectacular sightings

What a relief! We have had three good rain events over the last 3 weeks, just today we had another one, so we are immensely grateful for any rain we are getting so late into the rainy season. If we get another one or two before the end of the rainy season (which officially ends in May), then we should be set for the dry season. The dry season lasts a long 4 months, from June – early October. These 4 months sound short, but they are tough on the game. Vegetation turns from a lush green to a dry brown/grey (for the most part), and so it is important that all water points are full up (which they are now). Nature is about survival of the fittest, and the dry season is the time of year when the animals’ yearly fitness test comes. The old & feeble won’t make it, and that is nature’s ways.

April, May and June are my personal favourite months, because the weather is usually just divine. Not  too hot, lovely evenings, beautiful sunsets, and a beautiful look to the bush. For all our guests checking in over the coming weeks: Enjoy! It’s a truly lovely time of year.

Full up lake
Full up lake
Cheetah brothers!
Cheetah brothers!
Lioness spotted at night
Lioness spotted at night
Spectacular arrival of some needed rain
Spectacular arrival of some needed rain

Much bigger in reality!!
Much bigger in reality!!

A good end to an otherwise dry rainy season

South Africa’s “rainy season” lasts typically from early November through early April. After that, rains become rare, and the long dry season begins. Rain is absolutely quintessential to see nature and the wildlife get through these very tough months. A lot of our guests get worried when they hear “rainy season”, but the fact is that it only rains 2-3 days on average per month in the rainy season. And we wish it was more! It usually rains also mostly in the night. Bear in mind also that nature is at its best during the wet season. That’s when there is a lot of action.

We were lucky this year. The rainy season had been dry for  the most part, and that had us worry. But last week saw enormeous amounts of rain, and all the dams have filled up very nicely. We are good for the dry season! In the nick of time. As a result, nature has turned very green now also, which gives the game a lot of opportunity to eat and build reserves before things get tough.

See some lovely shots we took over the recent few days. Stunning.

The New Vuyani Tented Camp

We are getting a lot of enquiries and questions about the new Vuyani Tented Camp that is under construction at the moment. This new camp is about 5km north of the current Vuyani Safari Lodge, so noone knows anything about it. At least no specifics.

Well, I am pleased to report that progress has been very steady, despite a few strong rainfall interruptions. Currently the roofs are going on, and the bar / lounge building, swimming pool area, walkways, Boma and kitchen units are all at roof level. This is going to be a very radical, elegant, and fresh take on the “glamping” concept. Keeping it to what matters, with a high level of quality service and great ambience. Vuyani, basically.

We aim to launch in Q4 this year, towards December, more or less. It will be launched as a 5-tent camp, and over the years it will grow to 15 tents, no more. We will keep it intimate and exclusive, as always.

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An award winning photo

Alison Freebody returned from their safari at our lodge a few days ago. They had a fantastic time here, so we are very hopeful to welcome them back here in the future.

Alison is an artist with the camera, and she has shared one of the best shots taken of our elephants that I have ever seen, as far as I remember.

Let me know what you think! I think it’s adorable. I also think it demonstrates how high the quality of sightings is here. Astounding.

This is actually 2 lions !!!!

It is not all about the game

It is unsurprising that our guests come to South Africa to see and experience the hundreds of breathtaking animal species that roam freely on our huge reserve. Some of them are the largest on earth, like the elephants, some are the tallest, like the giraffes, some are the fastest, like the cheetahs, and some are just so bizarre that there are no words for them. And you certainly get to see them all here.

But there is a bonus to it all!

What makes South Africa so breathtaking is not just its wildlife, but also its people, and its landscapes. There are moments of the day over here that are so magic that it still makes my jaws drop. Beauty so pure, so divine, that it instantly gives you a sort of inner peace and clarity of thought, sharp like a knife. The sort of moments where you just feel instantly grateful for the immense luck of being alive and the privilege of witnessing such sheer beauty. And a privilege it is!

Scenes like these, for instance.

Or this!

And this is a shot I took on my way in from Johannesburg, at the crack of dawn. No comment.

So if you want to see all these landscapes, why not go in our 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster, and experience South Africa like in the good old times? It’s all yours! Embrace it, enjoy it, and never forget it.

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Beautiful photos sent in – Huw Parsons

Huw Parsons visited us very recently, early this month. They got back to me after their stay, and they made hundreds of stunning photos. Too many to share with me, and too many to share here.

But I always like to see photos from guests as it is a very credible way of seeing what our safaris are like, from the guest’s perspective. And as they say, a picture says more than a thousand words, so enough talking. Here they are! No comment.

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Stunning photos from Neisha

Neisha Shrimpton has visited us several times already, and, as a travel agent, she has assured us that our place is like no other. I must say: That is the highest accolade one can receive. Travel agents are notoriously difficult to impress, and that is simply because they are in the know. They find where noone even knows to look. So that comes as a massive boost to our morale. We must be doing domething right! :-)

Neisha also shared some of her best shots with us. Some real gems, I must say, and also one of the reasons she has been so happy here. Many thanks for allowing me to share these with our community. I wish I could go out more often myself and see some of these animals up-close, especially that leopard. Wow! Stunning. Absolutely love it!

Many thanks also for the advice and ideas for our new Tented Camp hat we are building 4km north of the Vuyani Safari Lodge. That’s very welcome, and very helpful indeed.

We are looking forward to welcoming Neisha at the newest addition to the Vuyani name next year, hopefully! The camp will open around August this year, and I think it will set a new standard when it comes to top end glamping camps, at rates so competitive that there is no point in even comparing us. Period. Best value in the country, by miles.

Leopard!!
Leopard!!
Male lion
Male lion
Giraffe
Giraffe

Magnificent up-front shot of a huge crocodile!
Magnificent up-front shot of a huge crocodile!