Tuesday, 25 September 2012

24th September – Happy Heritage Day!

Photo of the Day

Mafikizolo Pride
Morning Drive

(Chad, Giyani, Herold, Peter and Marka)

4 x lions (Mafikizolo Pride – 1 young male and three females) – Java, Steep Machaton

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Leopard Rock Hide

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Java, Java-Mbali

2 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam

2 x elephant bulls – Jaydee, Makulu Crossing


Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Giyani, Herold, Peter and Marka)

1 x leopard (Machaton Male) – Mbali, Western Cutline

3 x rhino (male, female and calf)

1 x rhino

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Back Nines

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Nyosi Confluence

1 x elephant bull – Motswari, Ekuvukeni Access

10 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Nyosi Confluence


Daily Synopsis

So, we complained about the cold weather, and for once, it helped!!! Today, National Heritage Day in South Africa, was one of those perfect weather days in the bush – clear blue skies and lovely and warm, although the winds that picked up at the end of the day suggest that this is going to be short-lived.

The game viewing today didn’t quite match the weather, but it was still a really enjoyable day!  The morning mission was to go and find rhinos and elephants, and when one of the southern stations found them early in the morning, it made my life easier!

Sunrise, a pearl-spotted owl and a guineafowl
I made my way south, and didn’t see an awful lot – some lovely birds, impalas, waterbuck and clear blue skies!  Eventually we arrived in the area and Shaddy and I managed to relocate on the three rhinos and spent the next half hour enjoying them feeding around the vehicles – it was the mother and calf and a male that looked almost like Nhlangula – but when ever he tried to get closer, the mother would growl at him and he would immediately back off!  The fresh cuts under his eyes could either have been from her or the other male that left the scene earlier on in the morning.

Crash of rhinos

We then had a cup of coffee on the banks of the Nhlaralumi at my favourite drinks spot before looking for some elephants – we started with one lone female and then located a nice breeding herd on the opposite side of the river near some kudus.

Elephant herd

Herold had located on two larger herds of elephants not far east of us, so we headed there instead, but we then found another nice herd with a new born baby calf of less than a week old, so spent the rest of the morning watching them feeding around us and enjoying the tiny tot!

Elephant herd with tiny baby of less thana  week old and a male giraffe

We then made our way back to the lodge, passing some giraffe along the way, but overall it was a bit quiet...

The afternoon was quiet by choice, but that was because I had a feeling that the hot weather would produce the goods in the east – with limited water in the east, surely at least one of the little dams would have some life, but after two hours in the east, we had little to show for our efforts besides several sightings of zebras, warthogs, a hippo and some impalas!  Still, being in the east is always nice just to get off the beaten track, even if you don’t see anything!

Zebras, hippos and impalas in the east

Shaddy had again worked his magic and located the Mafikizolo lions, now with an additional female, on Java resting in the Machaton River, so I slowly headed there, but as the sunset was so stunning, we stopped to enjoy it with a drink on Java Airstrip before making our way to the lions after dark.

Sunset over the Lowveld with the Drankensberg mountains in the west

The choice proved a good one, and we got to enjoy the lions wide awake and quite active as they moved to the Nhlaralumi Riverbed and watched some elephants moving about in the river.

The lionesses moved off, leaving the male to groom himself before he realised they were gone and they had to turn around and move back to him as he called ruefully for them!

Mafikizolo Pride on the banks of the Nhlaralumi

We spent some nice time with them, but it was now late, so we made our way back to the lodge, ticking off a chameleon and a white-faced owl as we went, but nothing else besides that.

White-faced owl
 So while the game wasn't abundant today, what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality, and just appreciated another magical day in our amazing country!

Our ladies (and Dave) celebrating National Heritage Day

With the wind gusting outside as I type this, will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings...


  1. Absolutely fabulous - that is all the pictures. The ladies look great and
    Dave of course!!

    Sue and Andy UK

  2. Love the white faced owl. Looks as if he has a muff to keep his beak warm in the night air. Is it possible to photograph the smaller night-life like chameleons? And what is the news on the crocodiles? Do you think they got around to mating, and we might see some young?

  3. Magnificent sunrise and sunset. That alone will make a day in the Motswari "valley" worth it.

  4. Super pics Chad!

    We were on Java's vehicle. When we entered the Machaton riverbed I got a fleeting glimps of a lion's back and then saw a lioness peeping around reeds. At first Shaddy was very doubtful of my sighting but drove up the riverbed nevertheless. We found the Mafikizolo pride hiding behind some vegetation. They did their utmost not to be seen and we had to drive right up to them before they became visible. It was clear that they were somewhat annoyed at the fact that they were detected and moved up the riverbank where they came to rest.

    We were spoilt to be there and will remain ever grateful for the opportunity.