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rhino river lodge July 2015 kznatal


COSMIC RHINO
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I arrived using the Richards bay afternoon flight and spent the night in the woodpecker inn before my transfer vehicle arrived nicely on time

 

well after having used ORITA since 2011 I realised that after clearing security it is easier to go down 2 flight of the escalators than use the lift

 

the likely tourist destinations hoedspruit, Nelspruit and Richards bay have departure gates at the far end of the lower level

 

rhino river lodge forms part of the Zululand rhino reserve 23,000 ha which formerly had 17 landowners mainly cattle with some crops including cotton

 

there are a variety of commercial lodges , some private holiday homes

 

rhino river and leopard mountain are the most affordable, some have gone self catering

 

if you are part of a group of 8 zen Zulu with its lovely waterhole location would be the place to go for

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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I thought it best to arrive the night before then go on the next morning

 

the woodpecker inn is close to the airport ,comfortable and well priced

 

I had booked through bookings.com but they were no longer dealing with them, so they gave me their direct rate for bed and breakfast, when you added in a main course dinner it was a little bit cheaper than the booking.com rate for b and b only

 

I would recommend the woodpecker inn for anyone wanting to stay in Richards bay, airport noise is not a concern as there are only a few flights per day

 

the reserve was very dry , any waterhole which was not artificially pumped was empty

 

as a consequence of this it was harder to find the animals

 

since having been there last year , they had just recently reintroduced wild dogs, they have just a few of them and they are not often seen. when they are reported in an area they don't stay there for long

 

there was a long and thorough check on the boundary fence for warthog burrows , none were found, so hopefully they will stay inside the reserve

 

there is a researcher who monitors them, the alpha female is believe to be pregnant although they are unsure about this

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Rhino River Lodge looks lovely. Were you able to spot the newly introduced dogs?

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a whole lot of the people on the flight who were not locals stayed at the woodpecker inn, it is a bit of a local watering hole at the bar

 

as is well known wild dogs move over wide areas with speed, if they are seen and reported in an area there is not much point going there if you are not nearby already

 

I did not see any wild dogs

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There are a number of options at rhino river ,as I did last year I took the lodge room, you can also go for a chalet, or a small house . The small house has a private swimming pool, otherwise there is a largish swimming pool to share , the use of which is limited in winter

 

the lodge rooms are very large with extra large bedroom , good size bathroom and outdoor terrace facing the bush grounds of the lodge

 

the lodge rooms are very comfortable, I cannot see any reason to use a chalet unless your group is above 2 persons

 

they have tea and coffee making facilities, bar fridge etc, powerpoint to recharge batteries

 

wifi is around at your own expense, and I was told that the reception is not that great

 

the natural trees have been kept, and are being added to by new plantings which have wire protectors over them to prevent frequently visiting warthogs and nyala nipping them up

 

there is a grey water systems to reuse the output of hand basins, showers etc on the trees

 

if you want to there is a not very expensive laundry service, I washed out things by hand then hanged them them in a tree branch with a covered coat hanger

 

the dining area/ bar and lounge are in a large building , if you want to use it there is a stone path made curved to avoid disturbing the trees

 

at the back of this area there are some lovely very large fever trees which grow on their sides as they were knocked over in a cyclone many years ago but their roots could keep sufficient contact with the earth for them to grow and thrive

 

the food is good quality and family style

 

there is a good supply of a limited selection of wines, some of which make donations from their sales to rhino, wild dog and other conservation projects

 

children are accepted

 

with advance booking at the cost of ZAR 100 per session baby sitting is available for both game drives and dinner

 

overall the lodge is a very comfortable and pleasing place to stay

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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the meals are served to the table

 

with the exception of the cereal, fruit , yoghurt , baked items at breakfast they are not served buffet style

 

there is a full breakfast, full lunch and full dinner

 

the quantities of food are more than enough

 

the standard activities are morning and afternoon into early evening game drives

 

at added cost it is possible to have bushwalks and a drive which leaves after dinner looking for nocturnal life

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of the track driving is not generally done, although it is for cats

 

the area around rhino river was drier than some others in the reserve

 

rhinos could be seen but were harder to find , I had one very good siting around a pumped dam

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the standard activities are morning and afternoon into early evening game drives

 

at added cost it is possible to have bushwalks and a drive which leaves after dinner looking for nocturnal life

 

~ When I was a university student I occasionally experienced “a drive which leaves after dinner looking for nocturnal life” but rather suspect that it was dissimilar to what's on offer at Rhino River Lodge.

That was long ago and far away...thank goodness!

Tom K.

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I can't see the point of taking the post dinner drive, well there are not a whole lot of animals around on the later section of the afternoon getting dark and using a spotlight

 

some people actually took it and they did not really see that much

 

I got to see a coalition of cheetah brothers a few times, once close up

 

lions can be found , elephant families, gifaffe, leopards when it was getting dark

 

in the reserve it is relatively easy to see ostriches

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Rhinos were to some extent easier to find in other areas of the reserve

 

leopards are not easy to find

 

lions are not something I am very keen on and sometimes I wondered why people get excited about them when they are seen basically sleeping and not doing that much

 

on one occasion I really wondered how the other guests could get excited about seeing 2 male lions present hundreds of meters into a block of rocky hills and dense bush , looking in with binos over a great horizon, well the lions could have been easily 1 in one million part of the landscape.

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the number of elephants in the reserve is relatively low by design given that they have an impact on the bush , they wanted to start with low numbers and allow breeding to increase numbers

 

on my first drive I witnessed a large musk male ele knock over about 5 trees

 

he was seen around a few times later , and about 4 viewings of a family group which was very pleasing

 

staying for a longer period I was spread between the different guides, they are all good

 

Alex escaped Zimbabwe for economic reasons did a correspondence course then went to Bhejane nature training for the field requirements of guiding

 

he was worked in several areas of sth Africa, other than around kruger

 

to use the slightly older name umfolozi- huhluwe on booked tours is a prime area for the Ferrari safari, all the guests want to rush around for all animals except lions and wild dogs. they are seldom seen so the sitings become very crowded

 

one job he did not enjoy was guiding for outward bound , the group which organizes outdoor adventures for larger groups, it sounded like it could had been in Zimbabwe . he was in charge of school groups of 7 year olds who did not want to listen to instructions about the dangerous activity of introductory technical rock climbing, including abesailing

 

I am not the only one to think that 7 is too young for that

 

for those who have not much time and don't mind getting tired the day tour to umfolozi from Durban still operates, it is over 244 km each way

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alex is relatively new having replaced Courtney who had a guest who liked him. gave him a business card fort his nature group in the UAE and asked him to contact if he would like to discuss changing jobs

 

so the skills of a ranger can be transferred to entirely different regions

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kyle who has a background of guide at Africa on foot and nthambo camp is very good

 

frances the head guide was recruited directly from bhejane nature training and is great

 

They are all well informed, friendly and good communicators

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Bhejane nature training is highly regarded , two of the guides were recruited directly from instructor recommendation then interview

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despite a massive effort and much dedication, some of the rhinos were poached in 2014, but nothing has happened since

 

There is now a airstrip used only for anti poaching patrols

 

a female white was attacked given vet care, is now pregnant and rather thin, her position is electronically monitored and she is being given supplementary hay

 

within the reserves there is a large area of delightful fever trees

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rhino river and most other lodges are fenced

 

the reserve is generally open but some lodges have core areas where the number of vehicles from other lodges is restricted

 

there is a limit of 2 vehicles per siting as it is in many other places

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the adjourning 5 star luxury Thanda reserve wishes to remain separate , and the fence will be staying where it is

 

This can create some excitement with the lions on either side roaring to proclaim their territory

 

Zululand rhino reserve has a lovely bush feel

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the other guests came as couples came as couples or families , mainly sth Africans, some british

 

a five year old child was getting friendly , and sitting next to me whilst moving around a fair bit as the vehicle was moving

 

dad's voice could be heard , he wants to take photos you are in the way

 

he was relocated by large reaching arms

 

rhino river is a good place to stay at

 

DRIVING ADVICE

 

Please allow lots of time, the road to and from Richards bay can get busy and there are big very long trucks carrying timber from the plantations amongst other things

 

do not speed unless you want to be fined or have a policeman try to get a bribe out of you

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I recall seeing Bhejane ads in the back of every Africa Geographic when it existed in print. It is nice to hear that it has produced excellent guides.

It's also nice to hear that the rhinos are under surveillance for their safety...one hopes it proves to be enough.

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as mentioned before some local visitors wear inappropriate shoe

 

thin shoes, sandles, thongs/flips

 

on a drive someone actually had a thorn pierce the sole of your light sand shoes

 

ok for tennis but not a game reserve

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I meant to put this in before

 

the notice for security at Richards bay airport departures is very interesting

 

instead of having a general notice of what is not acceptable no guns, knives, sharp objects etc , there is a noticeboard with the best part of a 10 page list of what you cannot take on as hand luggage

 

no numerous types of guns, knives, flick knives, knife sticks, pepper spray, tear gas cannisters, hand grenades, martial arts throwing stars, knuckle dusters , etc,etc

 

most reasonable people would not even think of taking them as hand luggage, packing them in their bag and in a lot of cases would not even know how to get such things

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