Jump to content

KwaZulu-Natal February 2019: sea, mountains, and birds in between


xelas

Recommended Posts

@xelas Great report so far, maybe I missed out anyway ;) ... 

And I am glad you had 15 minutes with the lions before the guide ruined it (in my experience there is a lot of good guides, but unfortunately almost just as many bad ones :angry:).  

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 155
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • xelas

    85

  • Dave Williams

    8

  • TonyQ

    7

  • Alexander33

    6

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

MKHUZE GAME RESERVE     First park on our route was Mkhuze Game Reserve.  Mainly chosen for its very good birding, and good hides.  Not much driving to reach it from Piet Retief. All st

PIET RETIEF   We have arrived at JNB airport on time, at 11:00 am. Got some cash from the ATM, and a local SIM card then waited a bit longer for our car at Europcar.   Before arriv

MALIBALA HIDE   Malibala is the smaller of the two waterhole hides. Also the waterhole is smaller so the animals are closer; but we have not expected to be that close! On our arrival day we

Posted Images

@Treepol, @JayRon, I kinda understand the guide/driver. The longest lens their clients have was good for elephants but surely not for lions. And, it is those passengers that gave tip at the end of the game drive ...

But I have learned my lesson, being selfish is not a bad thing when following a pride of lions in a vantage position.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alexander33

Some really nice photos there. I’m continuing to enjoy following along with you on your journey. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will continue soon, at the moment I am waiting for Chief Editor to return from a short "ladies only" trip to England (while UK is still not requiring visas :rolleyes:).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely reports of National Parks I remember so well from my childhood. It’s brings back a lot of memories to see them again - although I’m not sure that we were ever lucky enough to see Lions.

 

FYI - Your Bushbuck strikes me as more likely being a Common Duiker 

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, lmSA84 said:

FYI - Your Bushbuck strikes me as more likely being a Common Duiker 

 

It very much might be my mistake. I have worked by on-line images, they look similar ... anyway, it is a nice portrait of a lovely animal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

HLUHLUWE GAME RESERVE

 

 

Only a short drive away, yet Hluhluwe is a very different reserve to Imfolozi. Hilltop Camp dominates this side of the park, and indeed its name describes both its location and the area around it.

 

This is a large lodge, with 69 chalets (vs. 15 chalets + 10 tents at Mpila), a pool and a large restaurant. Outside of the restaurant is a large terrace with wonderful view.

 

As said, the drive from Mpila to Hilltop is short, and nothing has distracted us (unfortunately), so we have arrived too early. Time to sit on the terrace, and to enjoy in the ice cream. 

 

1274504136_KZN261.JPG.4110d87629c5f23585a4531fd0ac7345.JPG

 

1897123821_KZN262.JPG.9cc6f4a29d37cb260731667b18009144.JPG

 

2051079971_KZN263.JPG.424c5cbbff7257484d80f5c91a2b5c4a.JPG

 

Once we have got the keys to our (first) chalet, we have been happy with the view from the balcony but very unhappy with the strong smell of urine next to the entry door.  The bathroom was clean, and the smell did not came from the toilet. So it must have been contained in the carpet. Off to the front desk to explain our problem, and to ask for a replacement. The front desk manager sent a guy to inspect the situation, luckily his nose worked good, and soon we got new keys. Same type of chalet just positioned more in the center of the camp. It has had worse view from the balcony but there were also some positive aspects presented. I am sure @Dave Williams will noticed at least one.

 

First chalet

1424877608_KZN264.JPG.ae4f6eb4f98213db28abb4925bb6fce3.JPG

 

1555663577_KZN265.JPG.2ebb64813a83bd4e1d4d1a94a74b40f7.JPG

 

2110143777_KZN266.JPG.8dc74c391ad19d7df8784e8a502059a5.JPG

 

Second chalet

1115458290_KZN267.JPG.d0584adef81e0215847994de9ac9375d.JPG

 

456710846_KZN268.JPG.2cc515918e1986631bac63cdf6c3c022.JPG

 

220787604_KZN269.JPG.1133e47a16a8908fdb6e7ad8710d60fc.JPG

 

Both evenings we have had dinner at the restaurant. Food was OK, nothing to rave about, apart of the very handsome personal waiter Zvezda had.

 

826707841_KZN270.JPG.2dc9aced9b728c4560291d74c76cdea2.JPG

 

1038743872_KZN271.JPG.f5531c86fef443c105236458cd41f5de.JPG

 

206301059_KZN272.JPG.3d81a907d2b5f3cd83d1544563cbfbb5.JPG

 

380867975_KZN273.JPG.05d7cf79fe1091290856936918c08064.JPG

 

1466898621_KZN274.JPG.73be8a0b1b9997bec28f5a9ca39c88db.JPG

 

Edited by xelas
Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Williams

Was it live and free to view too Alex! I was amazed to be able to watch on the "ordinary" channels when in J'berg.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Was it live and free to view too

 It was live and free, and I have watched our team!

Link to post
Share on other sites

PARK & ROADS

 

The landscape is one of rolling green hills. Some times I have had hard time to accept I am in South Africa. Hluhluwe part of the Game Reserve is narrow, and the main road that connects Nyalazi gate with Memorial Gate is the artery that is used for game drives.  

 

110966428_KZN275.JPG.c2f863d1fc1dde25983f71b938f77844.JPG

 

1196576952_KZN276.JPG.e82c28fd07de3385b181bfdb1d422a8d.JPG

 

1783943218_KZN277.JPG.e0efc22c4d448e7ac465fd025dea0055.JPG

 

1797990012_KZN278.JPG.668a0df78efe62a032d97de9f7f15013.JPG

 

Views from the top of the hills are spectacular. However, spotting wildlife is quite difficult. There are only a few side tracks from the main road. Those are indeed quite difficult to drive, narrow and rocky at places, and most of the time dense thicket is on both sides. Not only this prevents any good spotting, it also hides possible dangers.

 

1732593002_KZN279.JPG.d7b295fea4fa6c6da247174466a24333.JPG

 

1508913651_KZN280.JPG.58eebca5a52d1f32612903b2f995e9ec.JPG

 

1628931711_KZN281.JPG.5d09f25aef296bbf43b811c9fcc206e0.JPG

 

106588661_KZN282.JPG.b9c071a818f804ba4d7f9578077ea976.JPG


 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Several warning signs are positioned along the roads, and to underline the message, a “black&white” patrolled the roads.

 

1005880481_KZN283.JPG.60bc0c00e41bd1980f0f00fa45e8a2c5.JPG

 

1433310686_KZN284.JPG.d1b8555e70ad56257ce4600ddce3f85b.JPG

 

Not all elephants are happy with tourists, specially when they came too close. On a narrow track it can be quite complicated to find your way out of the troubles.

 

708849763_KZN285.JPG.038bcbf2fdc1b55e7da9bc747c38550c.JPG

 

746433635_KZN286.JPG.b3471f47d69681b8ad8050f51ba70903.JPG

 

One of the side tracks is between Hilltop Camp and memorial Gate. There is a long downhill section. Almost at the bottom we have heard a loud trumpet sound. No elephants were seen … at first. So I have moved a little forward only to be stopped by another, louder sound. Then the ellies started to emerge from the thick wood. One after another, the herd must have been at least 50 animals or more. A couple of times I thought the passage was over just to be warned by the ellie police that there are still others to cross the road. Eventually we have return the same way that we have arrived, not knowing how long we should be waiting for the “green light”.

 

463192131_KZN287.JPG.5cc49eac1c0af38bcff6b17f73e1a93a.JPG

 

1740109791_KZN288.JPG.df5c870ea181b27a69bc1e6c4f99882b.JPG

 

On our full day we have stayed on the main road mainly. We did have the good luck to spot quite many elephants. But as a safari destination, I prefer Imfolozi part over Hluhluwe part. Our last sighting from Hluhluwe, already close to Memorial Gate.

 

909522104_KZN289.JPG.0a68189c0f7dfdb12e4c7f0da4ab5134.JPG

 

570305211_KZN290.JPG.8d9907a4baf949ed78bb05b734b49dec.JPG

 

 

Edited by xelas
Link to post
Share on other sites

@xelas you are giving a real good flavour of different parts of the park- very useful.

And beautiful photos!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @TonyQ. I wish I would have more stories to tell but this was one really relaxed safari. Good thing is that Zvezda is always willing to share her photos I can use in trip reports.

Edited by xelas
Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Williams

Interesting comments about the park Alex. In the northern section of the Kruger we had several close encounters with Elephants where we found ourselves surrounded and on one occasion I had to put my foot on the accelerator to escape some unwanted attention. Once you have been in a situation like that the mere sight of Elephant makes you nervous and I am quite happy to avoid them totally. I think I'll skip Hluhluwe !!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

MONKEYS & BIRDS

 

 

There was an obvious lack of mammals apart of elephants, so we have turned our attention to next of kin. Three species were seen and photographed in Hluhluwe.

 

Most prolific one were Chacma baboons. Seen plenty on the camp grounds, climbing the steep cliffs or just enjoying in the trees.

 

Chacma Baboon

824488053_KZN291.JPG.f66583c8570f7be79cca980579b0d04a.JPG

 

2020407540_KZN292.JPG.6480035dadb9c312040c7d82e101ee68.JPG

 

1862239009_KZN293.JPG.48a64835eac8363c6cd62e5007d1d277.JPG

 

 

Otherwise easy to see, the Vervet Monkeys were only spotted in and around the camp grounds. For sure the maintenance crew dislikes them, as they were repairing the roofs on daily basis.

 

Vervet Monkey

144086466_KZN294.JPG.6704173d68f3a50405c6e761c2ede9bc.JPG

 

 

A pleasant surprise was encountering Sykes’ monkey aka Samango monkey aka White-throated monkey. It was probably a lifer. 

 

Sykes’ Monkey

2097768240_KZN295.JPG.e6e1f7fb0484e65498a59c0b1b428516.JPG

 

1836795129_KZN296.JPG.e982a2edfc5301a432e5de89ab20e36d.JPG

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Also birding was only so-so. Still Zvezda captured a couple of good shots. While some have been friendly and perched on exposed locations, or gliding over the blue sky, others have been much more secretive, or have found a very non-photogenic location to present themselves. 

 

 

European Roller

863816687_KZN297.JPG.15cb332344da5975689a8a361013228a.JPG

 

Red-backed Shrike

524196018_KZN298.JPG.de7a3542092e47d8fa1fccdedd07ef23.JPG

 

Brown Snake Eagle

1705075321_KZN300.JPG.bc29f79b275bb1f4d3fce9a12ee53cf3.JPG

 

Bateleur

1283219525_KZN299.JPG.2dcd5fbc678723b991ed73caedd06aa7.JPG

 

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow

1639836740_KZN301.JPG.52584434a617c053c7b7501d1817a5ab.JPG

 

Yellow-throated Longclaw

450010003_KZN304.JPG.fc71cb2908771c5f1f3cde74ca7e4f7b.JPG

 

Cape White-eye

1799944206_KZN302.JPG.4b3550e2c9df609b15ede12098ad15a8.JPG

 

Southern Boubou

1627750869_KZN303.JPG.7ef8946e3c2cbf421186ae25da8702ed.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Zubbie15

Lots of great photos, but that Cape White-eye photo is a real winner to me. Great timing! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

ROYAL NATAL

 

 

It is a long drive from Hluhluwe/Imfolozi (or St.Lucia) to Royal Natal in Drakensberg. On the map there are some shorter options, however, all of them were discarded as soon as I have seen the “quality” of the local roads. 

 

While I do not trust Google Maps for its driving times, this time it was spot on.  We have exited the Hluhluwe Game Reserve at Memorial Gate at around 10:00 and have arrived at Berghouse & Cottages at 16:45, after 524 kilometers and 2 relatively brief stops.

 

1771816182_KZN305.JPG.e44ece91d48de786f9f908e98ca055db.JPG

 

As this was the day for driving, let The Road be the main attraction presented. Highway 2 till Durban and Highway 3 after Durban were both in very good condition. Traffic was not congested, only slowed down around Durban. Not many heavy trucks on the road, while those light trucks transporting goods and people were more numerous. Otherwise, smooth driving for us.

 

1209918945_KZN306.JPG.3c094c1218cb892b3aaef0c309617cfc.JPG

 

300066729_KZN307.JPG.534343bef78e55cfccb8a5ab620d756f.JPG

 

1319812615_KZN308.JPG.fdd5c96ce2324748539a6d78f5772810.JPG

 

However, there are things to be careful about. Overloaded trucks, flat tyre repairs without proper signs, domestic animals, all can be encountered on this highway.

 

72624475_KZN309.JPG.66ab832a29f8b7e262786b4f2a4b14c7.JPG

 

1325109895_KZN310.JPG.11492cc33cb0fd24d738c36b69f12b55.JPG

 

10602864_KZN311.JPG.83706ec6d941f8e404f3983e6b43b432.JPG

 

Near Durban the normal 2-lane road turns into a proper 4-lane highway, which increased our travel.

 

799793263_KZN312.JPG.a31dacdba70e7b3ef32b8b86f9dc88fb.JPG

 

746785714_KZN313.JPG.f2d160c91834cb132382c7cada1c8d64.JPG

 

We have made one pit stop about halfway, and although there were many cars parked, we have decided to take shifts, to prevent any unpleasant surprise when coming back to the car.

Our second stop was in Bergville, to buy groceries for next 3 days. 

 

1105937340_KZN314.JPG.d97f5f7e70fa4469df3f5ffc53989181.JPG

 

The local road was quite scenic already before Bergville, and it only gets better closer to the destination. After 6 hrs 45 minutes (make it 7 with time inside the park) only a short stretch of gravel road before a well deserved rest.

 

1250662664_KZN315.JPG.f3573b65712d5e046f7849ca5da42ce8.JPG

 

1705588843_KZN316.JPG.0896f5bfd4041015244c112910cfe8e4.JPG

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

THE BERGAHOUSE & COTTAGES

 

 

I have found about Royal Natal and specifically about The Berghouse & Cottages - https://www.berghouse.co.za- from @Peter Connan, and I liked the place on first sight. While some accommodations are not up to what one expects them to be, this one even excelled my expectations. The fact that we have arrived in a beautiful sunny afternoon of course played a big role;

 

810705894_KZN317.JPG.902dd82c0f9a7028ffc83630481389f1.JPG

 

 

Our cottage was Phinda; main attraction of it was the covered patio with a braai/fireplace, so we could sit outside even if the weather would not be a typical African one. After all, we were in the mountains, so to speak. Inside is one large room, with double bed on one side and a sitting area and another fireplace on the other side, plus a well equipped kitchen. The bathroom was also big, with large round tub. No TV to distract, and wifi was only reachable if staying under the kitchen window, or outside in the patio, if not downwind.

 

424220893_KZN318.JPG.48996b94a56a4ac336d8e92dee0f2873.JPG

 

609879580_KZN319.JPG.07cfcd1d5076ab8daa95ee47b64b152b.JPG

 

870609890_KZN320.JPG.bc6b645474ceadf0f8a9c6362f0b0644.JPG

 

603709840_KZN321.JPG.e626ad7a33f47945c6a4a1afb6f82182.JPG

 

1439925375_KZN322.JPG.0db4b73b41ac75485028585417f28fa5.JPG

 

Our cottage delivered on all counts and was a welcoming retreat during rainy hours. Evenings were quite chilly, so it was always a fire burning in the outside fireplace. And not to waste too much energy, usually a steak was put on top of it. For those with analytical eyes, no, it was not that cold to warm up the beer ... just a way to show what brand of beer I have had :) at hand in case of a fire alarm.

 

276777720_KZN324.JPG.cab27aeb4ba522b804b473aa7dbcb89e.JPG

 

260697032_KZN325.JPG.355181174a6818ca3e8881badd39657c.JPG

 

854143379_KZN326.JPG.e778b86adfec8c8503d2374e04aba0cd.JPG

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are several cottages, and 3 separate houses on the property. It is a working farm, and thus we have not seen the owners all that much.  Apart of the reception (where the wifi reception was good), there is a small hill with great views almost 180 degrees over the Amphiteater. Two separate open fire pits with seating, and a naturally-looking (but man-made) pool to cool down in hot days (which we did not use). One side of the property was a wooden area, very good for birds, and driving (or walking) along the approach road we have always seen plenty of cool looking birds. Above the property is a higher hill, maybe 30 minutes uphill walk. Even when not in a mood to drive somewhere else, there is a lot to do on and around the property itself.

 

1762789369_KZN327.JPG.ec7a503c7691321e69a6c74b61340d72.JPG

 

582490007_KZN328.JPG.76b766db258d52b5ea59df89bcbb30ea.JPG

 

784781514_KZN329.JPG.b6b9b006275ee84ea31193a6e162ff68.JPG

 

663390124_KZN330.JPG.3b7b99025f9aeacdefccd2b983957190.JPG

 

72035320_KZN331.JPG.eca04f0c65424269ce3b5aa974a855bd.JPG

 

1090701959_KZN332.JPG.7d66faff2265da1377a56578a71db098.JPG

 

1227456270_KZN333.JPG.1a496fcf2843600b772ce159aecedb95.JPG

 

It can be either b&b or self-catering; we have opted for the second.  For food and other supplies there is Bergville at about 30 km drive, or Winterton, 50 km. Entrance to Royal Natal NP is mere 15 km away. This place I warmly recommend, as it ticks so many boxes, specially for whoever is interested in birding and hiking (and mountain biking). 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Early morning or late afternoon, always a different light and different shade of green!

 

991679135_KZN334.JPG.47ba2454869c3204b677aa24b7e96ff6.JPG

 

1378116123_KZN335.JPG.d117eebd8af32441b9115db99e4fd599.JPG

 

278269730_KZN336.JPG.bc2c841e740c98dd804c87af91ad9764.JPG

 

284936301_KZN337.JPG.ad4280533fec85b9ad01b74a5eb604f0.JPG

 

1465012347_KZN338.JPG.1328d35a1e58023cad66c76ee5b19af3.JPG

 

998147554_KZN339.JPG.fa510684d76211a45022b9826c33575a.JPG

 

1488537650_KZN340.JPG.c1b6193cd6dc9192d6bbea54f7a9eeb2.JPG

 

When researching the Drakensberg-related trip reports on Safaritalk I have found one photo done by @FlyTraveler that must have been taken if not from the same place then one that is very close, with same excellent view. maybe he will see this report, and told us where he has stayed (as the report only covered the Madikwe Game Reserve).

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
FlyTraveler
8 hours ago, xelas said:

When researching the Drakensberg-related trip reports on Safaritalk I have found one photo done by @FlyTraveler that must have been taken if not from the same place then one that is very close, with same excellent view. maybe he will see this report, and told us where he has stayed (as the report only covered the Madikwe Game Reserve).

 


Excellent TR and stunning photos @xelas! I am catching the report quite late and there are so many excellent shots, that it wouldn't make much sense to mention particular images. Regarding the accommodation where we stayed when we visited Royal Natal National Park in 2015, it wasn't The Berghouse & Cottages, but Orion Mont-Aux-Sources Resort. As you have written, must have been fairly close, since the view of the Amphitheatre was kind of similar.

P. S. Merry Christmas to you, Zvezda and your loved ones!

Edited by FlyTraveler
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

finally catching up! still greatly enjoying the TR, and yes, what a beautiful spot that royal natal NP is!

Link to post
Share on other sites

FESTIVE DAYS HAVE ARRIVED! WE WISH YOU ALL HAPPINESS, HEALTH, AND MANY GREAT TRAVELS!

 

happy2020A.JPG.a71e2c8974177b00cf69bd2e3cf5650b.JPG

Design & copyright by Tanja

Edited by xelas
Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Williams

Great trip report writing as ever Alex.The wildlife you see is interesting but what I like to know is what to expect when it comes to the logistics of where to stay, how to get there etc and you supply information by the bucket load. Much appreciated!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy