Archive for ‘May, 2015’

Route 66

It was an interesting drive from the Indian Ocean up the Zululand Heritage Route 66 to the Swaziland Border.

I had not chosen the best day for the drive as some of the heritage sites were closed on Saturdays, but it was still a worthwhile experience. I will be back on a weekday to look at the sites I have missed this time.

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After my visit to Amatigulu Game Reserve and a canoe tour on the Amatigulu river’s estuary (I will blog about that visit in a few days) I drove to the town of Eshowe …

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There I had a quick look at the Fort Nongqayi Museum Village and …

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…I took a long walk into Dlinza Forest Nature Reserve with its aerial boardwalk. It was rather late in the afternoon and I did not see a lot of birds, but I still enjoyed the walk in the forest.

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I stayed overnight at Eshowe Guest House, which can only be recommended for any stay in Eshowe.

The next day I continued north passing Melmoth to the Ophathe Game Reserve, which was also closed – nobody at the gate :-(.

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On my way to Ulundi I crossed the White Mfolozi River and then…

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…. I stopped at the Battle of Ulundi Memorial. It commemorates the last battle in the Anglo Zulu War of 1879. This battle effectively ended the rule of King Cetshwayo and the independence of the Zulu kingdom. I was very keen to visit the KwaZulu Cultural History Museum in Ulundi – which includes Ondini, a recreation of King Cetshwayo’s residence – but it was not open on weekends 😦

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Pushing north I crossed the Black Mfolozi River and drove into Nongoma, the Royal Capital of Zululand. The Royal Family including King Zwelithini lives there in no less than six royal residences in and around the town. It was the busiest Zululand country town I have experienced so far :-). It took me over twenty minutes to cross the center of town – people, cars, cows everywhere …!

My road map showed the complete route 66 being a tar-road. But that must have been wishful thinking on the map maker’s part. For quite a stretch the road was rough gravel and I was glad that my Toyota Fortuner handles these sort of roads well.

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I encounter many cows on route, all but one of them alive :-). And as I was driving during the day it was no problem to drive around those slow and rather stupid creatures!

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In afternoon I arrived at Pakamisa Game Reserve (near Pongola) and enjoyed a beautiful evening overlooking the Rolling Hills of Zululand.

All in all these were two excellent days. Learning more about Zululand, the people and the history helps me to be a better guide!

Amatigulu


This picture shows me and my guide (His name is Comfort) in a canoe on the Amatigulu River. Amatigulu is also the name of small game reserve on the Indian Ocean coast (between Durban and Richards Bay).
I visited there today before starting on a drive up Route 66, the Zululand Heritage route which leads from the coast across Zululand all the way to Pongola, near the Swaziland border.
I will end the trip tomorrow evening at Pakamisa 🙂 – looking forward to it!

Three leopards – one kill!

Leopard Photo Night!

Thanda Safari

20150521 - CS1_6868 - E_2 My favorite image from this sighting

When Pieter, Thanda’s Head Guide, followed the call of the small Black-backed Jackal it led him and his Thanda guests to an incredible sighting (also see yesterday’s blog message http://thandablog.com/2015/05/27/follow-the-call/):

Not one, not two, but three adult Leopards were competing for the same kill. A large Warthog had been killed by one of them. When the human observers arrived the larger of two males was feasting on the main part of the Warthog. The female had taken her share into a tree and was eating there while the third cat, a smaller male, hung around in the area, obviously agitated at missing out on the food. He even gave the game viewing vehicle a bit of a warning charge before he settled down and waited for his turn.

This incredible situation was observed by all guests on game drive before everyone returned excited to the…

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Ithemba – Hope !

A new Thanda Rhino!

Thanda Safari

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Most of the news about Rhinos are about poaching and death. But today we have some good news!

A newly born White Rhino calf.

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Thanda guests were delighted to encounter this little Rhino calf with her mum. The little girl is less than two weeks old, but has already an inquisitive nature.

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Mum is very protective of her little girl and walked her around the game drive vehicle up to the road. Then both of them disappeared into the bush.

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Sightings like these give one hope (Ithemba in the Zulu language), that these magnificent creatures will survive the human desire for their horns!

And, incidentally, this is a picture taken 16 month ago, when the little one was conceived:

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Pictures by Christian Sperka – Specialist Photography Guide and Resident Wildlife Photographer – Thanda Private Game Reserve

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True concentration!

There was very little light when shot this image, but he was not moving at all and I was able to get this portrait with my 500mm lens.

Thanda Safari

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A stunning portrait of Thanda’s dominant male Lion observing Cape Buffalo in the evening light.

Picture by Christian Sperka – Specialist Photography Guide and Resident Wildlife Photographer – Thanda Private Game Reserve

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Thanda Private Game Reserve is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World

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Remarkably Uncommon!

I enjoyed this photo shoot 🙂

Thanda Safari

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Last night one of Thanda’s largest Elephant bulls showed up at the Thanda Safari Lodge reception. He decided to have a snack at one of the trees in front of lodge buildings. A remarkably uncommon encounter for guests on the way to their suites 🙂

Thanda Private Game Reserve is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World

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… and then he had a drink from the small waterhole at the Lodge …

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… Thanda guests and staff member were watching this gentle giant from the safety of the Thanda Safari Lodge.

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Pictures by Christian Sperka – Specialist Photography Guide and Resident Wildlife Photographer – Thanda Private Game Reserve

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A Zululand Sunrise

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Yesterday morning we have witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises since I have arrived at Thanda.

The multi-colored light beams from behind the massive clouds creates a stunning effect.

I love Zululand!

Patience rewarded!

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It took me thirty minutes to get this picture 🙂

This Common Duiker ran off into thick bush when I came around a corner on one of Pakamisa’s roads. I stopped the car, lowered the window, positioned my 500mm lens and then did not move, as the little antelope looked in my direction.

It was very suspicious of this “new thing” on the road and it took almost 40 minutes before it moved out of the really thick stuff and presented itself. I moved the camera very slowly into position and got only three shots before it decided that hanging around here was far too dangerous. It ran straight up a hill and disappeared from sight.

I like to image, which documents the shy nature of these small and extremely fast antelope.