This week I visited Ndumo Game Reserve for the first time. With its 10,000 ha it is located directly at the Usuthu river on the South Africa / Mozambique border.
I just wanted to get a first impression during this day visit, but I will certainly be back for a few days of bird photography.
Here is a little summary of my Ndumo visit:
I think the best way to experience Ndumo is by booking guided walks and guided drives as one is not allowed to walk on the reserve (they have Buffalo and Hippo). The the really good bird-photography-spots cannot be reached by self-drive. Currently their game drive vehicle is out of service, but the guides are happy to go along in your car. You sould have an SUV (high clearance) to drive the roads in comfort and without damaging your car. A 4×4 is not required during the dry season.
My guide Josef and me walking 🙂 at Shokwe Pan.
I will book at least four such walks/drives during my next visit:
1 – Sand Forest Walk (morning or afternoon)
2 – Pongola River Walk (morning)
3 – Nyamithi Pan North-Shore-Drive (morning)
4 – Shokwe Pan Walk (morning or afternoon)
I did the last two midday, which is obviously not ideal for birding, but it was enjoyable and I got a few good pictures (see below).
The Ezulweni Hide on the south/east side of the Nyamithi Pan (there is only one hide on the reserve) was rather disappointing as it is set too far east on the pan. During normal winter conditions there is no water in front of the hide and most of the photo targets are too far away for good shots.
The Red Cliffs picnic area has a beautiful view of the river and is worth visiting.
Most of the reserve has very thick vegetation. Therefore mammal sightings (general game) are not very good and usually brief.
Conclusion: I will be back and I can recommend the place for any bird lovers. I recommend that ‘regular game drivers’ and mammal enthusiasts go somewhere else (Huluwe-Imfolozi, Tembe, iSimangaliso, Mkuze, Ithala, …).
And here are a few pictures …
Please let me know if you have any questions or additional comments.
PS: Josef, my experienced Ndumo tails guide, showed me three new bird species for my list, which I had never seen before – White-eared Barbet, Squacco Heron and Kittlitz’s Plover!