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Everything posted by Kitsafari

  1. My OH managed to snare a straight 5-night stay a month and a half before he booked, paid up in full and confirmed his trip to Tswalu. It's unheard of for Tswalu to have such a long stretch of available nights but he had to wait for a couple of weeks before a 3-night availability became a 5-night, so he could take advantage of the stay 5, pay 4. I jumped on his trip a week before the trip after results of my various dogs' medical tests came back not that positive but not too negative either. This was his trip, and I was more than happy to be there for the ride, and to travel with him after two years' of having separate holidays. This is my second visit to Tswalu after I had stayed 5 nights in May last year. I'll be very sparse with text this report since I've said most of what I felt in the first TR ( Although I saw many of Tswalu's nocturnal specialities in May last year, the aardvark eluded me. I was back to stalk the mysterious creature - will it show up? a clue....
  2. To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour William Blake Auguries of Innocence So starts one of the world’s best poems (always for me). It harks of lost days when we used to stop to examine a flower, or chase a grasshopper, or lie on the green carpet of grass, or kick the waves in the sand. When we were kids, unafraid of anything, free of the chains of fear. How does that relate to Zakouma? The newly opened park is exactly that – a paradise for me, and a haven for animals. The poem descends into a whirlpool of depression and repression, but for Zakouma, the opposite is true – it has rebounded from the repression and the loss, the forgotten and the hopelessness. For me, the trip to Zakouma began on a whisper of hope and ended with buckets of optimism, even if tinged with fears for the future.
  3. @kittykat23uk we were very lucky indeed! We could have missed it by seconds too - it was that fast!
  4. @michael-ibk @Peter Connan @offshorebirder @TonyQ thanks for following along. I was hoping to put in one more instalment but I've run out of time. I'll be heading to the airport soon and won't be able to update until over a fortnight later. meanwhile, stay happy and stay safe till I return!
  5. thanks for sharing - I saw this earlier. I can't wait to watch the docu.
  6. a few species that we stopped for a minute in our search in vain for the perfect photos.
  7. we headed off to have our brekkie in the bush at a beautiful large flat pan. with little water still remaining, waves and waves of burchell's sandgrouses flew in and out for quick seeps of water. wildebeests, oryx, a sable found their way to the pool, and despite our presence, albeit at a far distance, they seemed quite relaxed. Kosie said he would usually bring guests to the pan for the bush dinner and this was the first time he'd done for brunch. sometimes rhinos would come to the waterhole.
  8. A beautiful sunrise the next morning on our third safari day. even the moon was still showing its face.. this morning we were seeking rhinos in earnest. black rhinos. it was a bit of a drive to a waterhole where Kosie and Ben started searching for rhino tracks and found those of a black rhino and a calf that had drunk just hours before. we followed the tracks. we were soon joined by another vehicle and Ben and another tracker were dropped off into a thick block while we circled in the vehicle. narrowing the search we found the pair running off into a thick acacia bush and Kosie said we only had a few minutes before the pair was likely to lie down and sleep in the shade. all that he said came true. So with twigs and leaves in the way, we fired off the shots... only of the friendly type.
  9. @Caracal when I first heard @Tom Kellie's mention of a zorilla, i thought he was joking and referring to an animal so mythical you would read only in fairy tales. so imagine my surprise that there was really such a creature! and we were dumbstruck to see one in Tswalu. but i was thrilled. the pangolin was a precious sighting as well. i could not tire watching one again and again.
  10. after dinner, we followed Wendy to track her charges. she names her charges, which are tagged, by numbers as all scientists do, but one of the favourites and more accomodating is Charlie, whom I had met last year. This time, Charlie had roamed far from his usual den but still no less unfriendly. By the time we saw him, the sun had set and it was pitch dark. the photos were taken by my OH. the magical little dragon was on the go for juicy ants and zig-zagging around, at one time fooling wendy he was heading in the direction of his favourite den.
  11. The afternoon drive was a leisurely roundabout route to the west to see if we could find a rhino. we had time to kill as we were meeting Wendy, the pangolin researcher, for a bush dinner. She's wrapping up her research with a doctorate thess (way to go, Gal!) and it was good to meet up with her again. Finally we saw buffaloes - the first and only time we saw them in the reserve. There are only very few buffaloes in Tswalu which were taken in by the reserve from neighbouring farms. I can't recall the reason why the farms were giving them away. a pan of sorts. last year the reserve had put salt licks here and that attracted a horde of grazers and browsers. This September, there were no licks but the animals sought refuge in the shade of a beautiful tree instead. an oryx and oryx babies which looked like mini roans!! they were adorable.
  12. other wildlife seen during the morning drive:
  13. Finally, one which I will cherish. and a couple of videos: a collage: meerkats: the kills
  14. more meerkat mania! well, the truth is that we took dozens of photos and it'd be such a waste not to enjoy the good ones (dumped loads of bad ones too!).
  15. we had to time the visit to the meerkats to coincide with the sunlight falling on their dens. it was a bit of a cloudy day so we didn't have the beautiful golden light to bring out their golden hues and fuzzy hair. It was still no less entertaining to enjoy the tiny cousins of the weasels including time spent walking with them part way as they foraged and hunted. for a spree of meerkats waking up, housecleaning, grooming, bonding, sunning, taking shut-eyes, moving out, checking out potential "prey", sheltering and foraging.....
  16. I don't recall how the topic came up. I suspect we were asking about black footed cat, and started talking about the small cats at breakfast before we set off for our drives on the second day. Kosie said black footed cats, africa wildcats, caracals and striped polecats were not easy to see. I didn't know there were caracals in Tswalu, but my friends had a brilliant sighting of a very relaxed caracal and so we held up hope we would see them. One late evening after a hunt for dogs, we were driving through the mountains when Kosie suddenly stopped and asked if we had seen it. a caracal had dashed across the road and vanished into the thick bushes. it was too dense to crash into, so sadly we gave up the search. I had no clue what striped polecats looked like and didn't pay much attention to it. as usual, we headed out half an hour earlier than the others. We were going to see the famous residents at Tswalu - the ever entertaining meerkats. Just as we had settled in with our beanies and thick fleeces, Kosie shouted striped polecat. my head swung to my right and saw a flash of a skunk-looking animal which white stripes on its body and a flash of a white tail before it dived into the bushes and disappeared. Imagine my surprise when I googled and found out - the polecat is also known as zorilla! so now we have bragging rights to having seen a zorilla! incredible! but no photos - it was just too fast. There are two grou ps of meerkats being studied by the researchers - the horses and the rock stars. we were on the way to meet the horses. On the way to the meerkats:
  17. My OH had a couple of lovely frontal-view pics of the cheetahs - i couldn't get them to look at us! each time Kosie moved to give us frontal views of them, the mum would turn over, resolutely refusing to let us see her face.
  18. @kittykat23uk you got some marvellous aardvark sightings at marrick and i wished we had more.
  19. oh dear, so sorry to hear about your dog. hugs and hugs. take your time. being with him is far more important.
  20. Each time we set out on a game drive, Kosie would set a target of a species we wanted to see. During brunch the day before, two friends of mine who happened to be at the lodge at the same time, had spent quality time with a cheetah and her cub. They were on foot and got fairly close to the cheetah as their guide had spent time with the cat. So of course we narrated that to Kosie, who then had to take us to find the cheetahs! Poor guides, but such challenges pay off when we find the animals. we started from another waterhole. we sat in the vehicle while Kosie and Ben searched along the waterhole and around the area for fresh signs of the cats. they came back rather disappointed but heard on the radio that another guide with the gentleman guest had found fresh tracks in the next block. we caught up with them and all the guides and trackers were on the ground trying to figure out where the cheetahs went. the mum cheetah seemed intent on losing us as their tracks went up and down the roads. The cheetah mum had had two cubs but very recently had lost one cub. Kosie thought she might be searching for the lost cub. which made me feel rather sad, and that had meant that the mum and cub had not eaten and were very lean. Finally, they saw the freshest tracks crossing into the block where the waterhole was. so we headed back. as we neared the waterhole, i glanced towards some bushes and swore that that log looked very much like a cheetah lying prone on the ground. I hesitated but finally told Kosie and sure enough the mum cheetah was stretched out and the cub with a round belly was walking back to the mum. there was a springbok carcass by the side. The mum had just hunted! we missed the hunt and kill only by a few minutes as Kosie and Ben were just in that very area and saw no signs. But we didn't regret not seeing the kill. I'm not sure if i could bear watching it. just so lovely watching the mum grooming the cub and taking good care of the cub. a perfect end to a a lovely day.
  21. we were out at around just before 4pm. this time, several guests headed out before us. the afternoon delights at tea were such an improvement over last year. the chef has changed and this one believed in giving us loads of varieties and yummy teacakes. My favourite hands down was the fluffly light choc lamingtons, but often times, i would reject teacakes but my OH couldn't resist. the start of the drive was sedate as always was in Tswalu. one of only a few tsessebe in the reserve a female ostrich sitting on her nest. you can just make out one egg next to her neck. on the way back as the night approached, as Kosie had predicted, it was the male on the nest. but tragically the next morning both parents were gone and we found the eggs had been broken up, probably eaten by another species. one of those LBJ - little brown jobs. birdlife in tswalu isn't colourful. unlike the last time, we saw few birds of prey.
  22. Last year, I was in Room 5, next to the main hall and I had great views of species walking to and from the waterhole. this year we were in Room 1, the room furthest away from the main hall. we still saw some wildlife from inside the room (rather than from the terrace as the smaller ones got nervous when we were out there). these were from the first day since I haven't loaded the pix from the other days. Mountain reedbucks, which scuttled when they heard us rushing to the windows for a shot. I initially thought they were duikers a handsome roan strolling to the waters a ground squirrel enjoying his tidbit
  23. Last year I saw numerous hartmann's zebras down from the mountains but this time, we saw only one herd, and only a handful of plains zebras. a plains zebra waiting for us to leave the waterhole
  24. A brunch had been organised for all the guests at a venue that was built by the previous owners for dining events. Lodged against the cliff of a hillside, it offered spectacular views of the beautiful semi-arid landscapes. in between, we took long meanders. As I had pre-warned my OH, sometimes you could drive and see an antelope or two, and sometimes you don't see much. but we did see some animals here and there, and one of the more interesting sightings was a group of elands. In Tswalu, elands do not stop for you. perish the thought of taking a shot of them posing nicely for you. But a creche of young adults with a handful of adult minders was curious about us. They ran towards us, stopped at a distance, studied us, and decided we weren't worth a longer look. we also stopped at a waterhole for a coffee prior to the brunch. the mammals stopped coming in when they saw us, but the birds were thirsty.
  25. @wilddog @Mark @SafariChick @kittykat23uk thanks for dropping by! and I was glad too to be finally once again sharing the sightings and thrills of seeing new species with the OH. haha Mark, our guide hid his shock pretty well and managed our expectations well too. @Alexander33 I was very glad to have a chance to get back in a different month too. based on the two visits - i've decided that July and August are the best months to catch the nocturnal species and see a lot more of them during the daylight Kittykat23uk - you don't need to strike a lottery - i reckon you saw more at marrick than we did in tswalu and that's probably only a fraction of Tswalu's costs!

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