CARD MAGAZINE TM
2017 SA PUBLICATION FORUM
Indulge in a pamper weekend GARDEN ROUTE
WHY THE WETLANDS ARE CRUCIAL SOCIABLE WEAVER NESTS
UNWANTED GUESTS RAID THE HOTEL KGALAGADI
SLANGKOP & ORANGE KLOOF
OVERNIGHT HIDEAWAYS ON TABLE MOUNTAIN
WILDERNESS SURVIVAL SKILLS CITY GIRL BRAVES LONELY BULL 06024
PORCUPINES INSIDE THEIR SECRET LIVES HOW SEPIA ENHANCES WILDLIFE PORTRAITS
9 771993 790001
4X4 IN TANKWA: 3 TOUGH TRAILS
explore | conserve | enjoy
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Wild AUTUMN 2018
| SKUKUZA PAMPER WEEKEND |
| TANKWA KAROO 4x4 |
| LONELY BULL HIKING TRAIL |
I can’t believe how relaxing it was to watch a herd of elephants.
Rain in this long-parched land smells intensely sweet and earthy.
Our guides measured their days in tales told, not kilometres walked.
– EMS TSOTETSI
– MORGAN TRIMBLE
– HLENGIWE MAGAGULA
36 4 Letters 8 Adventure at Slangkop Your seaside hideaway near Cape Town 10 Orange Kloof seclusion Explore Table Mountain from this picturesque base 12 Sleep in a hide Kruger’s most underrated overnight spot 16 Sunbird paradise Where to get the shot 19 Autumn trip planner Relax at restored farmsteads
20 Girls’ getaway to Skukuza Spa sessions and bush walks make for amazing memories 36 Off-road routes in Tankwa Wild soaks up dreamy views, silence and even rain 50 Time for a digital detox? Unplug your devices and find a more meaningful connection in Kogelberg 66 Hike the Lonely Bull Camp in the wilderness and see game on foot
66 PEOPLE IN PARKS 26 Water wonderland How Garden Route rangers are preserving valuable wetlands BOTANY 80 Flat crown This distinctly African tree provides more than shade PHOTOGRAPHY 82 The right tone Using sepia can transform your nature photos
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88 NATURE 44 In praise of porcupines These prickly characters are important eco engineers 56 Kgalagadi high society Sociable weavers share their nests with an array of animals 62 Cobras hit the jackpot The snakes that target groupliving weavers 74 Living with ellies What happens when humans and the grey giants cross paths? 78 Goliath heron Stealth hunter of the waterways 2 WILD AUTUMN 2018
90 Parks protocol Be a sensible hiker and protect the environment 93 Become a member 94 Map of the Wild parks 96 Competition Win an indulgent pamper escape to Skukuza KIDS 88 An appetite for ants Meet the animals that canâ€™t get enough of the tiny black creatures
INSIDE TRACK EDITORIAL BOARD HAPILOE SELLO, SANParks SHERAAZ ISMAIL, CapeNature TEBOHO MOKOENA, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife MBONISENI DLAMINI, Msinsi Resorts ANN REILLY, Swazi Big Game Parks HEIN GROBLER, Wild Card
WILD CARD ENQUIRIES 0861 GO WILD (46 9453) email@example.com International Wild Card members call
+27-12-428-9112 EDITOR Romi Boom | firstname.lastname@example.org DEPUTY EDITOR Magriet Kruger | email@example.com ART DIRECTOR Riaan Vermeulen | firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGNER Leon Kriel TEXT EDITOR Marion Boddy-Evans PROOFREADER Margy Beves-Gibson DIGITAL EDITOR Arnold Ras CONTENT DIRECTOR Igna Schneider EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Joan Kruger CREATIVE DIRECTOR Petro du Toit MAGAZINE ENQUIRIES
CONTRIBUTORS Emma Bryce, Trevor Carnaby, Peter Chadwick, Ross Couper, Josh Crickmay, Albert Froneman, Hlengiwe Magagula, Bryan and Robin Maritz, Fiona McIntosh, Karin and Rob Schermbrucker, Janine Stephen, Ron Swilling, Robert L Thomson, Dianne Tipping-Woods, Morgan Trimble PHOTOGRAPHY & ART Afripics, Shaen Adey, Sabie Botha, Duncan Boustead, Seyms Brugger, Peter Chadwick, Ross Couper, Josh Crickmay, Connor Cullinan, Antonio da Cruz, Albert Froneman, Martin Harvey, Fanie Heymans, Amida Johns, Anthoney Lowney, James Marshall, Scott Ramsay, Daleen Roodt, Chris van Rooyen, Johan Roux, Karin Schermbrucker, Shutterstock, Janine Stephen, Villiers Steyn, Ron Swilling, Barry Tanner, Morgan Trimble, Henk Venter
PUBLISHED BY Tip Africa Publishing PO Box 13022, Woodstock, 7915 T: (+27) 021-447-6094 F: (+27) 021-447-0312 email@example.com EDITORIAL QUERIES 021-448-5425 BUSINESS & SALES Jaco Scholtz firstname.lastname@example.org | C: 083-303-0453 PUBLISHER Theo Pauw email@example.com | C: 082-558-5730
REPRODUCTION Resolution Colour
FROM THE EDITOR
ild magazine is South Africa’s largest outdoor and conservation magazine and, in 2018, we intend to continue to fuel your wanderlust with inspiration, trip planners and brilliant conservation stories. In this issue we unplug from the digital world (page 50). Kogelberg, Swartberg and Anysberg are just a few of the incredible Wild Card parks and nature reserves that are far, far away from a cellular signal. We also fly into Skukuza with carry-on only for a pamper weekend (page 20) and agree it is the best girlfriend getaway without a passport. All you have to do is enjoy the restorative benefits of game drives, bush walks and the new Skukuza Spa. #howwildisthat! If you’ve ever wondered what happens inside the iconic weavers’ nests of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, take a look on page 56 and brace yourself for murder and mayhem. These local hot spots of activity are multi-chambered hotels featuring gatecrashers that occupy the best suites, uninvited dinner guests, conflicts and intrigue worthy of a mystery thriller. While many read our articles electronically, the vast majority of wildlife pilgrims prefer the printed magazine. We believe in the ethical sourcing of our paper from responsibly managed forestry sources. Both our paper and our printers are Forest Stewardship Council® Chain of Custody certified. The FSC® logo guarantees environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. What’s more, we recycle all the paper that is trimmed off the edges of the magazine. Read more about our commitment to green technologies during the printing process on www.wildcard.co.za. “Wild makes you feel like an expert, even if you aren’t one,” was the judges’ consensus at last year’s publishing awards where Wild magazine was awarded best client magazine for the fifth year in a row and the Wild newsletter also scored top honours. Sign up now on www.wildcard.co.za for our bimonthly roundup and receive the latest about special offers, sightings and hot destinations. Let 2018 be wilder than your wildest dreams!
EVERGREEN Wild is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), a non-profit organisation that promotes responsible management of forests. The FSC label shows that the paper comes from trees harvested from well-managed forests and other controlled sources. WILD CARD PARTNERS
Wild® magazine and Wild Card® are registered trademarks of SANParks. Opinions expressed in this magazine do not reflect those of the Wild Card or any of the Wild Card programme partners. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but Wild magazine cannot be held liable for inadvertent mistakes. Prices correct at the time of going to print.
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Connect with us at www.wildcard.co.za | firstname.lastname@example.org | PO Box 13022, Woodstock, 7915
LETTER RED SAND IN MY SHOES About a week into our first trip to the Kgalagadi, our freezer went on the blink. Fortunately, my inventive husband knows how important it is for a girl to have her chilled glass of white wine in the evening. He went ‘old school’ to address the problem: a wet sock, loaded with a bottle of wine, was hung in the breeze in a tree. Time seems to stand still there. You eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired, no need to look at a watch all the time, no technology to distract and disconcert you. It is just you, your partner, the animals and this magical environment. The red Kgalagadi sand has got into my shoes and I can’t wait to return. Lynn Early
Send us your letter for the chance to win. Lynn Early wins a pair of Dolomite walking shoes (R899) from HI-TEC. Now you can go from town to trail at a moment’s notice. These multisport shoes feature carbon rubber outsoles for superior ground traction while the breathable upper has been designed to last. Dolomite shoes will keep your feet comfortable and protected all day long.
Turn to our article on page 50 for more inspiration on where you can disconnect from technology – Ed.
EXPRESS PARCEL This December, I stayed in the Kruger Park for the first time in my life. As a 38-year-old lover of Mother Earth and her wild side, the moment had finally arrived. Just ‘the boys’: my dad, brother and nature-loving nephew. The wildlife was plentiful with many elephant, buffalo, lion and tsessebe making an appearance. Unfortunately, my gastronomically gifted brother left my father’s electric frying pan behind at Bateleur. An hour after arriving at Shimuwini Camp, which is exceptionally beautiful and, I suspect, a little under-promoted, Cindy from reception deposited a parcel on the patio table, humbly announcing that it had just arrived from Bateleur (some 70 km away). Inside was our electric frying pan, squeaky clean, shiny and spotless. We were stunned with delight and could not believe how Vivian and driver Phillip Mahlaba from Bateleur had gone the extra mile. Thanks also to Cindy, who pointed out the exact spot under the magnificent jackalberry tree where you can get perfect cellphone reception if needed (the only spot in camp). Ryan Whittal
“My partner and I spent the most wonderful week camping at Bontle [in Marakele] and so enjoyed not only the crystal clear skies each night, but the wonderful bush sounds.” – Robbie Hill
MIRACLES DO HAPPEN On the way to the campsite at Berg-en-Dal in Kruger, we pulled in to Matjulu waterhole where we’d seen lots of game previously. As we started to turn the vehicle, a security guard stopped us and pointed out that one of our tyres was as flat as a pancake. He said we could get out of the car and told us that the Kruger water maintenance team was working at the waterhole and very kindly asked one of the team if he could assist us. This wonderful man lowered the spare wheel, jacked up our vehicle, changed the tyre and loaded the flat one in the back. I really don’t know how we would have coped, it was all so heavy. My husband and I are both in our 70s. Our grateful thanks to the security guard and the maintenance chap who helped us so willingly. Another of life’s little miracles. Jen Cruickshank www.wildcard.co.za
Where did you go with your Wild Card? Send us a picture of your card in the parks and you could win free renewal of your membership. Email your pic to competition@tipafrica. co.za (subject line: Card). For rules, visit www.wildcard.co.za/ category/competitions.
Olivia Bomester wins free renewal with this picture of her visit to the Kruger National Park.
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ADDO: “NEED TO GO BACK” I We visited Addo in September, having not been there for at least 20 years, and were so thrilled with the park. We stayed at the selfcatering chalets at the main camp. They were great, very clean and had everything we needed, with a lovely stoep to enjoy sundowners and watch the evening close in. Needless to say, we saw masses of elephants with babies — spectacular! We also saw the Kalahari lions, hyena pups close up, a variety of buck, beautiful zebras and birdlife. Your article on Nyathi Rest Camp has definitely inspired us to return sooner rather than later. Mandi Cramer
ADDO: “NEED TO GO BACK” II I want to commend you on a great mag for Wild Card members. We, as a family, have enjoyed visiting SANParks for the past 50 years. Camping, safari tents, huts, bungalows… we love every experience in the wild. We recently enjoyed an awesome though brief visit to Addo Elephant National Park. The park is looking so green and beautiful with an abundance of game. I then read the article on the new rest camp, Nyathi, and that ‘I need to go back there again’ feeling returned. It looks magical! Jim and Jill Mathew 6 WILD AUTUMN 2018
SAVE WHILE YOU TRAVEL Thanks to our Wild Card, the savings over the three-year period since my retirement now stand at approximately R7 000. The cleanliness, friendly faces and, above all else, the value for money, safety and security of the parks are major considerations. Staff at the Kruger National Park have often obliged us with changes and bent backwards to accommodate our requests. Staff at Addo Elephant National Park are always available to help us set up camp. Kgalagadi staff assisted my brother with a mattress for three nights when his inflatable one had too many holes to pump up; this was at 20h00. Karoo National Park staff made a space for us when we got our dates wrong, even though the camp was chock-a-block. The national parks and CapeNature work for us. Erik Groothuizen
“I so enjoyed reading about all the great places [on the Wild website]. It was as if I was magically transported to these idyllic places. These articles are a wonderful pick-me-up.” – Michelle Rousseau TRUNK INJURY At Shimuwini Camp in the Kruger National Park, a family of elephants crossed the Letaba River outside camp and proceeded to walk next to the fence. I noticed one elephant with its trunk cut half through and just dangling on the uncut portion. Other than that, the animal appeared to be OK and disappeared into the sunset with the rest. What could have caused the injury? Would it still be able to eat or drink? What are its chances of survival? Vonnie Pretorius Professor Rudi van Aarde, chairman of the Conservation Ecology Research Unit at the University of Pretoria, comments: “I occasionally see similar trunk injuries and have even seen ellies without trunks. The injury is usually caused by a poaching snare. All the ele phants I have seen with such injuries have otherwise been in a good condition.”
1 DAY, 4 LEOPARDS On our recent trip to Kruger, driving from Lower Sabie towards Satara early in the morning, the roads were particularly quiet. My wife said she got the feeling that she was being watched so we stopped to scan the bush and, boy, was she right. An absolutely beautiful leopard, made even more so by the fact we had the sighting to ourselves. Approximately 4 km from the first sighting, a second leopard appeared, pacing up and down along a section of the road. Again not another vehicle in sight. Amazingly, we saw our third leopard with its kill in a tree about 1 km outside Satara. Later in the day, heading back to Lower Sabie, at the same spot where we had seen the second leopard, the same cat was still searching for something. To round off an amazing day we saw our fourth leopard resting in a tree about 2 km from the causeway at Lower Sabie. There being so few of these cats in the park, seeing four in one day was an experience we will never forget. Ivan Robertson
FORTUNE HUNTER In the Kruger National Park we came across this beautiful sighting of a leopard using a Fortuner to mark its territory. It happened on the H1-1 road between Skukuza and Pretoriuskop. This is why we love visiting Kruger. Flip and Hanlie Grobler
HELLO KITTY I really enjoyed your article “Small cat diaries” (Wild 40 summer 2017/2018). It was both informative and delightful in that it highlights animals other than the Big Five. In my opinion, these special felines are a far more exciting sighting. And certainly a lot harder to locate! The caracal was a sighting next to the road near Geelbek in West Coast National Park. The serval was spotted in low light, predictably, near Kruger’s Lower Sabie Camp. The African wild cat was spotted on a night drive in Madikwe. And the small spotted cat was caught napping in a tree just south of Mata-Mata in the Kgalagadi. Rob Dickie www.wildcard.co.za
After recent rains in Addo Elephant National Park, animals spread throughout the park, resulting in widespread piles of dung on or in close proximity to the roads. Cool weather conditions brought the flightless dung beetle out in large numbers in search of dung. The increasing popularity of the park brings in more tourists who drive blindly over the flightless dung beetles. The SANParks staff and volunteers did a magnificent job in saving thousands of flightless dung beetles by removing them from the path of tourist vehicles and relocating them to the safety of the bush. Danny Eldridge
AUTUMN 2018 WILD 7
H O E R I K WA G G O I
Linger LONGER If you fancy an overnight hideaway in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, then glamping in Slangkop Tented Camp is the ticket. By Fiona McIntosh • Photos Shaen Adey
Nestled between trees, Slangkop Tented Camp looks out over the Atlantic Ocean.
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Cape bulbul hops along the balcony rail eyeing me as I lie in bed. It’s clearly an admonishment. The sky is pink, there’s no wind. I should be up to experience daybreak. But I feel disinclined to rush. I’ve been appreciating the dawn chorus and the crash of the breaking waves from my comfy bed. There’s an uninterrupted view through the open flaps of my tent across coastal thicket to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s been a long time since I slept so soundly. I’m staying at Slangkop tented camp in Kommetjie, in one of six tented dwellings hidden in a grove of sprawling milkwoods at the foot of the Slangkop peak, named by old-time mariners for its distinctive
snake’s head profile. With two single beds and a private deck, the tents are perfect for holing up with a book or binoculars, while the big, communal wooden terrace and semi-enclosed braai area allows plenty of space for socialising even when the camp is full. In a private reserve surrounded by a perimeter fence, it’s totally secure. This is glamping at its very best. Though only 45 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, my temporary home feels a million miles from the rat race. Arriving in the seaside village mid-morning the day before, we explored the area until check-in time, visiting the art galleries and quirky coffee shops, and lunching on fish and chips. Climbing the 145 steps of the
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slender, white Slangkop lighthouse merited a lie-down before sundowners on the rocks and an evening on the terrace under the stars as dinner sizzled on the braai. Built, like all the Hoerikwaggo camps, from alien vegetation, mostly red river gum and pine removed from the surrounding mountains, the camp conforms to the ‘touching the Earth lightly’ approach of having minimal impact on the environment. Ten years after launching, the site is still being rehabilitated with indigenous species planted to replace the introduced manatoka. It has a sleepy, seaside feel; reinforced by the domed tents, which are designed to reflect the undulating dune thicket. Overhead lighting concealed in whale vertebrae is a nod to Kommetjie’s past as a whaling station. This, and a range of topics from local history to the flora and fauna of
this corner of the Cape Floral Kingdom, is documented on the fascinating information boards that cover the walls of the roomy, well-equipped kitchen. After morning coffee, we leave camp through a back gate on to the coastal boardwalk. A short stroll takes us past the Kom, the little basin from which the seaside village takes its name, to Long Beach, a glorious crescent of silky golden sand. After watching the surfers I brave a swim in the Atlantic Ocean before heading ‘home’ to pack up camp. Two otters pop their heads out as we pass the Kom and I wish we could linger longer. The stay has been too short, but I feel refreshed and invigorated. If you’re after a good value beach escape, look no further. Slangkop Tented Camp really is one of the best-kept secrets of Table Mountain National Park. /
TRIP PLANNER Accommodation Slangkop Tented Camp offers a nature-based location with the convenience of shops and restaurants within walking distance. R580 a night forone or two people in a safari tent with two single beds. Communal ablutions, boma and braai area. The other Hoerikwaggo Camps are Orange Kloof (see overleaf) and Smitswinkel, situated opposite the Cape Point section. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za
Clockwise from top right: The boardwalk in front of camp; surfing at Kommetjie; the view from Slangkop Lighthouse; the setting is pure bliss.
There are three Hoerikwaggo Camps in Table Mountain National Park, all within easy reach of Cape Town. AUTUMN 2018 WILD 9
Orange Kloof Tented Camp is a great base for exploring Table Mountain or simply enjoying the surrounds.
H O E R I K WA G G O I I
TA B L E M O U N TA I N N AT I O N A L PA R K
Way to go
Does your 2018 bucket list include the Cape Peninsula’s most famous hike? If you explore only one section of the Hoerikwaggo this year, be sure to tick off Orange Kloof. By Ron Swilling
t looks like the elves had a hand in this,” one of the guests at the creatively built Orange Kloof Tented Camp said. We were sitting on the deck, gazing out onto lush indigenous forest dotted with wild flowers and vegetated mountain slopes. Orange Kloof is a forested valley at the foot of Table Mountain where time has stood still. One of the last pockets of Afromontane forest in an area that was once named ‘Bay of Wood’, T’Houtbaaitjen for “the finest forest in the world”. Situated between the suburbs of Hout Bay and Constantia, the enchanted camp sits snug in this ancient wooded wilderness. Suitable for friends and the whole family, the easily accessible camp allows you entry into the restricted Orange Kloof forest and up onto the section of the mountain referred to as the Back Table. The camp is intimate and rustic, encircled by trees and backed by the magnificent slopes of Table Mountain. It is a magical alcove, far from civilisation. A wooden walkway runs between tents with names such as Ghost Frog and Cave Cricket, linking to the bathroom with
its beaten-copper basins and doors that slide open to the trees. The kitchen, finished with panels of yellowwood, rustic-style chairs and an inviting long wooden table, calls for camaraderie, chatter and communal dining. The camp is ideal for visitors who simply want to lap up the green energy and lie back with a book or a glass of wine, but also for those who want to stroll to the small weir with its shallow pool surrounded by trees or meander through the forest with its remnants of century-old water pipes. The more energetic can continue along the Hoerikwaggo trail markers to hike up Disa Gorge to Woodhead Dam. Whatever your inclination and mood, at the end of the day, everyone gathers around the outdoor fire to swap stories, laugh and braai under a heaven of twinkling stars and a buttery moon. The wind in the trees lulls you to sleep in your cosy tented room, and bird calls softly serenade in the morning light. After one or two slow-paced days, you may be ready to face the bustle again but the peace of Orange Kloof Tented Camp remains with you long after your return to everyday life. /
TRIP PLANNER Accommodation The camp sleeps 12, has a fully equipped kitchen/dining area, four tented rooms with two beds and one four-bed tented room, a barbeque area, plus shower and toilet cabins. Bring along walking shoes and your own food, wood and biodegradable soap, plus a sense of wonder and appreciation for Mother Nature. Bedding and towels are provided. Hiking The path to the wooded Disa Gorge is reached by turning right at the Ring Road and turning left at the first path up the steep mountain slope. It is advisable to use a Table Mountain National Park guide or to walk with someone who is familiar with the area. Cost R580 a tent for one or two people. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111 www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za
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Pyjama PARTY HOTT SPO
On an overnight stay in Shipandani Hide, you’ll be bursting with excitement in anticipation of great nocturnal sights and sounds. By Karin and Rob Schermbrucker
or many of us, visits to the Kruger National Park remain a rich combination of nostalgia and fond childhood memories. I remember my six-year-old self ticking off my bird list and perusing the shelves of the curio shops for velvet animal brooches. This January, visiting the park as parents, we packed our kids into the vehicle together with our binoculars and bird books, flashlights and flasks, beverages and braai pack. The usual race for the gate by six o’clock curfew was abandoned. We were heading towards Shipandani Hide, which would be our resting place for the night. We meandered ever so slowly through the emerald-
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green mopane scrub, relishing the last rays of golden sunlight and bidding a couple of elegant giraffes adieu. At 18h00, as we settled in at the hide, our evening viewing was only just beginning. Having spent many holidays in Kruger, this would be the first time I would be out of a rest camp after dark. A great adventure and an unusual feeling for sure. There are two sleepover hides in the Kruger National Park. Shipandani is the smaller, located on the banks of the Tsendze River approximately three kilo metres from Mopani Rest Camp. Our kids were bursting with excitement at the thought of camping out for the night.
K R U G E R N AT I O N A L PA R K
Bunking down in a hide makes for an overnight adventure.
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1 The surrounding area attracts a wide variety of game. 2 Shipandani Hide looks out over the Tsendze River. 3 The hide has an enclosed area for eating under the stars. 4 Wake up with the sun as Kruger’s inhabitants start to stir. 5 Guests have the hide all to themselves from half an hour before gates close until 30 minutes after gates open again.
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The hide was fantastic, with comfy fold-down beds and a duvet that was a treat. The braai and dining area was neat and ready for fire and marshmallow fun. A carefully packed cutlery basket, bedding and mosquito nets were left by the staff for us to put up ourselves. The real attraction was simply being there, in the wild among Kruger’s incredible sounds and sights. Being right on the banks of the Tsendze River, a chorus of happy hippos hummed our evening lullaby, while hyenas and jackals cackled to each other from what sounded like just a few metres away. The birds and frogs performed an evening duet, only to be silenced briefly by
the guttural roar of a nearby lion. All of which provided a melody so wild and enjoyable you won’t want to close your eyes and go to sleep for fear of missing out on some great night sightings. Waking up in the hide was magical. The sounds and scents of the bush were thick in the air and in the hair of my happy children. Time stood still for a moment as we enjoyed morning snuggles under the mosquito nets, just as the sun prepared to greet the world, sipping hot coffee and dunking rusks as a lazy crocodile eyed us from the water below. Emma, all of six years old, aptly put it, “I loved the sounds of the bush so close. My favourite was the hippo alarm clocks that woke us up in the morning.” /
CELEBRATE WORLD WILDLIFE DAY & win a hamper of Struik Nature Books #DoOneThingToday
Cuddle Me Kill Me OUT IN MAY
STRUIK AD 2018 World Wildlife Day
‘Big Cats: predators under threat’
DID YOU KNOW? Shipandani was one of the Big
Tuskers and regularly roamed the Mopani area. The bull was named after the Shipandani Hills. The Tsonga word means ’that which divides or splits’.
MAKE IT HAPPEN An overnight stay at Shipandani Hide costs R725 for one or two people, R330 an extra adult, R165 an extra child. Contact SANParks Central Reservations on 012-428-9111 or email email@example.com
Visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.za/ competitions and stand a chance to win a hamper of these titles
The Kruger National Park lies 600 km from Johannesburg. Competition closes 31 March 2018 Ts & Cs apply
Available at leading book stores nationwide & online
Sunbirds BY THE DOZEN
I was quite content to spend the day perched atop a rubbish bin. Collared sunbird Hedydipna collaris
Some of the best things can be found in the strangest places. A keen birder may well discover paradise at the front gate of Skukuza Rest Camp or in the car park at Lower Sabie. By Josh Crickmay
unbirds are drawn to flowers, much like their hummingbird counterparts across oceans. Often in the bushveld, flowers can be quite hard to find, so when suddenly a patch of aloes begins to bloom, itâ€™s every bird for itself! The birds, driven mad by nectar, flock to the plants, and where you would have found only two or three individuals elsewhere, here you find 10 or more all fight-
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ing for the best patch of flowers in a flurry of feathers, petals and colour. I stumbled into the feeding frenzy right at the front gate of Skukuza Camp, where the garden was littered with flowering mountain aloes, all swarming with sunbirds like beehives. Careful not to disturb the picture-perfect scene, I mapped my route, starting along a low hedge that ran alongside the nectar buffet. Keeping
Scarlet-chested sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
my head just below the shrub line, I tucked into some bushes that grew on the edge of a small pond and slowly crawled forward, pushing aside twigs and leaves and scraping my knees as I inched towards the perfect shot. Twenty minutes of pain-in-the-knees stalking and tree-imitation later, I had snuck, undetected, into the midst of the flock. Birds zipped over my head, feasting and playing all around me without the slightest clue I was there. Well, all except one. The scarlet-chested sunbird was craftier than most, and managed to stay just out of reach. Nonetheless my position could not have been better, amidst the sunbird paradise. I steadied my shaking breath and raised my camera for the perfe“Sorry! S’cuse me! Sorry!” I turned to see an old, khaki-clad tourist shuffling towards me. I’m not sure where he came from, and I might have
mistaken him for a park ranger had it not been for the multicoloured short shorts. “Excuse me,” he mumbled, as he effortlessly nipped in front of me, skipped up to the biggest aloe and shoved his cellphone in the sunbird’s face, letting off a loud kachick and pocketing the device. “Thank you!” And with that he wandered off towards the reception, leaving me standing in the flowerbed catching flies with my hanging jaw. The sunbirds hadn’t batted an eyelid in the mystery man’s direction. Drunk on nectar and so blinded by the gold rush, the little birds would not have noticed an elephant in their flowerbed. So much for my stalking. A tree full of barbets A fruiting large-leaf rock-fig in the Lower Sabie Camp car park was the scene of much quarrelling, deviance and chaos
Along with my gramps’s garden in Durban, the Kruger National Park was the driving force behind my love for nature. With each trip we made, the fiery passion I had for the bush burnt that much brighter. My school friends thought I was mad, as most cared more for sports than the zygodactylous foot structure of a chameleon. – Josh Crickmay
Black-collared barbet Lybius torquatus www.wildcard.co.za
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INSIDE TRACK White-bellied sunbird Cinnyris talatala
I often joke that all the best birds can be found in car parks.
as birds from all over the park gathered to squabble over the fresh crop. The majority were the boisterous dark-capped bulbuls and various quizzical hornbills. Amongst others, the black-collared barbet stuck out as the bird who wanted the fruit the most. With maybe 20 bulbuls and starlings mobbing the branches and a pack of hornbills circling on the ground below, a lone barbet made it his task to get rid of every last feathered face in his square of the camp. For the second time in just a few days, I was reminded that some of the best things could be found in the strangest places. Though I got plenty of funny looks, I was quite content to spend the day perched
atop the large rubbish bin in the centre of the parking lot with my head buried in a fig tree. Back and forth, the barbet chased and chattered, vastly outnumbered. With every bulbul he chased, two more took its place. Yet he persisted. At one point he got into a violent altercation with his own reflection in the windscreen of an Audi parked below. Suddenly his motives became clear, as he was joined by a flock of his own. Coming to his aid was a team of black-collared barbets and, taking the tree for themselves, they set to eating the fruit the first bird had guarded so valiantly. Pick your fights wisely. /
Extract from Joshâ€™s Big Year. From Deserts to Jungles. A Battle with Aspergers by Josh Crickmay. Self-published, 2017, R699. For every book sold, R50 will be donated to various wildlife charities across the globe. Order your copy from www.joshcrickmay.com.
18 WILD AUTUMN 2018
Invite friends and family to a celebration of history and nature in these charming farmsteads. By Arnold Ras
The Active Adventurer
The Gracious Host
The Wilderness Seeker
The Country Lover
Old Forester’s House
Msinsi Nagle Lodge
Tankwa Karoo National Park
Lotheni Nature Reserve
Nagle Dam and Game Reserve
Most visitors to Tankwa head to this remote arid park for a few golden reasons: seclusion, silence, stargazing and unique fauna and flora. De Zyfer Cottage sleeps six and offers an equipped kitchen with gas fridge and stove. Wake up to the sweet sounds of nothing. Tankwa is wild and its restored farmhouses are perfectly suited to the no-thrills adventurer looking to deeply connect with nature. Make the most of your time in Tankwa with a high-clearance vehicle so you can explore off the beaten track (see page 36).
Magnificent Lotheni is within uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, one of southern Africa’s astonishing natural wonders. Explore the landscape from Simes Cottage, a restored farmhouse with space for 10 and an exclusive trout dam. The unit is equipped with gas, but visitors should bring their own towels and linen. The country setting offers exhilarating early-morning mountain walks, many relaxing picnic spots next to the dam, and a heavenly location for braaing your freshly caught trout.
This historical farm-style building, dating back more than 100 years, is part of Garden Route National Park’s pristine Knysna Section. The setting will transport guests back to a time when loggers dwelled in Knysna’s mystical forests. The charming and rustic house sleeps six and offers a fully equipped kitchen, lounge, washing machine, tumble dryer and even firewood for chilly forest evenings. With secluded trails, fairy-tale flora and elusive Knysna elephants, there will be plenty of adventure.
If you like to spoil your guests with mouth-watering dishes, coupled with a spectacular location, Nagle Lodge will crown you Host of the Year. This farmhouse in the Valley of a Thousand Hills has plenty of space for 12 people with six bedrooms and five bathrooms, three of which are en suite. Cook up a storm in the well-equipped kitchen, then indulge at the 12-seater dining table. Think starry nights and long chats on the stoep with glittering views of Nagle Dam. Top sightings include buffalo, giraffe, herons and spoonbills.
Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org Rate R730 to R805 a night for one or two people
Central Reservations 033-845-1000, www.kznwildlife.com Rate R2 800 a night for 10 people
Knysna Office 044-302-5606 Rate R525 for one to two people, R180 an extra adult, R90 an extra child.
031-765-7724, www.msinsi.co.za Rate R2 000 a night for 12 people.
AUTUMN 2018 WILD 19
TIMELINE 11h30 Gautrain to OR Tambo International Airport 12h00 With just hand luggage, thereâ€™s no need to queue at check in 12h15 Indulge in a cappuccino at the airport 13h20 Take off! 14h10 Arrive at the Skukuza Airport 14h45 Check in to your accommodation 16h30 Depart on a sunset drive 20h00 Have dinner at the Cattle Baron 08h30 Spend a lazy morning at the river 10h00 Spa time 16h00 Relaxed and refreshed, depart on an afternoon walk 19h30 Braai 06h30 Take a leisurely morning drive 10h30 Brunch at Lower Sabie 13h30 Arrive at Skukuza Airport to check in 14h50 Take off 15h50 Arrive at OR Tambo International Airport 16h15 Catch the Gautrain 17h00 Home. Was it all a dream?
A quick flight on Airlink to Skukuza reunited Ems Tsotetsi and Di Tipping-Woods for a weekend of relaxation in the bush.
20 WILD AUTUMN 2018
t! a h t s i d wil w o H # On a girlfriend getaway in
Skukuza, luxuriate in wild vistas, Big Five sightings and spa treatments. By Dianne Tipping-Woods Photos Sabie Botha
PAMPER weekend O
ur hug was warm and happy as Ems Tsotetsi prepared to board the gleaming plane parked on the Skukuza runway. Had it really just been two days since she’d left the city for a girls’ reunion in the heart of the Kruger National Park? After not having seen each other in years, we had done and seen so much together over the course of a weekend that it felt like we’d been away for much longer. It would take me a couple of hours to drive home to Hoedspruit from Skukuza. By the time I arrived, Ems would be back in the bustling heart of Jozi, ready for a demanding Monday morning at her PR firm in Sandton. A quintessential city girl, Ems is no stranger to travel and regularly meets with clients in the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and England. She has plenty of experience in tourism and e-marketing, promoting destinations all over the country. This weekend there had been no meetings, except with gentle elephants.
AUTUMN 2018 WILD 21
This weekend there had been no meetings, except with gentle elephants. There had been no city lights, only twinkling stars. And instead of the rush of traffic, we’d listened to the river, the cicadas and each other as we caught up on our lives over slow coffees, indulgent pedicures and winding game drives through the lush, life-affirming bushveld that surrounds the park’s largest camp. Our weekend of relaxation started the moment we checked in. Ems eyed the vervet monkeys bouncing around the camp with a mix of joy and suspicion, taking in the thatch roofs, the beautiful braai areas and the general peacefulness of the camp. “This will do,” she joked, delighted to find our unit kitted out with aircon and comfortable beds. These are a must for a girl who grew up in the city and hasn’t spent a lot of time in the bush. “My family is from Joburg, so I don’t even go back to the rural areas for holidays. This is wild for me,” she laughed as we unpacked our gear in anticipation of our sunset drive. Hats, head scarves and something warm for after dark. Things got even wilder as a herd of breeding elephants approached our vehicle soon after we left the camp. “How close are they going to come?” Ems nervously asked guide Francois Wolfaardt. He smiled enigmatically, and switched off the engine. We watched the family approach. The older animals were feeding in an unhurried but deliberate way, while the smaller calves played. They came closer and closer, eventually crossing all around the vehicle and disappearing into the treeline. Out until about half an hour after sunset, during what would be rush hour in the city, we soon settled into a comfortable silence between sightings. “I can’t believe that herd of elephants, or how relaxing it was to watch them,” said Ems later, during dinner. Now it was time to talk and eat, over
22 WILD AUTUMN 2018
Unwinding at Skukuza AM Spa after indulgent treatments.
a bottle of good red wine. Ems was satisfied after checking our selection on the Vivino wine app on her phone. In the deep indigo of the moonlit darkness, surrounded by the warm flicker of candlelight and conversation, it was wonderful to reconnect with each other, but also with the young women we’d been when our friendship began. We woke excited about our bush walk since it would be Ems’ first time walking wild. We had coffee and bacon-and-egg sandwiches by the Sabie River and a morning of pampering at the Skukuza AM Spa to look forward to. With the heat of the day pressing in, we made our way to the discreet facility, which opened in May last year. My previous Kruger
visits had never included a massage or a pedicure, but Iâ€™d often thought it would be a wonderful way to extend the relaxing benefits of being in the bush. I was right. As therapist Rose Scott kneaded and cajoled my muscles into full submission, I listened to a soundtrack of woodland kingfishers and crested barbets while breathing in the soft scents of warm oil and fresh linen. Ems did the same on the massage table adjacent to mine in the double treatment room. By the end of our 90-minute Royal Calabash Celebration, which was a deep massage combining aromatherÂ apy oils and botanical body balms, using calabash tools, we could hardly move we were so relaxed.
Pedicures in the bush (right) and the spa pool (below).
AUTUMN 2018 WILD 23
Above and left: SANParksâ€™ Robert Ndlovu points out interesting sights on the afternoon walk, such as the perfectly imprinted lion spoor. Below: An encounter with elephants crowns a memorable weekend.
Things got even wilder as a herd of breeding elephants approached our vehicle. 24 WILD AUTUMN 2018
TREAT YOURSELF The Skukuza AM Spa is a welcome addition to Skukuza Rest Camp, with six luxurious treatment rooms, a nail bar, two steam rooms and pool. Choose single or package treatments for individuals, couples and even children aged between two and 12. Contact 013-744-1069, www.amspa.co.za
Our pedicures were equally indulgent. Cocooned in the soft blues, greys and silvers of the beautifully appointed nail bar, our feet were scrubbed and soothed, then our toenails painted. Mine in bright coral, Ems’s in deep pink. It was a bit surreal. Luxury lodges in exclusive reserves have spas, but here we were at Skukuza in budget-friendly accommodation, sipping sparkling wine and receiving the same five-star treatment we would have at a private lodge. Later, we swam, ate and napped, not quite believing the audacity of a freelance journalist mom of two toddlers and a busy PR executive sleeping in the middle of the day! Then it was time to walk. The butterflies on the verges of the road fluttered as much as the ones in our bellies as we prepared to explore the bush on foot. Expertly briefed and guided by Robert Ndlovu, we were soon lost in the details around us, including a dung beetle putting Sisyphus to shame, a foam nest frog and mating tortoises. In the distance, a herd of zebra
watched our careful ambling and curious giraffes looked on. Engrossed in a perfectly preserved lion spoor, the butterflies exploded as our guide said “rhino!” pointing up ahead. Fuelled by a burst of adrenalin, we moved to a safe vantage point to watch these vulnerable icons of the bushveld. We revelled in how alive we felt and how humbled we were by their presence, never mind on our beautifully pedicured feet. As we braaied that evening, we basked in the glow of the fire, our experience and, of course, the after-effects of our visit to the spa. The kudu wors from the park shop was delicious and the steak tender and well marinated. As the embers burned low, we listened to thick-tailed bushbabies, hyenas and lions calling close to camp and talked until the night turned cool. On our morning drive to Lower Sabie, we found the lions sprawled under a shady tree. They looked like we felt after our girlfriend getaway: relaxed, lazy and satisfied. /
TRIP PLANNER Getting there Airlink offers direct flights to Skukuza Airport from Joburg and Cape Town: www.flyairlink.com or www.skukuzaairport.com. Avis can arrange a transfer to the camp, or you can hire a car and self-drive during your stay: www.avis.co.za. Accommodation The options at Skukuza range from campsites (R330 a night for two) and safari tents (R640 a night for two) to bungalows (from R1 290 a night for two) to family guesthouses sleeping four, six or eight (from R2 490 a night). The shop is well stocked for self-catering, while the Cattle Baron restaurant in the camp offers takeaway and sit-down meals. Conservation fees R82 an adult, R41 a child, Wild Card members free. Contact SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za
AUTUMN 2018 WILD 25
ON TRACK IN MARLOTH Stick to the designated path to protect the environment and prevent losing the way.
There is much wisdom in the old adage: Take only photographs, leave only footprints.
Whether you ramble among fynbos or trek across mountains, be a responsible hiker for yourself, the environment and others. By Ron Swilling
n a recent hike, our group came across someone who had not a drop of drinking water, was without a hat and had no idea where he was or how to get to his destination. We all simultaneously had a brief spurt of panic. As avid hikers, we are aware of how easily a situation can turn, especially on a mountain. For the remainder of our walk through the sensational fynbos, the topic of conversation was, you guessed it, sensible and prudent hiking behaviour.
Hiking requires a little forethought in order to stay healthy, happy, hydrated and safe. • If joining a group, choose a hike suitable for your fitness level. Rather under-estimate your fitness than overestimate it. • Make sure you have sufficient water, at least one-anda-half to two litres a person, as many serious incidents occur when dehydration sets in. • Always carry something warm to put on as temperatures can fluctuate and weather can change rapidly. It is usually cold in the shadows on the forest floor, a chilly wind may be blowing on the mountain top, or cloud may come in. • Look at the weather forecast before you set off, and carry lightweight raingear, including rain pants. This can also be donned in wind or mist. • Apply sunblock and wear a hat. • Wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes or proper hiking boots. • Carry enough food or snacks to see you through the full duration of the hike.
• The natural world is sensitive, so keep to the demarcated paths and walk in single file. Although it is tempting to bundu-bash or take shortcuts, paths are there for good reason, not least to lead you into areas by the safer routes and to minimise damage to the environment. • There is much wisdom in the old adage: Take only photographs, leave only footprints. Do not remove or damage anything along the route. Take everything home with you that you carried in, including toilet paper, cigarette butts and fruit skins. Leave the trail as pristine as you found it. AUTUMN 2018 WILD 91
PARKS PROTOCOL • Hikers are out to enjoy the natural world and its soundtrack. Keep your voice down, and your phone and music off. • Give uphill hikers right of way and be considerate to others at all times. • Never feed wild animals or birds and always keep your distance from wildlife.
Make sure your backpack is stocked with raingear, water and snacks.
• Let someone know your plans and notify them on your return. Don’t ever hike alone. • If you get lost, do not split up. Rather try to retrace your steps. • Remember that climbing down is more difficult than climbing up. Choose a hike leader and walk at the pace of the slowest member. • Carry emergency numbers and a whistle to attract attention. • Leave valuables at home. • Take a map along if you are unfamiliar with the area and check the route beforehand. • The only maps officially endorsed by SANParks, and specifically recommended for use when walking the Hoerikwaggo Trail, are the complete Table Mountain National Park maps, a set of three Slingsby maps featuring Silvermine, Hout Bay and Cape Point, including the new Roodeberg acquisitions. • Take note of the time the sun sets, the tides if relevant, and gate times if in a reserve. With that all out of the way, there is only one thing left to do, enjoy!
xx WILD 92 WILD SPRING AUTUMN2017 2018
CLUSTER OPTIONS ALL PARKS CLUSTER Individual R 565 Couple* R 930 Family* R1 140
Go Wild! Join the
SANPARKS CLUSTER Individual Couple* Family*
R 540 R 880 R 1 055
CAPENATURE CLUSTER Individual Couple* Family*
MSINSI CLUSTER Individual Couple* Family*
BECOME A WILD CARD MEMBER AND GET:
R 490 R 805 R 955
SWAZILAND BIG GAME PARKS CLUSTER
• 365 days’ unlimited access to participating parks and reserves
Individual Couple* Family*
• Wild magazine four times a year • Bimonthly Wild newsletter with special offers, competitions and events
R 405 R 665 R 810
EKZN WILDLIFE CLUSTER
CHANGE OF ADDRESS Remember to update your postal details online if you move or close your postbox.
Individual Couple* Family*
R 540 R 875 R 1 050
0861 GO WILD (0861 46 9453)
ALL PARKS CLUSTER: Individual R2 430 Couple* R3 800 Family* R4 545
De Zyfer, Tankwa National Park www.wildcard.co.za
R 490 R 800 R 960
*Couple: Two adults or one adult and one child. *Family: Up to two adults and their five children under the age of 18, or one adult and six children (both South Africans and international visitors). Proof of identity, nationality and residency will be required when entering any park, reserve or resort. Prices subject to change without notice.
PRICES VALID UNTIL 31 OCTOBER 2018
RESERVES and resorts
8 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Indulge your senses with a pamper weekend in the Kruger National Park.
NORTH WEST Vryburg
Bloemhof IAi-IAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Augrabies Falls National Park
Namaqua National Park
Conserve. Explore. Experience.
www.capenature.co.za +27 (0)861 CAPENATURE (227 362 8873)
94 WILD AUTUMN 2018
CAPE TOWN Table Mountain National Park Cape Point
Graaff-Reinet 5 Camdeboo National Park
Addo Elephan National Park
Swellendam Bontebok National Park 4
Agulhas National Park 2
Mountai Zebra Nationa Park 14
Karoo National Park 7
Tankwa Karoo National Park
West Coast 19 National Park
Carnarvon N 10
St Helena Bay
1 Anysberg Nature Reserve 2 Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve 3 Bird Island Nature Reserve 4 Boosmansbos Nature Reserve 5 Cederberg Wilderness Area 6 De Hoop Nature Reserve 7 De Mond Nature Reserve 8 Gamkaberg Nature Reserve 9 Goukamma Nature Reserve 10 Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve 11 Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area 12 Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve 13 Jonkershoek Nature Reserve 14 Keurbooms Nature Reserve 15 Kogelberg Nature Reserve 16 Limietberg Nature Reserve 17 Marloth Nature Reserve 18 Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve 19 Outeniqua Nature Reserve 20 Robberg Nature Reserve 21 Rocherpan Nature Reserve 22 Swartberg Nature Reserve 23 Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve 24 Walker Bay Nature Reserve
Mokala 13 National Park
18 Tsitsikamma National Park Plettenberg Bay
N2 St Francis Bay
Mossel Wilderness Bay National 9 Knysna 20 National Park Lake 20 Area 9 50
300 Kilom etres
Put your 4x4 to the test on these rugged mountains.
Marakele National Park 12
Kruger National Park
Mapungubwe National Park 11
www.sanparks.org +27 (0)12 428 9111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Centurion Midrand Sandton
Vaal Dam N3
Golden Gate Highlands National Park Winburg
www.biggameparks.org +268 2528 3943 / 4
Kosi Bay Lake Sibaya
8 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park 9 Knysna National Lake Area 10 Kruger National Park 11 Mapungubwe National Park 12 Marakele National Park 13 Mokala National Park 14 Mountain Zebra National Park 15 Namaqua National Park 16 Table Mountain National Park 17 Tankwa Karoo National Park 18 Tsitsikamma National Park 19 West Coast National Park 20 Wilderness national Park 21 |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Pongolapoort Dam Lake St Lucia
kala onal ark
Mlilwane Mkhaya Game Wildlife Sanctuary Reserve 2
1 Hlane Royal National Park
Addo Elephant National Park Agulhas National Park Augrabies Falls National Park Bontebok National Park Camdeboo National Park Golden Gate Highlands National Park Karoo National Park
1 Hlane Royal National Park 2 Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary 3 Mkhaya Game Reserve
www.kznwildlife.com +27 (0)33 845 1000
Port Shepstone N2
www.msinsi.co.za +27 (0)31 765 7724
5 mdeboo ational Park
Cradock Mountain Zebra National Park 14 1
King William’s Town Bisho
1 2 3 4 5 6
Albert Falls Dam Bon Accorde Hazelmere Dam Inanda Dam Nagle Dam Shongweni Dam
Addo Elephant National Park Port Alfred
N2 St Francis Bay
0861 GO WILD (46 9453)
International: +27 861 46 9453 | Fax: 086 502 6704
1 Amatigulu Nature Reserve 2 Chelmsford Dam Nature Reserve 3 Cobham Nature Reserve 4 Didima - Cathedral Peak 5 Garden Castle Nature Reserve 6 Giants Castle Nature Reserve 7 Harold Johnson Nature Reserve 8 Highmoor Nature Reserve 9 Hilltop – Hluhluwe Game Reserve 10 Mpila – iMfolozi Game Reserve 11 Injesuthi Nature Reserve At Ezemvelo, 12 Ithala Game Reserve present your 13 Kamberg Nature Reserve Wild Card + ID 14 Lotheni Nature Reserve + confirmation 15 Midmar DamNature Reserve letter. 16 Monks Cowl Nature Reserve 17 Ndumo Game Reserve 18 Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve 19 Phongolo Nature Reserve 20 Royal Natal National Park 21 Spioenkop Dam Nature Reserve 22 Umlalazi Nature Reserve 23 Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve 24 Wagendrift Dam Nature Reserve 25 Weenen Game Reserve
AUTUMN 2018 WILD 95
Wild Card's wildlife environment and travel magazine containing top wildlife, park and reserve stories; illustrated with world-class photogr...
Published on Mar 19, 2018
Wild Card's wildlife environment and travel magazine containing top wildlife, park and reserve stories; illustrated with world-class photogr...