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CARD MAGAZINE TM

BEST CORPORATE

MAGAZINE

2013 T0

2018 SA PUBLICATION FORUM

AUTUMN 2019

MEMBERS ONLY

www.wildcard.co.za

R39.90

GROOTVADERSBOSCH

Maxxx adventure in a Cape forest

7

KRUGER WILDERNESS TRAILS

Choose the right one

TOMORROW’S HEROES

5 Parks on the radar ADDO’S LIONS

Outside THE 06028

PRIDE Conserve. Explore. Experience.

explore | conserve | enjoy

9 771993 790001


Nature, your full-size fun park

West Coast National Park: Cottages from R1 191 for two, R1 615 for four Reservations (012) 428 9111 E-mail reservations@sanparks.org www.sanparks.org


CONTENTS

AUTUMN 2019

12 P A R K S

20

Augrabies Falls National Park

24

I N

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

T H E

S P O T L I G H T

26

28

Camdeboo National Park

Mapungubwe National Park

40

72

4 Letters 8 The Wild Parks Challenge Sightseeing coast to coast 10 Pitch your tent at Ithala Why Doornkraal is pure bliss 12 48 hours in Rocherpan Adventure for the whole family 16 Goukamma retreat Find peace in Buffalo Valley 18 Table Mountain Wash Houses Escape from the city 67 Trip planner Sunset drives to seek out

DESTINATIONS 20 Five parks to visit in 2019 Wildlife? Tick. Dramatic landscapes? Tick. Fascinating history? Tick. Add these lesserknown gems to your list

www.wildcard.co.za

18

50 Kruger wilderness trails The essential guide to finding the one that is right for you 60 Into the woods Discover enchanting trails and magical hideaways in Grootvadersbosch

30

Mokala National Park

76 PEOPLE IN PARKS 40 Women in the wild Meet the female guides making their mark 72 Skukuza through the lens Young photographers on show in new safari lodge PHOTOGRAPHY 64 After dark Get the shot on a night drive 76 Stunning seascapes Capture the Garden Route

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 1


GERHARD DE LANGE

32

44

68

84

WIN A STAY

80 NATURE 32 Chameleon quest How one fan is promoting their conservation 44 Lifestyles of Addo lions The lionesses that go it alone 68 Namaqua census Inside an aerial survey 80 Outsourcing parenthood The firefinches that raise another bird’s chick 84 Pride of De Kaap Look for their red blooms

96 KIDS 86 Bizarre birds Feathered friends with the weirdest families WILD CARD 90 Parks protocol Stay safe when watching ellies in the wild 93 Become a member 94 Map of the Wild parks 96 Competition Win a stay in Grootvadersbosch On the cover: Sylvester, Addo’s superstar. Read about his new life on www.wildcard.co.za.

2 WILD AUTUMN 2019

Gallo Images/ Foto24/ Werner Hills


8498 WestCoastWay

Cederberg Wilderness Area

Whether you are a nature enthusiast or an adrenaline adventurist, a wildlife spotter or a bird watcher or just need to relax and immerse in the great outdoors there’s a nature reserve for you.

021 483 0190 reservation.alert@capenature.co.za Book online: www.capenature.co.za

Terms and conditions apply. Standard daily conservation fees apply. Free access for Wild Card members.


INSIDE TRACK EDITORIAL BOARD HAPILOE SELLO SANParks SHERAAZ ISMAIL CapeNature MUSA MNTAMBO Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife MBONISENI DLAMINI Msinsi Resorts ANN REILLY Swazi Big Game Parks HEIN GROBLER Wild Card

FROM THE EDITOR

Relaxing in Ithala Nature Reserve

WILD CARD ENQUIRIES 0861 GO WILD (46 9453) wildcard@sanparks.org International Wild Card members call

+27-12-428-9112 EDITOR Romi Boom | wilded@tipafrica.co.za DEPUTY EDITOR Magriet Kruger | magriet@tipafrica.co.za ART DIRECTOR Riaan Vermeulen | riaan@tipafrica.co.za DESIGNER Leon Kriel TEXT EDITOR Marion Boddy-Evans PROOFREADER Margy Beves-Gibson DIGITAL JOURNALIST Gaynor Siljeur CONTENT DIRECTOR Igna Schneider EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Joan Kruger CREATIVE DIRECTOR Petro du Toit MISSING COPIES/CHANGE ADDRESS

subs@tipafrica.co.za

CONTRIBUTORS Emma Bryce, Julienne du Toit, Calvin Fisher, Albert and Marietjie Froneman, Nell Hofmeyr, Hlengiwe Magagula, Jacques Marais, Eric Nathan, Harriet Nimmo, Mitch Reardon, Karin Schermbrucker, Janine Stephen, Lesley Stones, Ron Swilling, Dianne Tipping-Woods, Morgan Trimble, Albie Venter, Henk Venter PHOTOGRAPHY & ART Romi Boom, Stephen Cunliffe, Albert and Marietjie Froneman, Joe James, Kelly Lodewyks, Hlengiwe Magagula, Hellen Mthatshwa, Eric Nathan, Lucky Ndzobela, Thulani Nghonyama, Tyrone Ping, Scott Ramsay, Joël Roerig, Daleen Roodt, Peter Ryan, Karin Schermbrucker, Ron Swilling, Barry Tanner, Warwick Tarboton, Dianne Tipping-Woods, Morgan Trimble, Albie Venter, Henk Venter, Gerhard Vosloo

PUBLISHED BY Tip Africa Publishing PO Box 13022, Woodstock, 7915 T: (+27) 021-447-6094 F: (+27) 021-447-0312 wilded@tipafrica.co.za EDITORIAL QUERIES 021-448-5425 BUSINESS & SALES Jaco Scholtz jaco@tipafrica.co.za | C: 083-303-0453 PUBLISHER Theo Pauw theo@tipafrica.co.za | C: 082-558-5730

REPRODUCTION Resolution Colour

I

n this autumn issue we proudly present five of our undersung national parks. The essence of these lesser-known gems has been captured by our five contributors, in singular style. I’d be hardpressed to choose a favourite as each park has inimitable appeal and will satisfy your wilderness cravings. Staying with the theme of five (yes, you guessed what’s forever at the back of our minds), we visited five other hot spots, hand-picked for their wide-ranging appeal. Buffalo Valley in Goukamma Nature Reserve will seduce you with its riverside timber cabins. At Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, you’ll discover a Lord of the Rings fantasy and return with your mountain bike. Rocherpan is a pristine eco-reserve on the rugged West Coast where children of all ages will take pleasure in the multifaceted waterworld. Table Mountain’s Wash Houses is one of the Mother City’s best-kept secrets, you’ll wonder why you’ve never checked in before. My own personal treat was to camp at Doornkraal in the remote but absolutely gorgeous Ithala Nature Reserve in KZN. When we were first alerted to millennial Tyrone Ping’s crazy fiveyear quest, we immediately thought: how cool! And yes, how wild is that! “Chasing chameleons” (page 32) is the theme of a mind-boggling conservation feature. Turn to page 20 for travel suggestions for Wild Card parks where you can get out of your vehicle to look for specific slow foot species. It is our responsibility to conserve them since 80 per cent of our species are endemic. From the timid to the gregarious: the social life of lions is not always what it seems (page 44). Sure, they are the only truly social cats in the world, they like each other’s company and depend on it. At least in Kruger they do, so why not in Addo? Do write to us at wilded@tipafrica.co.za about your Wild Card travels and adventures. Your stories are our lifeblood. Have fun!

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. Letters may be shortened for clarity.

4 WILD AUTUMN 2019


WILD LETTERS

Connect with us at www.wildcard.co.za | wilded@tipafrica.co.za | PO Box 13022, Woodstock, 7915

WINNIN

FINDING LOVE ON KALANDERKLOOF HIKE My family and I drove from Port Elizabeth to Nature’s Valley and parked our car at the start of the Kalanderkloof Hike. We walked through a beautiful indigenous forest and then started our ascent to the lookout. Multifocal glasses made me feel so insecure at times that I was on all fours climbing up the steepest parts of the hill. But I continued, knowing how beautiful the view from the top is. Along the way there were butterflies, spiders, snakes, lizards and flowers. There were times I stopped to just admire the view, to take photos, or to catch my breath. The trip down was far gentler and, during the descent, I told my daughter how it was on this hike that my husband and I fell in love nearly 30 years ago. We caught up with my husband and other daughter a little later where they had stopped to chat to the baboons and wait for us. Time with family is precious. Today, together, we savoured Africa. Leslie Clemence

Send us your letter for the chance to win.

LETTERG

Leslie Clemence wins Ravus Vent Low shoes (R899) from HI-TEC. These crossover shoes will keep you cool and confident on any trail. The Multi-Directional Traction (MDT) outsole provides grip for walking both up and downhill while the compression-moulded EVA midsole ensures supreme comfort.

A DOZEN IN ONE BUSH I am a 75-year-old birder with 750 plus on my list and now find it difficult to see new ones. Precisely a year ago I bought Steve Woodhall’s book and started photographing butterflies. I have now photo­ graphed 102 species. On our last visit to Kruger, about 5 km from Shingwedzi Camp, my wife and I took the S52 road to Redrocks. We crossed the dry riverbed and I noticed a shrub-like bush (Vernonia) that was attracting large numbers of butterflies as if there were no other flowering plants in the vicinity: topaz tip, small orange tip, common orange tip, African common white, African veined white, brown-veined white, broad-bordered grass yellow, zebra white, yellow pansy, mountain sandman and small orange acraea. I took as many photos as possible of these orange butterflies and only back home discovered on my computer that two of the photos were in fact of the Acraea machequena – the image of the latter has subsequently been submitted to LepiMAP, the Virtual Museum. Tom Drinkwater

www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 5


INSIDE TRACK

MOUNTAIN ZEBRA’S LIONS On our morning drive we came across lions in the process of mating right in the road near camp. Keeping a safe and respectful distance, we took photos with the car windows down. Along came one of the park’s officials with passengers in an open game drive vehicle. He told us how fast a lion can strike and said we should close our windows, then drove up to and stopped about two metres from the male lion in the road. Afterwards in the camp his explanation was that he wanted to put pressure on them so he could pass and that they were familiar with his bakkie. How can such a person be trusted to take visitors on a nature experience trip and let them understand how to respect animals in the wild? Frans Booysen Fayroush Ludick, regional communications manager, responds: As the park has only one game drive vehicle and one field guide on duty at a time, the staff member in question needed to return to camp to prepare for the next guided activity. Our guides are all wellversed in the temperaments of more ‘special’ animals like lion and cheetah, and he was comfortable in the knowledge he could pass without incident. We apologise if that came across as reckless to the guest. We do, however, at all times advise guests in vehicles in close proximity to these animals to take all precautions necessary to ensure their safety.

BIRTHDAY BASH We’d just renewed our Wild Card and decided to celebrate my husband’s birthday with a quick camping trip to Kruger. By the time we arrived at Berg-en-Dal we just managed to find a spot next to the fence and the dry riverbed, which is our preferred place. Shortly before midnight we were awakened by monkeys screaming, an antelope’s alarm call as it slammed into the fence by our tent and some yelps. As we unzipped the tent we heard excited hyenas, emitting all sorts of vocalisations. By torchlight we saw a wild dog and in the ditch next to the fence about 10 hyenas tearing at something and running off with pieces of it. Two more wild dogs ran off. The action, with the sound of crunching bones, lasted about 10 minutes. We figured the wild dogs had chased the antelope to the fence and made the kill. The hyenas were quick to pick up on the kill and steal the prize, sadly for the dogs. We quickly realised how lucky we were to experience such an event right on our doorstep. It was the best present my husband could have wished for. Having our Wild Card is the perfect excuse to uncover Kruger’s surprises. We have never been disappointed. Gabriela Benavides

Most marvellous photographs. We read every word in these brilliant magazines. – Graham Attwood

CONSTANT TRAVEL COMPANION Before our marriage, my wife, Anita, often told of her fond memories of Tankwa and the Cederberg mountains. It was therefore only fitting that I asked her hand and heart in marriage during a week-long visit to the Cederberg Wilderness Area and Tankwa Karoo National Park. And so began our biggest adventure. During our honeymoon we made extensive use of our Wild Card, with visits to Goukamma Nature Reserve (Mvubu Lodge was an absolute treat), Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) and, of course, a return to Tankwa Karoo National Park. Our first New Year’s celebration was spent at Nature’s Valley in Garden Route National Park and for our first anniversary we visited West Coast National Park. We have many memories of Boulders Beach, Limietberg Nature Reserve, Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, Grootvadersbosch, Addo Ele­phant National Park, and our recent visit to Richtersveld and Kgala­ gadi transfrontier parks. The milestones in our relationship are celebrated with a constant travel companion: our Wild Card. Long may it continue. Jacques Wilkinson

WHERE TO NEXT? My daughter has been reading your magazine for weeks but she can’t seem to decide which park to visit first. Her name is Florence and she is 20 months old. She has visited West Coast National Park many times as my parents live in Langebaan. On our last visit, she was fascinated watching the flamingoes from the bird hide. She has also been to Silvermine a few times. We’re hoping to visit Anysberg on our first family road trip. Thanks for a great magazine which has provided hours of entertainment. Nicky Preston

6 WILD AUTUMN 2019


FANS OF TZENDZE This is just a quick note to express our joy and satisfaction with our recent visit to the Kruger National Park. There are so many horror stories about ‘how things are falling apart’, but it has been our experience over the years that Kruger is working. Now more than ever. We spent four nights in our beloved Tsendze and also travelled to the surrounding camps. Everywhere we went we were met with friendly smiles, excellent service and a clean park and camps. The shops are well stocked with goods you need and really want to buy. The restaurants have all had a big revamp and the results are delectable. In the park the roads are well maintained. The real delight, of course, is Tsendze and as with all our previous visits, it held us spellbound. Please don’t ever think of modernising it, and please keep Rodgers Hobyane, the camp manager, there for ever. Rita van den Heever

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.

Claire Fordred wins with this picture taken on the way to the Kruger National Park’s Numbi Gate. www.wildcard.co.za


Go Wild!

PARKS CHALLENGE

Make 2019 the year to tick more wild places off your list. Draw inspiration from Viv and Ray Ruiter whose Wild Card took them to no fewer than seven Wild properties in a year. 1

2

3

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, in a safari tent in the unfenced Mpila Camp.

Kruger for almost a fortnight.

Kgalagadi, five nights at Twee Rivieren and Kalahari Tented Camp.

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To the coast for a visit to Bird Island Nature Reserve.

West Coast National Park, with the most beautiful annual flowers.

Wilderness Section of Garden Route National Park in a log cabin facing the river.

7 Addo Elephant National Park, with a lucky sighting, from the underground hide, of hyena and black-backed jackal on a kudu kill.

ENTER THE CHALLENGE

THE

PARKS CHALLENGE

8 WILD AUTUMN 2019


INSIDE TRACK ITHAL A GAME RESERVE

ALIVE

THE HILLS ARE

Seventh heaven for campers is a pitch just like Doornkraal in Ithala Game Reserve. It’s hard to beat its wilderness setting, not to mention chilled sundowners by a river pool after a day’s game viewing. By Romi Boom

LEGGY MODEL Giraffe are the poster animal for Ithala, seemingly happy to pose for the camera.


T HOO T P S Doornkraal is an intimate campsite set in the midst of riverine scrub and sicklebush.

S

tately and serene, the elegant model poses among acacia thickets, silhouetted against the craggy heights of the Ngotshe mountains. The giraffe is one of dozens we encounter just after daybreak, having left Doornkraal campsite with permission to take the Dlabe 4x4 high-clearance management road. Giraffe feature in such abundance it’s not surprising they are the namesake and icon for Ithala Game Reserve. Like spectres they emerge from the thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal. The youngsters are extremely curious and often approach the object of their interest for a closer look. If they stand in the road and the sighting is uninterrupted by vegetation, photo opportunities are outstanding. Even so, one of my fondest memories of Ithala is the bronze reflection of first light on kudu horns in the tall grassland. The common thatch grass is home to large populations of unperturbed plains game and we are amply rewarded when we get up early to drive the loops. Fortunately so, because it takes real commitment to tear yourself away from the charms of peaceful Doornkraal, a small, rustic camp with accommodation for up to 20 people. The campsite is situated alongside one of several tributaries of the Pongola that run through the reserve, amid dense thickets of riverine scrub overlooking www.wildcard.co.za

pools of water. Allow about 40 minutes for the 17-kilometre drive from the main resort at Ntshondwe. Caravans are not allowed, making the unfenced campsite a retreat for rooftop tents. Walking about camp at night demands caution, though the prospect of elephant, leopard and other game entering camp adds immensely to its wilderness appeal. When we first arrive, impala graze outside the thatched kitchen enclosure, advancing in their own good time to the open-air ablutions featuring a blissful hot bush shower and flush toilets. Swimming is permitted in the river and soon we make our way down to the pools with chilled sundowners. Although Ithala is a relatively small park, visitors will appreciate its extreme diversity of vegetation and geographic features. Masses of red coral trees make a splash at Ntshondwe resort, while elsewhere rolling hills, valleys and forested kloofs represent the best of Zululand. Go slow, open your windows and adhere to the speed limit of 20 km/h. Often found squashed on the roads in Ithala is the Natal hinged tortoise, considered Rare in the South African Red Data Book. So please look out for those precious baby tortoises while you enjoy the rugged beauty and rich colours of some of the oldest geological rock formations in the world.

Ithala is five hours from Durban and six hours from Gauteng.

TRIP PLANNER Accommodation Doornkraal campsite from R160 a person a night. Ntshondwe resort from R1 360 a night for two people in a chalet, breakfast included. Mhlangeni, Thalu and Mbizo bush camps from R1 470 a night for three people. Conservation fees R65 an adult, R35 a child, free with a Wild Card. Bookings Ezemvelo Central Reservations 033-845-1000, www.bookings. kznwildlife.com

/

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 11


INSIDE TRACK

48 HOURS IN

ROCHERPAN NATURE RESERVE

at! h t s i d l i w # How

BIRDING FOR BEGINNERS The hide at Rocherpan makes it easy to add ticks to your bird list.


There’s nowhere better to enjoy the rugged charm of the West Coast than in a hidden gem on Route 27. Summer or winter, the pristine combination of beach, vlei and land is a hive of animal and bird life. By Karin Schermbrucker T HOO T P S

From top to bottom: Flamingoes strut their stuff on the pan; the eco-cabins touch the environment lightly; a tortoise wanders between the reserve’s wildflowers.

www.wildcard.co.za

W

e are a family of surfers, all ocean-loving, wave-chasing water babies. On a trip up the West Coast to the never-ending left-hand point break of Elands Bay, we stumbled upon a little gem about 30 kilometres south of Elands and 160 kilometres north of Cape Town. The region is renowned for the quaint fishing villages that have dotted the coastline for generations, establishing their own unique culture, along with countless unspoilt beaches amid a carpet of wildflowers in the spring. In among this is a coastal nature reserve, a birder’s paradise and a window onto the wild ecosystem of the West Coast. Rocherpan Nature Reserve is one of CapeNature’s best-kept secrets. It is a perfect ecosystem for birds, home to the rare and endangered black oystercatcher, kelp gull and Cape shoveller. The combination of land, vlei and sea provides ample breeding and feeding habitats for a variety of birds. A total of 183 species have been recorded, of which about 70 are waterbirds. Our young ones were transfixed by the elegant necks and long pink legs of the lesser flamingoes which dominate stretches of the seasonal vlei right in front of eight ecofriendly cabins. A thousand shades of pink make for the most magnificent sunsets from your balcony. Three bird hides are ideally situated for those who want to spend hours at a time behind their binoculars, immersed AUTUMN 2019 WILD 13


INSIDE TRACK

Untouched dunes which line the beach are ideal for a game of hide and seek.

in bird books and ticking off lists while absorbing nature’s orchestra in full symphony. An added and unsuspected bonus was the new saline swimming pool, a great way to spend a warm afternoon after hours of activity. Summer or winter, the stretch of beach which runs parallel to the reserve is a hive of animal and bird life. On the three-kilometre beach hike offered by the reserve, we were fortunate to watch a seal pup make its way along the beach towards the dunes, observed by a duo of oystercatchers and accompanied by the chatter of sand plovers. The children couldn’t get enough of the untouched dunes which line the beach. These are ideal for a game of hide and seek. When their energy was all but exhausted, tea and a fresh banana loaf at the lookout point offered welcome respite after the day’s activities. From the highest point of the reserve we were treated to the magnificent performance and gigantic splash of a southern right whale. Watching this giant of the deep on its migratory path, we were reminded of nature’s magnificence and just how very small we are. We will return again to this hidden gem of Route 27, where the icy turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean envelop kilometre after pristine kilometre of shells and sand. The untouched magic is a moving reminder that we are to leave only footprints when we go. /

14 WILD AUTUMN 2019

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Rocherpan lies 2,5 hours north of Cape Town.

TRIP PLANNER Accommodation Four eco-cabins each have a double bed and a futon for children. Off-peak rate R850 a night for one or two people, peak rate R1 190, R170 an extra child. A further four cabins sleep up to five people in two bedrooms. Offpeak rate R990 a night for the first two people, R195 an extra person; R1 770 for entire cabin in peak season. Activities Hiking, mountain biking, birding, swimming, whale watching, angling, picnicking. Conservation fees Day access R50 an adult, R30 a child. Overnight R40 an adult, R20 a child. Wild Card members free. Bookings CapeNature Central Reservations 021-483-0190, www. capenature.co.za

Conserve. Explore. Experience.

1 A picnic overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is just the thing for hungry tummies. 2 Exploring the dunes that run parallel to the reserve. 3 The eco-cabins make the most of the outdoors with a large deck and sliding doors. 4 Young nature lovers will find plenty to keep them entertained. AUTUMN 2019 WILD 15


| GOUKAMMA NATURE RESERVE |

On Golden Pond The lodges at Buffalo Valley are the perfect hideout for romance, friends and family. They overlook river, forest and vlei, all tinged in shimmering hues. By Ron Swilling

Above from left to right: Wildflowers bloom in abundance around the lodges; exploring the Gou­ kamma River by canoe; the golden beach stretches for more than five kilometres. Below: The deck of River Lodge is an idyllic spot to relax and drink in the surrounds.

The prime spot is the large deck with a view that fills the heart.

16 WILD AUTUMN 2019


INSIDE TRACK

I

n 2017, fire swept through this lush part of the world. Now birdsong fills my room before I open my eyes and take in the vegetated sand dunes, the grasslands, the gentle Goukamma River and the coastal forest which envelops the well-designed wooden cabin. It’s a cosy ‘home away from home’ that you don’t want to leave. And, if you do, you look forward to returning. Buffalo Valley is a place to pencil into diaries year after year. Lying between Sedgefield and Knysna on the Garden Route, which is well known for the soft beauty of its forest, sea and golden rivers, the 175 hectare Buffalo Valley section of Goukamma Nature Reserve was added two years ago under a stewardship agreement with the neighbouring landowner. It introduced three stylish timber lodges and a piece of riverfront property to the 2 500 hectare estuarine reserve that adjoins the holiday town of Buffels Bay. River Lodge, our retreat, has two bedrooms with a loft in each for children, separated by the kitchencum-dining room, plus a lounge with a ceramic fireplace, a colourful assortment of loungers and a row of good books. The coastal forest and river complement the refreshing burst of sea air, the crashing Indian Ocean and the opportunity for strolls on long golden beaches, only three kilometres away. Two trails have reopened since the fire. Although the vegetation has regenerated with a flourish of grass

and small green bushes, and is awash with delicate blooms, work is still being carried out on some sections, planned to gradually reopen over the next year. Field ranger Melissa Hasley points out some of the plants that have re-emerged, including the sour fig Carpobrotus edulis with its juicy fruit, which inspired the river and reserve’s Khoisan name ‘ghaukum’ or Goukamma. Melissa tells us how vervet monkeys, bushbuck and birds are returning after the fire as the land cloaks itself in green once more. We take a drive to Groenvlei, 16 kilometres to the west and also part of Goukamma Nature Reserve, to wander to the vlei, past towering candlewood and Cape saffron trees, for the Cape Clawless Otter Trail. Later, we balance it out with a brisk hike through the coastal thicket at Buffels Bay, before hiring canoes to leisurely explore the river below our cabin. As we climb aboard, we’re all giggles, trying to remember the basics of paddling. We push out into the meandering river, thankful for its still, soothing waters. When we return to River Lodge, the afternoon sunshine is flooding the deck and the surroundings with gold. A pair of fish eagles call from upriver, birdsong erupts in happy bursts from the forest. We carry out chairs, hats, books, binoculars and snacks, willing the day to continue forever. In the guest book, an apt description: “A little bit of perfect.” /

TRIP PLANNER Getting there From the N2, look out for the Buffels Bay/ Goukamma signboard between Knysna and Sedgefield. Accommodation The Buffalo Valley lodges comprise River Lodge, Forest Lodge and Vlei Lodge. These well-equipped, self-catering timber lodges, sleeping four to five people, are suitable for family outings, friendly get-togethers and romantic interludes. Prices range from R850 a night off-peak to R1 700 in peak season for one to four people, R170 an extra person. Conservation fees Day access R50 an adult, R30 a child. Over­ night R40 an adult, R20 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings CapeNature 021-483-0190, www.capenature.co.za www.wildcard.co.za

Conserve. Explore. Experience.

Goukamma Nature Reserve and MPA is 20 km from Knysna. AUTUMN 2019 WILD 17


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Under the table It remains a magical and refreshing thing, that feeling of being a tourist in the city where you grew up. We indulged in a family escape our kids will never forget. By Calvin Fisher

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1 Kelly and Drew enjoy a forest walk mere minutes from the Cape Town city centre. 2 The view from Signal Hill back towards the Platteklip Wash Houses. 3 Taking pictures of the burbling mountain stream that runs past the historic buildings. 4 A board­ walk leads from the Wash Houses some distance up the mountain. Hikers who continue along the path will come out near the cableway station on Tafelberg Road.

The well-shaded terrace has a braai and picnic tables.


INSIDE TRACK

B

eing a Capetonian means constantly living in the literal shadow of Table Mountain. As adults, my fiancée and I get our kicks out of this on the odd occasion by wheeling out our trusty mountain bikes or donning our running shoes and head­ ing for the inclines. As for the rest of my clan, the three boisterous lads who live where I choose to live, the mountain con­ stantly evades them, even more so since we moved to the northern suburbs. Still it fills their bedroom windows despite being some great distance away. On this par­ ticular weekend we remedied this. Enter the Platteklip Wash Houses Tucked into the slopes of Table Mountain, the buildings were utilised in the 19th century by Cape Town’s washer women. The complex has been restored to full health, looking every bit as at home here as the trees surrounding it. It holds 24 people at its full capacity but on this warm Saturday afternoon in Cape Town, it had to contend with just us few. A family of five bristling with excite­ ment, having made the journey in a comfy SUV brimming with snacks, braai­ vleis and a tall muscadel for the adults. It would get cold at night, we were cautioned. Being a self-catering unit bedding was included, so we thankfully didn’t need to unfurl massive blankets from our car, just the aforementioned items, cereal and board games for the long night ahead. Once settled into our two double-storey units, we were ready to explore. One of the most striking features of the interior is the stone wall of the kitchen and the clever use of light. We especially loved the Afrocentric light fixture in the kitchen.

We didn’t get too far before discovering the terrace outside our rooms, complete with picnic tables, a braai place and a pair of wooden hammocks. Each of us quickly took up our positions with myself on fire duty, Kelly setting up snacks and drinks, Zeke, my eldest, putting out the board games while the littlest of us, Jamie and Drew, put the hammocks through a stress test with rampant frolicking. Ninety min­ utes or so later we were huddled around a game of dominoes at the picnic table, heated on the outside by the embers of our dying coals, and from the inside by braaivleis and hot chocolate. Our sur­ roundings comprised curious squirrels and the sounds of nature, including a babbling brook only metres from us. We’d go exploring in the morning on a short nature walk up to Deer Park after a de­ served night indoors. The chill had come and we were ready to turn in for the night. Picnic on Signal Hill After a good night’s rest, the cereal bowls were washed and packed away, our car was fully loaded once more and our legs duly stretched thanks to an enchanting amble through the woods. It was decided that before returning to normality, we would end our weekend on a high note. Specifically Signal Hill, where, armed with a picnic basket charged with brunch we could survey not only the N1 highway that would take us home, but from this unique vantage point the entirety of the city, and indeed the wash houses where we had come from in the distance. It re­ mains a magical and refreshing thing, that feeling of being a tourist in the city where you grew up. Whether you’re eight years old or 40. /

KELLY LODEWYKS

TRIP PLANNER

Table Mountain National Park adjoins the city of Cape Town. www.wildcard.co.za

Accommodation Units in the Platteklip Wash Houses sleep four. From R994 a night for one or two people, R485 an extra adult, R243 an extra child. Hiking A trail leads from the Wash Houses to Tafelberg Road, where you can either take the cablecar to the top of Table Moun­ tain or get there on your own steam up Platteklip Gorge. Contact SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111 www.sanparks.org AUTUMN 2019 WILD 19


PARKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Augrabies Falls National Park | Golden Gate Highlands National Park

The dramatic landscape of Augrabies Falls National Park is laid bare in front of Oranjekom Gorge Cottage.

20 WILD AUTUMN 2019


Camdeboo National Park | Mapungubwe National Park | Mokala National Park

Our most popular parks deserve all the love they get but these five fascinating sites, all undersung, are well worth the trip.

ZERO TO

HERO

RUDOLPH DE GIRARDIER

www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 21


PARKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Astronaut playground Augrabies Falls National Park,

W

hen you reach Augrabies, be ready for life on a grand scale. Here, huge slabs of granite have been carved by mighty forces and an eternity of time. Their imposing presence ushers in the Orange River that rushes through the rocky passage, brawling and protesting at the narrowness of the channel, before it plummets into the river below with a loud sigh of relief, to continue on its way. Agamas scurry over rocks and dassies sunbathe, blissfully unaware of, or ignoring, the drama unfolding around them. Strolling along the boardwalks to gain better views of this dramatic water celebration is a must, especially when the water is high and exuberantly sprays into the air sharing its joy with visitors. It seems to be shouting to the world: “It’s good to be alive!” And it’s infectious. With a friendly contingent of wildlife, this arid Kalahari park is the perfect terrain for a jog, cycle or walk. Or you can join a guided night drive to spot aardwolf, bat-eared foxes, African wild

22 WILD AUTUMN 2019

cat and, if lucky, the elusive leopard. At the end of the day or in the early morning, take a short walk past the campsite on the three-kilometre Gorge Trail to an arrowhead of rock that juts out over the gorge like the back of a prehistoric reptile, providing breathtaking scenery. The river flows far below as it meanders through the rocky cliff faces. Swallows circle and delicate grasses blow peacefully in the breeze. The more energetic can walk the fivekilometre Dassie Nature Trail or sign up for the 36-kilometre Klipspringer Trail, three days of exploring the arid surroundings and absorbing the energy of this otherworldly part of the world. A leisurely drive through the Kalahari landscape leads past Moon Rock, shedding its granite skin like a large onion, and to Ararat, Oranjekom and Echo Corner to salute the river from further downstream. Overnighting at Oranjekom Gorge Cottage, you have the prime view all to yourself, your private home on the rocky edge.

RUDOLPH DE GIRARDIER

NORTHERN CAPE


A leisurely drive through the Kalahari landscape leads past Moon Rock, shedding its granite skin like a large onion. Keep your eyes open for agile klipspringer perfectly balanced on rockfaces, Hartmann’s mountain zebra in the western section of the park and the celebrated iridescent blue-and-orange Augrabies flat lizard Platysaurus broadleyi, and ruminate on the epic geological journey of the 1300-million-year-old rock. Augrabies is an arid playground for all those with a propensity for wonder. – Ron Swilling

| PRIZE SIGHTING |

Hartmann’s mountain zebra

Listed as vulnerable, this subspecies of mountain zebra thrives in arid conditions and precipitous terrain. In the 20 years from 1996, the Augrabies population increased from just eight individuals to 208.

Trip planner Getting there Augrabies Falls National Park is 120 km from Upington. Accommodation Chalets from R1 050 a night for one or two people, family cottages from R1 968 for four. Camping R263 a night for the first two people, R89 an extra adult, R45 an extra child, maximum six. Conservation fees R53 an adult, R27 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 23


PARKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Surely the most elegant of all South Africa’s parks. The sculpted roof of Cathedral Cave glows golden in the Free State sunshine. 24 WILD AUTUMN 2019


Nature’s temple Golden Gate Highlands National Park, FREE STATE

W

e were barrelling down the R712 that unwinds between Clarens and Harrismith, noses pointed to a family event in Pieter­ maritzburg. It was day two on the road and we were bone tired, yet this wasn’t the reason for slowing to a crawl. A slab of mighty mountain stretched skywards above us, gleaming golden as skin in honeyed pre-storm light. Its sides were smooth and rippled, like scoops of icecream, tops dipped in dolomite. It was, quite simply, too beautiful to pass by without due reverence. The road had entered the entrance to Golden Gate Highlands National Park a couple of kilometres back, but this was our first sight of the remarkable sandstone buttresses that inspired the park’s name. It was high summer, and the cliffs and folds were skirted in glorious grasses, undulating like belly dancers in the wind. The mountains steal the show but it’s actually the only grassland national park in the country and protects some 60 species, including the tasty red grass so overgrazed elsewhere. Those in the know can identify gum grass (a sticky variant once made into an ointment and smeared on bull’s testicles to promote fertility), spiky spear grass (the enemy of any hiker clad in shorts) and, higher up,

PRIZE SIGHTING Mountain reedbuck

broom grass (good for weaving hats). There are various antelope in the park but no dangerous game to interrupt pro­ gress on its many pretty trails. These range from hour-long rambles to the tough 28-kilometre Ribbok Trail. Drives include the 4,2-kilometre Oribi Loop, which takes you past a vulture feeding spot. With a lot of luck, the whoosh of air through giant wingspans will herald the arrival of a seriously endangered Cape or bearded vulture. Be warned, it doesn’t happen on demand. The soaring beauty of the area is extremely accessible. Those who like their views of the Brandwag Buttress to come without raising a sweat need only open the curtains at the hotel. There is also a range of rondavels, camping and cottages in more secluded areas. Visitors can commune with the landscape on gentle horseback rides, book a medicinal plant trail with a traditional healer or take a guided walk to mysterious Cathedral Cave, hidden beyond a pool of icy water. It’s a travesty to zoom through this, surely the most elegant of all South Africa’s parks. That first time, we looked at each other and veered off to explore another sweeping vista. In the distance, a line of hefty eland, dewlaps flapping, broke into a trot. We’d have to be late. – Janine Stephen

Trip planner SCOTT RAMSAY

Getting there Golden Gate Highlands National Park is 3,5 hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein. Accommodation Rondavels from R984 a night for one or two people. Hotel rooms from R1 377 a night. Camping from R248 a night for the first two people, R89 an extra adult, R45 a child, maximum six. Conservation fees R53 an adult, R27 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 25


PARKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

BERNARD DUPONT

Culture at the core EASTERN CAPE

T

he only town in South Africa to be entirely surrounded by a national park is Graaff-Reinet. It comes complete with venerable gabled buildings, a wedding cake of a church, a legendary grapevine, water furrows, museums, delightful little shops and restaurants. The defining view in the park is up at the Valley of Desolation, a high cupped hollow atop a jagged mountain, rimmed with towering pillars of jointed ironstone that glow in the late afternoon. To the left, the bulky head and shoulders of Spandaukop, and in the far background stretch the Camdeboo Plains. Visitors chatter as they arrive but often fall into meditative silence, sitting on the flat rocks along the viewpoint edges. Kestrels, southern boubous and red-winged starlings fly among the columns of this natural rock cathedral. Every now and then, a dassie or a red-tailed Smith’s rock rabbit may reveal itself. “To me, the true magic of Graaff-Reinet is that you can drive out for five minutes in any direction and be within the park, seeing wildlife,” said Buks Marais, current chairman of Granaat, also known as Friends of the Camdeboo National Park. “Just out of town you might spot a herd of 20 eland. Go to Nqweba Dam at the end

PRIZE SIGHTING Black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu

of the day to witness 600 or more animals coming down to drink. It’s such a lovely place. There is peace and tranquillity here.” The park lends itself to day excursions simply because access is so easy, but there is also a campsite and a small tented camp. There are three hiking trails of varying sizes, mountain-bike routes and 4x4 trails. At 19 500 hectares, peri-urban Camdeboo is compact, but the diversity of ecosystems sets it apart. It encompasses high dolerite hills, mountain scrubland, grasslands, succulent thickets. There are 220 recorded bird species, 336 plant species and 43 mammal species. On a night drive, the semi-desert environment lends itself to sightings of insectivorous nocturnal beasts such as bat-eared foxes, and even aardwolves and aardvarks. By day, you’re likely to see kudu, springbok, klipspringer, Cape mountain zebra, blesbok and black wilde­ beest. There is also a herd of buffalo that inhabit the apron veld near the dam, preferring to stay in thickly vegetated areas. One of the most striking spectacles is that of antelope and zebra walking down the mountains at sundown, long-legged in the silky dust, seeming to float above the purple flowering mesembs or coral aloes. – Julienne du Toit

Trip planner Getting there Camdeboo National Park surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet. Accommodation Safari tents from R702 a night for two people. Camping from R253 a night for the first two people, R89 an extra adult, R45 a child. Conservation fees R43 an adult, R22 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org 26 WILD AUTUMN 2019

SCOTT RAMSAY

Camdeboo National Park,


that! s i d l i w # How Visitors chatter as they arrive but often fall into meditative silence, sitting on the flat rocks along the viewpoint edges.

The park’s viewpoints offer vistas over vast plains and craggy rock pillars.

www.wildcard.co.za


PARKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Memorial trail

Mapungubwe National Park,

A

s we walk towards the ancient site of Mapungubwe Hill, our guide asks us not to stray off the footpath. The land, where a kingdom flourished from AD900 to AD1290, is still largely unexcavated, and who knows how many more clues are yet to be uncovered. The artefacts unearthed since this ‘lost’ kingdom was rediscovered in 1933 prove that its people were skilled in mining, melting and crafting gold. They were a trading nation, too, with finds of glass beads and pottery originating from China, India and Arabia confirming they had established links with the Far East. The hill has long since returned to its natural state, the 5 000 or so huts which once filled the plains have vanished and the wind blows across flat-topped Mapu­ ngubwe Hill with no royals in residence to feel its cooling breeze. I try to imagine how the site must have looked in its hey-

28 WILD AUTUMN 2019

day, and it’s good to hear the park managers hope to add some 3D exhibits to help visualise the scene. Mapungubwe sits on the border where South Africa meets Zimbabwe and Botswana, and where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet. Wooden platforms on top of an escarpment at the confluence give you great views over the floodplain. Guided tours to the hilltop are held three times a day and it’s a relatively easy climb thanks to sturdy wooden steps firmly attached to the rock face. From the top I survey the plains below, studded with majestic baobabs. There are no records to show why the empire crumbled and little physical evidence to my untrained eye. But archaeologists uncovered 22 graves on the hilltop, including three that held people buried in a sitting position wearing gold jewellery and surrounded by clay pots filled

RUDOLPH DE GIRARDIER

LIMPOPO


PRIZE SIGHTING 17 bat species

with beads. The finds are now displayed in a multi-domed Interpretation Centre, thoughtfully built of bricks, stones and sticks to blend into the scenery. A video explains the history of the site and I look into the cabinets and marvel at the sheer volume of tiny, delicate beads found in the graves. Mapungubwe’s most famous treasure is

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat

the Golden Rhino, a delicate work of beaten gold pinned to a wooden frame by tiny golden nails. The original is still housed in the museum at Pretoria University, with a replica on show at Mapungubwe. All the finds were taken to Pretoria when excavations began in 1933, but many were returned in 2011 when the Interpretation Centre was created. – Lesley Stones

Trip planner Getting there Mapungubwe National Park borders Botswana and Zimbabwe, some six hours’ drive from Gauteng. Accommodation Cottages R1 418 a night for one or two people. Forest tents R1 327 a night for two people. Camping R333 a night for the first two people, R89 an extra adult, R45 a child, maximum six. Conservation fees R55 an adult, R28 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 29


PARKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Once you leave the thorn veld and rocky outcrops behind en route to Lilydale Rest Camp, the landscape changes completely.

BIG SKY Ant fugitia CENTRAL di susda dolentiur Sweeping views to moluptatur, the distant horizon sunt. Boremasses and estiorem of lia solupta thorn trees cuscimi characterise Mokala.


| PRIZE SIGHTING |

Tsessebe

Sable

Roan

Remote retreat Mokala National Park,

O

NORTHERN CAPE

ff-the-grid Mokala is a landscape of koppieveld and camelthorn trees situated less than an hour from Kimberley. ‘Mokala’ is the Setswana word for camelthorn and it is a place of natural splendour, where wildlife encounters with a range of endangered game species are virtually guaranteed. My favourite Mokala memory has to be spending a night at the hide-away Haakand-Steek campsite, set next to a waterhole in a remote section of the park, utterly removed from it all. I had the whole family with me: Beth, Robs and Grace, ranging from four to 14 years at the time, and of course my wife, Karyn, because one needs a voice of reason when you’re in the bush. This is especially true when you’re in dangerous game country with a nearly teenage son on a mission to explore his surroundings. The camping area at Haak-andSteek is fortunately quite open with loads of opportunities to engage an inquisitive mind, especially if you have a magnifying glass and some binoculars. We booked a guided walk with Henry van Wyk, Mokala’s resident birding guru, and this really helped entertain the kids. For a couple of hours, we strolled among the ancient camelthorns, some of them up to 400 years old, in search of his personal favourites, those pesky LBJs. “I am especially fond of them,” Henry

told us as we meandered amid contorted trees while he pointed out some of the typical endemic savanna species. Warblers, cisticolas, honey guides and flycatchers may have impressed us adults, but the wow moment for the kids was without a doubt spotting a crimsonbreasted shrike. There are loads of other Mokala memories, too. In many ways, it is a ‘park of two parts’ as once you leave the thorn veld and rocky outcrops behind en route to Lilydale Rest Camp, set on the tranquil Riet River, the landscape changes completely. You cruise through grassland plains until you approach the craggy valley carved by the water course, with mirror-smooth pools glinting amid whispering reed beds. The Riet is a fresh-water angler’s delight, with deep pools, swirling eddies and rushing rapids where small- and large-mouth yellows lie in wait for prey. Lilydale rates as a dream destination for fly-fishers keen to hook one of these fighting fish before releasing them back into the water. Birding along the banks is superb as well, with wagtails, warblers, reed cormorants and blackheaded heron patrolling the banks. Our chalet overlooked the river and the sunset on Mokala’s plains. Overhead, a lone hamerkop sickle-winged its way down towards the pools, now glistening liquid gold in the last rays. – Jacques Marais /

Trip planner SCOTT RAMSAY

Getting there Mokala National Park is about 80 km from Kimberley. Accommodation Bungalows from R898 a night for one or two people. Private campsites R459 a night for the first two people, R152 an extra adult, R76 an extra child, maximum six. Haak-en-Steek bungalow R1 453 for four. Conservation fees R45 an adult, R23 a child, Wild Card members free. Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 31


A NEW LEAF Trails guide Khomotso Mokoena is one of 10 female recruits changing the face of guiding in Kruger.

“I was scared of the bush but then I found myself falling in love with it.�


PEOPLE IN PARKS

The

FACTOR

The best guides focus on ethics and respect for each other and the environment. Some are macho, others are more empathetic and sensitive. They all undergo the same training. By Dianne Tipping-Woods

“T

he animals don’t care if I am a man or a woman, to them I am just a human being.” Khomotso Mokoena’s words were lingering in my mind as the lioness looked at us before disappearing into a thicket. It had been stalking a wildebeest when we surprised her on our morning walk from Lower Sabie. The lioness ran as we stood frozen behind our guides, savouring the unique and very human thrill of encountering a big cat on foot. “We try to see them without disturbing them but sometimes we surprise each other,” said Khomotso with a philosophical shrug, smiling at the groups’ reactions to the encounter: scared, excited, amazed and humbled. With second-rifle Thulisile Makofane, Khomotso had kept a steady eye on the lioness before assuring us it was safe to sit down and have a snack on the banks of the Sabie River. An African fish eagle had the same idea, judging by the discarded bones of a catfish nearby. Khomotso is one of a group of women recruited and trained as a trails guide to address the gender imbalance in the sector. In 2016, the Jobs Fund of the

www.wildcard.co.za

National Treasury funded 10 women to train as trails guides at the Southern African Wildlife College, before they spent five months in the Kruger National Park gaining practical guiding experience. Five of the candidates went on to get their level four certificates, Khomotso was one of them and started working at Lower Sabie in 2015.

As second-rifle, guide Thulisile Makofane is adept at guiding and shooting if necessary.

AUTUMN 2019 WILD xx 41


PEOPLE IN PARKS

From left to right: Khomotso points out a millipede – her fascination with the natural world extends to all creatures; seeing a hyena on foot is completely thrilling; the lead guide with her guests.

Having spent the preceding 90 minutes on one of the best walks of my life, which included wild dogs, hyenas and porcupines interacting, an elephant bull, plains game all around us, and then our lioness encounter, it seemed wrong to bring up gender. “People comment on my size, they question my instincts, they ask if I can shoot. My job is to keep us safe and to facilitate a good experience,” Khomotso explained, while we watched a breeding herd of elephants in the distance come down to drink. “I keep one thing in mind. My ethics. It’s on the first page of the manual of guiding.” “We’re here because we’re good guides, not because we’re women,” affirmed Thulisile. Some guides are more empathetic and sensitive, some are more macho, but in order to qualify, “we all have had to undergo the same training”. They agree the training was tough. Khomotso recalls how mentors Pieter Nel and Gawie Lindeque put her and the other recruits through their paces. “We surprised them actually, especially with how we can shoot!” Along with Khomotso, 15 other female recruits made it through the College’s physical assessments, followed by three days in the field to select the last 10 candidates. “Once you’ve done 300 field hours in the bush, with all that entails, you can read a lion or an elephant. You know what you’re doing,” confirmed Clive Poultney,

42 WILD AUTUMN 2019

director of the Environmental Sustainability Agency, who is contracted as head of business development at the Southern African Wildlife College. “Bringing in more female recruits means we did have to face down old dogmas and beliefs. While the training was going on, we had one guy arrive and say, ‘I am taking my wife home’,” he recalled. “Building confidence is critical,” he said, “for both men and women. With confidence and training, anyone can step into a different realm and make a go of it.” Khomotso’s first experience of Kruger was as a marketing intern. “I was scared of the bush but then I found myself falling in love with it,” she explained. The opportunity to leave the office for the wild was too good to miss and the training conquered the fear, or equips her to deal with it. “As a guide, I listen to myself and I listen to my fears. I pay attention to the whole environment,” she explained. Her care is evident. She takes pains to not disturb any of the processes or creatures we encountered, whether it was the column of matabele ants, horn moths feeding on impala horns, funnel web spiders spinning their lairs or wildebeest coming down to drink. “I have found what I love and what I’m good at,” she said, before scouting the area where the lioness had disappeared, and guiding us safely home.


A BIRD IN THE BUSH One of CapeNature’s first female 14-month training course at field rangers has proven her Vrolijk­heid Nature Reserve worth in a largely male-dominated near Robertson, during which environment. Nicole mastered everything the “I went camping as a child men did, she qualified as one of and there was a spider a relative CapeNature’s first female field wanted to kill. I didn’t want to kill rangers, although she was still it. I wanted to learn more about asked if she would not prefer to it,” said Nicole Breda, a field rang- CapeNature field do administrative work. ranger Nicole Breda er at Riverlands Nature Reserve. Her job includes veld patrols, The small CapeNature reserve in the Swartplant and animal monitoring, infrastructural land is not open to the public but is a haven maintenance, erosion control, alien vegetafor researchers, botanists and ecologists. tion monitoring, game capture, plant idenNicole studied human resources but knew tification and collection, birding, veld data she wanted more than her job as a factory collecting and capturing, plus fire managesupervisor in Worcester. The 34-year-old ment, including fighting wildfires in mounembarked on her new career in 2008 when tain areas and constructing firebreaks. she answered an advertisement for wildlife She spends four hours of each day patrainees, hoping that her love of nature and trolling the reserve and collecting data. Aldetermination would lead to the life she though she is unarmed, she has confronted wanted. She was chosen from 200 applicapoachers. “I tell them how they are affecting tions for the original training programme our reserves. Most times they listen to us and received no money while she was in and they leave the reserves.” training. She hasn’t looked back and takes Nicole completed a nature conservation every opportunity to study and learn. and conservation leadership course at the “I knew I was going into a male-dominated Southern African Wildlife College in 2012. “I field. I just said you need to do this to the am hopeful about the future. We must cherbest of your ability.” After completing the ish what we have. Nature needs us all.” /

“Once you’ve done 300 field hours in the bush, with all that entails, you can read a lion or an elephant.”

Reading the signs that elephants have left in the field.

www.wildcard.co.za

AUTUMN 2019 WILD 43


See how many of our parks and reserves you can visit in a year – you could win free membership renewal. Visit www.wildcard. co.za to find out more. www.sanparks.org +27 (0)12 428 9111 1 Addo Elephant National Park 2 Agulhas National Park 3 Augrabies Falls National Park 4 Bontebok National Park 5 Camdeboo National Park 6 Golden Gate Highlands National Park 7 Karoo National Park 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

THE

PARKS CHALLENGE

WILD CARD

National parks,

8

RESERVES

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

and resorts IAi-IAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Namibia

21

N 14

N 10

3

Upington

Augrabies Falls National Park

Orange

Orange

N7

13 N 14

Namaqua National Park

Conserve. Explore. Experience.

20

Springbok

N 10

N 12

15

www.capenature.co.za +27 (0)21483-0190 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

De

12

N7

Klawer

3 Lambert’s Bay

St Helena Bay

Saldanha Bay

NORTHERN CAPE

Calvinia

Olifants

Clanwilliam

West Coast 19 National Park

Citrusdal

WESTERN CAPE

11 N7

Robben Island

CAPE TOWN

2

Worcester Robertson

13

23 12

False Bay

Hermanus 15

Laingsburg

1

24

21

Oudtshoorn 17

8

10

4

Bontebok National Park 4

Heidelberg Breede

6

7

19 George Knysna

Swellendam

Agulhas National Park 2

N9

N 12

22

Breede

16

Cape Point

Gr

Beaufort West

N1

Table Mountain 16 National Park

N1

Karoo National Park 7

Tankwa Karoo National Park

18

21

Langebaan

17

5

N 12

N2

Tsitsika Nationa

14

18

Mossel Wilderness 20 Bay National 9 Knysna Park National 20 Lake Area 9 KM

0

94 WILD AUTUMN 2019

16


0861 GO WILD (46 9453)

wildcard@sanparks.org

Musina

N1

10

LIMPOPO

International: +27 861 46 9453 Fax: 086 502 6704

28

50

N 11

Marakele National Park 12

Limpopo

Thabazimbi

Kruger National Park

Makhado

POLOKWANE

GABORONE

Mozambique

Limpopo

Mapungubwe National Park 11

Phalaborwa

Tzaneen

Mokopane

N 11

Modimolle Bela-Bela

Botswana

Lydenburg

MPUMALANGA

N1

PRETORIA/ TSHWANE

N4

Rustenburg

Emelaheni

Centurion Midrand Sandton

Mahikeng

Mbombela

N4

Middelburg

MAPUTO Barberton

N 12

JOHANNESBURG

NORTH WEST

N 14

GAUTENG Vereeniging

Potchefstroom

N 17

N 11

Bethal

MBABANE

N2

N 12

Vaal

Vaal Dam N3

N1

Bloemhof

10

24

N5

21

20

Ladysmith

BLOEMFONTEIN

6

4

Ladybrand

11

MASERU

Estcourt 8

16

13

Caledon N 10

N 12

Orange N1

Vanderkloof Dam

14

Lesotho

N6

N2

Empangeni Tugela

N8

9

KWAZULUNATAL 10

N 11

6

Kosi Bay Lake Sibaya

Pongolapoort Dam Lake St Lucia

12

Glencoe

Harrismith

Golden Gate Highlands National Park Winburg

Mokala 13 National Park

19

2 Bethlehem

Kimberley

17

Newcastle

Vaal

FREE STATE

3

Swaziland

Piet Retief

Volksrust

Kroonstad

Welkom

Bloemhof Dam

Mlilwane Mkhaya Game Wildlife Sanctuary Reserve 2

Ermelo

Klerksdorp

Vryburg

1 Hlane Royal National Park

5

3

Richards Bay

25 Tugela

24 1-2

N3

5

Howick

7 4

15 PIETER-

MARITZBURG

3

22 1 North Coast

Umhlanga

DURBAN Amanzimtoti

23 Orange

Kokstad

De Aar

18 Colesberg

Aliwal North

Gariep Dam

Port Shepstone

N9

e Knysna

26

Middelburg

Wild Coast

MTHATHA

Queenstown Graaff-Reinet

Cradock

5 Camdeboo National Park

aufort West

Mountain Zebra National Park 14

N9

14

18

At Ezemvelo, present your Wild Card + ID + confirmation letter.

N6

King William’s Town Bisho

N 10

N2

1

EAST LONDON

Grahamstown

Addo Elephant National Park

Tsitsikamma National Park

Port Alfred Algoa Bay

PORT ELIZABETH

N2 St Francis Bay

ss 9 20 Knysna National Lake Area 9

www.msinsi.co.za +27 (0)31-765-7724 www.biggameparks.org +268-2528-3943 / 4

KM

0

50

100

www.kznwildlife.com +27 (0)33-845-1000 1 Amatigulu Nature Reserve

EASTERN CAPE

N1

South Coast

N2

N 10 N 12

N2

150

www.wildcard.co.za

200 KM

1 Hlane Royal National Park 2 Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary 3 Mkhaya Game Reserve

1 2 3 4 5

Albert Falls Dam Bon Accorde Hazelmere Dam Inanda Dam Nagle Dam

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 12 Ithala Game Reserve 13 Kamberg Nature Reserve 14 Lotheni Nature Reserve 15 Midmar DamNature Reserve 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 2019 WILD 95


BACK PAGE

EXCLUSIVE TO WILD CARD MEMBERS

Grootvadersbosch NATURE RESERVE

S

ituated on a ridge overlooking the indigenous forest, these cosy wooden cabins are the perfect base for exploring Grootvaders­ bosch. Pick up a hiking trail on your doorstep, visit one of the ele­ vated hides in search of birds (196 species have been recorded), or take your mountain bike to explore further afield. After a day’s adventuring, you can unwind around the fire pit or inside the kuierkamer with its indoor braai. Each cabin has two spacious bedrooms, a bathroom with shower and a fully equipped kitchen. How to enter: Email the answer to the question below along with your name, contact details and valid All Parks Wild Card number to competition@tipafrica.co.za (subject line: Grootvadersbosch). QUESTION: How many bird species have been recorded in Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve?

Conserve. Explore. Experience.

Competition rules and terms The competition is open to valid All Parks Wild Card members only. The prize is a two-night stay for four people at Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and includes accommodation only. The prize is valid until 30 September 2019, excluding weekends and school holidays and subject to availability. CapeNature reserves the right to accept and award a booking at its sole discretion. The prize may not be exchanged for cash and is not transferable. Competition closes 30 April 2019. The lucky winner will be selected by a draw and informed by email. Members can check the website, www.wildcard.co.za, to view competition winners. 96 WILD AUTUMN 2019

HENK VENTER

WIN A STAY FOR FOUR


From 1 May to 30 June 2019, enjoy the Swazi bush for less. It may be getting colder at night, but you can count on our warm hospitality and great deals to make your winter breakaway unforgettable.

WINTER SPECIALS | TWO NIGHTS, TWO PEOPLE SHARING HLANE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK 2 nights 2 people R1 510 (Ndlovu and Bhubesi camps) MLILWANE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY 2 nights 2 people R1 510 (Sondzela Backpackers excluded) MKHAYA GAME RESERVE 2 nights 2 people from R8 140 for dinner, bed and breakfast, plus game drives/walks REILLY’S ROCK HILLTOP LODGE 2 nights 2 people from R4 060 for dinner, bed and breakfast

The Kingdom of Eswatini’s

Tel: (+268) 2528 3943/4 | reservations@biggameparks.org | www.biggameparks.org


Profile for TiP Publishing

Wild Magazine Autumn 2019 PREVIEW