uMkhuze Game Reserve, in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and World Heritage Site, was the third destination of our epic summer 2014 bush holidays. We arrived at uMkhuze’s western gate, Emshopi, on the 18th of December, after an easy 164km drive from Ithala Game Reserve. Our reservation was for three nights in an extremely spacious cottage at Mantuma Rest Camp. When we say “extremely spacious”, we are not lying; you could have held a dance in the lounge!
We’ve already shared with you our experiences at two of uMkhuze’s biggest attractions, the Nsumo Pan and Kumasinga Hide, and in this post we’ll focus on some of the things we saw in the rest of this unique reserve.
Of the bat, it has to be said that uMkhuze is one of South Africa’s best known birding destinations. The variety of birds is absolutely staggering, thanks to the diversity of habitats the reserve protects, and we were lucky to add a couple of new “lifers” to our birding tick list.
uMkhuze protects a sizable piece of sand forest, a very rare plant community in South Africa. An equally rare little antelope, the suni, lives only within this habitat. We had several sightings of them, but getting even a half-decent photograph of these shy creatures proved very difficult!
We also had our first sightings of large predators (on this trip) at uMkhuze. Lions were reintroduced to the reserve a year ago, and we were thrilled to find two females during a guided night drive. On our last afternoon at uMkhuze, we found a very shy spotted hyena lurking in the bush.
uMkhuze protects large populations of other well-known African mammals and they certainly were not shy to show themselves!
uMkhuze has its fair share of creepy-crawlies too!
I’ve already mentioned what a diverse reserve uMkhuze is, and there’s no better place to see this than from the top of the observation tower just a few kilometers south of Mantuma Rest Camp.
uMkhuze really is a gem in the crown of South Africa’s wild places, and we always enjoy visiting here. Leaving through the Ophansi Gate on uMkhuze’s eastern boundary we felt like we should have stayed a bit longer still, thankfully we could console ourselves by thinking about the great destinations that were still waiting for us on our summer trip to the bush!