The joys of spring at Ithala

We’ve been singing Ithala Game Reserve‘s praises on this blog for a long time and our recent Heritage Day long weekend visit to this South African treasure further cemented our belief that Ithala is one of our country’s prime conservation areas.

Colourful spring flower displays were in evidence all over the reserve, despite not receiving much rainfall yet. With over 900 plant species at Ithala, including some extreme rarities like the pepper-bark tree and Lebombo cycad, Ithala is a botanist’s delight. Unfortunately we don’t know the names of most, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the show just the same!

The giraffe is Ithala’s emblem, and we were lucky to enjoy several encounters with these curious animals.

Most large game species were eradicated from the area before the reserve was proclaimed in 1972, and Ithala therefore had to be restocked. Today it is home to all the species that occurred here historically, with the exception of lion, and all-in-all provides sanctuary to 83 mammal species.

Ithala’s a bird-watcher’s paradise, with a list of 318 species recorded in the reserve. While we didn’t tick quite that many species during our visit – most of the summer migrants have not yet arrived – we were very thrilled with our close-up sighting of a pair of blue cranes shortly after arriving. Being South Africa’s national bird, it seemed a particularly special treat for Heritage Day!

Ithala’s not only about the big and obvious birds and animals, and closer inspection will reveal a multitude of insects, arachnids, amphibians and reptiles. We even encountered three of the reserve’s 41 snake species while walking around Ntshondwe Camp; they pose no danger as long as you don’t threaten them and true to form all three moved away very quickly and quietly.

Talking about Ntshondwe, we just have to mention again how beautifully the accommodation units are placed into the natural vegetation, offering privacy and a really intimate nature experience.

INtshondwe Unit 15, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

Ntshondwe Unit 15, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

Its faunal and floral diversity aside, Ithala is richly blessed with amazingly diverse scenery. The reserve extends over 30,000 hectares, its area ranging in altitude between the 1,450m peak of Ngotshe Mountain to 400m above sea level along the Pongola River. The reserve’s vegetation ranges from grasslands to woodlands to dense riverine forest.

We’re already making plans for our next visit to Ithala in early 2016, and you can probably see why!

Ithala Game Reserve is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and lies a 500km drive to the South-East of Pretoria.

Pretoria to Ithala (drawn with Google Maps)

Pretoria to Ithala
(drawn with Google Maps)

 

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32 thoughts on “The joys of spring at Ithala

  1. Pingback: Back to Ithala | de Wets Wild

  2. Pingback: Our 2015 in pictures | de Wets Wild

  3. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Sun spider is dit n jagspinnekop? Ons het as kinders altyd gekyk of hul nie ons tone wil byt nie. As hul storm het ons liewer weggehol. Grillerig om te wag tot hul naby jou moet kom. Hul hardloop mos na die skaduwee met die doel om dit te vang vir ete.. Lekker met julle gekuier in die veld en al die diere. Dankie vir die mooi toer.

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