Category Archives: Limpopo Province

Our experiences in the reserves of Limpopo, South Africa

Marakele in February

In Middle February we had the opportunity of a quick weekend visit to the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg of Limpopo Province. With us still experiencing a good rainy season here in the north of the country, the Park’s scenery was lush and green and it was good to see the Waterberg (Water Mountain) living up to its name.

We were booked into Tlopi Tented Camp again, and with its wonderful view of the dam and mountains beyond and an abundance of animal life all around it was as near to heaven as can be imagined.

On Saturday afternoon we explored the plains and foothills of this section of the Park. Animals were to be seen in abundance, but the amazing scenery also kept clamouring for attention.

Some very interesting insects came to visit our fully-equipped safari tent after dark.

At dawn on Sunday morning there was just one place we wanted to go; up to the Lenong Viewpoint atop the Waterberg. The narrow, steep, winding road that takes you there, the immense vistas and the fresh air up there takes our breath away every time. 

Eventually we had to descend from the mountain, go back to Tlopi to pack our belongings, and head for home – at least we could console ourselves with a few hours drive through the Park to get to the gate and the outside world.

Our 2021 In Pictures

Take a look back with us at the wonderfully wild South African places we visited in 2021.

 

Springtime rejuvenation at Nylsvley

Monday the 1st of November was a declared public holiday in South Africa, to allow for the running of the municipal elections. Of course this little gift of a long weekend was too good to pass up, so the de Wets headed north into the Bushveld for a two night visit to the Nylsvley Nature Reserve – one of our country’s most highly-rated bird watching destinations.

True to its reputation, Nylsvley delivered abundantly on the bird front during our visit, despite the fact that many of the summer regulars haven’t arrived in South Africa yet and despite most of the wetlands being completely dry at the end of the dry season. We managed to tick 82 species of birds without trying very hard.

Besides the birds, another reason to visit Nylsvley is the sizable populations of three of South Africa’s rarer antelope species that are found here: Southern Reedbuck, Roan Antelope, and Tsessebe.

These antelope were just some of the 25 kinds of mammals we encountered during the 48 hours or so we spent at Nylsvley, ranging from bats, squirrels and mice to lofty giraffes.

We found a little waterhole that was well frequented by the reserve’s giraffes, and had great fun photographing the giants as they stooped to drink.

Even on a smaller scale, Nylsvley has so much to offer!

If you’d like to learn more about Nylsvley you are welcome to have a read through a previous post we did on the reserve following a visit in 2017.

Entrance Gate at Nylsvley Nature Reserve

And don’t worry – Marilize and I performed our civic duty by casting our votes as soon as we got back to Pretoria on Monday afternoon. 😉

Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Sunday 13 June 2021

It was the morning after Marilize’s milestone birthday, which unfortunately coincided with South Africa experiencing a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections precluding any big commemoration with the extended family and friends. It was up to me and Joubert to make the event memorable, so we surprised Marilize with a weekend breakaway to Marakele National Park.

Having spent all day Saturday at our comfortable safari tent overlooking the dam at Tlopi Tented Camp, we decided to prolong our departure back home to Pretoria on Sunday by exploring the roads leading through the Marakele National Park before checking out. There were lots of animals and birds to be seen, but it is Marakele’s awe-inspiring scenery that steals the show every time!

Check-out time at Tlopi Tented Camp is at 10:00 in the morning. While I was packing the Duster, Joubert was keeping an eye out for thieving monkeys and getting some final photographs of life in and around Tlopi.

It was time to head for the gate. Along the way we detoured to the Bolonoto Pan and the graves of the Coetzee family, but no matter how we tried we just couldn’t stretch our weekend any further. Around midday we handed back the key for Tlopi unit 10 to the friendly reception staff and said our goodbyes to Marakele National Park, till next time.

Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Baby Elephant Rescue!

We were still watching the herd of elephants calmly going about their business on the shores of the dam at Tlopi Tented Camp in Marakele National Park on Marilize’s birthday, when suddenly there was a tremendous uproar in the herd.

Cows were trumpeting in panic and rushing to a specific spot, while one particular youngster was screaming blue murder and running away from the same place as quickly as the grown-ups were approaching.

It quickly became apparent that a tiny baby had fallen down a small embankment and into the mud at the edge of the pool, struggling to get up. Within seconds the adult cows were lending either a helping foot or trunk and the baby was lifted to safety.

While we didn’t see how the baby ended up in the mud to begin with, from their reaction to the youngster that fled the scene earlier, and who was still screeching to high heaven but now circled back to the group of cows where they were soothing the upset baby, it was rather clear who the adult elephants thought carried the blame for the incident!

Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Saturday 12 June 2021

Round about 04:45am on Saturday, the territorial rasping of a leopard really close lured Joubert and me out of our cosy tent into the cold winter morning air at Tlopi Tented Camp. Try as we might using our spotlight and headlamps the big cat remained unseen, so we warmed ourselves with hot drinks, waiting for the first rays of sunshine to appear. It was the morning of Marilize’s milestone birthday, and unfortunately this coincided with South Africa experiencing a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections precluding any big commemoration with the extended family and friends. It was up to me and Joubert to make the event memorable, so we surprised Marilize with a weekend breakaway to Marakele National Park

First light made an appearance around 06:20 and a stream of birds started arriving at the dam – first a few double-banded sandgrouse, then a hadeda and a pair of egyptian geese, waking up the arrow-marked babblers in the tree shading our tent. It was only at 08:10 that the sun first peaked over the cliffs of the Waterberg towering over Tlopi and started heating up the crisp air. Somewhere in between Marilize joined us on the deck of our safari tent.

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One of the most active actors on the dam stage was a pied kingfisher that regularly made attempts at dive-bombing fish in the shallow water, and was very successful at it too, providing us excellent views and photographic opportunities from very early on in the day.

There appears to be a very healthy population of bushbuck in the thickets around Tlopi. They regularly ventured out into the open to drink and feed in and around the dam.

Throughout the day a family of tawny-flanked prinias put in regular appearances:

The vervet monkeys had us laughing. As soon as they spotted anything on our deck that appeared to be food they could steal – and seeing as we were celebrating a birthday it must have seemed like a feast to them – they’d arrive from all corners, including from across the dam, to come and try their luck, in vain.

There truly is no need to venture out of Tlopi Tented Camp to go and look for Marakele’s wild inhabitants – there is a constant queue of animals and birds arriving at the dam in front of the camp, and around your tented accommodation, that would keep any nature lover enthralled all day long.

From about 14:00 in the afternoon, two herds of elephants made their way past the camp to the dam. They spent quite a while enjoying the water and the greenery around the dam, allowing us to take photographs of them to our hearts’ content. The little ones were especially endearing. Be sure to catch our next post to see what drama erupted next to the dam thanks to the elephants!

At the end of a beautiful and happy day, with the sun setting to the west of Tlopi while the smoke from our evening braai (barbeque) wafted on the slight breeze, Joubert set up his camera for a few night shots after it went dark.

To be continued…

Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Friday 11 June 2021

This past weekend Marilize celebrated a milestone birthday, and unfortunately this coincided with South Africa experiencing a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections precluding any big commemoration with the extended family and friends. It was up to me and Joubert to make the event memorable, so we surprised Marilize with a weekend breakaway to Marakele National Park. We left Pretoria just after 1pm on Friday, routing through Bela-Bela (Warmbad) and Thabazimbi, and arrived at Marakele’s gate just before 4pm.

After performing all the requisite formalities, which these days include a questionnaire on the recent medical history of the entire family, we set off on the 17km drive to Tlopi Tented Camp in the golden glow of the bushveld sunset.

In our estimation Tlopi Tented Camp is Marakele’s most beautifully situated accommodation option, and we were very lucky to be allocated unit 10, “Loerie”, right at the far end of the camp. Tlopi looks out over a dam frequented by a large number of birds and mammals, and the mountains of the Waterberg beyond.

To be continued…

What makes the Kruger “THE KRUGER”?

Well, if you ask us what makes the Kruger National Park “THE KRUGER”, our answer wouldn’t be the prolific game or birdlife, awesome as that might be. To us, what makes the Kruger National Park special is the wide variety of habitats and scenery where all this life finds a niche to flourish. At almost 20,000km² in size, the Kruger National Park is bigger than some countries, and naturally a piece of land that enormous would encompass many different landscapes and habitats; in fact there are pronounced differences in the scenery as one travels from south to north through Kruger’s 350km length.

This first gallery of images were taken during my solo visit at the end of May to Pretoriuskop and Skukuza in the south of the Park.

The north of Kruger has a quite different character to the southern parts. Here, the Mopane and Baobab trees dominate the landscape, by virtue of their numbers and size, respectively.

This gallery of images were taken during our visit from 15 to 24 June to the northern reaches of the Park (based at Shingwedzi Rest Camp)

 

Game-viewing in Kruger (May and June 2019)

When talking about “game-viewing”, most people immediately have images of Africa’s iconic Big Five flashing through their minds. And of course our recent trips to the Kruger National Park did not disappoint at all when it came to these most charismatic of African mammals, as well as many other furry creatures great and small.

This first gallery of pictures were taken during my solo trip to the southern part of the Kruger Park between 30 May and 2 June 2019.

There’s also much interest in the Kruger’s invertebrates (including a bounty of beautiful butterflies), fish, amphibians and reptiles, many of which are difficult to see elsewhere in South Africa.

Returning to Kruger two weeks later, this time to Shingwedzi in the north of the Park, proved just as fruitful with memorable encounters not only with predators and rare antelope, but also a menagerie of other mammalian species.