Tag Archives: uMkhuze Game Reserve

Creatures Great and Small at uMkhuze

Despite the lush greenery making it a little more difficult than normal, we were treated to some amazing game-viewing at uMkhuze Game Reserve when we visited in March, and what better way to conclude our trip reports than with some photos of the “hairies and scaries” we encountered along the way?

With so many habitats, uMkhuze is home to an astounding variety of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and mammals (not forgetting the birds we showed you earlier), and the galleries to follow should give you some idea of what you could expect to see when visiting this wonderful place!

One would think that the bigger the animals the easier they are to see? Please go tell that to uMkhuze’s elephants, rhinos and lions that kept so well hidden during our visit!? Jokes aside though, we reveled in some wonderful encounters with plains zebra, nyala, kudu, impala, hippos, grey duiker, baboons, vervet monkeys, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, blue wildebeest and giraffe.

The arrival of autumn heralds the start of the rutting season for many antelope, and it was hard not to notice the testosterone flowing strongly in many male nyalas and impalas as they established their place in the hierarchy and started herding together their harems!

uMkhuze Game Reserve has so much to offer, and with every visit we’re given only a little taste of it, just enough to keep us going back for more!

uMkhuze Birding

With a list of over 400 recorded bird species, the uMkhuze Game Reserve (part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park) is one of South Africa’s most highly-rated birdwatching destinations. The reserve is home to many commonly seen and well-known species, both residents and summer migrants, but also hosts several species rarely encountered in South Africa – we, for instance, had our first ever sighting of the African Pygmy Goose at uMkhuze’s Nsumo Pan when we visited the reserve in March, though we sadly didn’t manage a photograph of it. This gallery however shows just some of the almost 100 species we managed to find during our three day visit!

 

Celebrating nature’s resilience at uMkhuze

Not long ago, much of South Africa was in the grip of one of the most severe droughts in recorded history, and some parts of the country still are. Recent good rains in the north and east of the country has however had a positive impact, and while the effects of the drought will probably take some time to be reversed, seeing uMkhuze Game Reserve covered in swathes of lush, green vegetation and enjoying the spectacle of a full Nsumo Pan, one couldn’t help but feel optimistic!

Baboon antics at Kumasinga

Joubert and I had great fun with the jolly baboons at uMkhuze Game Reserve‘s Kumasinga Hide – their fun and games kept us entertained for hours! Just confirmation again of why Kumasinga is one of the best and most popular photographic hides in the country.

Stork Buffet at uMkhuze

While driving around the uMkhuze Game Reserve one afternoon in March, we happened upon a seemingly insatiable Woolly-Necked Stork catching juvenile catfish in a drying mudpool. We watched the stork gorge itself on one fish after another, amazed at the ease with which it could grab its slippery, squirming quarry from the “all you can eat buffet table”, until there was no more splashing from the pool at his approach…

African Bullfrog

Pyxicephalus edulis

While I doubt it reached proportions that would convince the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, the “eruption” of little froglets we saw at uMkhuze Game Reserve during our recent visit was quite fascinating. Rain or shine, literally hundreds (if not more) of tiny frogs could be seen jumping around on the roads all over the reserve, making driving quite tricky if you didn’t want to squash them under the vehicle’s wheels.

Thanks to the help of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park the little ones were identified as juvenile African Bullfrogs (also known as Edible or Lesser Bullfrogs), a species that occurs over wide areas of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, and indeed is eaten by humans in many countries where they occur. Though these newly metamorphosed juveniles were only about the size of a thumbnail, the African Bullfrog can grow to 12cm in length.

They can be found in seasonally flooded savannas and grassy woodlands, remaining dormant underground for most of the year (up to 10 months) and emerging only when sufficient rain has fallen for breeding to commence. During the breeding season males act very aggressively towards one another and will even kill each other. Eggs are laid in well vegetated, shallow, seasonal bodies of water where the males guard the eggs and tadpoles against other males and predators. Interestingly, when the tadpoles’ pools start drying up the males will dig channels to deeper pools. African Bullfrogs feed on a variety of invertebrates and small vertebrates, including other frogs, and feature in turn in the diets of various species of birds, reptiles and mammals (humans included).

During a visit to the Kruger National Park in December 2019 we witnessed the breeding habits of the African Bullfrog following a few days of continuous rain.

 

Fresh out of the bush

We’re fresh back from visits to the Kruger National Park and uMkhuze Game Reserve (part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park) and of course we have lots of photos and stories to share – so stay tuned!

We’ll also be catching up with all the comments you’ve left for us while we were away in the coming days, I promise!

Close Up

This toad was waiting for us at the back door of our cottage in Mantuma Rest Camp at uMkhuze Game Reserve, in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, when we visited in December 2014.

Close Up

Close Up” is the theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

Summer at uMkhuze

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!

Mantuma, uMkhuze, December 2014

Mantuma, uMkhuze, December 2014

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.

Nsumo magic

Nsumo magic

Zebra reflections

Zebra reflections at Kumasinga

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!

A pair of suni in the sand forest

A pair of suni in the sand forest

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!

Driving through the riverine forest at Ophansi Gate

Driving into the riverine forest at Ophansi Gate