Having grown up in the Lowveld, naturally the Greater Kruger area has a very special place in my heart so I was very excited to head back to the Timbavati a few weeks ago.
The Timbavati which is open to the Kruger National Park (no fences) consist of various private concessions that have been split up. This means that the amount of vehicles in a particular concession and in sightings are controlled, making it better for the wildlife but also from a game viewing and photographic perspective.
The Timbavati has a special X-factor to it. It does not boast the game viewing densities as some of the other Private Game Reserves, but it is a place more known for quality sightings instead of quantity. As I mentioned the amount of vehicles per concession is controlled and one of the aspects of being at Shindzela Camp which I really enjoyed was the little “traffic” that was in the Concession. Many of the sightings that we enjoyed only had one maybe two other vehicles, with no pressure of moving on. This may seem stock standard, but having the freedom of spending good quality time in a sighting is something that is not always enjoyed at many places, with other vehicles often wanting to share the sighting meaning a time limit for everyone so that vehicles can pass through.
Like I said, sightings don’t jump out at you from every corner and we often had to put the hard work in, but the rewards were incredible. We had numerous sightings of Lions, in fact a pride of 8 Lions settled in the concession for the majority of our 5 nights at Shindzela, allowing us to view and follow them for long periods of time. On one particular evening we were entertained as the pride had just taken down a big adult Kudu Bull. The sounds that accompanied this as the Lions were feeding was incredible and watching my clients as they slowly but down their massive DSLR cameras to record the sound using their phones just summed up how special it was. We were also fortunate enough to view a Female Leopard, spending time with her one morning as she went about her business and returned to the same area that evening to find her with a freshly killed Impala hoisted up a tree. Unfortunately with the dominant presence of Spotted Hyaenas in the area, she had moved off the next day and we were unable to locate her again for the rest of the week.
During the week we also enjoyed numerous sightings of Elephants, often accompanied by a few small calves, as well as White Rhino, Buffalo and even a sighting of a Honey Badger!!
The crisp winters mornings greeted us at 06:00am and with the amount of layers we had on, it would have been easy to mistake this trip for something in the North Pole, however as the sun peaked up above the horizon temperatures starting warming up and became more comfortable.
With some late out of season rains in large parts of South Africa, it was amazing to see how much water was still around, with many of the local waterholes still left with plenty of water, a good sign for the wildlife as the seasonal rains would only return during the summer months (November-February).
A special thank you to Janet and Ande who joined me on this Safari, it was great fun filled with loads of laughs… The perfect recipe for a great safari.
I certainly look forward to returning to the Timbavati again soon…
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