At the beginning of March Covid-19 was only a distant threat on the horizon for us in southern Africa. Now we find ourselves in a lockdown within a world in crisis. Oblivious to all this, thankfully, is our precious wildlife and wilderness, and we’d like to continue their story of survival, for you, in these monthly journals.
Some of the most memorable moments for guests are made on their first game drive in the late afternoon, after arriving at Singita Pamushana. On one of these we took our travel-weary guests on a drive to the open plains of Banyini where herds of impala, wildebeest, zebras and giraffes instantly re-energised them. Then along came a crash of six white rhinos to drink at the pan as the guests sipped their first sundowner on African soil. To end the show a full silvery moon rose in the east and guided us back to the lodge for dinner and a night’s deep sleep serenaded by the bushveld’s signature song.
Here’s a snapshot of March’s sightings:
A couple of times we’ve come across prides sleeping in the middle of the road. The roads provide clear warm areas away from damp long grass at this time.
A highlight was seeing four members of the River Pride cross the river to part of their territory on the Hippo side, and then head towards the swamps. They were very relaxed and walked past our vehicle with confident nonchalance!
Another great moment was sitting at the Nduna platform overlooking the water with a pod of 30 hippos, as an adult lioness drank and then silenced their chuckles with a proclamation of roars.
We’ve been lucky enough to spot these elusive creatures, including a lovely sighting of a leopardess as we made our way back to the lodge at dusk.
We watched a pack of nine African wild dogs in a feeding frenzy as they finished off an impala ram, as a single, adult male hyena danced about on the fringes of their feast.
A clever young hyena has worked out where it can have a regular evening snack – it’s been coming into one of our camps and feeding on the insects attracted by the night lights that illuminate the area.
The lush grass is providing such nutritious grazing for white rhinos at the moment. They are carrying a lot of weight and seem very relaxed. At times they’ve mowed their delirious way so close to the game-viewers that we’ve thought they might bump into us! Crashes still gather at their preferred drinking spots; we saw seven white rhinos together at Hwata Pan.
We’ve had some good sightings of black rhino bulls too, but the best was while we were on a walk and saw three black rhinos together. A less adrenalin-filled experience was watching a mother and a calf black rhino, and an elephant bull, feeding below Chikwete Cliffs as we stopped there for a tea break.
We’ve really had to search hard for breeding herds as the greedy vegetation swallows them up, but we’ve seen huge herds of over 60 emerge from the thickets when they make their way to water.
The bulls are so well fed right now and in superb condition which brings on their breeding state of musth. It’s really impressive to see them like this – but best viewed from a generous distance.
The buffalo couldn’t be happier – they are fat on grass and caked in mud from wallowing!
Boat cruises & fishing
There have been some relaxing boat cruises with epic light for photography and awesome scenery.
In contrast, the fishing expeditions have been a frenzy! On one trip guests landed 43 tilapia, the biggest weighing a whopping 2 kg.
Walks and rock art
We love walking on this property, so when the vegetation is thick we head for the hills. On one walk we saw a mother white rhino and her calf, an elephant bull, various species of plains game, then finished off the walk by viewing some of our favourite rock art at the Chidumu site.