On our way this morning to Umlani Bush Camp after 2 1/2 days and some crazy elephant action in Kruger National Park. We’ll be spending 3 nights at the camp without electricity in the Timbavati which is part of the northern greater Kruger NP region on a 10,000 hectare private reserve with one night spent in a tree house 3 km away from the camp. Should be interesting!
Umlani Bush Camp is hard to put into words. Nesteled in more than 10,000 hectares of African wilderness we did 5 safaris totalling more than 17 hours of off-road bush driving. We encountered close up lions, wild dog, elephant, giraffe, rino, leopard, hyena, Cape buffalo and the list goes on. The highlight was probably seeing a very rare white female lion and staying over night in a tree house 3 km from camp located beside a watering hole. We fell asleep listening to the roar of nearby lions and were awoken at 3:00 am to herd of elephant below us stopping in to the hole for an early morning drink. We drank wine and gazed at the stars and the amazing Milky Way above. Absolutely awe-inspiring with no moon and no light pollution. When we awoke at around 5:30 am waiting for our morning safari pick up I scanned the edges of the watering hole. Joyce asked if I could see anything and I said yes, a couple of male lions having a drink. No way! Yes way! They they were. We watched them drink and could hear them slurping the water and then they headed off on their merry way probably looking for their next kill. People assume only the female lion does the hunting but males without a pride do their fair share of killing too. We were picked up at about 6:15 am, had a hot cup of coffee, two tiny pancakes and then headed out to what would be another fantastic morning of rare and not often seen animal sightings…..a leopard sitting in a tree with a very full stomach, a pack of wild dogs ravaging at the leopards impala kill below his tree and 8 hyena circling around waiting for the scraps all while a beautiful white breasted vulture circled above. Truly fantastic.
Throughout our three days we did a bush walk with our armed ranger and sat quietly watching two elephants dig for water in a dry river bed, sat and drank beers on a camp deck overlooking a dry river bed watching mother and baby elephants 100 metres away, listening to cape buffalo grunting and making their beds beside our hut while we slept wondering if they had any desire to check us out and sitting around a fire after a long day gazing at the stars. As I said, very hard to put into words the vastness, solitude and back to nature experience we had at Umlani Bush Camp. We were truly sad to leave this magical place.
A few more pictures from Umlani;
Swaziland to Kruger National Park
We arrived at Berg-en dal rest camp in Kruger NP early and before our 2:00 pm check in so we had a burger at the rest camp restaurant, checked in and decided to do a self drive for a couple of hours before the 5:30 gate closing time. The camp/lodge offers ranger guided safaris so we booked an early (5:30 am) safari and an afternoon safari for the next day. The self drive roads were a little confusing but we did manage to spot elephant, giraffe, impala and kudu. Our lodge accommodation was secluded, comfortable and quiet and our private patio faced the forest where baboons stopped by to check us out and at night we were lucky to see two bush babies jumping through the trees nearby.
The camp offered two safari vehicle types, one that seated probably 15-20 people and two others that seated about 8. Not knowing how many people would be on the morning drive we got up at 4:30 am, had a coffee and went to the meeting point by 5:00 am determined to get the best seats on whatever safari 4 x 4 would be used. To our amazement and delight we were the only two booked for the drive! The morning drive revealed beautiful birds, cape buffalo, elephant, giraffe and incredible landscapes. The morning was quite cold but incredibly warmed up to 34 C by mid afternoon so we had a very comfortable and rewarding afternoon drive, the highlight being a very agitated bull elephant in musk who decided to charge our safari truck. This was a highlight and the video is attached. All in all, a great couple of days but still no lions! Next stop Umlani Bush Camp in the Timbavati region of the greater Kruger NP.