In mid-October I returned to South Africa. It was an unexpected trip at short notice, but I was so excited to be returning to, what is without a doubt, my favourite country for wildlife photography.
This was my second stay at Jaci’s Lodges in Madikwe. Jaci’s is a family owned lodge that has a very personal approach, and the hospitality is second to none. Jaci’s comprises of two lodges – the main lodge and the tree lodge. On my first stay and this subsequent trip I stayed in the tree lodge. I’ve stayed in a few different lodges in South Africa and I have to say that Jaci’s tree lodge is probably my favourite. The rooms are incredible – they are luxurious and have a bathroom and outdoor shower to die for. Coming from northern Europe where we just don’t get the heat to have outdoor showers, it was a revelation.
The lodge is built on stilts and there are walkway passages amongst the trees between the rooms and the main lodge area. This gives you a real feeling of being in the African bush, and there are some interesting animals to be seen within the lodge itself. Most notably, bushbuck, banded mongoose and vervet monkeys.
But that’s about where it starts and ends in terms of wildlife within the lodge as Jaci’s is fenced. This makes it ideal forfamilies. It means that parents and children are free to roam; whether that be to the star bed lookout or to one of the swimming pools to relax. As Madikwe Game Reserve is also malaria-free, it is a serious contender if you are considering a family safari experience.
Chief Executive Officer of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Andrew Zaloumis, reflects on an encounter with a buffalo late last month that left him and his wife seriously injured.
“Tracey and I recently had a (too) close encounter with a buffalo while working with a small group on the eastern shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
As operational park staff, we are trained and frequently required to walk in remote places, but the incident brought home a few important bush truths. The rapid response, extraordinary teamwork and collaboration between colleagues in iSimangaliso, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, local residents and medical personnel resulted in us being safely and swiftly attended to despite the inaccessibility of the area for vehicles. We are extremely grateful to as well as proud of everyone involved. The enormous number of messages, calls, gifts, prayers, well wishes and offers of assistance in many different ways, from community near and far, is truly appreciated.
frica has many animals that are considered strange but the following five are very unusual. If you do spot any of these animals on safari consider yourself very lucky and take lots of photographs.
1. Wild dog or painted dog
This animal is the only member of Lycaon classification in the world. Wild dogs are extremely efficient hunters with a far higher kill rate than any other predator. The markings on each dog are unique which makes identifying individuals very easy. One of their most unusual behaviours is the habit of vomiting food to feed other members of the pack; this is an act of bonding as well as a source of nutrition. The pups are always fed first, which is very unusual predator behaviour. They hunt in groups, chasing their prey for many miles till the intended victim collapses in exhaustion. They are highly social animals and live in large packs. They have few natural predators but their numbers are sadly declining as their habit is being destroyed and they are hunted by farmers. Your best chance of seeing wild dogs will be on an early morning game drive.
Our family amp to camp … not that we’re inherently good at it. I remember us setting off with reckless abandon, caravan in tow, for campsites across the length and breadth of South Africa. We had all the enthusiasm in the world, but when it came to setting up, and configuring our campsite in such a way that we’d be comfortable for the next ten odd days, it always seemed to fall apart at the seams (of the tent).
But the outdoors nature that is so intrinsic to average South African families kept us exploring more. Rallying around the “African TV” on a frosty July evening in the Berg, or flipping the Coleman’s to a kitchen table on a warm December at the coast, camping is a core part of our culture. It’s not like we even have to travel far from our comfort zones; the best campsites in South Africa can be found within mere hours of major cities; and swapping the suburbs for sleeping bags will, as always, be a way of life this summer.
I asked the Meesers about how they came to be the much-loved hosts at nDzuti, and I uncovered tales about hand-built reed huts, horseback in the bush, rhino monitoring programmes, and the initiation of some well-known safari establishments.
Bruce and Judy Meeser have been heading up safari operations in South Africa for the last 30 years before coming to settle at their beautiful ‘place in the shade,’ nDzuti Safari Camp. Their expertise comes from practice and passion, and they have got a lot of both!
Read some of our questions and answers and learn how truly serious Bruce and Judy are about Africa and the wild world they call home.
Tell us about the various safari operations you have established and run since the 1980s after you guys got married and ventured into the safari business