Lowveld, South Africa and Swaziland. July 2012.

On our way back to Zimbabwe we spent a couple of weeks in the lowveld areas of South Africa and Swaziland as these places, being at a lower altitude, don't usually get too cold on winter nights.

1. Phongola Nature Reserve, KZN.

We spent a couple of nights at Phongola Nature Reserve which is in northern KwaZulu-Natal, only a few minutes from the Swaziland border post at Golela.

The reserve borders the Phongola Dam and there are some tracks that you can drive along. Although there's no 'big five' apart from several rhino there are plenty of other animals around, especially on the open land next to the dam.



The view from near our campsite.

We saw several giraffe, some close to the campsite.

These warthogs visited our campsite.

2. Mbuluzi Game Reserve, Swaziland.

We stopped at the campsite in the Northern section of the Reserve but the site fees gave free access to the Southern Mbuluzi Reserve and the Hlane Game Reserve.

We didn't see many animals in the northern section (just giraffe and warthog) but there were more in the Southern part.

There's a hide overlooking a small waterhole in the Northern section where we saw several birds, a crocodile and a turtle.

There are several walking trails, mostly in the Southern section of the park.

A walking trail along the Mbuluzi River.

A malachite kingfisher at the waterhole.

An inquisitive young giraffe.

3. Arathusa Safari Lodge, Sabi Sands area of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa.

We've visited this private lodge a couple of times (in 2009 and 2010) when my sister and her husband visited us and I managed to get us 3 nights accommodation at the last minute. As previously we had a wonderful time with 2 superb game drives each day thanks to Phil, our excellent Ranger, and Rifos, tracker extrodinaire.

Elephants and waterbuck at the waterhole by the Lodge.

We drove into the middle of a huge herd of buffalo (at least 300 animals), turned off the engine and just sat and watched them.

We saw a pride of 3 lionesses and 4 8 month old cubs on 4 occasions over the 3 days. This is one of the young male cubs.

Cheetah are are rare sighting at Arathusa but we were lucky enough to see this female. After walking through the bush she sat on top of a termite mound for 20 minutes while we watched her.

We followed this male leopard for an hour or so while he was scent marking his territory and hunting - he didn't get an impala that he was stalking as some vervet monkeys sounded an alarm call.

There were also plenty of birds. A lilac-breasted roller.

This tiny pearl-spotted owlet was in a bush at the Lodge.

It's expensive to stay at Arathusa (R2500 pppn in the standard rooms) but you do get exceptional game viewing, comfortable rooms and excellent food so we treat ourselves occasionally!

It's one of the few reserves where some animals (the big 5) are followed off-road but there are only a maximum of 3 vehicles with any animal(s). The animals that we followed (lion and leopard) weren't at all bothered by the vehicles and if prey are sighted the vehicles stop and at night turn off all lights to allow nature take its course.


4. Klaserie Dam, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

We had 3 nights here in a lovely location next to the very full dam. Hoedspruit is only 25km away and has some excellent shops.

The other people staying here were all fishing for carp in the dam.

5. Dongola Ranch, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

We had a couple of nights here and met up with John and Darryl who have made this their base in South Africa - we met them a couple of months ago at Lake Chivero in Zimbabwe.

The Lodge has excellent facilities and there were plenty of dassies, warthogs and banded mongooses around the site which are entertaining to watch.


In the early morning the dassies sunned themselves on the rocky outcrops.

There were plenty of birds around. These were drinking from one of the lawn watering points.

1. Lowveld. Phongola, Mbuluzi, Arathusa, Klaserie and Dongola.

2. Zimbabwe - Bulawayo, Hwange National Park & Sailing on Lake Kariba.

3. Mozambique beaches. Pomene, Barra Lighthouse and Bilene.

Diary. (Word '97 document).


A young lion that we saw one evening at Arathusa.


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