Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Webster Safari - South African Lowveld

The Websters with Albie Venter
My wife, 23 year old daughter and I have just enjoyed a seamless eight night visit to the greater Kruger organised through Africa Unlocked.

Our brief was for six nights Safari where the quality of the guides and trackers was important and with a couple of nights at the end to relax whilst getting in some birding.  The ability to participate in Bush Walks and to go off road in vehicles was also important as was “small and select camps” as opposed to bigger, perhaps more commercial ones.

One of four leopard separate Leopard sightings, this one whilst at Senalala.
After a warm greeting on arrival at Hoedspruit Airport by the principles of Africa Unlocked, Albie and Freda Venter we had a smooth 60 minute transfer to our first lodge, Senalala.  Very comfortably appointed, HJ our guide and tracker in one took us in hand and gave us a marvellous four outings including a Bush Walk tracking lion.  On the first drive we had a beautifully lit female Leopard with her Impala supper, on our second we got in and amongst a playfully minded pack of Hunting Dogs now designated Painted Wolves.

African Wilddogs or Painted Wolves
On our third day in country we had a 40 minute transfer to Umlani Bush camp, also in the Timbivuti private concessions of the greater Kruger.  Umlani was certainly more rustic and could accommodate 16 guests so slightly larger than Senalala but very comfortable and extremely friendly staff.  We loved the atmosphere and the odd wild animal walking through the camp added to the “Bush” feeling though the Honey Badger visiting the dining area (after dinner) was much talked about the next day.  

Jordan and Islief at Umlani - in expert safe hands. 
A must was a night in the tree house overlooking a watering hole.  A fabulous experience intensified by six lions parked up beneath us territorially calling all night.  Not much sleep with the noisy neighbours but a great dinner party story for months to come. 

Male and female lion asleep in front of the treehouse where we spent a night.
The rains were late this year (November ’18) so we were dealing with very hot weather which made it difficult to rest up properly during the day between game drives or sleep that well at night.  So at the end of the six day safari experience we were ready for a little R&R to recharge the batteries before returning back to grizzly Brexit never alone the UK weather.  Umvangit near Hoedspruit provided the most amazing environment.  Home of the Geldenhuis family the hospitality, wine and food they provided was five star and so personable.  The quality of the build and attention to detail was faultless and the setting breath taking. 
Umvangati House
Our thirty six hours at Umvangati besides true relaxation included a boat trip on the Blyde Dam and walks along trails in the Blyde River Canyon doing a little “birding”. A perfect way to conclude a fabulous all too short trip.  Our sincere thanks to Africa Unlocked for interpreting the brief and delivering a perfect mix and blend of experience.  Five star recommendation and we will be back !

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