St Lucia tour from Durban Archives - Tim Brown Tours

Safari near Durban

Safari near Durban – 29th July to 1st August 2015     I met my clients in Durban, a family for their 3 day Durban safari tour. We got all the luggage aboard and began making our way to the cat rehabilitation center near Hluhluwe. It would be here that our safari near Durban would begin and we would interact with Cheetah, Serval and African wild cat hands on. As usual I covered the general History side of Durban and answered any questions they had.   It is always amazing to see these cats and to learn about them and why they are so endangered.           Safari near Durban; Cheetah at Rehabilitation center Safari near Durban; Cheetah at Rehabilitation center                                   After we left the cat rehabilitation center we made our way to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for our 2 nights at Hilltop camp where Prince Harry was staying. I think my guests were amazed when they saw him at dinner the first night. If Hilltop camp is good enough for Prince Harry it is should be good enough for my clients and of course it always is.     Before we got to the camp we did see some great animals.           Safari near Durban; Male Nyala demonstrates philo-erection Safari near Durban; Male Nyala demonstrates philo-erection                                   Philo- Erection is when the hair on the male antelope in this case a Male Nyala stands up which make him look bigger and that the other males. The idea is to be the biggest so you can take over a harem of females for yourself. Next we spotted some Buffalo and Zebra together down in a dip on our Safari near Durban.           Safari near Durban; Buffalo and Zebra Safari near Durban; Buffalo and Zebra                                   We then arrived at Hilltop camp and had some lunch before checking in and settling into the rooms for 45 minutes. It was then time for us to get out and see what other animals we could find. I was a little concerned as it was still only 15:15 and pretty warm still so I said to my client not to expect many animals for the first hour.   Well when ever you say something like that on a safari you can expect something good to happen and boy did something great happen.   I spotted something that I knew was a big cat but as she was running in the valley I could not make out if she was a Lion or Leopard I was hoping for the latter but didn’t really care as a cat is a cat!   It turned out to be a Lioness and she was looking to hunt some Nyala in broad daylight! It was amazing. We raced down to meet here and she was beautiful, she posed for us on a rock and then crossed the road in front of us.           Safari near Durban; Lioness on rock Safari near Durban; Lioness on rock                                     Video: Lion on rock in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve We then got her staring at the Nyala and she made her way off the rock and crossed the road in front of us! It was amazing and such a great spot of luck and good fortune. The best part of this sighting was we had her to our selves.             Safari near Durban; Lioness sits on rock Safari near Durban; Lioness sits on rock                                   Video: Lion crosses road in middle of day in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve   We were very lucky and had now just experience something that would normally only be seen a night in broad daylight. We decided to leave here as we lost visual and made our way to the Hluhluwe River to see if we could find Elephants. We had no luck but did find Rhino which was amazing.             Safari near Durban; Rhino Safari near Durban; Rhino                                   In fact our Rhino sightings were very good this day I will not give a number but we saw a good amount of them. We then tried for Giraffe and Buffalo and got the Buffalo all around the vehicle on one of the road but the sun was setting so the light was not good for a photo. We did however enjoy watching them! We needed to get back to camp so we hurried along and got to near Hilltop camp and spotted a Elephant in the dark which was very hard to photograph but we did anyway.             Safari near Durban; Elephant Safari near Durban; Elephant                                 We got back to camp and settled in for some dinner at 7pm it wasn’t long after this that Prince Harry arrived with his Body Guards and walked past us to go and eat in a secluded area as people had been trying to get photos of the poor guy… It was still amazing to see a prince at the lodge I always bring my clients too.   After dinner we headed to bed and it was a Blue moon it looked amazing.             Day 2: Safari near Durban     We began day two of our Safari from Durban in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve with breakfast and then headed down south in the game reserve. We did very well and spotted lots of Giraffe and even Lion tracks from the night before.           Safari near Durban; Giraffe Safari near Durban; Giraffe                                   It was one of those mornings when everything seemed to be working well for us and we even had the most amazing Rhino sighting, one which I have been waiting for, for years!             Safari near Durban; Rhino Safari near Durban; Rhinos                                   Video: Rhino marks his territory and does flehmen grimace       After this unbelievable sighting we made our way further south and found some Zebra and Impala together before spotting some Kudu and Warthogs. The Zebra and Impala crossed the road in front of us which was great.             Safari near Durban; Zebra crossing Safari near Durban; Zebra crossing                                   Funnily enough the clouds then began to gather as we entered the Umfolozi section and it began to rain a little. This was very odd at the forecast did not predict this. We still had great sightings and as we continued our safari near Durban we found more Giraffe in the rain.               Safari near Durban; Journey of Giraffe Safari near Durban; Journey of Giraffe                                 We then went through a very lean patch or so it seemed it might of been because we were so focused on looking for Elephant the be drove past Rhino, Baboons, Wildebeest, Nyala, Kudu, Zebra and more Giraffe… We almost got the Elephant and I got a puncture which I then needed to stop for to change the wheel and continue on. It took some time as these new vehicles are so much more complicated than the old cars we used to have.   The temperature was dropping and we made our way back to the Centenary center for some lunch which we really needed but before we could get there we had an amazing sighting of a Rhino mother and calf.             Safari near Durban; Rhino mother and calf Safari near Durban; Rhino mother and calf                                   Video: Rhino mother and calf cross the road         We still had one more good sighting of something new before we got to the Centenary center for lunch and that was of some Vultures and a Crow feeding off an old Buffalo carcass.             Safari near Durban; White Backed Vultures on old Buffalo carcass Safari near Durban; White Backed Vultures on old Buffalo carcass                                 We eventually sat down for some lunch and discussed the evening game drive and the clients decided they would brave the cold weather to see what they could see on the open vehicle. When I got back to camp I had to fix the puncture and change the wheels back around before getting to some computer work. I had an earlier dinner and would be meeting my clients the following morning for breakfast and luggage collection.             Day 3: Safari near Durban     We began day 3 just before 7am with a luggage collection and breakfast at Hilltop camp before checking out and completing our final 3 hours of safari near Durban.   During the safari we had some great luck and we had been looking for more Elephants and we got them down at the Hluhluwe river from a view point.             Safari near Durban; Elephants drinking Safari near Durban; Elephants drinking                                 We watched the Elephant for about 10-15 minutes as they finished drinking they walked along the rivers edge and we enjoyed the calling from the Matriarch getting the herd to follow her.             Safari near Durban; Elephants walking in the Hluhluwe river bed Safari near Durban; Elephants walking in the Hluhluwe river bed                                 This is always a good time to make a video so I got the camera running so I could share this moment with the followers of Tim Brown Tours or just Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.             Video: Elephants walking in riverbed Hluhluwe game reserve                 We continued on with our safari near Durban and found Rhino and had an excellent sighting of Buffalo on the road. It was perfect as we had seen them on the road before but it was to dark to get pictures.               Safari near Durban; Buffalo bull Safari near Durban; Buffalo bull                                 It was not time to see what else we could find before leaving Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for St Lucia estuary for our 2 hour Hippo and Crocodile boat cruise. We tried for Giraffe and more Elephant with out much luck but did see more Zebra, Nyala, Waterbuck, Warthog and Buffalo before we departed.   It was a 1 hour drive to St Lucia or Isimangaliso Wetland park as it is now known and we arrived, had some lunch and got to the boat for the wonderful 2 hour boat cruise. It is a guarantee to see Hippos and we usually see Crocodiles. This day we saw about 6-8 Crocodiles and 100 Hippos a least.             Safari near Durban; Crocodiles at St Lucia estuary Safari near Durban; Crocodiles at St Lucia estuary                                   The Hippos were mostly near the shore and some on the land as well so apart from the light being a bit bright it was great for us to photograph them.             Safari near Durban; Hippo at St Lucia estuary Safari near Durban; Hippo at St Lucia estuary                                 We ended out boat cruise at St Lucia and began our journey back to Durban, it had been a great 3 day safari from Durban and the highlight was the Lioness and the Elephant for sure! If you would like to join a Tim Brown Tour or Safari like this 3 day Safari click the link below:       Durban 3 day safari tour package    

Durban day tour

Durban day tour – St Lucia estuary – 17th July 2015     We began our Durban day tour in Durban city. After introductions and a briefing on how the day would run we headed up to St Lucia 2.5 hour away up the North coast of KwaZulu Natal. St Lucia is South Africa’s first world heritage site and is a one of a kind place. At St Lucia you can come across, Hippos, Crocodiles and Zambezi Sharks! Where in the world can you get this combination? This is not all, seasonally Whales frequent the coastline and well as Sea Turtles to lay their eggs on the shoreline. If this wasn’t enough surrounding St Lucia is Isimangaliso wetland park a 30032 Hectare game reserve home to four of the Big five!   If you are ever in the Durban area this is right up there as one of the best places to visit  and can be done in a day tour from Durban with Tim Brown Tours.   Back to the day itself!   After covering a lot of the History of Durban and KwaZulu Natal   we stopped for a coffee and toilet break before the final hour to St Lucia, Isimangaliso Wetland park. After arriving and enjoying some of the warning signs that St Lucia has about Hippos crossing at night we visited the Crocodile center. These amazing creatures have been around for millions of years with a design that is floor-less however we have noted a decline in recent years in their numbers. This is one of the reasons for the Crocodile center to educate people and to get some of these creatures back to the wild.           Durban day tour; Warning sign on St Lucia estuary beach Durban day tour; Warning sign on St Lucia estuary beach                               I took my clients around the center and told them about the Crocodiles, Hippos and a range of other things. It was then time to head down to the Estuary of St Lucia for our 2 hour boat cruise.   We began and there was Hippos every where what was really good on this day tour was that we also saw a lot of Crocodiles which in not a guarantee.           Durban day tour; Big pod of Hippo Durban day tour; Big pod of Hippo                                 It is only due to the fact that boat have traversed these rich waters of St Lucia for many years that we have the privilege of viewing the amazing dangerous animals so close without incident. The Hippos in this sections of 8 kilometers of river are used to the boats and this enables us to enjoy amazing sightings of them. We always have to remember that Hippos are wild animals and kill around about 3000 people per year in Africa!         Durban day tour; Crocodile hiding Durban day tour; Crocodile hiding                               The above picture was a Crocodile we found near the shoreline of St Lucia and it was so well hidden in the long grass! So lovely to see it though! We did see better Crocodiles but this picture just looked amazing.   As we continued up stream we came across a wide range of Bird life which is something else St Lucia estuary has to offer visitors. St Lucia is am idea place for birders to come and spot special birds they do not see every day. We spotted this Goliath Heron fishing near the shoreline, this is the tallest heron in the world!         Durban day tour; Goliath Heron Durban day tour; Goliath Heron                               A bit later on we managed to spot some Hippos on the shore and two of them had a little fight with one another. It was one of those moment you don’t expect so you miss most of it when you get you camera ready but it was amazing!           Durban day tour; Hippos fighting Durban day tour; Hippos fighting                                 As we continued our Durban day tour we spotted more birds and I am sure birders would always be happy to see this one, the Giant Kingfisher! If you are interest we can offer birding tours of KwaZulu Natal from Durban.         Durban day tour; Giant Kingfisher Durban day tour; Giant Kingfisher                               We began our way back to the jetty and on route spotted more Hippos and Crocodiles and had a special sighting of baby Hippos out the water on the shore resting. It is always amazing to see this but even more special when it is babies so I had to also make a little video.       Durban day tour; Baby Hippos out the water Durban day tour; Baby Hippos out the water                               Video: Hippo babies at St Lucia wetlands during our Durban day tour           We almost got to the dock and we spotted some Pink backed Pelicans which we don’t see very often this far up the estuary so it was a real treat. If we had birder on this Durban day tour they would have loved to see these birds. Maybe will have to start a KwaZulu Natal birding tour.         Video: Pink backed Pelicans at St Lucia estuary during our Durban day tour                 After docking the boat at the St Lucia jetty we made our way into St Lucia town to enjoy the vibe of this beach resort at the back end of school holidays. We stopped for some lunch which was great and then made our way to the Estuary board walk where we would walk down onto the estuary beach and enjoy the views as well as seeing Maphelane the second highest vegetated sand dune in the world.           Durban day tour; St Lucia estuary Durban day tour; St Lucia estuary                               We continued with our Durban day tour to St Lucia wetlands and got onto the beach and down to the Indian ocean which was looking amazing on this particular day! With Maphelane in the back ground it made for a beautiful picture. This is a special place for me and I love visiting St Lucia, maybe you should too!   Join the St Lucia day tour from Durban click here!      

Durban safaris

Durban safaris – 3 day tour 12 -14th June 2015   I had two different pick ups for this 3 day Durban safari tour one in Durban and the other in Umhlanga. Once I collected my client and we got chatting I knew we would have a good safari! Our first day was near floor-less as we achieved so much in the first day. We began covering some of the interesting history of the area of Durban and KwaZulu Natal before arriving at the cat rehabilitation center near Hluhluwe. Our tour around the rehab was great! We entered the enclosures with all 4 of the endangered species of Cat; Serval, Caracal, African Wild Cat and Cheetah.         Durban safaris; Serval Durban safaris; Serval                             The above picture of a Serval is lovely and these cats are very interactive so when we go into the enclosure it is always a great time watching them. Our Durban safari continued and we entered with then Cheetah cubs which were also very interactive.         Durban safaris; Cheetah cub   Durban safaris; Cheetah cub                               This Cheetah cub was so interested with watching her sister playing with a rope on the end of a stick that even her soccer ball was not distraction enough!   We finished up with the cats and moved on into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for the Durban safari side of our 3 day Safari tour. This Big 5 game reserve near Durban is malaria free and is probably the biggest hidden secret in the area.   Our first sighting was of Warthogs and as it was the first animal we saw we spent some time with them before continuing our safari and then spotting some Zebra not too far from the road.         Durban safaris; Zebra Durban safaris; Zebra                               We made our way to Hilltop camp where we would be spending the two nights and had some lunch before checking in and settling into the rooms for half an hour. Then we headed back out to continue our Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. We spotted a huge herd of Buffalo on the road so we spent a good 15 minutes with them while they all crossed and then only continued on.           Durban safaris; Buffalo Durban safaris; Buffalo                                 Video – Durban safaris; Buffalo crossing the road in Hluhluwe   We were making our way toward the Hluhluwe river when we spotted both Rhino and Elephants. All we could do was wait to see what would happen and good job we did as the Elephants came to the road and we got them to cross in front of us.         Durban safaris; Elephant     Durban safaris; Elephant                               The Rhinos at this point were near to the road as well so we managed to get a decent photo of them before moving onward to see what else we could find.         Durban safaris; Rhino Durban safaris; Rhino                               We heard that Lions had been seen at 3pm but it was already 5pm so I knew the chances of finding them was not very high. When on a Durban safari or any safari you always have hope and we tried our best at first without success but then as the sun set we spotted them making their way to the road following a herd of Buffalo. The Lions then began to hunt the Buffalo which made things hard on me as I was caught up with the ethical battle of keeping the lights on the Lions so we could see them but also not wanting to give the Lions away to the Buffalo which would end there chances of a successful hunt.         Durban safaris; Lioness Durban safaris; Lioness                                   Video – Durban safaris; Lions cross road at night to hunt Buffalo   What a great start to our Durban 3 day safari tour, the Lions attempted the hunt and in the darkness we heard the growling and Buffalo bellowing when we turned the lights one there was only dust and the Lions had not been able to hold on to their dinner. The lucky Buffalo kept walking away and we left the lions to try again.     We made our way back to the lodge and settled in for some dinner and a chat about how amazing our day was having seen 4 of the Big 5 on the first day of our Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.   We even did a spot of star gazing before we were all very tired and we headed off to bed.     Day 2: Durban safaris; our 3 day safari tour       We began our day with high hopes of seeing lots of animals and hopefully more Lions but you just never know what will show up for you on these safaris from Durban. After breakfast we headed South in the game reserve and it was like the luck from day one had never left as we kept up the tempo and saw lots of animals.   Our major concern was finding Giraffe which we managed to knock on the head after just 30 minutes of driving!         Durban safaris; Giraffe Durban safaris; Giraffe                               Video: Safari in South Africa; Giraffe crossing road We also spotted lots of general game like Zebra, Impala, Warthog, Wildebeest and we must have spent about 45 minutes in one spot as all these amazing animals came to a watering hole to drink.         Durban safaris; Rhino reflection Durban safaris; Rhino reflection                                 Video: Durban safari tour; Rhino get spooked by Zebra at mud wallow After watching these Rhinos drinking and getting spooked by the Zebra which came in for a drink we managed to see the female Rhino sharpening her horn so that she would have it ready for any poachers that tried to mess with her and remove her horn!         Video: African safari; Rhino sharpens her horn waiting for poachers!   Our 3 day safari from Durban was really turning out to be a great time and we just kept getting great luck and being in the right places at the right times. We waited longer at the watering hole as a herd of Wildebeest came down and had a drink during this time we also spotted some great bird life. The best was a Malachite King fisher!         Durban safaris; Wildebeest drinking Durban safaris; Wildebeest drinking                                 Video: Safari from Durban; Wildebeest drinking in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve   We then continued on to the Umfolozi river and I could not believe our luck as all of a sudden we spotted Lions running in the river bed. The only issue was they were running away because there was a bush walk that had not seen them and were having there walk in the river bed. This made it exciting and after a very short time we lost visual of the Lions so we continued with our Safari in Umfolozi.   I did get a picture but I felt it wasn’t good enough to go up on the blog and if you read on your will see why.   We drop through at this time of the year what looked like a desert as the place was so dry but we did spot more Rhino, Giraffe and other animals before we got to another section of the river and you would not believe it but there was Lions here!           Durban safaris; Lions in walking in river bed Durban safaris; Lions in walking in river bed                             The picture was not the best but I still figured I would use it. We then continued to a “hide” which is a hut overlooking a watering hole. It was here we spotted a wide variety of animals and birds before moving on back up to get some lunch.         Durban safaris; Antelope drinking Durban safaris; Antelope drinking                               Video: African safari; Warthog rubs himself after a mud wallow       After spending time in the Hide we made our way back to where we had seen the second lot of Lions in the river bed and it was here that we spotted a huge herd of Buffalo drinking. The Lions just watched them from the safety of being up stream.         Durban safaris; Buffalo herd Durban safaris; Buffalo herd                               This was a great sighting on our Durban safari tour and we made our way back to the area where we had seen the previous pride of Lion that had been chased by the people on foot. It was here that we spotted them resting in the dry river bed. There was two big males and some Lionesses and cubs!         Durban safaris; Lions resting in river bed Durban safaris; Lions resting in river bed                               Video: Durban safari; Lions in the Umfolozi river       This had been an amazing day seeing the Lions 4 times and seeing 3 of the big 5 before lunch. We still had not seen Elephant the whole morning and now it was lunch time so we saved that one of the Big 5 for a big later.   Lunch was great at the Centenary center before we began the drive back up to hilltop camp. On route we got our Elephants in fact 3 or 4 different Elephant sightings! This meant we had 4 of the Big 5 today as well!         Durban safaris; Elephant bull Durban safaris; Elephant bull                               Our next stop would be back at camp where we would have an hours rest before heading out on the evening night safari from 5pm – 8pm.   Dinner was great as usual and we headed off for a good nights rest.       Day 3: Durban safaris; 3 day safari tour.     I met my client just before 7am to collect their luggage and get them down for some breakfast. It was a relaxed time as when you do they same tour regularly you get into such a routine of doing things that it just flows. Just after 07:30 we were already on the road and at this stage I asked one of the ladies “what would you like to see today” she said to me ” the African wild dog would be nice”. I knew where to look but had no idea if we would be so luck to find the most endangered carnivore in Africa but we did! I could not believe our luck and nor could my clients!         Durban safaris; African wild dog Durban safaris; African wild dog                               We watched the dogs jumping up and down in the long grass and running all over the place for about half an hour before we lost visual and began to make our way out of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. It had been an amazing 3 days with some amazing sightings for a 3 day safari from Durban.   Our next stop would be St Lucia or Isimangaliso Wetland park to take a 2 hour boat cruise to view Hippos and Crocodiles.     Our first look from the Jetty we spotted a pod of Hippos and when we got going we made our way to them to enjoy nature. They all ran into the water but it was lovely to see them.         Durban safaris; baby Hippo Durban safaris; baby Hippo                               Further up stream of the world heritage site of Isimangaliso Wetland park we found Crocodiles, Fish eagles, Herons, Kingfishers and lots and lots of Hippos. Wow what a safari up St Lucia estuary.         Durban safaris; Crocodile Durban safaris; Crocodile                               We then had a very interesting sighting of a Hippos chewing at a Buoy on a barge boat. This or though exciting for the clients go me very concerned as this behaviour could be very dangerous in the future as the Hippo playing with the boat will show others that they can do the same and this could increase attacks on boats.   I did however made a video for you to see this interesting behaviour.         Video: Hippo chewing buoy of boat in St Lucia!           Our cruise ended and we made our way into St Lucia town for some lunch which was great. After lunch we took a drive to the estuary mouth and then began our trip back to Durban after a very successful 3 days safari from Durban. My clients were happy and so was I.    

St Lucia day tour

St Lucia day tour 11th June 2015     I met my client from Durban where we would begin our 2.5 hour drive up to St Lucia the Isimangeliso Wetland park. This area is full off Hippo and Crocodiles and is the largest lake/estuarine system in Southern Africa.   St Lucia named after St Lucy and founded in 1554 by Portuguese sailors who were ship wrecked there and named the river “Rio de Areias de Ouro” meaning River of the sands of Gold. It is an amazing place full of ecological beauty and South Africas first proclaimed world heritage site is a must visit on either a Day tour from Durban or on an overnight safari from Durban.   After covering some of the interesting history of the area and the scenes on route we arrived and settled into a 2 hour boat cruise on the St Lucia estuary. The cruise in St Lucia is really relaxing and very beautiful. I have traveled with my wife to Zimbabwe and the the great Zambezi river which is in my opinion nothing near as good as St Lucia for viewing of Hippos and Crocodiles!         St Lucia day tour; Raft of Hippo St Lucia day tour; Raft of Hippo                                 One of our first sights was the above picture of a massive pod or raft of Hippo which were just resting after a long night of feeding on grass. Hippos can consume 15 -90 KGs of grass in a night and return to the water as they do not have sweat glands to cool themselves down so have to keep cool using the water.      We also spotted a fair number of Crocodiles and lots of Bird Life.         St Lucia day tour; Crocodile in Estuary St Lucia day tour; Crocodile in Estuary                               These amazing creatures have anything between 66 – 72 teeth in there mouth and can have up to 45 changes of teeth if they break in a fight of eating of food. They are cold blooded hence we can see them basking on the sand banks warming up their body temperature.     We managed to see a African fish eagle on the St Lucia day tour as well as Kingfishers and Herons.           St Lucia day tour; African Fish eagle in flight St Lucia day tour; African Fish eagle in flight                               The best was the above picture of the African fish eagle on this estuary boat tour at St Lucia were it flew right above us and I some how managed to capture it in a photo.   After we had nearly completed the 2 hour St Lucia boat cruise we spotted some Hippos standing outside the water and 2 young babies. This was an amazing scene for my clients!           St Lucia day tour; Hippos on shore St Lucia day tour; Hippos on shore                               We then heading of to the Crocodile park and I showed my clients some of the Historical things about the area and of course the Crocodile breeding program. St Lucia is a lovely quaint little town and after enjoying looking at the ancient Cycads, Crocodiles, Alligators, Snakes and a few other things we stopped for some lunch in the town.   The food was great and we relaxed before heading down to the board walk to the Estuary mouth where at times you can see Hippos and Crocodiles right on or next to the beech.   On route you always spot a few interesting signs like this one warning us of what is one the beach!         St Lucia day tour; Estuary board walk warning sign St Lucia day tour; Estuary board walk warning sign                             Believe it or not the Bull sharks are found in the estuary and can be aggressive so even they feature with the Hippo and Crocodile on the warning board. The board walk on the St Lucia tour is very enjoyable and it leads you onto the Estuary beach we you can see Maphelane, the second largest vegetated sand dune in the world at about 187 meters above sea level.           St Lucia day tour; Indian ocean and Maphelane St Lucia day tour; Indian ocean and Maphelane                               The Indian ocean with is the one we find in on this eastern part of South Africa is a warm ocean and is lovely to dip you feet into to at least say you have done it!   After a good walk on the beach we made our way back to the vehicle and slowly made our way back to Durban were I would be returning my clients after a very good St Lucia day tour.    

Durban overnight safaris

Durban overnight safaris – 17th -18th May 2015      I met my clients in Durban at the Blue waters hotel which overlooks the ocean of the Durban beach front. Once we got the luggage in the car we began our 2.5 hour drive to the cat rehabilitation center in Hluhluwe for our interaction with 4 species of Cat; Cheetah, Serval, Caracal and African wild cat. Before we got their though we covered the history of Durban, KwaZulu Natal and South Africa as it sets up the Durban overnight safari nicely with some back ground of the area. This 2 day safari from Durban is really exciting as it is really rushed but you will not feel it as everything is so well arranged and tuned that as the client it is still very enjoyable. I always recommend the 3 day safari tour but if you have limited time the 2 day safari tour can be equally as good if luck is on your side.   We were lucky as everything we our way from the traffic to the timing of animals and really it was a spectacular 2 day or safari that even I will not forget for a long time!   At the cat rehabilitation center we had a great tour and the best times were with the Cheetah adults and cubs as well as the Serval one which took a liking to my boots. This is the 3rd time she has done this where is dribbles saliva on my boot and then rubs it with her chin. It is very cute and always part of our overnight safaris from Durban.         Durban overnight safari; Cheetah at cat rehab center Durban overnight safari; Cheetah at cat rehab center                             After learning more about the amazing Cheetah we began the interaction and my clients enjoyed this as well and the best part was the interaction with the young cubs which are about 8 months old and very excitable. Once of them got hold of some one jacket and would not let go until I brought across her blanket…         Durban overnight safari; My happy clients with a Cheetah cub Durban overnight safari; My happy clients with a Cheetah cub                                 Next we moved to the Serval and the interaction with them as also amazing and as I mentioned the boot incident took place! These tours around the cat rehab are always amazing I mean really! where in the world can you do things like this.         Durban overnight safari; Serval polishing my boots Durban overnight safari; Serval polishing my boots                               After the amazing tour at the cat rehabilitation center it was time to head onward to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, Africa’s oldest proclaimed protected area.   We got there in 20 minutes and checked in at the gate before heading into the Hluhluwe section for our Safari. Our first sighting was 2 minutes from the gate and it was of a journey of Giraffe.       Durban overnight safari; Giraffe near the gate Durban overnight safari; Giraffe near the gate                             We also spotted Warthogs, Impala, Nyala and sleeping Rhino before I bumped into a mate of mine and he told me their was an Elephant Bull down by the river. So we headed down there and it was a good thing was did as he was drinking and we had him all to ourselves! At the same spot we saw some Vervet monkeys running around.         Durban overnight safari; Elephant shaking his ears Durban overnight safari; Elephant shaking his ears                                 Video – Durban overnight safari – Elephant mud wallowing in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Before we could get to the camp we actually spotted Baboons on the road and it was great to see them with babies enjoying themselves.         Durban overnight safari; Baboon walking down the road Durban overnight safari; Baboon walking down the road                                 We then headed off to Hilltop camp on route spotting a large herd of Buffalo on a hill. When we arrived at Hilltop camp we enjoyed the lovely view and some lunch before checking and and heading to the room for a few minutes. It was then time to head out for a couple more hours before one of my clients would be doing the open vehicle safari with the lodge.   This afternoon drive was one I would remember and my clients would cherish for a very long time to come! We headed out and I nearly went a different direction but due to the limited time I felt we would not get to where I wanted to go and return in time for the game drive. I was really glad I made that choice.   We had a very exciting start as we got on to one of the dirt road and went around a few bends we spotted 3 Lions walking next to the road. We were so shocked as it was only 4 pm and Lions are not usually active at this time that we could not get the word Lion out our mouths. I got a couple of pictures before they moved into the bushes but they were not great and you will see why I didn’t bother putting them up.   Next I got a message from another guide friend that Lions we fighting and chasing Buffalo at one of the dams. I raced there but as you can imagine we began to see animals.   We spotted Rhino near to the road and had to stop for a photo.           Durban overnight safari; Rhino   Durban overnight safari; Rhino                               As we continued we then came across a huge herd of Buffalo and one old male crossed in front of us so again we had to stop to watch them.         Durban overnight safari; Buffalo posing Durban overnight safari; Buffalo posing                               We finally got there and I was disappointed to see nothing there any more except the Buffalo. This sadness did not last long as we then spotted the Lions walking towards the road. The problem was we wanted to photograph the one young male we say laying on a sand bank so we paused for this.         Durban overnight safari; Lion resting on bank Durban overnight safari; Lion resting on bank                               We moved on quickly to get into position for the Lions as the crossed the road, we had already missed two or 3 cross over but I got a short video of the young male crossing and a photo of the Big male Lion.       Video – Durban overnight safari – Young male Lion crossed road in front of us     Durban overnight safari; Lion crosses road in front of us Durban overnight safari; Lion crosses road in front of us                             This had truly been an amazing day and we headed back to the lodge with the biggest smiles you could imagine and feeling really content. I had to tell my clients that in 10 years of guiding I don’t think I have seen 2 prides of Lions in such a short space of time and both either on or that close to the road. It was a special overnight safari from Durban.   We got back an Lyn went on the evening game drive, I got down to some paper work and admin and Lee watch a football match.   We all met again at 8pm for dinner and chatted about the amazing first day of safari we had. My clients had already been to the the Lion park outside Joburg and a national park up there but this safari took the cake!   It was then off to bed and up for a 7am breakfast and check out.       Day 2: Durban overnight safaris – 17th -18th May 2015    We met for breakfast which was lovely and then we headed out onto the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, it was then that our day really began. Oh I forgot about the Baboons outside the window at breakfast.   It was not long before we got what we were hoping for a Giraffe near to the road. In fact he was on the road and was walking down it.           Durban overnight safari; Giraffe walking down the road Durban overnight safari; Giraffe walking down the road                             We continued with our Durban overnight safari and came across some Banded Mongooses and some Vervet monkeys. Unfortunately the Mongooses all ran away but we were left with some lovely monkeys.         Durban overnight safari; Baby Vervet monkey Durban overnight safari; Baby Vervet monkey                                 We then made our way into an open area where we spotted a huge herd of Buffalo right next to the road at a mud wallow. It was a great sight to see them watching us just as much as we were watching them.           Durban overnight safari; Herd of Buffalo Durban overnight safari; Herd of Buffalo                               We then took a toilet break with a view and once we got to looking at the view we spotted 3 of the Big 5, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo. We also saw Giraffe and Zebra from this hill, its amazing what patience can do!   We continued our overnight safari from Durban and made our way down south hoping to get to the Umfolozi river. On route we spotted some Kudu which was a new one for us and they crossed the road in front of us.         Durban overnight safari; Kudu cows Durban overnight safari; Kudu cows                               Next we had an amazing sighting of Elephants fighting, more like a dominance display which was very interesting to watch and not only for us but for a couple other Elephants which walking into the area.         Durban overnight safari; Elephants fighting for dominance Durban overnight safari; Elephants fighting for dominance                               Video – Hluhluwe safari – Elephants fighting on our Durban overnight safari tour   We watched these Elephants for a good while and then we realised we no longer had time to make it to the river which was also fine so we made our way out of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and onward to St Lucia – Isimangeliso wetland park.     The drive was really nice as we chatted about how amazing the overnight safari from Durban had been but we still had a lot to see and do.   We arrived at St Lucia and had some lunch before our 1pm boat cruise on the St Lucia Estuary. Then we boarded the boat and enjoyed what turned out to be a lovely afternoon watching Hippos play fighting and wallowing around as well as some Crocodiles.           Durban overnight safari; Hippos fighting at St Lucia Durban overnight safari; Hippos fighting at St Lucia                               Video – St Lucia tour – Hippos play fighting on our Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal     This was an amazing time and I didn’t take just one video I took 3 videos that were good enough to go up on this blog post for my clients and their friends.         Video – Durban overnight safaris – Hippos playing in the water at St Lucia           Durban overnight safari; Crocodile at St Lucia   Durban overnight safari; Crocodile at St Lucia                               This Crocodile was amazing as he was just sunning himself on the shoreline not far from our boat at all. Next was some amazing big pods of Hippos and the best after the playing in the water was them out of the water!           Durban overnight safari; Hippos on land at St Lucia Durban overnight safari; Hippos on land at St Lucia                               Video – Durban safari tour – Hippos on land at St Lucia Isimangeliso Wetland park               This was the final part of our Durban overnight safari tour and the whole way back to Durban we could not believe the luck we had had as well as just the amazing sighting of nature on our safari in Africa!  

Day trip from Durban to St Lucia wetlands 13th May 2015

Day trip from Durban to St Lucia wetlands 13th May 2015   I collected my client from Hillcrest, West of Durban city center and we began our 3 hour drive up to Isimangeliso wetland park aka St Lucia Wetland park South Africa’s first world heritage site. On route I covered the history of Durban, kwaZulu Natal and South Africa as well as the history of St Lucia and the surrounding area.   We arrived in St Lucia for the early boat cruise at 09:15 and got settled in to enjoy the day and the 2 hour ride on the boat.   We had some amazing sightings of Hippos and Crocodiles so much so that the videos I took I had to put in this blog post. Before we got to the Estuary I must mention we stopped to look at a sign I always like to show my clients, see below:         Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for Hippos Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for Hippos                             Once we got going on the boat cruise on our day trip from Durban we spotted some Hippos and a couple of Crocodiles and lots of bird life. The water on the estuary was like glass it was so smooth.           Durban day tour; Nile Crocodile in St Lucia estuary Durban day tour; Nile Crocodile in St Lucia estuary                             These amazing creatures the Crocodile have around 45 replacements of teeth in their lifetime which can span 100 years depending on what they eat and where they are found. The best way of aging a Crocodile is by cutting on of the ridges off the back and counting the number of rings on it like you would do with a tree.   Further up stream there was Hippos and lots of them.           Video – Durban day tour – Hippos calling at St Lucia       Durban day tour; Pod of Hippos showing aggression Durban day tour; Pod of Hippos showing aggression                                 Video – Day trip from Durban – Pod of Hippos get aggressive with each other               We also captured this photo of a Goliath heron in flight over the estuary which was really beautiful.           Durban day tour; Goliath heron in flight over St Lucia estuary Durban day tour; Goliath heron in flight over St Lucia estuary                               Our cruise of St Lucia Estuary continued and we spotted a Goliath Heron walking on the backs of Hippos which was great. I even made a video, the only problem was I missed the best moment. Just as I stopped the video one Hippo lunged at the Goliath Heron almost grabbing it in its mouth! It was amazing to see!       Video – Durban day trip – Goliath Heron walks on the back of the Hippos             Durban day tour; Goliath heron walking on Hippos backs Durban day tour; Goliath heron walking on Hippos backs                               We were lucky on the Durban day trip to also get a Hippos on a couple of occasions with its mouth open. This is usually a sign of aggression and to tell us not to get any closer. The Hippos here have had the boats around them for 30 years so they are used to us but that does not mean they wont express their feelings.           Video -Durban day safari tour – Hippo bulls size each other up Durban day tour; Hippo with mouth open Durban day tour; Hippo with mouth open                               Video – Durban day tour – Hippo marks his territory     At we made our way back we saw the second largest vegetated sand dune in the world Maphelane South of the Estuary. We also were lucky enough to see an African Fish eagle perched on a branch.           Durban day tour; African fish eagle Durban day tour; African fish eagle                                     After the amazing 2 hours on the St Lucia estuary we made our way through St Lucia town to the Estuary mouth for the board walk which goes to the Indian ocean. It is a lovely walk and from here you can see Maphelane, the Indian ocean, the national park/World heritage site and the Estuary!         Durban day tour; Maphelane and the Indian ocean Durban day tour; Maphelane and the Indian ocean                                   After showing my client on our Durban day tour/trip the Titanium in the sand and venturing onto the beach we returned into St Lucia town for some lunch and then made our way to the Crocodile breeding center at the other end of St Lucia.   Here we saw lots of Crocodile and I run over some of the information of the area and why the Crocodiles are being bred etc. Here too there are interesting signs like this one below:         Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for crocodiles Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for crocodiles                               It was not the end of the time in St Lucia and we had to get the clients back early as they were meeting family for dinner. When ever I leave a tour early something always happens to make it a longer day than usual and today was no different. What was a 3 hour trip back to Durban took up over 4.5 hour because of one accident on the highway! Can you believe it. Non the less it was still worth it as we all had a great time and the tour from Durban was a huge success.  

Durban overnight safari tour for Travel agents

Durban overnight safari tour for Travel agents – 6-8th May 2015   This was a very exciting and interesting Durban overnight safari tour with clients which were visiting Durban for the Travel Indaba beginning after the 3 day safari. I collected my first client in Durban itself and then collect the group of 4 clients from King Shaka International airport aptly names after the great Zulu King for 1816 -1828 who revolutionized the the way the Zulu’s fought against any other nation or tribe. On route I covered the usual history of Durban, KwaZulu Natal and any questions my clients had. We made good time considering we had a late start and half of the luggage got lost between JHB and DBN. As we began this Durban overnight safari later thank usual we had to rush and speed the day along to get all activities into the day. We began at Nyalazi gate on the eastern side of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, and it wasn’t long before we were reeling in the sightings of animals. It was actually and amazing start! After a short drive seeing Zebra and Warthog we stopped for a quick lunch at the centenary center and then continued on to find more animals. Our first major sighting was of Lion cubs in a Marula tree and we found a young male hiding in the bushes near the road it was amazing.           Durban overnight safari tours; Lion cubs in Marula tree Durban overnight safari tours; Lion cubs in Marula tree                                 When Lions are you first major sighting on day 1 of a 3 day overnight safari tour you know you could be in for something special! An my goodness was this a special 3 days of sightings!     Video: Durban overnight safari tours – Tree climbing Lions of Hluhluwe               This was so exciting for us all and it was not long after that we found Elephants and lots of them as well. The only problem was they were a little tucked behind the bushes which was still fine as we made the most of it before moving on to get ourselves checked in to Hilltop camp.       Durban overnight safari tours; Elephant Durban overnight safari tours; Elephant                               We arrived at Hilltop camp and we were all smiles as we had just had a great start to our overnight safari from Durban. We checked in and enjoyed the view as well as getting the luggage we had to the rooms. 10 minutes later it was time to go to the Cat rehabilitation center and enjoy some interaction with endangered cats hands on.   On route to the gate we spotted a huge herd of Buffalo.       Durban overnight safari tours; Buffalo Durban overnight safari tours; Buffalo                                 Again luck was on our side as we spotted Rhinos fighting and we stopped again quickly to enjoy them. This was very exciting as we had now seen 4 of the Big 5 in such a short space of time and still had the Cats to see and interact with at the rehabilitation center.       Video: Rhinos nose to nose – Durban overnight safari tours           We got to the gate and had to deal with the Nguni cows and goats on the road before finally arriving 5 minutes before the cat tour began. Wow we did well with our timing! The tour at the Cat rehabilitation center began at 4pm and we enjoyed the feeding of the cats and the interaction with the adult Cheetah and Cheetah cubs as well as the Serval.         Durban overnight safari tours; Guests with the Cheetah at Cat rehab center Durban overnight safari tours; Guests with the Cheetah at Cat rehab center                                           After this it was a matter of trying to relax after what was an amazing day on Safari from Durban but also trying to locate the luggage that was lost at the airport and to be delivered to the gate. Now of course the gates close at 6pm so we first needed to get ourselves back and then worry about the luggage. We made a few calls and as we arrived at the gate at 17:50 the luggage was there waiting for us! I could not believe our luck on that either. We then re entered and made our way back to Hilltop camp for a lovely dinner and a good nights sleep.       Day 2: Durban overnight safari tour for Travel agents     Before I could leave my room outside was a great scene of an array of animals! Nyala mother and calf suckling, Crested Guinea fowl and Vervet monkeys!         Durban overnight safari tours; Animals outside my bedroom Durban overnight safari tours; Animals outside my bedroom                                 We began with breakfast at 7am and then headed out on what would be a long 8 hour safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve the most underrated game reserve in South Africa! It also just happens to be the oldest in Africa!   We began and our first sighting was of the animal we all wanted to see the Giraffe!       Durban overnight safari tours; Giraffe Durban overnight safari tours; Giraffe                                 We enjoyed the Giraffes for a while before moving further South in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve to try and cover as much of the reserve as possible in the 8 hours.   What happened next was also amazing as we spotted some Elephants in the distance and we waited as they were making their way to the road. It was to be an amazing sighting and one we would remember for a long time. With patience we were able to have these Elephant cross right in front of us and I made a video we could even hear the dung and one went to the toilet hitting the ground!         Durban overnight safari tours; Elephants crossing Durban overnight safari tours; Elephants crossing                                   Video: Hluhluwe Imfolozi safari tour – Elephants cross the road in front of us             Things on our overnight safari from Durban then just got better and we spotted herds of Impala crossing the road and some Zebra before we stopped to look at some Rhino of a hill. As I picked up my binoculars I spotted a pride of Lions resting on the hills to the left of the Rhinos. Of course we didn’t care about the Rhino any more and focused on the Lions!       Durban overnight safari tours; Lions resting Durban overnight safari tours; Lions resting                                   Video: Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve – Lions seen with our Binoculars             We continued on crossing the Umfolozi river and once on the other side we were lucky enough to spot 2 Rhinos near to the road which we watched grazing away. It was a lovely sighting as they were just a couple of young males staying with each other for companionship.     Durban overnight safari tours; Rhinos Durban overnight safari tours; Rhinos                                   We left the Rhinos and stopped for a rest room break at Mpila camp and it was here that we began to take in what an amazing 1.5 days we had had so far! After the rest we continued our Durban 3 day safari tour and as we went further south we came across an old Giraffe kill from a week prior. It was here we spotted a couple species of Vultures and even a few Hyenas. Sadly we could not photograph the Hyenas as the bush was to thick and the moved to fast for us.       Durban overnight safari tours; White backed Vulture Durban overnight safari tours; White backed Vulture                                   We then did a big dirt road loop which actually was a little pointless as we didn’t see very much except Impala, Rhino and other animals far away. It was only at the end of the loop back past where we saw the Hyenas that we spotted some Zebras.       Durban overnight safari tours; Zebra Durban overnight safari tours; Zebra                                   As we headed back through Mpila camp and over the Umfolozi river again we spotted some Wildebeest and Rhinos! Wow our overnight Durban safari tour was really going well. We had not yet seen Wildebeest so this was another tick on the list.     Durban overnight safari tours; Wildebeest Durban overnight safari tours; Wildebeest                                   We left the Wildebeest to relax and then began to head to the Centenary center for some lunch. Out the corner of my eye I spotted a Male Water buck mating with a female up on a hill which was interesting behaviour and we stopped of a picture.         Durban overnight safari tours; Waterbuck mating Durban overnight safari tours; Water buck mating                                   The picture actually came out very clearly for the distance and time of day I took it and you really can see everything. It was also funny as the females first born was right their looking on.   We finally got to lunch and we were all super happy with how everything had gone and we tucked into a great meal before the curio shopping for Ostrich eggs and other items took place.   After a while we left the Centenary center and headed straight back to Hilltop camp to get the tickets sorted for the evening night drive and book dinner for 8pm when my clients would arrive back.   It was already after 15:30 so we had around an hour before the open vehicle safari would take place. I decided to stay behind to catch up on this blog post and other work. The vehicle was full anyway but I still regret not having gone as when my clients returned they had seen a Leopard! So that was the Big 5 completed in 2 days and we still had one day to go on our overnight safari tour from Durban. Wow is all I can say!   We had some dinner and headed off to bed before day 3 which would begin at 7 am with a luggage collection and then breakfast.       Day 3: Durban overnight safari tour for Travel agents     After luggage collection we had breakfast and then check out before heading out of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for St Lucia – Isimangeliso Wetland park.   Before we left we spotted some amazing animals including Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant.       Durban overnight safari tours; Buffalo and Elephant Durban overnight safari tours; Buffalo and Elephant                                   It was minutes after the sighting above that we got a herd of Elephant crossing the road in front of us and behind us which was a fitting good bye for out visit to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. It had been an incredible 3 days of Safari from Durban.       Durban overnight safari tours; Elephants cross main road as we exit Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve Durban overnight safari tours; Elephants cross main road as we exit Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve                                   We exited all feeling a little sad but really we still had a lot more to see and do at St Lucia – Isimangeliso Wetland Park. We arrived for our 10 am boat cruise and had some amazing sighting of Hippos in and out the water, Crocodiles and bird. St Lucia is South Africa’f first world heritage site and is the largest lake system in Southern Africa.       Durban overnight safari tours; Crocodile at St Lucia estuary Durban overnight safari tours; Crocodile at St Lucia estuary                                   Further up the estuary we came across some beautiful pods of Hippos and the best part was some were out of the water on the land which is not common for them during the day time. We really had a special overnight safari from Durban.       Durban overnight safari tours; Hippos out the water with Crocodile Durban overnight safari tours; Hippos out the water with Crocodile                                   Video: Hippos out the water and opening mouth at St Lucia on our Durban safari tour                   Next we had a great shot of a Goliath Heron it was actually the 3rd time we had seen on from the boat but this one flew and I managed to catch it in flight! It was a super cool photo so I had to post it.       Durban overnight safari tours; Goliath heron in flight at St Lucia Durban overnight safari tours; Goliath heron in flight at St Lucia                                   On our sail back to the jetty we spotted some Hippos making their way into the water, the best part was that there was a crocodile and Goliath Heron right near by so they ended up in the video too!       Video: Hippos, Crocodile and Goliath Heron together on our Durban safari tour               We had come to the end of the boat cruise and after arranging for the photographers to bring us a Calendar or two with the clients pictures in it we settled in for lunch at John Dorys. We all enjoyed our lunch and the general chatted about how wonderful the Safari from Durban had been and all the amazing animals we had seen in the wild.   After lunch we stopped to try and get a Zebra skin but the were very expensive so my clients settled on some smaller items the Ostrich eggs and other general carvings. We then headed to the Board walk so I could show my clients the estuary and Indian ocean as well as Maphelane the second highest vegetated Sand dune in the world. It was amazing and as we got off the board walk onto the beach which was very beautiful I showed everyone the Titanium in the sand which is mined further South of the World heritage site.   It was now time for the long drive back to the airport, Umhlanga and then Durban. It actually went really well and all final questions we asked and answered before the day ended with the sun having long set on the day and our amazing 3 day safari tour from Durban.     

St Lucia day tour from Durban

St Lucia day tour from Durban 26th April 2015   I met my clients in Durban for this special day tour from Durban to St Lucia – Isimangeliso Wetland park where we would be visiting South Africa’s 1st World heritage site decided on by UNESCO in 1999. There are 5 different Eco Systems in the area; namely the Sand forests, Mangrove Swamp lands, Savanna, Indian ocean and the Esturine system where we would be doing the 2 hour boat cruise to see the Hippos and Crocodiles.   St Lucia is well known even here in South Africa and it a major tourist magnet, with so much to offer they also boast deep sea fishing as well as Whale and Turtle watching seasonally!   One of our first sightings on our Durban day tour to St Lucia was of Hippos mating which is very rare to see let alone film. I was lucky to have my camera on hand to film this amazing sight!         St Lucia day tour; Hippos mating St Lucia day tour; Hippos mating                                 Video of Hippos Mating in St Lucia Estuary, South Africa               This was really a special sighting and we all could not believe our luck! As we continued with our 2 hour boat cruise we ended up spotting something like 150 Hippos and maybe 8 crocodiles. As we continued we came across a couple of Hippos that displayed for us by opening their mouths and as we all say Yawned. However this Yawning is actually a display to show us to keep our distance and not get too close. It is often confused with the Hippos being tired!         St Lucia day tour; Hippos Yawning St Lucia day tour; Hippos Yawning                                         We had already had such a good time and we then looked at some of the mangrove swamps and spotted some crocodiles in the area. One of which seemed to catch something near the shoreline before resting near the rivers edge.         St Lucia day tour; Crocodile in St Lucia estuary St Lucia day tour; Crocodile in St Lucia estuary                                 A trip to Durban is not complete with out taking a trip to St Lucia to see the Hippos and Crocodiles. The St Lucia estuary is the largest estrine system in Southern Africa. We then headed into the small town of St Lucia after the boat cruise for some lunch which was really enjoyable. The whole town has a great vibe of a holiday feel. It took us some time to get through the amazing food we got and then it was time to do the board walk in St Lucia.   We headed down to the estuary mouth where we stopped the vehicle and began the estuary board walk. It is well worth the visit if you are in the area and a trip to South African is not complete if you do not visit this amazing beach. A beach where Hippos and Crocodiles roam, Bull Sharks swim and the bird life is amazing!         St Lucia day tour; St Lucia estuary mouth crocodiles St Lucia day tour; St Lucia estuary mouth crocodiles                               I always find it an amazing picture when you have the St Lucia estuary with the crocodiles resting basically on the beach. The beach and Indian ocean in the back  ground and Maphelane the second largest vegetated sand dune in the world. It is also amazing as the sand if full of titanium which is mined but only away from the World Heritage site.       St Lucia day tour; Maphelane from St Lucia estuary beach St Lucia day tour; Maphelane from St Lucia estuary beach                               The signs that you find on the beach are also incredible as they warn you of Hippos and crocodiles. I do not know of any other beaches in the world which have a sign like this. In the above picture you can see the massive Maphelane vegetated sand dune in the back ground.   It is without say that the Isimangeliso wetland park – St Lucia is one of the wonders of the world and is a place you have to visit when you come to South Africa.    

Safari from Durban, South Africa to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park

Safari from Durban, South Africa to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park     I met my clients in Durban for their 3 day safari tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park in South Africa. It is the oldest preserve in Africa and home to the Big 5 the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Obviously we were here for ecotourism as Hunting is not an option in a National park like Hluhluwe Imfolozi. We began at the Cat rehabilitation center in Hluhluwe and enjoyed the experience of interacting with some of the Cats including African wild cat, Serval and Cheetah adults and cubs. The Caracal we do not touch as they are together for mating which can make them potentially more aggressive.   I was lucky enough to have done some back to back Durban safari tours so I was feeling the way the Cheetah in the picture was looking.     Safari from Durban in South Africa; Inside the mouth of a Cheetah Safari from Durban in South Africa; Inside the mouth of a Cheetah                                 My clients also got to interact with the Cheetah hands on which is always an amazing experience and they enjoyed it just as much as every other client I have take has. This is a must in you are in the area and wish to do a Durban safari tour be it and overnight safari tour or just a day safari tour.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Touching a Cheetah Safari from Durban in South Africa; Touching a Cheetah                               Next it was time to head into the World famous Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for our safari tour from Durban. It wasn’t long before we spotted some animals and they were the Buffalo, Zebra and Impala oh and Warthogs. The Buffalo were a bit for off so I didn’t photograph them but the Zebra really posed for us and this made for a great start to our Safari from Durban.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Zebra near the road Safari from Durban in South Africa; Zebra near the road                                 After the dazzle of Zebra we continued and spotted a Black Rhino which was really lucky. The only problem was that he kept going behind the bushes and was already so far away that the picture was really bad. A black Rhino is rare so I decided to put the picture up anyway.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Black Rhino too far away Safari from Durban in South Africa; Black Rhino too far away                                 We then made our way to the camp where we settled in for lunch and checked in. Again I heard from my clients that they had seen all the complaints about Hilltop camp and the roads but they were surprised that it was nothing like what some of the reviews say.   After checking in we had a short rest before heading back out to see what animals we could find. It started really quiet and then I got word of Lions in the area we were heading into. As always when you are trying to get somewhere you end up seeing so many things which hinders your progress! It was still good as we got this calf Rhino with his mother near to the road.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Rhino calf Safari from Durban in South Africa; Rhino calf                                   We also found Nyala and Buffalo but we continued and there they were, a pride of Lions in the distance sitting in the dried up Hluhluwe river. At first it was a far sighting then we found another spot where we could see them a little better. The photos were not great but it was good enough and very special to see a couple of the Lions sitting on a rock. We also had a Rhino come and drink while we were watching the Lions.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Lions in the Hluhluwe River bed Safari from Durban in South Africa; Lions in the Hluhluwe River bed                                       We then returned to the view sight where we had a look at the view. Down in the river bed was 4 Rhinos having a little go at each other so my clients watched this through the binoculars and I took a couple photos for them.           Safari from Durban in South Africa; My clients looking at Rhino in the Hluhluwe river Safari from Durban in South Africa; My clients looking at Rhino in the Hluhluwe river                                 It had been a good day. When you see Lions on the first day it helps and makes things easier for the rest of the tour. We continued back up to the camp for some dinner and on route spotted a crash of 6 Rhino. It was a lovely sighting and this really capped off the day for us on safari in Africa.         Day 2:  Safari from Durban, South Africa to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park     We began day two at 6am when the gates opened and were hoping to find Elephants and Giraffe. It was strange as we saw lots of evidence that they were around but did not find them near to the road. As we then continued we heard that the African Wild dogs were in the area but there was no sign of them so after waiting around for 20 minute I decided to take a dirt road perpendicular to where we were and we found the wild dogs. It was awesome as one crossed the road in front of us before joining the rest all with full bellies.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; African Wild dogs Safari from Durban in South Africa; African Wild dogs                                       After enjoying the African wild dogs we continued and found Rhino in the distance as well as Zebra close to the vehicle. We had lots of Nyala sightings that we just gave up stopping unless it was a clear shot. It had been a quiet morning safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve but we had seen the most endangered carnivore in Africa so we were not unhappy at all.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Zebra Safari from Durban in South Africa; Zebra                                 We were getting closer to Hilltop camp where we would be having our breakfast and we finally spotted a giraffe male near to the road. He was great posing for us and walking next to us. They are such amazing creatures full of character.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Giraffe Safari from Durban in South Africa; Giraffe                                 Once we returned we enjoyed the breakfast and took some time out from the Safari and rested until after lunch when we headed back out again to see what we could find. We actually we desperate for Elephant but nature has a strange was of leveling you and showing you that even though we are the most successful animal we still cannot have everything our way. This is still a good thing.   We however found another male Giraffe which looks like he could have been the same male from in the morning as well as Rhino in the distance.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Giraffe crossing road Safari from Durban in South Africa; Giraffe crossing road                                 As we continued we spotted a whole troop of Baboon and some Nyala males having a joust with one another. The Baboons we really great and one mother had a tiny baby with her as she sat in the tree watching us. Our safari from Durban in South Africa was really great and its moments like these you remember how great they are!         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Chacma Baboon and baby Safari from Durban in South Africa; Chacma Baboon and baby                                 I was feeling a little frustrated that we still hadn’t found Elephants but it was just one of those things, life is all about timing and we had seen such amazing other animals we could not really be sad. We still tried, and then we saw Buffalo below Hilltop camp.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Buffalo Safari from Durban in South Africa; Buffalo                               After this it began to rain heavier and we still tried for another 35 minuted for Elephant with no luck. We did however enjoy a spectacular rainbow which was not only going a full semi circle but was a double rainbow. It was so beautiful we could not even capture the beauty in a picture but we tried. Our safari was coming to an end and we spotted a Baboon on the road outside Hilltop camp. The best part was that he walked right next to us and was inline with the rainbow. People always say there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but this was a Baboon at the end of our Rainbow!         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Baboon at end of Rainbow Safari from Durban in South Africa; Baboon at end of Rainbow                               We got back to camp and then I got the client onto the open vehicle safari that would hopefully find then Elephant but if not I would have to in the last hour and a half we would have the following day.   I went off to do the blog post I writing now and we would meet the next day for breakfast and check out.         Day 3:  Safari from Durban, South Africa to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park     Day 3 of our Safari from Durban began with luggage collection and then a great breakfast before the final pressure took shape realizing that in the 2 days prior we had not seen Elephant. This was not normal for me so my blood pressure was so high I had a headache. I rushed off to try and maximize the 1.5 hours we had left to find an Elephant or 3 and thankfully the Elephant Gods looked down on us favorably and we found a Bull Elephant right next to the road it was great as he was relaxed and feeding away!         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Elephant feeding Safari from Durban in South Africa; Elephant feeding                                 We then had this great sighting of a Big bull Elephant coming down the tar road towards us. He looked angry but it was just the angle of the road which gave him the loping walk down towards us. At first I couldn’t tell as I was holding the camera trying to get the video for the clients.         Video of Elephant walking down the road towards us.             At this point the adrenaline was pumping and we were shaking with excitement as we were only 5 minutes from the gate and having to leave the game reserve. We had such great sighting in the last 1.5 hours of our Durban safari that we could not believe it. We even spotted this male Rhino with and Impala in front of him.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Rhino and Impala Safari from Durban in South Africa; Rhino and Impala                                 We then were pumped up and seconds later a we saw a mother Rhino near the road and I figured she and her calf would cross the road in front of us so I waited and bang! That is what the did and at some rate of knots!         Video of mother Rhino and Calf running across road in front of us.             It was not time to exit and make our way to St Lucia Isimangeliso Wetland park which is South Africa’s first world heritage site and has great biodiversity and we had great sightings! We boarded a 10 am, 2 hour Hippos and Crocodile boat tour in inside 5 minutes we had seen both!         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Crocodiles Safari from Durban in South Africa; Crocodiles                                 These two crocodile were actually laying on top of one another but my picture was really out of focus so I have to settle for this one after the one Crocodile moved to the water. Next it was pod upon pod of Hippos that we saw, one of the best being a large group up stream.         Safari from Durban in South Africa; Hippos Safari from Durban in South Africa; Hippos                                 We had a lot more sightings including a Giant Kingfisher catching a fish, a Saddle Billed Stork as well as a Goliath Heron. The best was yet to come as on our sail back to the jetty I spotted a Shark not one but 2 shark fins, we stopped and watched and saw them swimming around a bit. They could have been mating or hunting fish together. I was so excited I got the picture and even a video. Please excuse the South Africans making all the noise in the back ground!           Safari from Durban in South Africa; Saddle billed stork and Zambezi Shark Safari from Durban in South Africa; Saddle billed stork and Zambezi Shark                                             Video of Zambezi Sharks swimming in St Lucia estuary – Isimangeliso Wetland Park               My  work was done and we returned to St Lucia town for some lunch and then headed back to the Airport where my clients would be heading back home. It has turned out to be a great Durban overnight safari with us having seen 45 of the Big 5 and Wild Dogs in Hluhluwe Imfolozi oh and Black Rhino. At St Lucia the special was the Zambezi sharks the first time I have successfully filmed them in the St Lucia estuary.    

St Lucia day tour from Durban

St Lucia day tour from Durban via Richards bay 29th March 2015   We began our St Lucia day tour from Durban but still had a pick up in Richards bay off the Crystal Serenity cruise ship which is much bigger than I thought! Once I had to group together we began chatting on some of the History of Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa as well as the World heritage site of Isimangeliso Wetland Park aka St Lucia wetland park which we would be visiting.   As we covered the last hour to St Lucia we covered some of the history on the different plantations and import export details in the area which is always very interesting. We arrived in St Lucia at 11 am which meant we could go to the reptile center where breeding of Crocodiles is taking place due to research and the fact that their numbers are decreasing in the area.   Before we could get there though I pulled over to show my clients a really interesting sign board which just shows how serious Hippos can be walking around at night and how one has to be careful in the area. We always need to remember the animals were here before us and we have developed around them and therefore need to respect them and the space they need.   St Lucia day tour; Hippo warning sign St Lucia day tour; Hippo warning sign                               As we entered the museum section of the crocodile center I showed the clients a model of a fish which used to be though to be extinct and in the St Lucia area they were located again. These are the Coelacanths. They were first discovered in 1938 and were though to be extinct by the end of  the Cretaceous period. These fish were found in South African near St Lucia in the year 2000. Which also makes this a special place.   St Lucia day tour; Crocodile warning sign St Lucia day tour; Crocodile warning sign                               The above sign is a real laugh and is found at the crocodile center, this is always a time I wish I had a granny that was in a wheel chair so that I could take her to see this amazing sign, I’m sure it would be a good giggle for her. We had actually timed our arrival very well as they were doing a feeding show with the Crocodiles and this meant dead Chickens were being fed to the Crocodiles. The only specie we have in South African is the Nile Crocodile which you can see below with a Chicken in his jaws. Just so you know the crushing power of a Crocodiles jaws are somewhere in the region of 6 tons!   St Lucia day tour; Crocodile with chicken in its mouth St Lucia day tour; Crocodile with chicken in its mouth                               Next we moved on to the St Lucia Estuary for the 2 hour boat cruise to look at the amazing Hippos and a Crocodile in the wild. The St Lucia lake system runs north away from the Indian ocean and covers a distance of about 80 kilometers which makes it the largest lake system in Southern Africa. It contains Mangrove swamps, Sand forests, Savanna, Marsh lands and links up to the Indian ocean. It has a thriving community of Hippos and Crocodiles.   St Lucia day tour; Hippo in the St Lucia estuary St Lucia day tour; Hippo in the St Lucia estuary                               The above picture is one of the many Hippos we saw at St Lucia Estuary and this one was standing near the shore feeding on the reeds. Most of the other were resting under the water only showing us there heads every so often. It is always a guarantee to see the creatures even in the rain but we were lucky to have no rain and a sunny day.   I created a video clip so you too can experience some of what you would if you were on a Durban tour with me to the St Lucia Isimangeliso Wetland Park.   Video of Hippo eating reeds at St Lucia Estuary.        St Lucia day tour; African Fish eagle in flight St Lucia day tour; African Fish eagle in flight                               As you can see in the above picture St Lucia wetlands in not only known for it Hippos and Crocodile populations but also its bird life. This African Fish eagle took off from a tree and it nearly flew out of shot of my camera but thankfully I captured it for you to see!   Next we heading into the small town of St Lucia after a small spot of shopping for the local crafts. We went to John Dorys a Seafood restaurant as St Lucia is well know for its Seafood. It was great we all had fish and chips and after this we headed down to the Estuary board walk which goes parallel to the Estuary itself and ends up on the beach by the Indian ocean. Here we spotted Crocodiles and lots of bird life including the White Pelican on in the St Lucia Estuary mouth.   St Lucia day tour; Estuary board walk sightings St Lucia day tour; Estuary board walk sightings                                         It was now time to head back to the Crystal Serenity ship to drop off two of my clients before heading back to Durban to drop off the other. It had been another great St Lucia day tour from Durban and we all had enjoyed the day.