St Lucia boat cruise Archives - Tim Brown Tours
  • 6th August 2015

    Big 5 safari from Durban for 2 days

     

    I met my clients in Durban for their Big 5 safari just outside Durban to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve which is world famous for its Rhino breeding success through the 1950’s.

    We are truly blessed to have such an amazing Big 5 game reserve near Durban which in my opinion is just as good if not better than Kruger national park.

     

    Kruger National park may be bigger but it is not as scenic as Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve one of the main features all my clients point out!

     

    As usual I covered the History of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa on route to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi national park as well as anything we saw through Zululand.

     

    As we got further into Zululand we stopped at a Cat rehabilitation center to enjoy some interaction with 4 species of endangered cats, the most exciting being Cheetah!

    My client of course loved it being big cat fans.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Serval

    Big 5 safari Durban; Serval

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Servals are very relaxed and also great to interact with so the above picture if of one of the Serval we interacted with. All this cats are here for either breeding or interaction due to some issue which prevents them from being released into the wild. The idea is to try and get as many of them back to the wild where they belong if not they are used as an educational tool to highlight there situation.

     

     

    We then left and arrived in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Big 5 game reserve not 3 hours from Durban and began our 2 day safari tour.

    Our first sighting was of Nyala and Warthogs.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Warthog

    Big 5 safari Durban; Warthog

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I was a little concerned as it had been a bit quiet in the national park in the past few days but that would not stop us having good sightings!

    We spotted Giraffe and Zebra in the distance so I made our way closer and we had the most amazing sighting where we had a troop of Baboons, Zebra, Giraffe and Rhino cross the road in front of us! It was amazing so at this point we had see the first of the Big 5 animals the Rhino but it seemed like we had seem so much more which we had!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Rhino

    Big 5 safari Durban; Rhino

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: Rhino crossing road on our African safari


     

     

     

    I made a good video of the Rhino crossing and then later got a great photo of a male Giraffe near to the road.

    It had been a great start and it was time to head to Hilltop camp for some lunch, check in and head back out for more animals.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Giraffe

    Big 5 safari Durban; Giraffe

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We enjoyed the Giraffe for a while and moved on to Hilltop camp for some lunch.

    We were as quick as we could be as my clients also wanted to do the open vehicle safari at 5pm-8pm with the lodge which meant for me I needed to find as many animals as possible in the afternoon.

     

    Our first sighting in the afternoon as some Nyala and then some Baboons all over the road grooming themselves.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Baboon

    Big 5 safari Durban; Baboon

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We tried to check all the view points over the Hluhluwe river to see if we could add to our Big 5 list with Elephant but we had no luck. We did find a few Red Duiker and one new born which was very cute, sadly I missed the photo so got the adult instead.

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Red Duiker

    Big 5 safari Durban; Red Duiker

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It was time to begin our way back to Hilltop camp but before we could get there we managed to add lots more Rhino and a herd of Buffalo to our Big 5 safari list.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Buffalo

    Big 5 safari Durban; Buffalo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We had now seen 2 of the Big 5 on our safari from Durban and the clients got on to the evening game drive before we met again at 8pm for dinner. I was surprised as when they returned they had not been too luck so had not added any more of the Big 5 to the list which meant I had huge stress to find Cats and Elephants the other 2 major ones of the Big 5 were were missing. The Leopard which would be the 5th of the Big 5 we try and think of it as a bonus as we see it so rarely.

     

    After a great dinner it was time for bed and we were all exhausted after a long day.

     

     

     

     

     

    Day 2: Big 5 safari from Durban

     

     

    We met before 7am and got all luggage in the vehicle before having a quick breakfast and making our way as far down south in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve as the 3.5-4 hours we had would allow us.

     

    This would be a pure crazy day as we just had such luck!

    As we had our way down south we ignored Rhino, Buffalo in the distance and most other things it the quest to find Elephant and Cats.

    We did have to stop for this sighting of Giraffe and Zebra though!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Zebra and Giraffe

    Big 5 safari Durban; Zebra and Giraffe

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We didn’t have to continue much further before we spotted our Elephants but they were far away and it did not make for the best picture. Minutes after we spotted another 2 Elephant and then another 2! Again pretty far away but we now had 3 of the Big 5 on our Durban safari.

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Elephants

    Big 5 safari Durban; Elephants

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As we continued on we headed over the Umfolozi river and saw nothing but on the other side I bumped into a friend of mine Marumo who is involved in research. She said that 10 minutes before there was Lions in the river bed. I though we may as well turn back and check from a view point and there they all were all 14 of these amazing Lions! We were all so excited.

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Lion mom and cubs

    Big 5 safari Durban; Lion mom and cubs

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: Lions in Imfolozi game reserve


     

     

     

    We now had 4 of the Big 5 on our Durban safari and were very happy with that. I had to put up another picture with a couple of big males in it to share with you all.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Lions

    Big 5 safari Durban; Lions

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We must have spent 15-20 minuted watching them and knew we still needed to try find Elephants closer but I think in our hearts we were all content having seen 4 of the Big 5 during our Safari from Durban.

     

     

    We battled and only found everything else except the Elephants close. We got one good sighting of Zebra though!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Zebra

    Big 5 safari Durban; Zebra

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We made our way to the gate to head to St Lucia estuary for our 2 hour boat cruise to see Hippos and Crocodiles as well as some Bird Life. It was an hour drive and we said farewell to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Big 5 game reserve and hello to Isimangaliso Wetland park.

     

    We stopped for some lunch in St Lucia town which was lovely before the boat cruise on the St Lucia estuary.

     

    Our cruise went very well we saw Hippos galore, Crocodiles, Birds and even a baby Hippo new born and its mother out the water.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Hippo mom and baby

    Big 5 safari Durban; Hippo mom and baby

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I was really fortunate to have filmed this and it was amazing watching the young Hippo head into the water with its mother and have her display by opening her mouth.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: Hippo mother and baby on the shore run to the water

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We had a great look at couple of Crocodiles which was great and after seeing 4 of the Big 5 on our Durban safari to see Hippos and Crocodiles is always a treat!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari Durban; Crocodile

    Big 5 safari Durban; Crocodile

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    One of my favorite pictures from the St Lucia boat cruise was the this one below where I managed to have the good fortune of lining up 2 or 4 Hippos heads in a row.

     

    We had a great 2 hours at St Lucia on the boat and it was not time to head back to Durban and say goodbye after sharing some great memories.

     

    If you wish to do the same tour as described above please click on this link below:

     

     

    Durban 2 day Big 5 safari tour

     

     

  • 25th July 2015

    Durban big 5 Safari – 21st-23rd July 2015

     

    We began our Durban big 5 safari from my home as I was taking my cousins on a 3 day safari tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, St Lucia and Cat rehabilitation center.

    I was to be a great 3 day on safari from Durban!

    We began at 06:30 and by 09:30 we were in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and made our way down south in the hope of finding cats. It was a bonus to have a Giraffe at the gate as we entered and some Zebras on the hill.

     

    We were very lucky as the first time I drove past this pan there was no Lions and I turned back just to check one more time all all of a sudden there was 2 Lions in a tree. This was my favorite pride of Lions the Tree climbing Lions of Hluhluwe! In the tree was an adult female and a sub adult cub under a year old.

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Lioness in tree

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Lioness in tree

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We got some amazing footage and as the game reserve was doing road maintenance trucks where racing by and didn’t see these Lions so we mostly had them to ourselves for an hour.

     

     

     

     

    Video: Tree climbing Lions on safari near Durban


    There was a young male cub which was resting in the branches on the tree and then he decided to come down. I also had to video this as Lions are not built for climbing down trees as they do not have locking wrists like Leopards.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Lion cub in tree

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Lion cub in tree

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video – Lion comes down from tree in Hluhluwe imfolozi game reserve


    We continued our Big 5 safari from Durban and found some Zebra that was great as they were crossing the road but it was hard to feel as excited after seeing Lions in the tree and spending an hour watching them before they walked over the hill.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Zebra

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Zebra

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We made our way down to the bone dry Umfolozi river and patiently waited to see if we could spot anything. We watched an Impala drinking and then something caught my eye far up stream and it was a Hyena. It kept popping out onto the dry river bed and then hiding again. We were super lucky and the 3 more appeared and amazingly one ran across the riverbed with a big chunk of  what looked like skin in its mouth and the others followed.

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: Hyena carries carcass in mouth


    This was now just amazing and I could not have wished for a better start having seen 2 predators before the end of the first day!

    We turned and made our way to the Centenary center and there was 2 bull Elephants drinking from a drain behind the center where we had our lunch! Another amazing sighting!

     

    After enjoying lunch and a look around the shop we went back to the car park and the 2 bull Elephants were now among the cars so I had to be cautious in getting to the vehicle safely.

    Unbelievable stuff, we were so lucky to have now seen 4 of the Big 5 as we had seen Buffalo in the distance as well.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Elephant

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Elephant

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I also forgot to mention that after the Hyenas we spotted a lovely herd of Wildebeest in Umfolozi!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Wildebeest

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Wildebeest

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We raced back to Hilltop camp for check in and to get settled in the rooms but we only had 30 minuted before we needed to leave again to go to the cat rehabilitation center outside of Hluhluwe.

     

    Before we could get to Hilltop camp though we spotted a Crocodile resting near some water in the forest.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Crocodile

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Crocodile

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We were not done yet and a bit further up the road we managed to find Giraffe which was great as they were so close, then the one male walked down the road behind us. Man, what a great day, 4 of the Big 5 on this Hluhluwe Imfolozi safari tour!

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Giraffe

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Giraffe

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We finally arrived and quickly left Hilltop camp for the Cat rehabilitation center.

     

    On route we spotted some Rhino.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Rhino

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Rhino

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We thought that this would be all our sighting for the day but we added another of the Big 5 animals to our list as we spotted Elephants again and this time with little babies as they walked across and then down a road. We had been super blessed!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Herd of Elephants

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Herd of Elephants

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We finally got the the Cat rehabilitation center near Hluhluwe and were so excited because of the amazing day we had experienced so far that we knew this experience would also be an amazing one. At the Cat rehabilitation center we interact with Cheetah and Serval in the afternoon as it is the feeding tour so they others are being fed so we cannot obviously gone in with them.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Claire with Cheetah at Cat rehab

    Hluhluwe Big 5 Safari; Claire with Cheetah at Cat rehab

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I managed to get a great photo of Claire my cousins wife with the Cheetah cub with my camera but all the other photos I took with there camera for them with the other species of cat.

     

    I also got some great videos…

     

     

     

     

     

    Video – Caracal jumps for its food!

    Video – Serval catches food in tree


    We had had an amazing day and really though we could not have done any better at this point! We made our way back to Hluhluwe Imfolozi big 5 game reserve to get back to camp for some dinner. It was not 17:30 and we had 30 minuted to get back to camp.

     

    On route the unimaginable happened as we had a great sighting of an African wild dog running down the road towards us! I was absolutely amazed that we could of had such an amazing day of sightings and it would be hard to beat the next day but non of us cared at this point we were on a high from the excitement of the day and would probably battle to sleep the night!

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: African wild dog in Hluhluwe runs down road


     

    We arrived back at camp and had a 30 minute rest before dinner. It was nice for me as it was my family so I could share a bottle of wine with them and talk about the amazing day we had experienced. It was for sure one of the best days of game viewing I have ever experience and it always makes it so much better if you have people to share it with. We had seen Lions in a tree, Hyenas with a carcass in there mouth, Buffalo on the road, Rhino not far from the road, Elephant 2 meters from our car, Wild dog running towards our car, Zebras crossing the road, Giraffe walking on the road and a whole host of other things!

     

     

    We went off to bed and after doing some work I fell right off to sleep with a smile on my face!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Day 2: Durban big 5 Safari – 22nd July 2015

     

     

     

    We began day two at 6am and left Hilltop camp in the dark to maximize our time in Hluhluwe Imfolozi big 5 game reserve in the hope we would see lots of amazing animals and interactions.

     

    We made our way north first into the Hluhluwe section and were hoping to find the African wild dogs. That fell by the way side and we spotted two huge herds of Buffalo one was on the road!

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Buffalo

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Buffalo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We continued to a view point and enjoyed the views before checking the Hluhluwe river area for signs of animals. We had the most amazing sighting of Rhinos which I will put up there with one of my best!

    There was 4 sub adult males and 2 of them were fighting.

     

     

     

     

    Video – White Rhinos fighting in the wild, video 1

     


     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Rhino fighting 1

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Rhino fighting 1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: White Rhinos fighting in the wild, video 2


     

     

     

    Every time we thought they would stop either of the two Rhinos would continue the fight. In some of the videos you can see that they younger ones eye almost gets taken out. In nature Rhino males do kill each other over the rights to territory and to mate with females. Having said this, this fight was more fun and game to prepare the males for when they become adults and have to challenge a big male for territory.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Rhino fighting 2

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Rhino fighting 2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: White Rhinos fighting in the wild, video 3


     

     

     

    This was an unbelievable sighting an one I will never forget! We had been so luck to have clear visual of all of our Big 5 sightings and every other animal we saw as well.

     

    As we drove down south now we spotted some Zebras walking down the road and the one at the front was a new specie I call it the Tailless black bummed Zebra!

    No, it was just a Zebra that had been in some clay mud and it tails got stuck up on its ass….(excuse the pun!)

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, New specie of Zebra…

    Big 5 safari from Durban, New specie of Zebra…

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The day now began to merge for me a bit as the weather changed and things became hard as the rain came down. We had some respite but at time it was plain pouring with rain so much so the roads were almost flooding. This was odd as it was our winter and we usually only have rain like this in summer.

     

    We still saw animals. It was just that even the Elephants we saw were running away from the rain! Where they will running to was another story but they were not enjoying the heavy rain.

     

    Amidst the rain we still spotted Giraffe, Impala and Elephants.

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Giraffe

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Giraffe

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Elephant

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Elephant

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We stopped for some lunch at the centenary center once again and had to have something warm to make us feel content. It had been a long hard day but we still had seen animals and the Rhinos really were the highlight.

    After lunch and a look around the “Operation Rhino museum” we began to head back to Hilltop camp for a couple hours rest before my cousins would got for another 3 hours on the open vehicle and I would do some work and meet them for dinner at 8pm.

     

    Before arriving back we had spotted two Leopard tortoises who come out more when its wet in winter. I had to move one off the road so nobody hit it with their car. I was careful to check for any animals as I was breaking the rules but felt if it was to protect nature and considering I have been in the industry for 10 years and done walking trails before it would be fine and it was.

     

     

     

     

     

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Moving a male Leopard tortoise off the road

    Big 5 safari from Durban, Moving a male Leopard tortoise off the road

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    By the time we got back to Hilltop camp had done 9 hours of big 5 safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi and my cousins added the extra 3 hours to make it a 12 hour day of safari in Africa!

     

     

    I was grateful to be able to attend to my emails and begin the blog posts I needed to do and it was great to meet my family later for dinner and wine.

     

     

    We all had a great night sleep and would be ready for day 3!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Day 3: Durban big 5 Safari – 23rd July 2015

     

     

     

     

    We got up a little later the next day and had breakfast at 7am before checking out and a final 3.5 hours of big 5 safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.

     

     

    Our first sighting was of Elephants crossing the road in front of us. They were males which we trying to keep up with the breeding herd which had already gone over the next hill.

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Elephant

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Elephant

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We continued on and I had one thing in mind and that was to try and find the African wild dogs for my family in the day time!

    Before we could get there we had a great sighting of kudu silhouetted against the African sun!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Silouet of Kudu

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Silouet of Kudu

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We went to the usual are we look now near to where they have a den sight and we spotted fresh scat on the road so we waiting around and drove up and down and used our ears.

     

    All of a sudden I heard the squeaks and it was a mad rush as they were 20 meters down the road crossing. We got there and more came across right in front of us. It happened so fast that vehicle that arrived 1 minute later missed everything. We were so lucky again. We had now seen 4 of the Big 5 and African wild dogs twice the most endangered carnivore in Africa!

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, African Wild Dog crosses road

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, African Wild Dog crosses road

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This was becoming some kind of story which you would tell your kids when they were old enough about your experience in Africa. I just could not believe how lucky we had been during the 3 day of Safari from Durban.

     

     

    Finally some calm and we drove for a little while with out seeing much except Impala and then we spotted a Juvenile Martial Eagle which I managed to capture in flight!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Juv Martial eagle takes off

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Juv Martial eagle takes off

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We now  began to make our way out of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and spotted some Warthogs and Baboons. The funniest part was this male Baboon was sitting on a flimsy dead branch surveying the area and it snapped under his weight! I managed to take a photo of this as he fell to the ground not so gracefully!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Baboon falls

    Hluhluwe Big 5 safari from Durban, Baboon falls

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We exited Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve after any incredible 3 days and made our way to St Lucia estuary for lunch and our 2 hour boat cruise to view Hippos, Crocodiles as well as bird life.

     

    After an hour drive we arrived and settled in for some lunch before what was another great cruise on St Lucia Estuary.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia wetlands safari from Durban, Hippos in estuary

    St Lucia wetlands safari from Durban, Hippos in estuary

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We spotted Hippos galore and amazing bird life, these 2 Crocodiles where one of the amazing things we saw in the 2 hours of this relaxing St Lucia boat tour.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia wetlands safari from Durban, Crocodiles at St Lucia estuary

    St Lucia wetlands safari from Durban, Crocodiles at St Lucia estuary

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I made a lovely short video of one of the massive pods of Hippos where the babies left the water that we saw at St Lucia and you will be able to see it below.

     

     

     

     

     

    Video – Baby Hippos leave the water at St Lucia estuary

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We had been so lucky and began our cruise back to the jetty where we still spotted the Hippos and Crocodiles. We had a great sighting of an African fish eagle being mobbed by some Grey Headed Gulls.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia wetlands safari from Durban, Africa fish eagle gets mobbed

    St Lucia wetlands safari from Durban, Africa fish eagle gets mobbed

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It was now time to drop my family off and make sure they got the car from the car rental place before leaving them at there lovely guesthouse in St Lucia. It is always hard to say goodbye and having spent 4 amazing days with my family starting in the Drakensberg mountains and the a 3 day safari from Durban really meant we would have memories that we share forever.

     

    Thank you to Jean-Marc and Claire for the visit and my wife for arranging the stay at our home as well as the snak packs. It had been a very special time for us all.

     

     

    If you wish to join one of this tours click the links below to the 2 tours we did.

     

     

    Drakensberg, Sani pass day tour.

     

    Hluhluwe Imfolozi big 5, 3 day safari tour.

  • 11th June 2015

    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.

     

     

  • 9th May 2015

    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.