Zululand Trip

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Johann 1984
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Zululand Trip

Post by Johann 1984 » 26 Jan 2018 17:04

Hi Guys,

Me and my wife as well as little one just returned from a trip starting in St Lucia, Cape VIdal, then moving to Ndumo, Mabibi Beach, Utshwayelo and lastly Mkhuze.

Ndumo was fantastic. We saw lots of normal game, including one week old giraffe calf amongst many of its' young friends in a big herd. Ndumo pan is also stunning with its' fever tree forest. I did the walk and was enchanted. Saw so many crocs, including a six meter croc that Bongani (the ranger) told me was responsible for pulling in a buffalo. The fig tree and fever tree drive was also amazing as well as the view over the park and the view over the Usuthu river. By the way: has anyone ever seen any crocs in either the Ususthi or Pongola rivers? According to the guide of 26 years, Bongani, crocs in these river systems are very scarce these days. I tried spotting a croc for hours on the banks of the Usuthu river but saw nothing. Anyway, inside the park there are hundreds. Ndumo is a very clean, peaceful and well maintained park. We even heard hyenas at night which was refreshing.

As for uMkhuzi, now this is a cowboy story. Firstly, the camp requires serious maintenance. It is very dilapidated and neglected. I spoke to some of the honorary rangers from Mtunzini whom explained that there is very little money to do anything. The shop even has holes in the roof. On arrival, we gave the campsite one good look and decided to head for the huts (not chalets) which costs almost the same. The camping site requires some serious upkeep before we will consider it again. On arrival we unpacked quickly in order to do a quick game drive before sunset. within 15 minutes we saw a leopard lying in the road. She immediatley dissapeared at first sight of the vehicle and went hiding in the bushes. We stopped and searched thoroughly but saw nothing. After about 5 minutes, I saw the clear face of a leopard staring from below a thick shrub in the bushes, she wasn't even 7m away from the car. She stared at us until she realized that we could see her. She then jumped up and jogged away while we got a clear and good sighting of her. She was a young female. We then stopped at the first hide next to the iNsumo pan. The hippos were on their way out. We saw great sightings of crocs and hippos virtually at our feet. Not even to mention the magnitude of bird life around the insumo pan.

We then departed as we had already encountered dusk and needed to get back to camp ASAP. We saw another, this time massive, Leopard male crossing the road, stopping and staring at us before walking away into the bushes. It was an unreal sighting. When we got to camp, no one believed us. Not even the park rangers. This is where the good news ends. For the next three days we saw virtually nothing. And I do mean nothing. We did the Sygamore fig tree walk which was FANTASTIC and a truly life changing experience. You should go and do this. It is really out of this world. Our guide was Patrick, he's been there forever. He is a spiritual being that makes the forest come to life with his knowledge. He abruptly stopped and silenced us as he said he could hear human voices. It was scary, as he explained that they have a massively enormous problem with poaching. In the hut next door, another game ranger working in Pinda stayed. He also exclaimed that poaching is very rife in uMkhuze. From the initial 18 lions, there are only 8 left due to snares, The other were all caught in snares. Of the three Kalahari males brought into the park recently, one has been killed and another maimed by snares. The wild dogs suffer the same fate as the lions. Sitting in camp at night, one can see the problem clearly. uMkhuzi is literally surrounded by lights. We heard no wildlife in the evenings but we did hear donkeys bulking, which sort of tells the tale. What a beautiful park, which is being ruined by poaching and lack of funds. I feel so sad about uMkhuzi. It has the beauty and potential to become a big 5 mecca. Unfortunately, I think Ezemvelo is unethical to call it a big 5 park, because they are really in very little numbers. The comments left in the visitors book by foreign visitors reflect the same sentiment, there are no game left! We were the only guests in camp, along with our lone ranger from Pinda. We did not hear nor see any hyenas. This is a sure give away, in my view, because in most unfenced camps, hyenas make their rounds for free food. We didn't even hear them.

I would love to hear any thoughts from other visitors.

Johann

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Tinus lotz
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Re: Zululand Trip

Post by Tinus lotz » 27 Jan 2018 07:37

Thanks for the trip report ....need to spend some time in that part of the country

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Jules
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Re: Zululand Trip

Post by Jules » 28 Jan 2018 00:19

ons het laas jaar Sept gekamp by mKhuse en dit was aanvaarbaar, storte was fine geen probleem met warm water nie en daar was nogal heelwat mense in kamp

My gunsteling plek is Hlonhlelo Lodge in Mkuze en vriende van ons het by Hunting Lodge oorgebly wat werklik baie nice was

ja wild is n probleem daar en en word opgeeet deur gemeenskap rondtom Mkuze

die grootste probleem met Mkuze is dat daar twee partye betrokke is en dit is hoekom ek destyds as honorrsry member bedank het

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Johann 1984
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Re: Zululand Trip

Post by Johann 1984 » 29 Jan 2018 09:51

Hi Jules,

Die probleem met die kampeerplek is nie dat dit vuil is nie. Dis netjies skoon. Daars geen water gewees. Die krag was ook af. As dit net ek was gee ek nie om nie, maar ongelukkig het ek toe 'n vrou en 9 maande oue baba wat water en krag benodig. Die swembadjie is verwaarloos en 'n muskiet broeiplek.

Die personeel van Ezemvelo is hoogs behulpsaam en uiters vriendelik gewees. Die teenwoordigheid en houdings van iSimangliso se personeel was nie dieselfde nie.

Groete

Johann

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