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Sani Pass – Not just a pretty view
15 Aug 2013
 
     

World famous Sani Pass, is known for its breath-taking views and rough terrain, however, on a recent visit, myself and Bushwise Senior Trainer Charles, were on a mission for more than just amazing views. 

The Sani Pass area itself is an immensely diverse area with a huge amount of wildlife… if you know what to look out for! Along the start of the pass, King Protea are prevalent – as are huge amount of birding specials such as Gurney’s Sugarbirds and Drakensberg Siskins. Rock Hyraxes (or Dassies) were seen at numerous rocky outcrops along the pass. (Did you know their closest living relative is the Elephant?) Several Grey Rhebok were seen at one of the first viewpoints, as well as an Oribi – exciting for the visiting ‘Lowvelders’. Further up the pass at another view point, Bearded Vultures were seen circling overhead (a special indeed!), as well as Drakensberg Cisticola in the shrubs directly below. Moral of the story – stop at every view point with a pair of bino’s, you will not only be rewarded with spectacular views the higher you go, but you will also experience the wildlife this nature reserve has to offer. 

Near the Lesotho Border, where you will no doubt visit the “Highest Pub in Africa”, keep an eye out for high altitude bird specials like the colourful Drakensberg Rockjumper. Sloggert’s Ice Rats – mole-like species endemic to Lesotho - can be seen running to and from a maze of tunnels in and around the footpaths (watch out, as they tend to collapse when stood on!). Remember, wildlife is everywhere, if you take the time to notice it.

- Text & Photo by Shirell Lynch

Timing is everything
8 Aug 2013
 
     

Finding game isn’t a difficult task if you stick to the rules surrounding times to view game. As discussed earlier, the early hours of the morning provide the best opportunities. Like humans, animals don’t like being active when it’s very hot, and most like to have daylight to see what they are doing. When they sky starts lighting up, animals start becoming active and warming up – this is when you should already be in the reserve. It’s tough to get up so early in the morning, especially in winter, but it almost certainly pays off. For the photographers out there, the beautiful early morning light is an added bonus.  

For those of you who can’t bear the thought of a 4am start, fear not, animals are also active in the late afternoons, once things begin to cool down. Usually, they will start heading for a water source after the heat of the day, so it’s always a good idea to find a water hole and wait it out.

Around midday, pretty much everything is seeking shade and resting, so it’s best you do the same, and refresh yourself for an afternoon drive.  Cloudy and overcast days usually provide longer game viewing opportunities as everything needs to remain active to keep warm, or can remain active for longer without overheating.

Winter, by far, provides the best game viewing opportunities. The vegetation has died back and movement is spotted more easily. Animals are also active for longer periods. 

TV vs Reality
8 Aug 2013
 
     

This week we welcome a new guest blog by Bushwise. The team at Bushwise are experts on all things wild, and have been training some of the best guides in the industry. They specialise in the FGASA Professional Field Guide Course, and safari hospitality, and last year their students achieved the highest pass marks of all the FGASA long term providers. In short, if field guiding or safari hospitality are of interest, then you should speak to Bushwise. For our readers, Bushwise have agreed to share some of the more interesting Bush Tips and photos that they have gathered, starting today!

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TV vs. Reality

If you are new to the game viewing and nature-loving world, you might expect a lot of the bush-life to resemble something you see in your typical documentary. Real life game viewing happens at a much slower pace. Those lions you see make kills numerous times a day, in reality, typically spend the most part of their day either lying down, or sleeping. On average lions only make kills every few days, not hours.

Keep in mind that your average documentary takes months, and in some cases years to film just those few minutes of quality footage, so don’t expect your next Kruger trip to be action-packed with lions killing around every corner, but rather appreciate it if you see them just moving around, as this is most likely not going to last too long! Some days you might see all of the ‘big 5’ in a matter of minutes, and sometimes it might take you weeks. Game viewing depends greatly on luck, as well as and very importantly, time of day. For more tips on when to look out for animals, keep an eye out for the next blog “Timing is Everything”.

 – Charles Delport

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