It is about the small stuff. Sightings from Umkumbe Safari Lodge Riverside.

In the morning's gentle light, a grass blade stands, Glistening dew-kissed, in nature's hands. A solitary sentinel, bathed in dawn's embrace, A bastion of beauty in a tranquil space.




Recently, Travel & Things undertook a Lowveld road trip that included 3 Sun Destinations™ properties. Umkumbe Safari Lodge Riverside was where the trip began.

As Monty Python’s Flying Circus said…”And now for something completely different”!

I wanted to immerse my readers in a game-sighting post where there is no game.

Just to prove the point that there is ALWAYS something to see…even if it does not have teeth and claws or hooves and horns.

To quote Ernest Hemingway:

“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy”




I was happy to see this sign to the Lodge as I arrived. Mainly because I had taken an incorrect turn coming out of a parking lot in Hazyview and went off in the wrong direction for more than an hour. Completely my fault as I did not read the instructions correctly. It was a stupid mistake and I am certain not one that is made regularly. The directions that I received from the Sun Destinations™ office were perfect.




The soft colours and an almost shadowless landscape.

Petrichor.The almost overpowering aroma of rain on dry earth.

The word was coined by scientists in 1964 to describe the unique, earthy smell associated with rain. It is caused by rain mixing with certain compounds like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils.

The Marula trees caught my attention as they were literally front and centre in an otherwise flat landscape.

Did you know? The Marula is referred to as the king of African trees that can grow to between 9 and 18 metres tall. Aside from Africa, the Marula is also found in 28 other countries.

Female trees bear up to 500 kilograms of fruit each year, while the male marula tree puts on a delicate floral display.




Morning Glory. This shrub invades roadsides and watercourses and may out-compete indigenous plants. It prefers warmer climates and is recorded from coastal bush to savanna.

The Morning Glory is believed to be lucky and is also popular for providing peace and happiness to home buyers. Others believe that the seeds of this flowering plant prevent bad dreams and give a well-rested sleep throughout the night.




This is Chloris virgata is also known as the Feather-top grass. It is one of the pioneer grass species and can therefore be used as erosion control on fragile soils.

That being said, there is a possibility I am told that this might be Chloris roxburghiana, which, like the virgata, is a pioneer species.

It has been pointed out that there is a second grass in the picture, Dicanthum, which is in the foreground has has the hairy nodes. They seem to grow in wet places.

I reached out to get input from several field guides for help with this ID. However, if the description is incorrect then the mistake is mine.

Grass ID is not as simple as it looks… Aside from input from the guides, I relied on Frits van Oudtshoorn’s “Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa”, published by Briza for final confirmation.

The grass ( Chloris virgata ) has medicinal purposes. The crushed leaves can be soaked in water and applied to wounds to prevent infection.




Footprints in the sand. I tried to see if I could identify my boot prints from the plethora of tracks in the camp. Not really an exercise in tracking, but a bit of fun while walking to the lounge area.

For those who might be interested, mine is the print in the centre of the image.




Juvenile Flap-necked Chameleon.

The word chameleon is the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek khamaileon.  The word derives from khamai (on the ground) and leon (lion) and translates loosely as ‘ground lion’. This refers to the reptile’s intimidating defensive display, during which it gapes, hisses and lunges.

Nearly half of the 160+ species of chameleon are found in mainland Africa, while the remainder can be found in Madagascar.




Termitomyces Entolomoides growing in elephant dung.

Termitomyces Heim (1942) is a genus of mushrooms whose seasonal edible fructifications are found exclusively in certain regions of Africa and Asia.

Important note: Do not pick and eat random fungi in the wild without proper identification and advice as to if it is edible.




A spider’s web post an early morning shower. This just shows the tensile strength of the web silk which is about 1.3 GPa.

Although the tensile strength for steel might be slightly higher at around 1.65 GPa,a given weight of spider silk is five times as strong as the same mass of steel.





Suspended animation?

There is an innate beauty of rain on the strands of a web. I often ask field guides to be on the look out for webs so that I can take photographs.

On that note, when a guide asks you if there is anything special you would like to see, be honest as to what you might like or you are going to drive past many opportunities.




Beneath a lone tree, an African sun retires, Its radiant hues set the sky on fire. Through branches’ embrace, a proud silhouette, A sunset’s dance, a memory to beget.

Spectacular colours, as daylight takes its leave.

A canvas of warmth, a vibrant reprieve.

The dying sun whispers tales of the land,

A continent’s heartbeat, in nature’s hand.

Did you know?

Someone who loves of sunsets is called an ‘opacarophile’.

Opacare from the Latin for dusk or sunset, and phile which is Greek for love.




Time to hit the road and head off to my next destination.

For those readers who are wondering if I did actually get to see of the dangerous or iconic species, fear not, there will be posts published in the near future that will feature those species as well as the multitude of birds and raptors that I saw during my visit.




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