Game drive sightings while at Bundox River Lodge

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As the day, and my time at this lodge comes to an end, I spend a moment in quiet contemplation as the sunlight casts its rays almost horizontally over the river and vegetation on the far bank.

 

 

 

During the penultimate week of December 2023, Travel & Things undertook a Lowveld road trip that included 3 Sun Destinations properties. Bundox River Lodge was the last destination of the year.

The Lodge derived its name as an appropriation of the word boondocks, meaning ‘rough, untamed country’. In Africa, we would have referred to it as being in the ‘bundus’. And this camp is certainly in the ‘bundus’ but in a good way.

 

 

 

I go to the bush with no expectations and that way I cannot be disappointed when weather or circumstances beyond my control conspire to reduce the number of game drives I get to go out on while at a specific lodge.

I have stayed at places where I have been reduced to only one drive due to incessant rain. (I do NOT go out to look at wet Impala watching me while I watch them)

I have also stayed at properties where I got so sick just minutes after my arrival that I spent all my time in bed, sweating profusely and not going on a single drive.

That being said, although the weather curtailed my drives at Bundox, the quality of the animals I saw and the landscape and riverfrontage of the lodge made up for that.

 

 

 

A view of the Olifants River in the fading afternoon light.

The Olifants River Catchment is often seen as the ‘powerhouse’ of South Africa since many of the power stations use water from this river.

The 560 km long Olifants River has a 55,000 km2 catchment area with about 60 % of the water taken utilized for irrigation while the other 40% split evenly between power generation and towns, industries and mines.

 

 

 

A Nile crocodile doing what crocs generally do…lying and pretending to be a log. Be warned, this apex predator can attain a running speed of between 30-35 kph.

Fun fact: A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.

Did you know? The jaws of a Nile crocodile have between 64 to 68 cone-shaped teeth (about a dozen less than alligators). For most of a crocodile’s life, broken teeth can be replaced.

 

 

 

Hip, hip, hippo…

The name “hippopotamus” comes from a Greek word meaning “river horse,” even though they have no relationship to any equine species. Their closest living relatives may be pigs, whales and dolphins.

Hippos spend most of their time in the water however they do come out at night to forage and it is at times like this when interactions with humans can become a problem.

Getting between a hippo and its safety in the water can lead to attacks on locals and, in some cases, even death. And if you think you can hide, think again! Hippos are also nocturnal and can see well in the dark and are capable of speeds of up to 35kph.

 

 

 

The template for Dumbo?

The African elephant is not just the largest living land animal but it has a brain to match. Their brains can weigh up to 5.4kg and are, without doubt, the largest brains of all animals living on land.

By comparison, a human brain weighs in at 1.3kg, but then the heaviest human, Jon Brower Minnoch, only weighed 635 kg compared to a bull elephant can break a scale at 6,000kg.

And Jon stood 1.85m tall, while an elephant would have loomed over him at 2.5 to 4,m tall.

 

 

 

Wildlife photography calls for patience to get a shot timed correctly.

I have an innate respect for bird photographers who can sit in a hide for hours with their eyes glued to a viewfinder while waiting for that perfect shot. I have to admit that I am in awe of that trait as I have tried and failed on many occasions.

I prefer my pictures to give me almost instant gratification.

 

 

 

A common duiker. (Are you like me who dislikes the use of the word common when describing a species? There is nothing common at all about wildlife of any sort. Humans on the other hand…)

The name is from the Afrikaans word ‘duiker’, meaning to dive. This relates to the animal’s habit of ducking away into bushes when danger threatens.

They can live independently of water and feed on leaves, fruit and seeds. They are one of the very few antelope species to have been known to eat insects and carrion.

 

 

 

A trio of female waterbuck take a moment to relax before heading off to do whatever it is that waterbuck do when we cannot see them.

Waterbuck have a lot of hair around their necks neck making them look as if they should be living in much colder climates, but this hair is hollow, allowing for extra buoyancy when swimming, and helping the waterbuck to keep their heads above the water.

Did you know why the waterbuck has an unusual ring around its butt?

It might look like it has been sitting on a recently painted toilet seat, but it is a follow-me target for their young to follow while moving through dense bush and to keep a group together during flight.

 

 

 

The tallest land mammal at present. A giraffe is a most inquisitive animal.

Why are giraffes important?

Giraffes are vital to keeping ecosystems in balance. They browse vegetation that others cannot reach, which promotes the growth of forage and opens up areas for themselves and other smaller browsers to make use of. Importantly this means that by protecting Africa’s giraffes, we are protecting other species too.

There seems to be some dissent as to how many species/ sub-species of giraffe there are:

One source says that they are classified as one species, with nine subspecies.

Another reference states that there are nine different species of giraffes. And lists them as follows:

Reticulated or Somali giraffe, Kordofan giraffe, Nubian giraffe, South African or Cape giraffe, Angolan or Smokey giraffe, West African or Nigerian Giraffe, Rhodesian or Thornicroft giraffe, Rothschild or Ugandan giraffe and Maasai or Kilimanjaro giraffe.

Long-term research by GCF and partners has identified four distinct species of giraffe in Africa – Masai, Southern, Northern and Reticulated giraffe, with several subspecies.

So you can make your choice.

It seems to safely conclude that there is only one species in South Africa.

 

 

 

A large male Kudu watches as we drive by.

Male kudu have the largest horns of any antelope species, spiralling up to 1.8m. Each horn makes about 2.5 graceful twists depending on the age of the animal.

Kudu can leap over obstacles that are 2.4m high with ease.

The greater kudu is one of the only animals that thrives on scrub woodland and bush that grows in abandoned fields and pastures.

 

 

 

An African Rock Phyton vanishes into the undergrowth. An unusual sighting to end off a drive.

The African rock python is the largest snake in Africa. The average length is between 2.5 to 5 m it can reach 6 m in length and weigh 50 kg. After a large meal, the African rock python needs to lie up to digest its food, a process which can take months. Hyenas and wild dogs have been known to eat pythons during this period.

 

 

 

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Travel is the proud winner of this prestigious award from the digital British lifestyle magazine Luxlife. The award is in the category Best Travel & Experiences Blog 2024 – South Africa

 

 

 

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