Game sightings at UmKumbe Safari Lodge Riverside.

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Umkumbe Safari Lodge Riverside is located in the Sabie Game Reserve, considered by many to be the premier wildlife reserve in South Africa. Located on the banks of the seasonal Sand River, Umkumbe is perfectly situated in one of the top Big 5 game viewing destinations in Africa.(from the official website)

 

 

 

During December 2023, Travel & Things undertook a Lowveld road trip that included 3 Sun Destinations properties. Umkumbe Safari Lodge Riverside was the first.

I see skies of blueAnd clouds of whiteThe bright blessed dayThe dark sacred nightAnd I think to myselfWhat a wonderful world.

Songwriters: George David Weiss / Robert Thiele

Louis Armstrong 1967.

 

 

 

The bottom line is you don’t need a reason.

Just the wanderlust is all that is required.

 

 

 

“Aw nuts”… caught in the act.

 

 

 

Did you know? Waterbuck have a lot of hair around their necks neck making them look as if they should be living in much colder climates, but the hair has a function. It is hollow and allows for buoyancy when swimming, helping the waterbuck to keep their heads above the water.

Only the males have horns, which are prominently ringed and can be as long as 100 cm.

 

 

 

Leopard spots are called rosettes. In case you don’t know the difference…

Spots: Cheetahs, juvenile leopards and lions have spots that disappear as they mature.  Rosettes: These are round, rose-shaped circles, found on most leopard species.

FYI: Leopards are highly adaptable creatures, capable of living in semi-desert conditions or dense subtropical bush. Their territories can vary from 10 to several hundred square kilometres. To warn off other males and to attract females into their territory, male leopards scratch trees and use urine to mark the boundaries.

 

 

 

Did you know? Zebra can run up to 65km/h. They combine this fast running with excellent stamina as well as being able to run in zig-zagging motions to evade predators that are chasing them.

Although zebras are very closely related to horses and donkeys they have weak backs and are not naturally designed to be ridden.

Many years ago there was a circus in South Africa which trained zebra to be ridden. However, this practice was stopped as zebras are wild animals and are not able to be domesticated like horses. They have different anatomy and gait, making them uncomfortable to ride, and dangerous for both the rider and the animal.

It seems that zebra are inherently wild and cannot be domesticated. Even those born on farms to ‘tame’ parents will revert to biting and kicking if provoked.

 

 

 

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 male.

Kudu can leap over obstacles that are up to 2.4m 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.

FYI: The common name “kudu” stems from the indigenous Khoikhoi language of Southern Africa. The scientific name,Tragelaphus strepsiceros,is derived from Greek: “Tragos” denotes a ‘he-goat’ and “elaphos” ‘a deer’; “Strephis” means ‘twisting’ and ”Keras” means ‘horn’.

 

 

 

The smaller antelope species are sometimes difficult to identify, although not quite as difficult as the LBJ’s that tend to confuse amateur birders.

This is a bushbuck, known for their ability to adapt to a variety of habitats, from dense forests to open savannas

They are excellent swimmers, capable of crossing wide rivers that might cause other species to falter and/or drown?

 

 

 

This is a bull Nyala with two cows in attendance.

Did you know? They have an excellent sense of hearing.

Common predators of nyala include lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild dogs. When detecting the presence of a predator, they let out a barking call. They are also known to react to warning calls from other species such as impala, baboons and kudu.

 

 

 

Buffalo ALWAYS look at you as if you owe them money!

 

 

 

A tiny dwarf chameleon caught in the beam of a spotlight…

 

 

 

Steenbok drink very rarely, obtaining their moisture requirements from the food they ingest. To escape danger, Steenbok may even hide in the burrows of Aardvark. Adults can vary from 7 to 16 kgs in mass. Females can reach sexual maturity as young as 6 months and males at 9 months of age.

 

 

 

“That’s fighting talk”!

Male impala practising their skills for the rutting season.

They are fleet runners who can leap up to 10m in length and 3m in height. They use their tremendous speed and agility to avoid predation, and seemingly for pure enjoyment. Males are known as rams, while females are referred to as ewes and have no horns. Male impalas have Lyre-shaped and ringed horns, up to 75cm long.

The first attested English name, in 1802, was palla or pallah, from the Tswana phala ‘red antelope’; the name impala, also spelt impalla or mpala, is first attested in 1875, and is directly from Zulu. The Afrikaans name, rooibok ‘red buck’, is sometimes used in English.

 

 

 

Spotted hyenas have distinctive vocalizations. They are the most vocal mammals in Africa, with over 11 different sounds recorded. The famous giggle they produce sounds like a human laughing. This “laugh” is used during times of nervous excitement or submission to a dominant hyena.

 

 

 

A face that only a parent can love?

Besides being good at dodging and running, warthogs are not afraid to fight. They use their sharp lower canine teeth (which look like straight tusks) as weapons while squealing at the top of their lungs!

When walking, their tail hangs down, but when they run, their tails stick up, almost like an old-fashioned car radio antenna. When running in a group (known as a sounder) the tail becomes a ‘follow-me’, enabling the individuals to stay in touch.

 

 

 

You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe…Leyman Gbowee.

Although they do leave footprints, elephants anatomically walk on tip-toe.

African elephants (like their Asian counterparts) walk on their ‘tip-toes’ (subunguligrade), yet their feet are effectively flat (i.e. functionally plantigrade) due to a large, compliant fat pad that fills the space behind the toes.

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

 

 

 

One of our closest relatives? The Chacma baboon.

Chacma baboons have cheek pouches the size of their stomach in which they can store food. These animals require daily water intake to survive, but in water-scarce areas, they can survive for as long as 20 days without water by eating food with a high water content.

The species walks on all fours and can reach a top running speed of 56km per hour, with a gallop similar to that of a horse. The baboon’s main predator is the leopard. However, many unlucky leopards have been badly injured after being aggressively mobbed and attacked by groups of adult male baboons.

 

 

 

For those who are interested in lodge names, Umkumbe means White Rhino in Shangaan.

FYI: White rhinos can neither look up nor swim because of their anatomical neck structure.

 

 

 

To find out more about what is on offer at the lodge, click on the logo above.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Check out the archived and current interviews… click on the image above.

 

 

 

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