Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mjejane River Lodge, Mjejane Game Reserve – Jeremy Williamson



Mjejane Game Reserve is incorporated into the southern section of the Kruger National Park, part of which was once a citrus farm, now belonging to a local community, Mjejane has a large portion of its property, between the railway line and the Crocodile River “fenced into” the Kruger National Park. Some 4,000 ha of natural bushveld, including an area where the citrus trees have been removed, with that farmed land now in the process of being rehabilitated.



In order for the community to get a return from their decision to create a game sanctuary, sensitive development along the river frontage is taking place. There are already  a number of Private Lodges, time-share units and the Mjejane River Lodge. Further development will take place without compromising the wildlife experience on the property.

Mjejane Main Lodge


Unique to Majejane Game Reserve is a low level road bridge into the Kruger National Park. Guests at Mjejane are able to thus be taken on game drives directly into the Kruger Park, without the need to exit Mjejane and take the N4 to either Malelane or Crocodile Bridge Gates. None of the other properties on the southern bank of the Kruger Park have this privilege.



Mjejane River Lodge has 12 suites, all located close to the central Lodge facility. All rooms have air-conditioning,   



bathrooms en suite, 



a bar fridge and tea station. 



Most of the rooms have a view over the Crocodile River, with the main facility’s veranda, swimming pool and a deck, all having expansive views into the Kruger National Park.




The Mjejane River Lodge grounds have an electric fence surrounding it, in order to try and keep out animals such as elephant, rhino, lion and buffalo. Within these grounds are some resident antelope and warthog.

Lana and I checked into the Lodge in time to enjoy their luncheon. A choice of dishes were offered, we chose a chicken salad, pretty good. Sitting on the veranda under a large umbrella with the Crocodile River  and the Kruger Park right there in front of us. Bliss.




Time for a  bit of sun and a refreshing swim then Tea and off in the open game viewers for the afternoon into the evening guided game drive in the Mjejane Game Reserve. 

Interesting swimming pool design

Our guide found a very large herd of buffalo, estimated at some 700 strong, that’s a lot of buff.



Cattle egret hoping the buffalo will disturb some insects
Over the radio came  the call that 2 lioness were spotted following the herd. They do this to see if there are any wounded animals trailing behind, or if they are able to separate one from the herd, which then makes it more vulnerable as buffalo are quite protective of their kin. The herd enveloped our vehicle in dust as they past by, we sat tight and out of the shrubbery came the two lion. 



The Mjejane lion are apparently expert buffalo hunters. Whether it was us being there or the lion merely biding their time, they flopped down and waited. No action from them this late afternoon.
We had enjoyed sightings of a variety of game  - off to sundowners in the bush, our guide chose a very scenic venue for this.

Mjejane Dam

Back to River Lodge for a quick freshen up and dinner. A buffet was set up and there was an easy choice for Lana and I who are on a low carb way of eating. Imagine delicious ox-tail, a variety of vegetables and we were replete.
We quite enjoyed our room being in such close proximity to the main venue, I could duck back to the room to collect a camera or such, no long trek to a distant room!



Dressed and ready by 05h15 and with cameras and jacket in hand we reported in for tea, coffee and rusks, then into the open game viewers  for our morning game drive across the river in the Kruger Park. For this drive one is obliged to pay the Kruger Park Conservation Levy over and above the cost of the stay at Mjejane River Lodge.
As we crossed the electrified barrier from the Lodge, our guide opted to take us first to see a pride of lion that had been spotted a short distance from the lodge within the Majejane Game Reserve.  En route we came upon two male lion, recumbent after an evenings hunting?



Then to the pride, I counted 12, ranging from fairly young cubs to a very old lioness, they were all in a fairly relaxed mode until suddenly they were alerted to a herd of buffalo not too distant. 





Wonderful to see the instinctive methodology of arranging the ambush / hunt. Spreading out from their early morning repose, the older ones to the front. The sub adults stretching their ligaments and sharpening their claws



whilst the youngest were more interested in their social hierarchy  battling it out with their immediate peers for dominance.



We could see the lion and a couple of the buffalo herd, but no immediate action, so off to Kruger we went. It was not to be until later that night that the lion would secure their buffalo meal .

Check in at the Majejane / Kruger Park control gate at the bridge, and then down to the causeway and across the river. 




A vehicle had crossed just prior to us and appeared to have spooked a lone hippo that must have still been grazing on an island in the river. Well it certainly wanted to make haste to its preferred pool and took off at speed. It passed under the bridge as we crossed, Lana was ready to capture this massive mammal making waves. They are amazingly agile. Hippo don’t swim, but walk / run on the bed of the water body, moving their (up to) 1500 kg mass at some 30 kph on land and around 8 kph in water.




Hippo safe in its home for the day,  the river returned to its tranquil early morning splendor.



Now on the public road network within the Kruger National Park  our search began. Well not too far along the road, a female leopard, ensconced safely in a tree gazed down at 7 pairs of eyes staring up at her. Then the cameras started slicking away.



What a morning, we were fortunate to see lion, buffalo, hyena, elephant, white rhino, giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope species and a few interesting birds too.

Steenbok

Young kudu bull

Tawny eagle

Back to Mjejane for a sumptuous breakfast and time to relax in this rather special place.

Water buck

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill





Interesting animals coming down to the river to slake their thirst, birds active in the trees in the camp and then teas,  lunches and more teas until departure on the afternoon game drive on Mjejane Game Reserve.
As Lana and I were due to visit a Lodge in the center of the Kruger Park we decided to leave Mjejane early and do our own self-drive game drive in Kruger Park, en route north. Mjejane River Lodge is a venue really worth considering, one of the best / more affordable value for money, fully catered and hosted game lodge venues in the Greater Kruger National Park. In all we had had some amazingly good game viewing, including the Big 5, and with this, the ‘real’ Big 5, in that this definition was coined to include the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt. White rhino is normally accepted as part of the 5 but in reality, that is not correct, it’s Black Rhino along with lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard that constitute this venerable collection. Well in the past three days we had seen them all and some.


Mjejane is a really comfortable venue with a magnificent outlook over the Crocodile River into the Kruger National Park. There is really good game viewing within Mjejane Game Reserve and with the added advantage that guests can choose to do game drives in Kruger. This southern section of the Park is one of my favorite areas.  For reservations at Mjejane River Lodge please contact us on farwild@africasafari.co.za. This Lodge comes highly recommended.

All photographs taken on Mjejane Game Reserve or on game drive with Mjejane rangers in the Kruger Park - by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

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