Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pestana Kruger Lodge – Jeremy Williamson

An ideally situated hotel with a lovely outlook across the Crocodile River into the Kruger National Park is the Pestana Kruger Lodge.

For those not able to secure suitable accommodation within the Kruger Park restcamps, here is a convenient alternative. There is a range of accommodation types, the hotel is able to cater for large groups. Basic accommodation, excellent location and the food had good variety and pretty good quality.

Lovely grounds 

– a large swimming pool 

and the restaurant 

and bar facilities are pretty good. 

From the deck there is a lovely view with the odd animals coming to drink, hippo in the watery retreat and crocodile basking on the river banks.

The Crocodile River west of Pestana Kruger Lodge

That's the Malelane Gate bridge into Kruger Park

All photographs by Jeremy Williamson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kruger National Park – Jeremy Williamson

Lana and Jeremy Williamson recently visited the Kruger National Park. Well it was more like our driving through the Kruger Park between some of the Concession venues we were visiting. We had spent a few nights at venues outside the Kruger Park and then two nights at Mjejane River Lodge, which has some 4,000 ha “fenced into the Kruger Park” despite lying to the south of the Crocodile River. Whilst at Mjejane River Lodge we were taken on a game drive directly into the Kruger Park, as one of the offered excursions– they have a private low level bridge across the Crocodile River for their patrons. 

Mjejane's low level bridge over the Crocodile River

There is a SA National Parks control gate that ensures the entrance Conservation levies are paid.

There has been enormous development with respect to additional accommodation venues surrounding the Kruger National Park. So much so, that over long week-ends and holiday periods, a quota system has been introduced in order to control the number of day visitors to the Park. For a fee, guests are able to pre-book a day visitor permit.

Pestana Kruger Lodge across the river at Malelane gate

The Kruger National Park is approximately 2,000.000 ha with numerous protected game reserves on the periphery, which have removed the barrier fences, giving an total fenced area of around 3,800,000 ha. Beyond this, there are numerous isolated fenced wildlife reserves which greatly add to the range for our wildlife. 
The Kruger Park is certainly suffering from the present drought, with most dams low and rivers dry or also very low.

Sunset Dam - Lower Sabi

There has been some rain in the area which stimulated growth, but not enough and some of the new growth has become dry and or died back.

Nkumbe viewpoint looking west over the Kruger Park

The bush was fairly open offering fairly good sightings.
Elephant are prolific and encountered almost everywhere we traveled. Some large herds too.

General antelope sightings were good too.

Impala ram

Bushbuck ram

Steenbuck ram

Some giraffe, zebra and warthog too


Then the big cats.

Predators caused the usual traffic jams, thank goodness we were visiting out of peak period and we could negotiate these road-blocks.

Sabie River rather low
Buffalo with a Red-billed Oxpecker

Then there is the amazing bird life too.

Cape Glossy Starling

Lilac-breasted Roller

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

Brown Snake-Eagle

After many years of really poor restaurant service, the Park authorities have sub-contracted the restaurant facilities to some of South Africa’s larger restaurant franchises. The improvement is proof of their having made the correct decision.

Lower Sabie

Lower Sabie Restaurant overlooking the Sabie River
Skukuza restcamp

Cattle Baron, Skukuza breakfast

Breakfast at Skukuza

All photographs taken in the Kruger National Park by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Imbali Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park – Jeremy Williamson

Lana and I were in the Kruger National Park and were booked in for a night at the luxurious Imbali Safari Lodge, one of the Private Concession Lodges within the park. Kruger was looking fairly dry but sightings were pretty good on our drive up from the south of Kruger.

The primates really are quite endearing.

We arrived under the porte-cochere of the Imbali Safari Lodge at 13h00 and were welcomed by the camp manager who introduced us to the Lodge facilities and our delightful roomy suite.

Brick under thatch with a Tsonga styled twist to the design.

Imbali Safari Lodge is built on the bank of the seasonal Nwaswitsontso River amongst the riparian forest of Jackalberry and Tambooti trees.

Interestingly the site chosen for Imbali Safari Lodge was an African settlement some 400-years ago. Evidence of this early habitation manifested in remnants of clay pots, bone tools and their grinding stones.
Settled in our large suite, private deck, plunge pool and luxurious bathroom, there was time for us to sort the necessary camera equipment and ready ourselves for the afternoon guided game drive.


Tea on the main lodge deck with its view of the waterhole on the opposite bank of the dry river, antelope, elephant, buffalo and zebra were a constant parade, quenching their thirst.

It was pretty dry out there.
Tea and tasty eats on the main deck,

we met our ranger and off we go in the open game viewing vehicle. A pack of wild dog had been sighted, so we headed directly to where they were, all 22 of them.

The entire pack were relaxing and sleeping. Occasionally one would raise its head, have a quick look around and then back to nod-land.

Now and again one would rise, check the environment and choose a more comfortable bed.

Not much action, they were surely waiting for evening. What a special sighting all the same, such vulnerable animals, what with habitat and range loss.

We had a number of good sightings, an elephant,

Kudu cow

Immature Kudu bull

some kudu, a few giraffe, some zebra

Burchell's or Plains Zebra

and a variety of antelope.

Steenbuck ram

Impala herd

Back to the Lodge for dinner,

Imbali Safari Lodge reception

Imbali Safari Lodge main lounging area

after which we retired to our rather comfortable suite.

Wake-up call, we were eager to see what more game we could find.

Out into that lovely early morning light. We were fortunate to have a number of good sightings

Chacma baboon enjoying the morning sun

A small herd of Buffalo


It was warming up with the impala seeking respite in the shade

Some good birdlife too.

Lilac-breasted Roller

Yellow-billed Kite

Red-crested Korhaan

With only the one night in the area, we really needed to find some of the more elusive animals, it was not to be, although we did encounter a special on our departure, a short distance from Imbali Safari Lodge, a bull and cow Sable antelope with a calf, now that was a rather rare sighting. Apparently there are only about 200 to 300 of these magnificent antelope left in the greater Kruger National Park.

Another good one as we drove to our next destination was a sighting of four Southern Ground-Hornbills striding through the veld seeking out snakes, lizards and any other delicacy.

Immature Southern Ground-Hornbill

Imbali is a super venue within the Kruger National Park  with all the added luxury of a Private Lodge, excellent staff, meals and accommodation.

All pfotographs taken at Imbali Safari Lodge and in the Kruger National Park
by Jeremy and Lana Williamson