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People on game drive watch buffalo standing in water drinking

Failproof Tips for an Epic Family Safari in South Africa

By Manyoni Private Game Reserve, Rhino River Lodge, Safaris

What better way to renew and refresh ties than on a family safari in South Africa? Mixing up a long school holiday by taking the family to the bush is an exciting way to escape the busyness of the city and the routines of home. And our four tried and tested simple tips will take your holiday from good to epic!

Have a guide that inspires a love for the wild

With the right guide, the wilderness becomes an endless outdoor classroom to be explored together with some of the most passionate and knowledgeable teachers. Whether out on an adventure in the game vehicle or learning on foot about the language of the bush, a great guide will have everyone engaged on your family safari in South Africa. More than that, this is a guide that inspires a deep appreciation for nature and understanding of why caring for it is vital. These things aren’t measurable, but they will stick with your kids and possibly even shape their lives.

Guide in game drive vehicle looks at a pair of giraffe on family safari in South Africa

Bongani, Stuart and Kyle are some of the best rangers and guides in the business! By finding out the interests of both young and old, these guys share this special part of KwaZulu-Natal in a way that makes the safari experience meaningful for each guest. They are the encyclopedias of the bushveld and by the end of your family safari you will all be a little more fluent in reading the ‘bush newspaper’. When you’re back at camp, sitting around the firepit under the stars, don’t be shy to ask them to share their funny wildlife stories, intriguing folktales and cultural traditions.

Re-energise with healthy and tasty meals

Locally-sourced fresh ingredients and talented kitchen staff are a match made in safari cuisine heaven. Throughout your safari, you can count on healthy and delicious food served with the heartwarming hospitality that South Africans are famous for. Meals are often influenced by modern and traditional local flavours; but alternatives are always offered for those that want something more familiar to them. It’s important to make the lodge aware of any dietary preferences or allergies well before your arrival.

Guests of Rhino River Lodge enjoy breakfast by a pool of water during their family safari in South Africa

Getting up before sunrise for a game drive might not sound appealing to all (or maybe any!) family members. But we promise that the incredible wildlife sightings and golden landscape of Manyoni in the morning makes it absolutely worth it. Of course you won’t be asked to do so without that all-important first cup of coffee or tea.

A midway break involves warm beverages (the grown-ups can enjoy a cup of Amarula coffee), our famous homemade cookies and rusks, and much stretching of legs and arms. The second and last game drive for the day is in the late afternoon and, just before the sun does down, your guide will setup a table of chilled drinks and snacks, like biltong and nuts, to enjoy with the view.

Pack the binocs and books

But even with these stops, kids can become restless in between sightings. It’s a good idea to pack at least one pair of binoculars, some wildlife books and notebooks for them to scribble down or what they’ve seen so far. Alternatively, you can ask for an animal and bird species checklist that can be marked off throughout the game drive. Young budding photographers will be in their element, with plenty opportunities to practice their craft and take home a camera filled with landscape and wildlife snaps.

Cheetah walks in front of game drive vehicle with family on safari

Children under four years’ old are not allowed to go on game drives in Manyoni Private Game Reserve. This is to ensure respect for and safety of all participants – guides and guests alike – on the game drive and the wildlife that you encounter along the way. Our lovely babysitter is trained and experienced in looking after little ones, so you are welcome to book her services before arrival at the lodge.

Choose spacious and private accommodation

Privacy, space and comfort are at the heart of a happy holiday together, and these travel qualities have always been particularly important for family safaris in South Africa and beyond. It gives you the freedom to enjoy the beauty, tranquility and joy in nature together in house that feels like your home-away-from-home, with all the creature comforts and amenities that child-friendly safari accommodation should have.

Swimming pool, wooden deck and loungers at The Homestead that is perfect for private family safaris

We can accommodate four people in our two Family Loft Chalets and The Homestead, and six in our newly renovated Cottage. each with special features like a private boma (Family Loft Chalets) and a pool and deck (The Cottage and Homestead). These are large and spacious for a small family or friend groups that need more privacy and space, which is great for the kids because they can be noisy and let off steam without worrying about other lodge guests. At the main lodge, there is also a pool, garden and comfy indoor lounge. So you’re spoilt for choice!

Our team of lodge staff and rangers are ready to take absolute care of the most important people in your life – your family. Contact us to book your next family holiday in the bush!

African wild dog stands looking away from camera in Manyoni Private Game Reserve

Join Our Wildlife Conservation Safari in Zululand

By Conservation, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, Safaris

The Wildlife Conservation Safari in Manyoni Private Game Reserve is a specialised itinerary for those who are interested in joining the Wildlife ACT professionals on the ground, participating in and understanding what is happening in the field of South African wildlife conservation.

Wildlife conservation safari

If this is you, consider joining us for this unique safari experience to have the privilege of working alongside active and passionate conservationists in carrying out vital work which forms part of the conservation strategy of Wildlife ACT locally and in the KwaZulu-Natal province more broadly. These are some of the activities you could participate in:

  • Orientation and conservation game drives
  • Participation in a rhino dehorning
  • A rhino tracking walk and monitoring
  • A bush walk to collect camera trap data
  • Endangered species monitoring sessions

Camera trap work contributes vital information to and aligns with the long-term leopard survey of the province. Rhino conservation efforts, like rhino monitoring and dehorning, reduce incentives for poachers to enter protected areas. Endangered species monitoring enables reserve Management to make well-informed decisions on crucial conservation actions.

Stationary game vehicle with people next to water in Manyoni Private Game Reserve

You get to connect in a truly meaningfully way to the beautiful bushveld, its fascinating language, and the animals that call it home, while still enjoying the comforts and luxuries that a private game reserve offers. This, of course, includes those all important evening sundowners to celebrate and discuss the day’s activities!

Rhino dehorning

Unfortunately the Zululand region has become one of the focal points for wildlife criminal syndicates and rhino poaching continues to have a big impact in the region. Wildlife ACT is a co-founder of Project Rhino, which is an association of like-minded organisations facilitating rhino conservation interventions that work towards eliminating rhino poaching and securing the white and black rhino populations of KwaZulu-Natal.

Rhino dehorning during wildlife conservation safari in Zululand

As this pressure continued, the last resort was to dehorn rhinos populations, and this has since become a key strategy in reserves with smaller populations as it acts as an effective deterrent to poachers. Wildlife ACT fundraises to support the unfortunately much-needed dehorning of rhino to protect them in this way. As part of the wildlife safari you can choose to participate in the capture operation and witness the team at work over the course of a day. We may have to be flexible on the dates of this work due to weather, so have set it for the first morning to account for this.

Endangered species monitoring

Wildlife ACT’s main focus on Manyoni is the monitoring of the African wild dogs, cheetah, elephant and lion. During these monitoring sessions, any incidental sightings of other priority species including rhino, vultures and leopard, will also be recorded. Our team also occasionally assists with game counts and vegetation assessments on the reserve. 

Cheetah and cubs sedated during wildlife conservation safari in Zululand

Monitoring endangered species is an essential and critical step in their ongoing conservation as it keeps track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilisation, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents, and breakouts. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT gathers on various projects, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of Southern Africa’s wildlife.

Leopard survey

Camera trapping is one of the most effective ways to monitor leopards and other elusive, nocturnal species. Wildlife ACT works in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and Panthera to carry out an annual provincial leopard survey.

Leopard lying in grass at night

The data from camera trap images is used to determine leopard densities, demographics, and population trends at various key sites in KwaZulu-Natal. This information is used in provincial and national management planning and decision making. Traditional monitoring techniques, such as direct observation, are somewhat ineffective for leopards due to their elusive and solitary behaviour, wide home ranges, and ability to move in and out of protected areas.

Rhino dehorning during wildlife conservation safari in Zululand

One of the key strategies is to dehorn rhino populations in reserves with smaller populations, which acts as an effective deterrent to poachers. You will participate in the capture operation and witness the team at work over the course of a day. We may have to be flexible on the dates of this work due to weather, so have set it for the first morning to account for this.

Contact us for more information and to book your spot with us on the next Wildlife Conservation Safari.

lion social behaivour

The Importance of Allogrooming

By Safaris

When it comes to allogrooming among animals, the saying “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” definitely applies.

While one of the main forms of communication between humans is oral speech, animals don’t ‘talk’ to each other the way we do. For many mammals, grooming is a primary form of communication. Allogrooming, in particular, refers to reciprocal grooming between members of the same species and is an important form of interaction.

Socially, allogrooming helps establish and maintain relationships and hierarchies between the animals. However, it also plays an important role in reducing ticks in areas an animal cannot reach with its own mouth.

Whether it be one of our big cats or the humble impala – it’s always special seeing animals allogrooming. Here are 3 of our favourite animals to watch while ‘getting their groom on’:

Impala

impala allogrooming behaivour

Impalas appear to be the only ungulate to display self-grooming as well as allogrooming. In this strategy of evolved cooperation, partners alternately deliver six to twelve bouts of oral grooming to the head and neck. Female impala will typically groom related impalas, while males will often groom unrelated members of the herd. Unlike other species of ungulates, the amount of grooming an individual receives has nothing to do with their hierarchy within the herd.

Zebra

Herd of zebra

Zebras make use of their teeth and lips to nibble along the neck, shoulders, and backs of their grooming partners. Occurring primarily between mares, siblings, and foals, social grooming is not only done for hygiene but also produces bonds between the mares and confirms social status within the group.

Vervet Monkey

vervet monkey allogrooming

Vervet monkeys spend hours every day picking ticks and other insects off each other. While most monkeys must give allogrooming in order to receive it, dominant individuals always get the most grooming. The system also controls feeding, mating, fighting, friendships, and even survival. Aside from all its practical uses within the troop, allogrooming is also highly enjoyable and monkeys often go into a ‘trance-like’ state when being groomed.

It certainly is a ‘tit-for-tat’ world in the animal kingdom. Keep an eye out for this kind of behaivour while staying with us at Rhino River Lodge.

Best collective nouns for animals on safari

By Game Drive, Safaris

On an African safari, if you have a knowledgeable game ranger, you are likely to learn all sorts of new and interesting information about the animals you see. One of our favourite bits of information to share are the collective nouns used for some of the species.
A collective noun is the name given to a group of animals. While many are common and well-known (like herd, flock, or pride), there are many lesser known but fantastically descriptive terms used to describe African animals.

Elephants

A group of elephants is called a ‘memory’ of elephants. This is in reference to their strong family ties, intelligence, and reputedly long memories.

elephants

Zebra

Sometimes the most interesting animals on safari aren’t the large predators, but the more common species that manage to capture our imaginations. Zebra are one of the most strikingly beautiful animals in the African bush and it’s not difficult to see why a group of zebra is called a ‘dazzle’ of zebra.

 

Giraffe

Giraffe are another iconic African species and always a firm favourite with our guests. A group of giraffe is called a ‘tower’ of giraffe, as their heads can often be seen sticking high above the trees on the horizon.

giraffe

Rhino

A personal favourite here at Rhino River Lodge, the term for a group of rhinos is a ‘crash’. It is particularly apt for black rhinos as at they generally come crashing through the bush towards you and then crashing right back away again as soon as they investigate what you are.

Wildebeest

The term for a group of wildebeest (also known as gnu) is a ‘confusion’ of wildebeest. This probably originates from the noise and confusion that happens in large migratory movements of wildebeest, like the Serengeti’s great migration, but we think it could also refer to the rather comical appearance of the animal. Described by entertainingly by Ambrose Bierce as “an animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.”

wildebeest

Buffalo

A group of buffalo is aptly referred to as an ‘obstinacy’ of buffalo. Considering their bulky bodies, stubbornness and tendency to stay in large, protective herds, this is a prime example of a collective noun that takes its inspiration directly from the characteristics of the animal being described.

Rhino-River-Lodge-buffalo

Hippo

Spending their days lazing in the water, and nights grazing on the river banks, a group of hippos is fittingly called a ‘bloat’. While this may sound a little funny, coming across a bloat of hippos out of the water is no joke as hippos are widely considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa.

Rhino-River-Lodge-hippo

Memories, dazzles, towers, crashes, confusions, obstinacies and bloats! We’ve got them all at Rhino River Lodge. Start planning your safari to see them for yourself.

Originally published at Africa Geographic.

Tips for Taking Children on Safari

By Game Drive, Safaris

Tips for Taking Children on Safari

Written by Shannon Airton

What? Take children on an African safari?

The notion of taking kids on safari may seem both enticing and impractical. You imagine the exciting wildlife encounters, the iconic photographs you’ll take, the quality time spent with family and the lifelong memories you all will cherish. Then your kid throws a tantrum at the supermarket and you reconsider, thinking “If we can’t get through 30 minutes of shopping how are we going to survive a safari in Africa?” It can seem insurmountable. However, the question you should be asking is “Is it worth the challenge?” And to that, I can tell you that the answer is: “Yes, without a doubt”!
While this type of family holiday certainly has its challenges, with a little knowledge and preparation, you can all have the trip of a lifetime.

Here are my top 5 tips for taking kids on safari:

  1. Choose your destination wisely

For very young children, I believe the number one consideration is diseases and the preventative medicines that are required for protection. After a consultation with your doctor you will be able to make an informed decision on the destination that would best suit your family. Don’t despair, there are many areas in South Africa that are outside of the malaria-zone and are free of tropical diseases, like Rhino River Lodge!
  1. Select your accommodation carefully

Self-driving, self-catering safaris may seem a safe option (being able to contain screaming kids in your own private car sounds comforting, I know), but this sort of holiday can be hard work for parents. On the other end of the spectrum, high-end luxury camps aren’t necessarily the most appropriate place to take kids.
  • Look for a family friendly establishment and
  • read the reviews to see if people with children have had positive experiences.
  • Try to find accommodation with a large range of activities available on-site or close by.
  • I also highly recommend booking a camp with a swimming pool which will help you fill those long leisurely hours in-between game drives (and expend extra energy).
  1. Slow down

In my opinion long hours in cars, driving between destinations day after day, does not make for a memorable holiday for little ones, or for adults for that matter. Be realistic about your expectations. When you are at your destination don’t expect to be able to (or for your kids to want to) join in on every available activity. Give yourself enough time at each destination to be able to enjoy all aspects of the safari and not feel like you are missing out if your kids want to skip a game drive. Personally, I think the magic number is 3-4 nights per destination depending on your child’s temperament and the number of activities on offer.
  1. Start early by engaging your children with the idea and purpose of the trip

Once the trip is booked, start to pique their interest in where you are going and what you will see. Do safari themed arts and crafts. Buy them a children’s guide book to the animals of the area. Take them shopping for their own binoculars or camera and have them start to practice using them beforehand so they are ready when they arrive. Your imagination is the limit on this one.
  1. Always be prepared.

Yes, you are probably going to have to pack a little heavy for this trip. Many safari locations and game parks  are remote and do not have access to the same goods you can buy at home. Bring along anything special your child requires that will make your life easier. This includes anything from medicine to a stash of travel-proof snacks your kids like. The last thing you want is a child crying “I’m hungry” mid-game drive. If your accommodation doesn’t provide a children’s activity packet, then look up some activities on the internet.
Watching your child’s face light up the first time they spot a wild lion or excitement as you track the footprints of a rhino is incomparable. These days, children are more disconnected with nature than ever before. Family holidays that encourage them to connect with the natural world are good for their bodies and souls. You may even find when children disconnect from the digital world they begin reconnecting with their families. So, while at first a safari may seem an unlikely suggestion for a family holiday, the safari experience is about connecting with nature and one another, and is best shared with those you love the most.
Written by Shannon Airton, Mom, Owner and Manager at Rhino River Lodge
Previously published on Things To Do with Kids

5 Fantastic Wildlife Sightings at Rhino River Lodge

By Safaris, Sightings

One of my favourite questions to ask a game ranger is “What has been your favourite wildlife sighting so far?”
After all, surely they’d have some epic stories to tell after spending several hours out in the bush each day. However, to my dismay, the rangers often come up blank. It’s not that they haven’t witnessed anything spectacular; on the contrary, rangers witness so many special sightings that it can be hard to recall them all, let alone pick a favourite. (Tough life hey?)
Rhino River Lodge Ranger, Kyle Naude’, is one ranger who is particularly good at recalling sightings. As he is an avid photographer, Kyle loves to document his sightings while out on game drives and after several years in the bush, he’s seen a lot!
Prepare to go green with safari envy as Kyle shares his top 5 sightings from his time at Rhino River Lodge so far:

lion-cub

Lion Cubs in the Riverbed

Kyle: “I really enjoy photographing cats, especially when they are active. At the moment, we have quite a few lion cubs in the reserve which is providing great photographic opportunities. This is one of my favorite photographs because it is a reminder of an amazing sighting we had of two cubs in the riverbed. They were playing, stalking, jumping and tripping one another, and all this happened around the vehicle!”

cheetah-prowl

Male Cheetah on Patrol

Kyle: “Seeing cheetah is in my top 5 of a ‘must have’ sightings. These animals are my absolute favourite. Fortunately, we have a male cheetah that often patrols around the Rhino River Lodge area and sightings of him are always good. This particular photo was taken when he was patrolling the southern fence line, alongside two other male cheetahs from the neighboring reserve.”
wild-dogs-play

Playful Wild Dogs

Kyle: “Wild dogs are always fun to watch. They are very interactive with one another and there is never a dull sighting. This specific photo shows just that. After making an impala kill, the excited dogs began chasing each other around, as well as some nearby vultures that were trying their luck with the dogs’ kill.”

leopard-kill

Leopard on a kill

Kyle: “Although this is not the best photo in the world, it is one of the best leopard sightings I have ever had. Earlier that afternoon we had found a dead impala. Not knowing what the cause of death was, I told all my guests that we will follow up in the evening. When we returned that night we found this beautiful female leopard feeding on the impala. Everyone was in awe and we were lucky enough to sit with her for 40 minutes before we decided to leave her to enjoy the rest of her meal.”

grumpy-rhino

Grumpy Black Rhino

Kyle: “Black Rhino, what more do I need to say? I think with at least 70% of the sightings I have had with these amazing animals, I’ve been mock charged. With their infamous temper, it is always exciting seeing these animals. On this occasion, I was fortunate enough to capture this grumpy black rhino making a hard effort to entertain us.”
Never a dull moment at Rhino River Lodge! Armed with his radio and camera, we can’t wait to see what Kyle spots next.

Originally published at Africa Geographic.

The ‘Big 5’ tips for great wildlife photography

By Rhino River Lodge, Safaris, Sightings

In recent years, wildlife photography has seen a massive growth in popularity. DLSR cameras are now readily available, reasonably priced and user-friendly. However, as ‘easy’ as cameras are to use these days, we’ve all had those moments when you take a photo of something beautiful and the result just isn’t what you imagined or doesn’t capture the essence of what you were photographing. It’s frustrating and can be a little disheartening. That’s why we decided to chat to wildlife photographer and Rhino River Lodge regular, Heidi Watson.

Heidi has always had a fascination with wildlife and the bush in general, from behaviours of animals to the interactions between them. Like many South Africans, her interest in wildlife photography was sparked on her first day trip into Kruger National Park. Combine that obsession with the tools to capture those memories and interactions, and the rest is history.

We asked Heidi to share a few tips on how to take better photos while on safari.

male-lion
Copyright Heidi Watson

 

1. Invest in good lenses

I would have to say invest in your lenses – good quality glass is key. Next, a minimum focal length of 200-300mm. If you are birding, the longer the focal length the better for these mostly shy creatures (400mm and longer) I would say a 70-200 f2.8 (depending on budget) and then something on the wider side like a 24-70mm, and if you wish to go longer than anything over 200mm, it should be a prime lens (which has no zoom capabilities but is a superior lens generally).
At the end of the day I believe you should use and invest in whatever works for you personally. Start with the basics and build from there, not everyone can afford the “pro” equipment from the get go.

bird-wildlife-photography
Copyright Heidi Watson

 

2. Experience is the most important thing when it comes to wildlife photography

Get out there, and practise! Learn as much as you can about your subjects and, of course, be patient.

dirty-lion-wildlife-photography
Copyright Heidi Watson

 

3. Tell a story with your photos

Capturing the soul of an animal in a photograph isn’t easy, but for me that’s what makes a great photo. An attempt at capturing a moment that cannot be recreated by another.

giraffe-moment-wildlife-photography
Copyright Heidi Watson

 

4. Be considerate of the animals

The topic of flashes is highly debatable, however used correctly they can be effective. This is done with offset brackets and cables to trigger the flash so that it does not flash directly into the subject’s eyes. I do however disagree whole heartedly on using pop up flashes. The other big issue for me is ethics, for example don’t antagonise the wildlife to get a reaction from the animals you are photographing.

wildlife-photography
Copyright Heidi Watson

 

5. Spend time, not money

My main advice would be, don’t follow the fads. Rather spend money on going places. The camera is just a tool; you are what makes the photo speak a 1,000 words. Work on your skills rather than buying the latest and greatest equipment. After all, what use is a bag full of gear when you have nothing to photograph? And lastly, see the world for more then what it is at that moment.

giraffe-herd-wildlife-photography

To see more of Heidi’s beautiful photographs and get inspired for your next safari, visit her Facebook page.

Originally published on Africa Geographic.

 

First time safari tips from rangers in the know

By Game Drive, Rhino River Lodge, Safaris

For the first time safari traveller, going on safari can be an overwhelming prospect. Often considered a bucket list trip, expectations are high and the territory is unfamiliar and a little intimidating. Here we offer some advice to help prepare safari goers, courtesy of the guys who know the business best – game rangers! 

We asked Rhino River Lodge’s rangers, Kyle, Alex and Ryan, to share with us their top safari tips.

Here are a few of their recommendations:

1. Bring binoculars
It’s the number one piece of equipment that guests forget to bring along that substantially improves the safari experience, and it’s just as important as your camera! Not many people own a great pair of binoculars, but if you are planning to go on safari, now is the time to invest in a quality pair. Even when sightings are fairly close, binoculars allow you to take in details that would be missed with the naked eye. Ranger Alex mentioned bringing binoculars in the answer to every question he was asked about giving advice on safari… their importance shouldn’t be underestimated!

rangers-binoculars

2. Keep the noise down on game drives
Guides know that guests’ excitement can reach epic levels at amazing sightings but by keeping quiet and sharing the excitement later, you can actually improve your sighting by not disturbing the animals. Also, keeping quiet during the drive itself will increase the number of sightings you have as you do not startle animals before you are able to approach them.

Heidi-Watson-game-drive

3. Slow down
When planning your itinerary make sure you take time to enjoy each place. Ranger Kyle says, “Try and stay in each place for at least two nights. That gives you enough time to relax and enjoy every aspect.” The last thing you want during a safari is to get bogged down in the logistics of transfers, settling bills, packing and repacking. Spending a little extra time at each spot will make your trip much more enjoyable.

poolside-on-safari

4. Let go of expectations
Just relax and enjoy! All three rangers listed this as the number one piece of advice for the first time safari goer. Letting go of expectations and simply living in the moment is the number one way to increase your enjoyment of the whole experience. In the words of ranger Ryan, “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to see big game. Take pleasure in just being out in the bush! The fresh air, the wind in your hair as you travel in an open vehicle, the warmth of the sunshine on your skin, the bird sounds – it’s a delight for the senses. But all too often people forget this as they burn their eyes scanning the horizons for elusive animals. These sightings should be a bonus, not a requirement!”

refreshments-on-safafri

No two days on safari are ever the same and our rangers have their own ideas of what a typical day on safari involves:
Kyle says, “A typical day on safari would be having a good time out in the bush – enjoying the sunrise and sunset, listening to all the different birds, and looking for all the interesting things that we do not get to see everyday (like dung beetles in a rhino midden rolling balls of dung or female lions teaching their new cubs to hunt and catch their food).”

Heidi-Watson-lions-at-night
Copyright Heidi Watson

Alex believes guests can expect, “A variety of flora and fauna, from big sycamore figs to small bushes, from the big five to smaller creatures like dung beetles and ants. It all makes a day of safari exciting.”

Heidi-Watson-sunbird-feeding

For Ryan a typical day on safari involves, “Great scenery, sunshine, plains game, birds calling from tree tops, butterflies fluttering around, flying insects buzzing past your face, a sky full of stars, warthogs fleeing in a cloud of dust, vultures soaring miles above our vehicle – basically the time of your life!”

Claire-Birtwhistle-warthog
Copyright Claire Birtwhistle

So, while it is impossible to predict what guests will experience while with us, if you’re following the sound advice of our rangers, you’re setting yourself up for a successful safari!

Originally published on Africa Geographic.

Guest Experience Highlight: Alison Langevad

By Game Drive, Rhino River Lodge, Safaris, Sightings, Uncategorised

Recently photographer, Alison Langevad paid us a visit at Rhino River Lodge. Here she shares with us some of the stunning photos that she captured during her stay with us.

We asked Alison to tell us a little bit about her photography:
“I enjoy both sport and wildlife photography. I first became interested in wildlife photography in 1995 while visiting Africa. My husband and I traveled extensively through Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda. We were fortunate enough to spend time with the Mountain Gorillas in Zaire, and so my passion for African Wildlife and its conservation began. We have since enjoyed the splendours of Botswana, Namibia and most recently South Africa. For me, Africa has a way of reaching deep into my soul and through photography I hope to share this. I sell stunning images on my website www.alisonlangevad.com and have a Facebook page Alison Langevad Photography so people can indulge themselves a little each day.”

Alison found Rhino River Lodge through the recommendation of a friend, “I connected through social media with a local photographer.  After a trip last year where we spent a short amount of time in KwaZulu Natal then left for Kenya and Tanzania, he wrote me this most amazing long email of all the reasons we should of stayed longer in South Africa. He described all the wonderful places close by we could of explored and suggested them for the future. It’s people who are passionate about where they live that do the best promoting. Word of mouth is invaluable and now after such a wonderful stay at Rhino River, we can do the same.”

 

We asked Alison to share her favourite memory from her stay at Rhino River Lodge, “My favourite memory would be the look on ranger Ryan Andraos’ face when we found the elephants. He was such a fantastic guide. They hadn’t been seen for a long time and we found them on his birthday. It was a great, light-hearted afternoon.”

 

We asked Alison if she had a favorite safari subject to photograph, “I don’t actually have a favourite animal to photograph. I enjoy moments rather than things in particular. This makes every day on safari a good day because I’m never disappointed.”

 

 

Alison shared her advice for taking great photographs on safari, “The best thing you can do to get great shots while on safari is give yourself time. It’s not about the equipment because it is quite easy to get up close.  It’s about having enough days to discover these wonderful creatures and then allowing the extra time to watch things unfold. We have learnt over the years to stop dashing around and spend longer in each place. We had enough nights at Rhino River Lodge to enjoy amazing sighting and indulge in our guides deep pit of knowledge, and could of easily stayed longer.”

Thanks very much to Alison for sharing her experiences and gorgeous shots. Make sure to check out her website and facebook page for more of her photos.

Guest Experience Highlight: Terry Lewis

By Game Drive, Rhino River Lodge, Safaris, Sightings

Terry and his wife recently came to spend a night with us at Rhino River Lodge. He captured our attention when he posted the lovely photos he took during his stay to Facebook. We thought we would take the opportunity to share some of those photos with you along with a little bit of their experience at Rhino River Lodge.

Terry and his wife are locals, coming to us from the Durban area only about three hours away. Terry explains how he “discovered” Rhino River Lodge, “Our kids were all going to be away on the Friday night so I searched the internet for a place in Zululand that we could grab for one night. I have been to Zululand Rhino Reserve before so I am aware of the area and the history, but I had not stayed in the south of the reserve before. So I searched on Rhino, and by chance ended on your site. The online booking is a MUST as I took a chance and booked. We families follow really busy schedules while our kids are at school, so getting away for one night is really a treat for us. Being so close to Durban, one night is a good option as we can do it easily, and still drive through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi on the way home.”

 

We asked Terry what his favorite sighting was during his stay with us…”We were spoiled with Lion, Wild Dog, Buffalo calf, Zebra foal, Rhino calf. All were special. The most appreciated was the wild dog. We have never been so close and had so much time with a pack. They are in such good condition. But we also had some time to explore the dung beetle. I appreciated Alex (our Ranger/Guide) really made an effort to show us the stuff that we wanted to see. He is really enthusiastic, and has already learned a lot of the local knowledge of the bush.”

 

 

When asked if he had any special memories from his stay Terry shared “As a couple we were able to enjoy a private weekend away, and partake in an activity that interests both of us. So our memory is the overall experience at a reasonable price.” That sounds like a great memory indeed!

Terry shared some great advice for first time safari travelers “My advice to first time safari goers is that the only way to really see game in a short time is to go to a private lodge as the rangers have a network that know the area. So a lodge like Rhino River Lodge is perfect for that.  A small digital camera is perfect for holidays, but if you want decent animal pics you need a good zoom, even a digital zoom will do. Another bit of advice is to pack clothing for all seasons, and you never know how cold those nights will be on the game drive.”

All-in-all Terry and his wife had some really wonderful game viewing, especially for a one-night stay. Our sincere thanks for sharing the photos and their feedback with us. We can’t wait until we get to have them back to stay again!