Reserve waits for first rains

Life seems to have taken an intake of breath at Sabi Sabi as animals and birds wait for the season's first rains. Although late summer rains earlier this year meant abundant water for much of the winter, the bush is now dry, thirsty for the first drops of summer rain. Usually rains come around late October or early November and this year's prediction is for a late start.

The dry conditions have made for excellent game sightings as animals make their way to visible water sources to drink. Huge buffalo herds have been making their way across the reserve, pausing to drink wherever they can - be it at a water hole, or even Earth Lodge's renowned water feature. One 300-strong herd split into two smaller groups, each pursued by hungry lions. One vehicle of Earth Lodge guests watched in fascination as four lions (two females and two young males) played an extended game of cat and mouse with one of the herds. The lions made the first move, trying to isolate a buffalo calf from the herd, but were soon confronted by huge bulls and were chased off. A short while later the buffalo again charged the lions, this time unprovoked as the buffalos turned aggressive. The lions chose to ignore nearby impala, hoping for a more substantial meal. The chasing and being chased continued for close to an hour before the lions, tired of the fruitless hunt, moved on to a less difficult target.

A short while away the Earth Lodge party came upon a lioness with three small cubs that had broken away from her pride and was attempting to hunt on her own. Thin and exhausted-looking, the lioness was stalking a fully grown kudu bull - an enormous target even for a male lion. Despite an excellent ambush, the lioness was no match for the kudu and another day ended hungry for her and her cubs.

Despite the dry conditions, early summer is evident everywhere with new leaves and shoots appearing every day, and most of the migratory birds back from a winter exile in Northern countries.

With no promise of rain just yet, the bush waits.

National Geographic Kids to visit Sabi Sabi in 2007

Sabi Sabi has been chosen as one of two South African destinations for winners of a National Geographic Kids competition being run in the U.S. from August 2006. Fifteen children who are elected to have submitted the best competition material will travel to a conservation area in the Western Cape and then to the safari of a lifetime at Sabi Sabi. They will be accompanied by parents and teachers. A special programme that includes the classic safari experience and interaction with local children and communities has been compiled to make the most of their trip to Africa.

Another owl release on the reserve

Fifteen owls were released into the Sabi Sabi reserve in late October, in the second such programme to be completed at Sabi Sabi. The owls have all been rehabilitated and are ready to make their own way in the wild.

A full report will be presented in the next newsletter.

Selati Camp starts upgrades

Selati Camp's old world elegance is undergoing a facelift that will enhance its charm without compromising the Out of Africa ambience that has made it a favourite destination with guests the world over.

A new wooden deck, under the shade of mammoth trees, has been constructed to make the most of the secluded setting overlooking the Msuthlu River. Tranquil, comfortable and luxurious, the area is ideal for quiet reflection, bird watching and relaxing.

The lodge's upgrade programme will be rolled out to include bathroom renovations, new soft furnishings in the suites and improvements to the outdoor showers and patio areas. All design and upgrade work has been carefully planned to maintain the romantic atmosphere synonymous with Selati Camp. The railway theme will be carefully preserved and although some electrical features have been added, they have been created to extend the gentle lamplit ambience that has been a feature of Selati since it first opened its doors.


Rare bird sighted at Sabi Sabi

Conservation and local community expert, Rael Loon, spotted one of Sabi Sabi's rarest and most intriguing birds last month. Here is an excerpt from his report: "Must report on a great sighting of a Thick-billed Cuckoo yesterday morning at Ngumi camp at Sabi Sabi in the Sabi Sand. Spotted bird at 08:00 am on the canopy of Knobthorn tree. Suspecting that this bird was unusual, I watched it for about a minute or so before it flew to the top of a Marula tree overhead. It looked like a small accipiter with dark barring on its grey undertail when it flew but was no doubt a cuckoo. I got a good look through the binoculars and confirmed its identity - Brown back, white underparts, yellow legs and feet and yellow eye-ring. The bird was typically agitated and restless and flew from tree to tree, stopping for a minute or so before flying to the next one. A second sighting for me and a first for my guests."

Grateful thanks to Sabi Sabi employee

An American couple's visit to Little Bush Camp was almost marred when they lost a valuable diamond ring one evening. Not sure where to start looking, the couple - who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary - resigned themselves to never recovering it. Apart from its value, the ring had obvious sentimental value.

Their despair was short-lived, however, as early the next morning lodge manager, Mathew Harding, handed them the ring, which had been found by newly appointed Sabi Sabi employee, Elliot Khoza while sweeping outside the boma late at night. Describing his find, the couple said it was an act of 'extraordinary honesty'. They expressed their gratitude to him and have promised to come back to Little Bush Camp.

Spend three nights at Little Bush Camp and we'll pay half the road transfer

Click here for details of a fabulous three night all-inclusive package at Little Bush Camp from just R10,050-00 per person. This includes a one way road transfer from (KMIA to Sabi Sabi or Sabi Sabi to KMIA), three nights accommodation, all meals, morning and evening safari's, sundowners drinks and more.

Elliot Khoza

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