It has been many years since I last visited uMkhuze so this year, instead of visiting Ndumu like I normally do, I decided to spend the weekend in this magical game reserve in Zululand, Kwa Zulu Natal.
The drive from the gate to Mantuma Camp where we had booked a safari tent is about 10 Km. As soon as we drove through the gate, off went the safety belts and air conditioner and down went all four windows. Ah, the sights, smells and sounds of the bush warm my soul. I had three whole days to drink in this pleasure – a feeling of happiness and privilege.
Not far along the road we were greeted by the ringing call “Piet my Vrou” – i.e. a red chested cuckoo one of our summer migrants. I find these birds so difficult to see but their call is so loud and distinctive it stops me in my tracks every time. So much so I came to a halt in the middle of the road to enjoy the call and try see the elusive visitor. My reverie was soon broken by a blaring hooter from someone behind who tried to be patient but decided they needed to get me to move.
Smiles and waves showing my apologies before leaving the cuckoo still hiding in the trees, I head off for the camp, filled with much anticipation.
Once again the staff were friendly and welcoming and all the formalities quickly finalized and soon found myself unpacking the car at Safari Tent no. 28. (See my blog What You Need to Know when visiting Mkuze Game Reserve )
The tents are basic and need some maintenance, the kitchen pretty bare but sufficient, and hey I’m not here to make gourmet meals but to bird. I was surprised to see the kitchen was not enclosed as in this area monkeys can be a nuisance whenever there is food around. The fridge is ‘barred’ so our cold food was protected, and I ensured all the dry food was locked away. Nothing worse than being ransacked by these critters.
That night two uninvited guests paid us a visit – a pair of Thick-tailed Galagos (fondly called Bushbabies).
Saying that, we were visited that night by two uninvited guests – a pair of Thick-tailed Galagos (fondly called Bushbabies). They were very aufait with the kitchen and while I was videoing them, as quick as a flash the one ran down the wall, grabbed half our chicken and bolted. Later after supper these two food thieves tried to “redeem” themselves by coming back to what appeared to “wash the dishes” starting off with the bread board where we had cut up the chicken.
We only arrived late in the afternoon so did not have much time to bird-watch but managed to find some of our feathered friends before returning to camp for a braai.
Soon it was time to hit the sack to the call of tree frogs and occasionally a Fiery-Necked Nightjar. Another perfect day in Africa. So much better than being at home.