The COVID-19 vaccination rollout took place from the 30th of August to the 1st of September 2021. Temporary COVID-19 vaccination stations within the Sabi Sand at Ulusaba and our neighbouring community administration facilities were set up. The Inyati staff members alongside staff from various other lodges within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve have “rolled up their sleeves” and had their Covid-19 vaccinations , leading the way to further recovery within our tourism industry. The vaccine drive aimed to achieve reserve and community-wide immunity, attract visitors back to our lodges in the Sabi Sand. Thus, securing current livelihoods, creating new employment opportunities and saving jobs.
We are grateful to our partners Dis-Chem Pharmacies and Eurolab, for their support in providing much-needed expertise with so much zeal. We are thankful to all lodges for the support; without their support and collaborative spirit, this would not have seen the light of success; more than 2000 people were vaccinated in just three days. Thank you to Ulusaba for hosting the venue.
The mid-winter chill has reached the lowveld and we have experienced low temperatures in the early mornings. The temperature had dipped as low as four degrees Celsius this season, still not nearly as chilly as the Highveld or the escarpment but some of the hardiest of rangers sported trousers on early morning drives.
On evening drives guests often notice a drop in temperature as we drop into the drainage lines and rivers. This is simply air cooling down, and becoming more dense, heavy, and settling in lower lying areas as temperatures drop after sunset, this air flow is referred to as Katabatic flow or Katabatic winds.
The opposite happens after sunrise. At dawn the sun brings some welcome heat after a chilly evening, and as the air heats up it creates a mini low-pressure system that draws the dense cool air up from the low-lying areas. As this happens moisture is also “dragged” up and condensation takes place to the extend that bands of mist rise from the lower lying areas making these Anabatic flows visible as waves of mist slowly sweeping up from drainage lines.
These misty waves light up as the first golden rays hit them after sunrise making for a spectacular dawn.
The Othawa lions have done very well, and the six new cubs are thriving. The pride managed to bring down a giraffe that provided a fantastic meal for the adults and cubs alike.
The Tumbela males joined the feast, and the new kings spent some quality time with their new offspring. The Big male showed his soft side as he accepted his little daughters climbing on him and using his tail as a chew toy.
Our Leopard Queen, Tlangisa has done a phenomenal job with her two new cubs. The little cubs have grown from waddling balls of fluff to miniature leopards that are able to scale trees and even digest meat.
Tlangisa introduced them to their staple diet by supplying steenbok and impala kills this month. This extra boost of nutrients combined with moms milk has seen the two little cubs grow from strength to strength.
The little family did have a close shave though. One morning early in June we followed Tlangisa into a rocky outcrop she was using as a den for the cubs. One could see she was determined as she took no time to call the cubs form their rocky haven with soft grunting contact calls. To our delight the cubs answered with their bird-like squeals form within the outcrop and an enthusiastic greeting and grooming session followed.
Tlangisa, being the fantastic mother she is, first allowed the cubs to suckle for a while to top up their energy reserves. She the then stood up and marched out of the den site. The little cubs followed her cue, instinctively interpreting the mothers body language without any questions asked. Tlangisa blazed a trail to the west with two extremely excited cubs in tow, one could see the anticipation in their demeanour as they confidently trailed mom.
Tlangisa took them into a thick grassland, and we lost site of them as we viewed from a distance, a few minutes after they did not emerge from the thicket, we went in to investigate. Our suspicions were confirmed, Tlangisa had managed to bring down an adult Impala ram that she had stashed in the grass. There were no suitable trees to hoist the kill into, so she took the gamble of stashing the kill in a ticket on the ground.
After all her effort she unselfishly allowed the cubs to feed first, also a learning experience as they discovered how to open a carcass by targeting the areas where skin is thin enough break.
Tlangisa then emerged from the thicket. Every muscle was bristling as she anticipated approaching danger, her acute senses alerted her to another predator in the area and she used her sense of smell and the breeze to determine the direction of the approaching danger. The cubs again reacting to mother’s body language scuttled off deeper into the thicket, a few seconds later the leopards’ nemesis arrived. Three spotted hyenas stormed in and luckily focused on the free meal. They ripped into the carcass with far less finesse than the leopards and tore it in half. Tlangisa stayed for a few minutes hoping to salvage some of the carnage, but to no avail. Once the hyena settled, we left the area as extra noises and scents could be detrimental the cubs ability to avoid Hyenas.
Elation quickly turned to concern as we left the area.
For three days there was no sign of Tlangisa and our concern grew every day. On day four we found tracks of the mother heading into a favourite drainage line of hers. With many thickets, outcrops, and a maze of gully’s it provided a perfect refuge for cubs. We had decided that Tlangisa had entered an area that is inaccessible and once again accepted defeat. At this stage, an avid photographer in the vehicle decided to take a time laps and just enjoy the late afternoon sounds. A few minutes into the time laps Tlangisa emerged from the east walked straight past the vehicle and dropped into the drainage line. Once again, we heard her characteristic calls, answered by a chirp. To our utter delight two cubs emerged from the drainage line with Tlangisa, unscathed. They faced many dangerous trials but have emerged wiser and more equipped to survive this wild Eden.
Temmincks Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)
The extremely illusive creature is so rarely encountered in the wild that it has an almost mythical reputation. Very few people are lucky enough to lay eyes on a Pangolin in the wild. This scaly little mammal moves about on its back legs scouring the ground for ants and at times some termites. If startled it will roll itself into an impenetrable ball of armoured keratinous scales, but if one sits very quietly to gain its trust it will unravel and happily feed whilst being followed.
The Temmincks Ground Pangolin is one of four species that occur in Africa, and the only species that occurs in Southern Africa and at Inyati. They are entirely terrestrial and nocturnal and will take shelter in burrows during daylight hours. The Pangolin is not only rare, but also difficult to spot as it moves low to the ground and in this grassy environment cuts its way through the grassy cover and hardly ever exposes itself. As a result, most Pangolin sightings are on night drives at the end of the dry season when cover is sparse.
Pangolins do not dig their own burrows but make use of abandoned aardvark and warthog burrows. These burrows serve as sleeping quarters in daylight hours and safe havens for little ones. One “pup” will be born after a gestation of approximately 140 days. The mother will keep the pup in the burrow at first and move it from time to time. A few incredibly lucky individuals have found females giving their pups “piggyback” rides between burrows. The little Pangolin is believed to stay on mother’s territory for about a year before venturing out becoming sexually mature at 4-5 years.
Pangolin numbers in Africa are decreasing at an alarmin rate, all the species are on the red list and our Temmincks ground Pangolins are listed as Vulnerable. Unfortunately, Pangolins are one of the most trafficked species of wildlife in the world with conservative estimates being 10 000 pangolins being trafficked every year. Pangolin scales are used as an ingredient in Traditional Asian Medicine fuelling the illegal trade of these slow breeding species. In Africa Pangolin scales are also sought after but the value is not enough to drive huge local trade. In central Africa an estimated 400 000 pangolin are hunted for meat and scales.
There is certainly a silver lining to the cloud though. Many areas in Africa are well protected, and dedicated Conservationists and Anti-poaching operations keep the wilderness free of greed driven poachers. Inyati is situated within one of the best protected areas in Africa and our Pangolins and much larger neighbours are in a safe haven.
Inyati Game Lodge is excited to announce the launch of our updated website www.inyati.co.za. The new site has a fresh new look and was designed with your safari needs in mind.
The year 2020 is a year that will never be and should never be forgotten. There are many negative memories of the year, but one would be foolish to ignore the positive lessons that it taught us.
Firstly, we have learnt to love our guests more than ever!
Not having people to share this wonderful environment with has been challenging for all. For months we yearned for the emotions that guest share whilst on game drive at Inyati. The mixed bag of fear and awe of the first Elephant sighting, the amazement of looking up at a towering Giraffe and the surprise of sitting next to a massive male Leopard without even changing his behavior.
We also missed the “evolution” of our guests. The initial reaction in a sighting tends to be confused excitement and grappling with a camera to get the shot before the animal slinks away. Then the realization that most of our animals are happy to stick around, and at times seem to ‘pose’ for that once in a lifetime shot. Slowly but surely the guests emerge themselves into the environment and the bushveld and city clocks start syncing. A calmness that only the bushveld can provide washes over and the frantic pointing, grabbing, and shuffling make room for calm observant viewing. Many guests start noticing behavior and the questions become more challenging, the birds perched on the Rhino become a talking point, trees, flowers and even grasses are noticed and an entire new world that the majestic “Big 5” live in is revealed.
Some guests return to follow their favourite cat and become an extended part of the Inyati family, we dearly missed the connoisseurs.
We also missed the more lighthearted questions that previously may have stirred an internal sigh in the most patient guides. We are happy to stop and look at the sixth lilac breasted roller as the bright aqua blue flash catches every guest’s eye. No longer will we think “ABR”, another bloody roller.
We are happy to clarify that the half-eaten impala hoisted in a Maroela tree is in fact dead.
We enjoy explaining that all the trees you see have been here for hundreds of years and, unlike Central Park, the Kruger Park was not planted but is an actual time capsule.
We missed every single guest, and we now have a new appreciation for the lifeblood that kept the lodges and in turn conservation efforts afloat, and we are ready with open arms to welcome you all back!
We have learnt to appreciate the little things. The impala grazing on the lawn, a sunset on the river and the crisp starlit winter skies. When you have time you stop and notice many of the small beauties that enhance this magical place even more.
We decided to use this time to be productive. Tending to the run of the mill kind of maintenance like repairing roads and painting decks and gardening. But one very unusual opportunity presented itself during the lockdown.
Herds of Impala settled in camp, the Inyala settled as well and shy Bushbuck made the pool their home. Due to the camp being quiet no man-made noises and smells overwhelmed their acute senses and these animals never left camp.
The predators that have always passed through camp now settled inside the lodge for longer, keeping an eye on potential prey, not being disturbed by vigilant tourists and clicking cameras.
A few leopards started using the buildings and veranda to stalk and catch prey and the Guides that stayed in camp for lockdown got some amazing footage and images.
This was noticed by well-known naturalist and film maker Russel Mac Laughlin and culminated in Inyati featuring in the BBC documentary The Year the Earth Changed, narrated by David Attenborough.
The cameramen and guides spent almost a month filming leopard only inside Inyati camp and the sequence of footage collected is breath taking, as is the rest of the Documentary that aired in April 2021 on Apple TV .
The last rainy season produced some fantastic rain that lasted late into the season and as a result the rivers are flowing, and the bush is still lush and even green in places.
Winter has started a bit later than usual with temperatures only dropping significantly late in May. Crisp dry winter evenings have been great for stargazing and winding down around a log fire.
As a result of the good rains our watering holes are full, and the lush vegetation and grass has attracted numerous browser and grazers to Inyati. A dazzle of Zebra has settled at the pan in front of camp and a journey of Giraffe have made treehouse pan their home.
Large herds of elephant have returned to the river, making full use of the riparian vegetation and the cool waters of the Sand river.
Three new male lions arrived from the north during lockdown. We first noticed their tracks, but they managed to avoid us for almost a month before our first sighting. We named them the Tumbela (to hide) males as a result.
These young guns took no time to take over the Othawa pride and the Old Matimba male was driven off. The young males in the pride broke away out of fear of the Tumbelas and unfortunately their sister followed. For now they are known as ‘the break-away’ but have settled in the south.
Two of the older Lionesses have had cubs. The younger Lioness has had three cubs which we have had brief glimpses of as they are only about three months old and not yet used to the vehicles. We have not yet seen the older females’ cubs as they are still hidden in the den.
The Mungen pride still visits the area, but sadly the Othawa male was killed when he decided to venture too far east and was cornered by a powerful coalition of males called the Birmingham males. The old Birminghams unfortunately killed the Othawa male leaving the Mungen pride without a patriarch for now.
The Leopard dynamics at Inyati has been fluid and fascinating. As the lodge is situated in the highest leopard population on the planet, huge competition and smaller territories are inevitable.
During lockdown we counted no less than seven different male leopards at various times in camp, as well as our resident females. Luckily, Ravenscourt and Nyeleti made short work of some of the young nomads and the dynamics, in camp at least, settled down.
An over population of male leopards makes it difficult for females to raise their cubs as males that have not mated with females will kill cubs if they find them. Females cleverly confuse paternity by mating with all the males in their territory, and even expanding their territory when they are in estrus, and in so doing, also mating with neighboring males. It is also presumed that females can give birth to litters with multiple fathers further confusing males.
Unfortunately, this intricate process of confusing paternity did not work for Tlangisa, Basile or Khokovela of late. Tlangisa lost a litter in the north, we presume to the male, Euphorbia. We did see Tlangisa mate with Ravenscourt and saw Ravenscourt with the cub that he had accepted. Sadly, Euphorbia took over the north at the time and we presume he killed the cub when Tlangisa moved it north.
Khokovela has her territory wedged between Ravenscourt and Nyeleti, unfortunately she has had little success with cubs as a result.
Ravenscourt again killed Basiles’ cubs, well within his territory. This is very confusing and unfortunate.
Tlangisa has once again proven herself as the leopard queen of the Western Sabi Sand. She has moved back to her northern domain and settled her territory well within Euphorbias. Euphorbia has proven himself as a formidable male that manages to keep his neighbors at bay. Tlangisa and Euphorbia have mated, and they now have a litter of two in the north west. The two little cubs are now three months old and thriving.
Let us hope they survive in this challenging environment.
Emerging from lockdown
As we adjust to the world opening post the severe Covid lockdowns, we are delighted to tell you that the lodge is open and ready to receive guests. During the lockdown the lodge, in accordance with WHO guidelines and with the assistance of our onsite medical partner Africa Safe-T, tried and tested Covid 19 protocols to ensure our guests have a safe and carefree stay at Inyati.
Hand sanitizing stations have been placed at every entrance to public areas, a rigid sanitation regime has been implemented and all the staff have been trained and are practicing the protocols today.
Even safari vehicles are sanitized before, and after, every drive and guest are offered hand sanitizer at each stop.
We are fortunate to have roomy open air dining facilities that make social distancing and safety a breeze.
In short, we are ready and waiting and for our repeat guests to return and for new guests to come explore the splendor of the African bush. Hope to see you soon!
The team from Inyati Game Lodge are pleased to announce a substantial refurbishment of the lodge, which is set in the western sector of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park.
Major structural renovations of the central recreational areas include an extension of the main veranda area to capitalise on the uninterrupted scenes of the Sand river and its rich game viewing opportunities.
The expanded dining area has been fitted with comfortable but practical fittings to ensure a more spacious entertainment experience that enables guests to take full advantage of the spectacular riverfront location.
The traditional open-aired boma has been completely rebuilt to create a warm, inviting space where guests can enjoy dining under the magnificent African night sky while enjoying Inyati’s hearty, home-style cuisine.
At the same time, all eleven rooms have gained a beautiful soft upgrade with a new colour palette of luxurious furnishings and indulgent outdoor showers have been added to all the standard chalets.
As part of the lodge’s aim to provide a comprehensive and authentic bush experience, Inyati rates now include a selection of house beverages in addition to the two game drives per day, guided safari walks, fishing, all meals, high tea and Wi-Fi.
The enhancements have given the lodge a modern facelift while retaining the classic safari style and relaxed family atmosphere that guests have enjoyed for the past three decades.
We are so proud to announce that Inyati Game Lodge has been nominated for the 2019 Safari Awards, sponsored by The Good Safari Guide.
If it weren’t for our guests continued support throughout the years, we’d never be in the position we’re in today. Your positive reviews, constructive criticism and contribution to Inyati Game Lodge, has ensured we’ve secured a place in the Safari Awards, a prestigious annual award bestowed upon camps and lodges displaying excellence in specific categories. Inyati Game Lodge has been nominated in 9 categories.
We’d really like to rally your support to secure an award.
Voting is easy! Here’s how you do it:
1. Go to this page, search and click on the property: Safari Awards Voting Selection Page
2. Log in with your username and password or register if this is your first-time voting.
3. You will be redirected to the property page, where you click on the big “vote” button.
Follow the prompts, rate us out of 10 and leave a comment if you’d like!
Here are the categories in which Inyati Game Lodge, have been nominated in the Safari Awards:
The Inyati guides and Shangaan trackers make for an outstanding team while out on safari, while they share their intimate knowledge and incomparable intuition of the African bush. At Inyati, you can look forward to fantastic close-up experiences with Africa’s wildlife on every game drive
Guided interpretive bush walks are one of the highlights of staying in a private reserve. You can experience the thrill of tracking animals such as the Big Five on foot. They are not hikes, and are usually tailored to your fitness level. The walks are led by qualified guides who will tell you interesting facts about the plants and animals that you encounter
Set on the lush banks of the Sand River, Inyati Game Lodge offers the ultimate safari experience combining diverse wildlife with authentic African hospitality. From the warm welcome you receive upon arrival, to our comfortable chalets, hearty home style cuisine and highly experienced guides, every guest departs with unforgettable memories and the imprint of Africa in their soul.
Inyati offers exceptional value for money at a fraction of the price of other private lodges in the reserve. The predator sightings in the Sabi Same Game Reserve are in abundance and the sands offers unparalleled game viewing opportunities in an uncrowded reserve. Rates include game drives, walks, accommodation and meals.
Inyati is committed long term sustainability and to respecting the local community and environment in which we live. We care about our people and the communities around us. Inyati employs about 45 permanent staff, most of which are from the local community. Many of our staff has been with Inyati for more than 10 years making Inyati their home and creating that family atmosphere that the lodge has become renowned for.
In December 2013 Rowen van Eeden successfully GPS tagged a martial eagle chick that was soon to fledge (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Rowen van Eeden fitting the GPS tag on the young martial eagle.
The nest was in the Crocodile Bridge section of Kruger National Park and this was the first time a tag was deployed on a martial eagle still in the nest. The aim of the tagging was to find out about the movements of young eagles as they disperse from the nest, and there were high hopes that we might follow it through to adulthood. In total 18 martial eagles have now been GPS tagged for this project (this includes a combination of both young and adult eagles), but this one remains particularly special.
Although the tags provide us with a way to closely follow the movements of eagles in the ‘virtual’ world and we can view their locations on Google Earth almost daily, we rarely get to see them in the real world as they’re always on the move. However, in Jan 2016 Keith Jenkinson sent us a beautiful picture of this individual photographed at Inyati Game Lodge. By then he was two years old and was obviously doing well for himself. In the picture he had the tail of a rock monitor in his feet (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Photo taken by Keith Jenkinson of the young eagle, aged two years old (2016).
Last week we were concerned that the tag had stopped moving and quickly contacted Ulusaba Private Reserve (owned by Sir Richard Branson) where his last known location was recorded. The guides there responded quickly and searched the area where he was thought to be but didn’t find anything. We waited anxiously hoping the tag would come back online and then on Sunday I got a call from one of Ulusaba’s guides, Kyle Michel, saying they had found the eagle – well actually, he was perched in a tree close to the lodge eating another rock monitor he had caught (Figure 3). Just over four years since he was tagged, he is looking magnificent. We are thrilled and his tag is again functioning perfectly.
Figure 3. Martial eagle aged four years old photographed by Kyle Michel (2018).
He’s been to Mozambique a few times, spent a lot of time in southern Kruger and in the network of private game reserves to the west of Kruger and now we’re really hopeful that one day soon he might settle down for his first breeding attempt – watch this space!
Figure 4. Movements of the GPS tagged martial eagle since tagging. Each colour represents a different year. 2014:blue, 2015: green, 2016: purple, 2017: yellow, 2018: red.
Many thanks to everyone who has been involved in tagging and following this individual.
We are so proud to announce that Inyati Game Lodge has been nominated for the 2018 Safari Awards, sponsored by The Good Safari Guide.
If it weren’t for our guests continued support throughout the years we’d never be in the position we’re in today. Your positive reviews, constructive criticism and contribution to Inyati Game Lodge, has ensured we’ve secured a place in the Safari Awards, a prestigious annual award bestowed upon camps and lodges displaying excellence in specific categories. Inyati Game Lodge has been nominated in 8 categories. We’d really like to rally your support to secure an award.
Voting is easy! Here’s how you do it:
1. Go to this page, search and click on the property: Safari Awards Voting Selection Page
2. Log in with your username and password, or register if this is your first time voting.
3. You will be redirected to the camp page, where you click on the big “vote” button.
Follow the prompts, rate us out of 10 and leave a comment if you’d like!
At its worst the drought left the bush barren of life. Mother Nature herself wanted us to see the value of water and the suffering that happens when it doesn’t fall. Mercifully though one afternoon a giant cumulonimbus cloud rolled up from the south, bringing with it a light show of thunder and lightning, tempestuous winds whirled and whipped the dust bowl and finally a light sprinkling of the most precious fluid on earth. This auspicious start has compounded over the rainy season, and as I write this we have had non-stop rain for five days. The revival has been astounding, the browns, greys and whites have all but faded and the greens have taken over. The soil left an open canvas by the drought has been painted by the pioneering wild flowers and grasses, the insects that follow cycles and held on through the drought then went about making enough offspring to fertilise all the wonderful plants.
Traditionally predators do better in the dryer seasons as the herbivores lose condition, but with three new Othawa cubs and two cubs for Tlangisa it appears that the cats do well no matter what the conditions are. Xhikavi’s adult offspring is still hanging around his mom almost two years into his life, Dewane seems to like him more than his mom does. His name is Mondzo and he really is a beautiful leopard and even has blue eyes. Ravenscourt has been pushing further and further into Dewane’s territory. Schotia had cubs several months ago but she hasn’t brought them out for inspection yet. Torchwood took some heavy beatings of late and has faded a bit into obscurity as he licks his wounds.
With the dams filling up nicely and the river flooding regularly I think we will sail through the next winter and while it will take a few years for the smaller animal populations to recover, the drought is truly behind us.
That’s all from Matt for this month. We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, sharing our experiences and joining our adventures. We are committed to keep you updated. Please follow our Facebook page for daily updates.
Regards, THE INYATI TEAM
Keith & Francis – Managers
George , Solly, Khimbini , Matthew , Nelson ,Omega & Rodger
This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan. *Photographs by Keith and Matthew
The Lilizela Tourism Awards gives us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general.
A local lodge recently received top honours at the fourth Lilizela Tourism Awards, in which the South African tourism industry celebrated its top business owners and service providers.
Inyati Game Lodge,situated about 60 kilometres from Hazyview, walked away with the Visitor’s Experience Award for Best Wildlife Encounters.
Inyati is set in 65 000 hectares of unspoiled bushveld within the Sabi Sands Reserve, on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park and on the banks of the Sand River. Diversity of species and relaxed big game allow for close-up game viewing and photography.
“The gives us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general. The awards is an opportunity to pause and thank these individuals and businesses for their contribution to putting South Africa firmly on the global stage by ensuring their product and service offerings are of the highest standard,” said minister for tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom.
“With 5,8 million people having visited South Africa from January to July this year, the number of tourists is on the rise. By being service oriented, the businesses celebrated today help to ensure that this growth path continues, guaranteeing memorable experiences for all tourists,” he added.
The awards were established in 2013 to recognise and reward exemplary service among businesses in the local tourism sector, ranging from accommodation establishments and tour operators to scenic attractions and cultural heritage sites.
In 2016, the awards attracted a record number of 1 122 entries, up 18 per cent from the previous year’s total. Tourism businesses across the nine provinces were encouraged to enter, with a great call that they be graded with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, a unit of South African Tourism.
Members of the public were then invited to have their say on the Lilizela Tourism Awards website by voting. These votes, together with those from various platforms such as TripAdvisor and TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme, formed 80 per cent of the score for each entry.
A panel of high-level judges, drawn from the industry and academia, contributed the remaining 20 per cent of each establishment’s score. From these calculations, 589 finalists were selected nationwide and each province held its own awards ceremony in the run-up to the national finals.
During these provincial award ceremonies, 262 provincial winners were celebrated. This was further narrowed down to 53 national winners, who were honoured on Sunday night.
Awards were made in a number of categories including the Service Excellence Award (with subcategories Accommodation, Visitor Experience, Tourist Guides and Tour Operators), Entrepreneurship (for emerging tourism businesses), Sustainability and Good Governance, and the prestigious Minister’s Award.