Tag Archives: Sabi Sand

March 2015 Field Guide Report by Matt

INY fathers day

The sentimental bush.

I have delayed writing this piece. There has been a drama playing out and instead of making it two parts as seems to be the trend these days when someone finds a marketable story like the Lord of the Rings movie series. Like any good drama it has highs and lows and it has so much sadness. I guess it all started about 6 months ago. One quiet evening unbeknownst to the Selati lion coalition, four old campaigners moved into this, a relatively stable part of the reserve. The story ended on the 15th of April with a sad and lonely death from a broken lion that never had a chance.

INY mothers dayA single Selati male lion was killed on his own in the North of our reserve, his body was found by a guide out on drive. He was the second casualty to the Majingelane lion coalition with one of his brothers having been killed by the coalition a few years before. A third brother was killed in two separate encounters with buffalo. The two surviving brothers were seen walking off the property never to return. The new coalition on the property had actually come up from the north of the Sabi Sand, where they had been established for a few years.

INY lion spaThe new coalition then went about looking for the females on their new territory. We left them one evening on a kudu kill in a drainage line and when we returned the next morning 4 of the 8 cubs from the Othawa pride were dead. The remaining cubs had scattered about the reserve lost and bewildered by something they had no clue about. It took many weeks of searching to get them all back, one young female even ended up following the Ximungwe pride around for two weeks. This signaled the start of the great race, the females from both prides took it upon themselves to mate with the lions as a distraction tactic and allow another female to lead the cubs to safety. However over time the males got two more cubs from the Othawas leaving a male and female cub left as the survivors from 8. The two cubs became sub-adults together and often found them alone having to fend for themselves. They lasted for many months and it seemed like for the female at least there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

INY lion cubsThen in February one of the Othawa females gave birth to three beautiful little cubs. The Majingelanes had become proud fathers once again. The Othawa group thought it was time to introduce the males to the two remaining sub-adults. Surely having cubs of their own would appease their vengeance on the Selati’s at last? The interaction did not go well and the female was seen fleeing the area with all the males after her. The young males were also injured in the skirmish. The female was found close to the lodge a few days later as her decomposing body could be smelt from afar. The young male alone and injured returned to the females with cubs who rejected him. I’m trying not to anthropomorphise here but I can only imagine how he must have felt, being hurt and hungry and then cast away from his family.

Othawa pride

In the meantime the short tailed lioness from the Ximungwes had been isolated from her pride because of a small injury. She was on the mend but needed to join the group again. She must have made the fatal mistake of contact calling close to the Othawas and their new cubs. The short tailed lady must have fought like a demon possessed judging by the signs of the struggle left behind as flattened and bloody grass. Her body had mostly been consumed by one of the male coalition when we found her the next morning.

INY Othawa cubsThis story ends late one morning drive, after the males and the Othawas had finished off a kill and were relaxing by a watering hole. The lone surviving offspring of the Selati coalition tempted by food and a time gone by came close. He forlornly was calling more from instinct than hope. He lay in the shade of a tree hoping to get in close and join the group. The coalition then came up to him and as he lay there exhausted and broken, they approached with a look of intent. He accepted his fate as only one destined for the gallows can be, resided to his fate he did not run away. With a flurry of activity it was over, the males walked away leaving the broken body and a broken promise from his fathers. Hopefully now the bush has taken its required amount of blood and the strong genes of the Majingelane and by proxy the mighty Mapogos will see this new generation of cubs lasting long. However only time will tell and the bush is certainly not sentimental.

Othawa cubThat’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.


Keith & Francis – Managers George (Head Ranger) & Solly (Tracker) Khimbini (Senior Guide) & Rodger (Tracker) Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan

Inyati Game Lodge Earns 2013 Tripadvisor Certificate Of Excellence

Inyati Game Lodge Earns 2013 Tripadvisor Certificate Of Excellence

Honored as a Top Performing Game Reserve as Reviewed by Travelers on the
World’s Largest Travel Site

Sabi Sand Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa – June 20, 2013– Inyati Game Lodge today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.

To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

“Inyati Game Lodge is pleased to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence,” said Leighanne Dawkins, Marketing Manager at Inyati. “We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into positive reviews on TripAdvisor.”

“TripAdvisor is delighted to celebrate the success of businesses around the globe, from Sydney to Chicago, Sao Paulo to Rome, which are consistently offering TripAdvisor travelers a great customer experience,” said Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”

Avi Vince spends a fascinating 24 hours at Inyati Private Lodge

After the 45-minute flight from Johannesburg, I am completely surrounded by the African bush.

The only manmade items are the runway and a little airport terminal which is a thatch roof hut. “Hi, I am

Richard, from Inyati, come with me.” Inyati Private Lodge is located in the Sabi Sand Reserve, one of the world’s largest private conservation areas on the North East tip of South Africa made up of private reserves, whose owners run commercial safaris. With unfenced borders between each other and an unfenced 50km boundary with the famous Kruger National Park, there is almost a guarantee to see the African Big Five – lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino – during your stay.

Inyati means magnificent buffalo in Shangaan, a local African language. The resort caters to 22 guests, with a one-to-one guest to staff ratio, and has seven luxury chalets and four executive chalets.

On arrival, guests are guided to the restaurant area which is a large deck overlooking the Sand River.

‘The resort is unfenced, so animals may wonder through. They are wild so do not approach them.

Make sure your door is always locked, as the monkeys know how to open them’ – with these warnings, I am escorted to my chalet, a thatch roof luxury bungalow with a walk-in-robe and large ensuite.

With two hours before the first game drive, I unpack and head to the pool, checking twice that the door and windows are locked. As I refresh from the heat, I see the cheeky monkeys running through the open gardens in between the chalets and a mother kudu and her calf chewing on grass. By 3:30pm, I’m refreshed, showered and doused in insect repellent – it is peak malaria season.

Back at the restaurant I am greeted by the other guests who are enjoying the afternoon tea spread of local

pastries and cakes. At 4pm, we are guided to the open top Land Rover and introduced to the ranger, Khimbini, and his brother, Richard, who picked me up earlier. While Khimbini explains the ways of the bush, Richard is perched on the seat attached the front grill of the Land Rover to track the animals.

Khimbini explains the rules: ‘The animals are used to the shape of the car, so please don’t stand up or lean out. Also, sometimes we will go off track into the bush, do not grab at the branches as some have dangerous thorns, just get out of their way’. And with that we are off.

After thirty minutes, we are all getting worried. Not one animal in view. Just as I think about putting my camera away, we turn a corner and find ourselves in a herd of 100 buffalo. As Khimbini turns off the car, he points out the days-old calf running after its mother, five metres from the car. It is like we are in the middle of a National Geographic documentary.

We slowly move on, and while the sun is setting, Khimbini veers off the dirt track. One of the unique things about Sabi Sand is rangers are allowed to go off road to get closer to the animals. Everyone remembers the rules and dives as the thorn branches scrape the car. Without warning we stop and sit in complete darkness. Richard turns on the spotlight and we are surrounded by four lionesses and their five cubs. I have no idea how Khimbini and Richard knew they would be here, but they are adorable, with the cubs play fighting and sometimes annoying mum.

Driving back to Inyati, I see what the night sky looks like without large city lights, more stars than sky. As we have drinks and dinner on the balcony overlooking the lit-up river, the conversation is on the lion cubs.

There is a knock on my front door at 4.30 in the morning, my wake-up call. The sun is already starting to light up the river and there are impala on the other side eating the dew-laden grass. After a few biscuits and local Rooibos tea, we head back onto the trucks.

Eight giraffe – one heavily pregnant – meet us first off. They don’t seem to mind us staring at them as they reach the tops of the trees to get the sweetest leaves with their long tongues. After a short stop we drive off, with Khimbini and Richard staring down at the dirt road. The guests take a look too, but no one wants to admit that all they see is dirt. As we turn a corner, three elephants appear.

“That is the mother,” Khimbini points to the largest of the three, “and these are her two daughters with the youngest probably a few months old.” The baby is upset by our presence and tries to charge the car but runs off crying to mum when it doesn’t work.

Richard jumps off his seat and Khimbini gets out, continuing to examine the ground. To the untrained eye the road looks bare, but Khimbini and Richard are figuring out which way the leopard went from the faint

footprints. After thirty minutes driving, with all eyes on our ranger and tracker, Khimbini’s head pops up. On a large rock a leopard is sunning herself in the early morning rays. She doesn’t even mind that we have now driven, off road, within a metre of her and we all start clicking our cameras, while she grooms herself. After a couple poses, she grows tired of us and disappears off into the distance.

We drive off in search for more. I soon start to worry that we won’t see any rhino, after all they are once again nearing extinction due to the illegal poaching of their horns. However, Khimbini doesn’t let me down and we find a group of four white rhinos munching on the long grass. They are an extraordinary animal, prehistoric but gentle. Normally, Khimbini would be on the radio, letting the other rangers in the area know about the finding but not this time. “We don’t call out rhino sightings on the radio, as we are worried that poachers are listening in and we don’t want to let them know where they are,” he explains.

As I take my photos, I wonder whether the next generation will be able to see them in the wild.

Heading back to Inyati for brunch, I realise, that within less than 24 hours, I have seen all of the African Big Five. I shouldn’t expect any less. Inyati doesn’t only provide luxury accommodation, they also provide expert local staff, all with over ten years’ experience, to ensure you see all the wildlife you wish for.

Cute cub @ Inyati~