AZUSA Imfolozi March 2013

There are some groups that are great to guide and AZUSA is definitely one of them. They are all well mannered, nice to the staff and guides and above all nice to each other – BUT they can be noisy. The excitement when they see an animal is just too much for them and the simplest gesture like turning off one road onto another in pursuit of elephants can catapult them into a spontaneous cheer coupled with a seated dance, or in some cases, a standing dance.

Matt Cowell and I with Dr Reg Codrington from AE guided two consecutive groups between 6 and 10 March, each group staying for 2 ½ days. The 1st group was subjected to the typical Zululand heat which lasted well into the late afternoon where not even the students we capable of stirring and even the singing ceased completely. On hot days game slips into sloth mode sheltering under whatever shade it can find making game viewing both impossible and unpleasant. Try as we did we saw very little until about 4 30 when we happened upon two youngish lions which I am pretty sure were siblings. The one seemed interested in having a go at some Impala that were well aware of the lion’s presence and as she crossed the road the Impala all started their warning snorts. These snorts combined with my rattling diesel engine quickly made her realize that it would be futile to try so she calmly retreated into the bush not to be seen again. Over dinner I casually mentioned to Reg that we had seen two lions and he nearly levitated as he has a passion for big cats and he desperately wants all the groups to see lions. The next morning Reg tore out of the camp in a cloud of dust in hot pursuit of ‘my’ lions only to run into a pride with young lying on the road a short distance out of camp. Graciously he did radio Matt and I and tell us about them. Done and dusted – lions ticked!


We had a few sightings of elephants and buffalo but in no great numbers. Reg, true to form, found himself enclosed in a huge breeding herd of elephant which, as it goes with Reg, saw him breaking the speed limit in both forward and reverse gears as the younger members chased him to and fro. For some reason Reg always finds the large herds and always gets picked on by them. This always creates a lot of excitement with the students and I sure Reg consciously surround himself with these unpredictable pachyderms. With the second group Reg radioed me to say that he had found another breeding herd and on arrival we were presented with the most comical sight ever. Reg was reversing – at speed, as he was being charged by the smallest elephant imaginable. It was tiny BUT in his defense there were two other larger teenagers chasing after this baby trying to turn it back to the herd and to safety.

To me one of the most interesting and unusual sightings we made was that of a Giant legless skink, Acontias plumbeus, on the road towards Sontuli loop. (We saw also a second one close to the Nyalazi Gate). In all my years working in the bush this is the 1st time that I have seen them in the wild.

As per our custom the second night is braai (barbeque) night which always attracts hyaena. This time we attracted two but they were slightly more weary than normal and kept their distance.

Day three is breakfast at Hluhluwe’s Hilltop Camp as a special treat with scrumptious food and even better filter coffee which all the students yearn for. We were also treated to a sighting of a Black Rhino lying close to the restaurant have its morning nap, it can’t get better, filter coffee and black rhino.

From breakfast we started back towards Nyalazi Gate where we were to collect the second group of students. From the top of the hill I could see a huge herd of elephants drinking in the valley so we decided to get closer. We got closer alright, in-fact slap bang in the middle of 80 – 100 of them from babies to huge bulls. Fortunately none of them showed any untoward aggression so we sat quietly shooting pictures as they threw mud all over themselves with Matt’s group on one side of the pan and mine on the other.


After dropping off group one and collecting group two we decided that it would be better to check into our accommodation and wait until it was slightly cooler before going on a game drive. Rain threatened when we left for our game drive but fortunately missed us bar a few drops. The usual general game was seen with the only bit of excitement being a huge elephant and calf adjacent to the fence on returning to camp.

The following day was ‘lion hunting’ day as we had to show this group the same as the previous group. Fortunately we did manage to find two individual lions not far from each other so the ‘heat was off’.

We saw far fewer rhino than on previous visits but were blessed with two sightings of black which is a huge bonus as they are extremely difficult to see. I believe that the students thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in the reserve and I know that I certainly did and look forward to guiding the next one.


Nigel Anderson – Guide for African Insight




About Andrew Anderson

Managing Director: African Insight - Travel Experiences That Make A Difference African Insight - Explorations Tourism Concessionaire - Somkhanda Game Reserve
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