Just a quick report for now as it's late and I have to be up early tomorrow for my trip to Kruger
This place is totally magical! Unbelievable scenery and the most intense colours I have seen anywhere. As I said to GP, viewing is difficult due to the scarcity of the water and we saw none of the big 5. However, what we did see was interesting........
A brief summary:
Tshugulu Lodge area:
Chacma Baboon (the biggest ones I think I have ever seen!)
Scorpion (Parabuthus -caught under UV light in the garden)
Scrub Hare (in daytime)
Various assorted lizards
Not so many birds in this area, but saw the usual hornbills, Lilac Breasted Rollers and on our 4x4 trail saw a grey-headed bush shrike, Jackal Buzzard and some rock pigeons. Many, many francolin, but couldn't get close enough to any to id them absolutely. I should comment that animals and birds are incredibly timid in this part of the park and I therefore believe that it may have been a hunting lodge in its pre-Sanparks existance. The bush is incredibly varied here and the scenery changes dramatically with each turn in the road.
Limpopo Tented Camp area
Bird life is very varied and very noisy here - the most deafening dawn chorus I have ever heard. Despite this, it is not always easy to see the birds as the bush is very thick and green here. I am not great with id'ing bird calls but I did get some sightings which I have logged on my Sasol eBirds software. Unfortunately, this is packed in my bag for tomorrow and I haven't got the energy to find it right now. As I am rubbish at remembering bird names, the detail here will have to wait for a bit. I do remember seeing a few woodpeckers, large numbers of Kori Bustard, speckled mousebirds, grey louries, guinea fowl & red and yellow-billed hornbills. There is a lot of rehabilitating farmland close by which may explain the diversity of the birds to be found here.
Bushbuck (probably saw more here than in all my trips to KNP put together)
Suni (we think - couldn't get quite close enough to ID)
Terrapin (there is an artificially fed waterhole quite close to the camp)
Golden Orb Spider (next to our tent)
Animals are far less shy here.
Leokwe Camp area (actually, the whole western part of the park!)
Lots of elephant poo, but no actual ele's
....and my favorite spot of the trip......
A porcupine ambling past our cottage at night (a first spot for me).
Bird sightings -same excuse as above, although I did spend my coffee and rusk time this morning admiring a beautiful white-fronted Sun Bird extracting the nectar from some flowering creepers in the tree next to our cottage and we saw a (I believe!) Verreauxs Eagle consuming something dassie-like on another drive.
I feel so privileged to have visited this place so early. It's far from perfect at this stage (I will elaborate further when I have more time) and it won't be for everyone, but its remoteness and harsh beauty may interest those of you who like areas such as the Kalahari. Camps are unfenced and (at the moment) VERY quiet. I would estimate that even in Leokwe, which sleeps around 40, I think, that there were only about 10 people in camp. At Limpopo River, I would say that there were only about 6 other people, and at Tshugulu, we had the place totally to ourselves. As I mentioned to GP, mobile reception was pretty-much non-existant (bliss!!) and on occasion when my phone did chirp, it was just to let me know I was now on a Botswanan or Zimbabwean network - I still could not make or receive calls!
I'll also be posting some pics when I get back as there is very little about the Park on the internet at this stage.
Now. I'm off to the KNP tomorrow and must get some sleep!
I'll try to keep in touch with the sightings from there