There's always a risk, when you have heard many recommendations of a camp, that it might not quite live up to the advance billing. No such worries with Biyamiti — the reality lived up to all my expectations and more! The most noticeable difference about Biyamiti is the welcome: not that other camps aren't warm and welcoming, but at Biyamiti it feels like you're visiting old friends, and I don't think that this feeling of a "family" welcome was because I'm a forum member or because I happened to be bringing greetings from Van Rooi, now at Pretoriuskop, to his former colleagues at Biyamiti. My sense is that at Biyamiti, every visitor is welcomed as a friend and considered already a member of the Biyamiti family. And that many, or more likely most, become repeat visitors to this lovely bushcamp.
I had exchanged emails with our fellow forum member, Stephen Nel, the Biyamiti Hospitality Manager (who has now moved on to Berg en Dal, a camp that has never appealed to me, but with Stephen in charge ... ), and was delighted to be given unit #5, with a lovely view of the riverbed and with lots of birds, as well as squirrels and a few vervets, in the surrounding trees. During my stay I was visited by the resident bushbuck, a shy creature who happily hasn't learned to beg from visitors, and saw my first purplecrested lourie — hard to miss as it flew very close to me.
It's a stunning bird, but shy, and it didn't stick around long enough for me to grab my camera and try for a photo. But I'll have vivid memories of those flashes of green, purple and red as the bird landed briefly in the nearby trees and then moved on. WOW!!!
Biyamiti's units #1 through #8 all have views of the usually dry Biyamiti riverbed. Some units have more trees in front of them than others, which is good for birding, but somewhat obscures the view down to the river, although most units also have a bench in front close to the river. I'd say that of the larger units, #6 is (as often recommended on this forum) the one with the best view, while of the smaller ones, I think I'd choose #3 in future.
Biyamiti unit #5
views from unit #5
5 May - Skukuza - Pretoriouskop - Biyamiti
I was up early again and with no reason to linger in camp, was on my way shortly after 0600. My first stop was the hyena den on the H11. On this morning, several of the group were being worried by a warthog on the NE side of the road, near one of the den entrances. The warthog was clearly interested in investigating the premises, but eventually thought better of it and moved off. Today I saw that there were at least two cubs in the group (video, but no stills,) and once the warthog was gone, they all again moved off up the No Entry road.
The highly recommended S65 yielded very little and I eventually made my way to Pretoriouskop, where I had the great pleasure of meeting Van Rooi Moreku, late of Biyamiti, who is now Duty Manager at Pretoriouskop. The rest of my drive to Biyamiti was uneventful, although I did encounter an injured zebra near Ship Mountain. I was disappointed that a combi traveling in the opposite direction wasn't willing to wait and forced/encouraged the hobbling zebra to move out of its way — and then wondered why I was shaking my head. When I observed that they might have waited, the driver replied that the zebra would have to move out of the road eventually
The zebra was clearly staying in the road because it felt safest there, and without projecting human emotion into the situation, it was interesting to see that the other zebras stayed close, several nuzzling the wounded one and appearing to provide moral support. However, this zebra's days and hours were clearly numbered, and I suspected that there would be a kill in the area before much longer. Sad, perhaps, but nature is harsh and only the fittest/strongest survive. My hope was that it wouldn't be long and that the zebra would be put out of its misery soon, but although I stayed quite some time, waiting until there was plenty of room for me to pass without further stressing the zeb, there was no sign of any predators.
Probably my most interesting sighting was a pair of small finch-like birds with red faces (but not red heads) that I have so far been unable to ID. I couldn't find anything likely in my field guide(s) (which are still en route; this parcel is sure take a long time to get here), so am hoping some of the expert forum birders can help with ID again. Juveniles, perhaps?
Once I'd settled into my chalet, I decided that it was far too pleasant in camp, and that I'd opt to stay put rather than go out for a late afternoon drive. However, after all the glowing reports I'd read here on the forum, I did sign up for a sunset drive for the following evening. But for this evening, after an exploratory, but uneventful, walk along the fence, I lit my braai, poured my wine, and settled back to enjoy the peace and quiet as darkness fell.
: hyena, warthog
: ellie bull, emeraldspotted wood dove, slender mongoose, helmeted guinea fowl
: impala, threebanded plover, kudu, warthog
: Egyptian geese, blacksmith plover, zebra, slender mongoose, baboons, impala, helmeted guinea fowl
: kudu, baboons, helmeted guinea fowl, impala, dwarf mongooses, crested barbet
: blackcollared barbets, baboons, zebra, bataleur, leopard tortoise, dung beetles on rhino midden, ?BBJ, hoopoe, impala
: ?BBJ, ?lizard (blue head and very long, but no pix), tree squirrel, orange butterflies, redbilled hornbill, emeraldspotted wood dove, leopard tortoise
: bushbuck, purplecrested lourie, redbilled hornbill
can anyone help with ID of these birds?
or of this BBJ?