05 March 2021

Back in the bush

05 January 2021 - Motswari Private Game Reserve; Day 1

After a year without travel and then returning home to SA, a visit to the bush was long overdue for my wife and I. 

After doing some research, we booked a 3-day visit to Motswari Private Game Reserve which is located within the Timbavati and Umbabat Private Nature Reserve that stretches out over 150 square kilometres and is situated in the Greater Kruger National Park. 

Motswari, which means "to conserve and protect in Tswana" and is a family-owned and operated luxury safari lodge which has been in existence for over four decades. These private lodges provide morning and afternoon game drives along with all meals, so it is an ideal get away if you really need to de-stress.

We left at sunrise for the drive north to Hoedspruit, checked into the Lodge, dropped our luggage in the Zebra Chalet and strolled down to the restaurant in time for an enjoyable lunch. After lunch we relaxed at the small infinity pool and then prepared for the afternoon safari drive. 

We all met at the restaurant for late afternoon tea and snacks, before assembling at the game vehicle and to meet our fellow guests. I knew I was in a bit of trouble when I discovered I was the only birder and also the only guest with a camera on our vehicle. So, I knew that the emphasis of the drives would be on the Big 5, to satisfy the needs for the majority of the guests. 

Nevertheless we had an awesome first afternoon with clear blue skies and didn't have to drive very far before our first encounter with one of the Big 5. 

We enjoyed an hour with a pair of mating Lion and for those who have witnessed this interaction, it is pretty intensive, as Lions mate every 20-minutes or so for up to 5-days!

Lion (Panthera leo)

We then left the Lions to continue their ritual, stopping for a migratory European Roller (I last saw one of these birds in Kuwait last year on their southerly autumn migration).

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)

Next up was a small herd of African Elephant, another of the Big 5, coming down to a small water hole to quench their thirst in the heat of the afternoon.

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

By now the sun was starting to set, but we stopped for a small flock of stunning Southern Carmine Bee-eaters that were hunting from a old dead tree

Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides)

Shortly after this, we stopped for afternoon sun-downers before driving back to the Lodge looking for creatures of the night with the tracker using the spotlight - not much action tonight.

Arriving at the Lodge, our Ranger showed us the family of resident African Barred Owlets. We then freshened up and were escorted to the restaurant where we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner, after quite a long day!

African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense)

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