We may all be homebound but we’re still dreaming of days spent in the African bush. We asked expert field guide and photographer, Nicole Mathesie, to share some of her favourite photographs and memories with us so that, for a few moments, we can imagine being at the paradise that is The Outpost, in the far north of the Kruger National Park. When it is safe for us to do so, we simply can’t wait to welcome back our guests!
SUNRISE FROM THE LODGE
The early bird catches the worm! This is the magical sunrise view that guests are treated to while enjoying their morning coffee in the lounge area before hopping into the Land Rover for an early morning game drive.
SUMMER BIRDING AT ITS BEST
These tiny, little African Pygmy Geese are a real treat for every bird lover. They are listed as a near-threatened species and we spotted them on the Banyini Pan, where they were feeding on the seeds and flowers of the water lilies. This is a very rare sighting as they actually prefer permanent waters but the great February rains filled up most of our pans and attracted plenty of water birds.
RARE AND REWARDING
We can never guarantee a leopard sighting, the leopards in our area are truly wild and not habituated at all. When we do spot them it is incredibly special. I had a lovely Canadian couple with me for this sighting, it was their first time in Africa and their last game drive before heading home. It was a cold morning, so I was driving slowly so as to not deep freeze us all. We were scanning the bush and there she was! A glorious leopard, watching some nearby impala. She casually stepped out of the Mopane shrubs, glanced at us and disappeared after a minute again – like a ghost.
TEENY TINY PIGLETS
The summer months bring much newborn life and even though most people don’t find warthogs particularly pretty – no one can resist the cuteness of baby warthogs. They grow fast and you’re really lucky if you see them when they are just a couple of days old. They are tiny but really lively!
We see Nile crocodiles in and on the banks of the Luvuvhu River throughout the year. These prehistoric animals cannot sweat and on hot days we often see them with their jaws wide open in order to release heat through their mouths.
MY MOST SPECTACULAR SIGHTING IN NORTHERN KRUGER
My guests were four keen wildlife photographers and we left early that morning so that we could take advantage of the morning light when it is at its best. It was still fairly dark when I saw something that looked like three baboons running in the distance ahead of us, which seemed odd to me – baboons are normally still asleep at this time of the day. As we came closer we saw it was wild dogs – a very rare sighting in Northern Kruger! We approached carefully and the dogs were super relaxed with our presence. We spent almost half an hour with them, watching them chase a baby hyena and admiring their beauty before the dogs backed off in deep bush.
DUST BATH TIME
I never tire of spotting elephants in the wild. During the hotter hours of the day there’s always a good chance of finding elephants close to our waterholes or rivers – where they are often found dousing themselves in mud or dust. This is not only for fun, it helps them to protect their skin from the sun and to get rid of parasites and ticks. We met this big boy deep in the Luvuvhu Riverine Forest where he was clearly enjoying a good dust bath.
The heavy summer rainfalls transformed the Banyini Pan from a vast, dry, almost savannah-like place into a beautiful lake with a rocky island in the middle. It has become an ‘El Dorado’ for all kinds of water birds. One of our guests is pictured here spotting a lone elephant bull walking in the water on the far side of the pan.
GOLDEN HOUR ON THE BANKS OF THE Luvuvhu
One of my favourite spots for sundowners is on the banks of the Luvuvhu River. In the late afternoon, there is always some kind of animal activity along the riverbank and when you get lucky you will be spoilt with elephants under a setting sun – magic!
GIN AND TONICS ARE SERVED
A sundowner stop, in the middle of Northern Kruger – I love surprising guests with this moment during their evening game drive. Does it get any better?