Sunday, May 6, 2012

ITHALA - A PLACE OF PEACE


The travelbug is indeed a very bad virus to contract. Once it flows through the bloodstream it is impossible to eradicate. The four corners of the earth are scoured for new destinations and as a heroin addict searches for the next fix so the compulsive traveller will need new destinations to feed the insatiable virus its next fix. In the absence of a magical far-away destination for March 2012 the maps came out and the compass pointed north to a little reserve just down the road called Ithala Game Reserve.
Research into the Reserve on the internet revealed that some tour operators will stop at nothing to hoodwink people into travelling with them including claiming that animals not on a reserve will be seen there. Ithala has no big cats other than the Leopard, a very elusive animal not easily seen in reserves where they have not been habituated. But, we should be able to see some elephants and rhinos amongst the other plains game.


However, what attracted me to the destination was something completely different. According to a couple of write-ups there are some Dassies (Hyrax) that frequent Ntshondwe Camp along with Bushbabies that move around the accommodation units at night. And so on Friday afternoon we packed our new Landrover Defender Puma and hit the road.
One of the remarkable things about staying at a KZN Wildlife Park is that it is really, really affordable. Two nights for two persons (last minute booking rate) come in at a total of R900.00 on a bed only basis. Astoundingly good value. Neat and clean with a fireplace to boot, who could want more?
The drives in the morning and the late afternoon prove to be rather fruitless as the roads on the reserve keep the animals well at bay even for a super telephoto lens and the rules state no driving off-road. However, on the second morning as we return from our morning drive we find the Dassies running around between the units. While I am resting my weary head Paul (my other half) grabs the camera and chases after the small Dassie family sunning themselves outside our door.


Whoever thought a dassie could look really mean.
The Bushbabies remained elusive on our two nights stay but I have to admit that the weather was against us. However, we now have a good reason to return if only to try and photograph the fleetfooted nocturnal Bushbaby.




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