Every now and then, you feel like you need to break away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and in my case it is Jozi. Whilst I love the energy of living in the City of Gold as it is affectionately known, there is something quite amazing in packing the car and heading to a different energy. One that feeds the soul on another level.
So with the car packed, we headed to one of the oldest and dearest Game Reserves in South Africa ; Timbavati. It would be a route that took us through the vast open planes of the Highveld, down valley’s ,through a tunnel and over mountains. As we neared our destination, you start to wonder –“will I get the chance to see what I have been waiting for ?” and then in the back of you head “ did I pack enough memory cards?”
Soon we hit the wonderful tarred R531 Orpen road, leading us to Timbavati. Now before I go into more details as to the Game Reserve itself, herewith a quick history lesson. As I mentioned in my previous blogs, context is always important. Its like a new person being introduced to you, telling you where they come from, where they grew up and what inspires and drives them.
In 1956 a group of like minded conservationists came together, most of them landowners, and formed the Timbavati Association. After viewing the results of insensitive land usage, they decided to actively set about to proclaim the land for conservation and future generations, and to restore what had been lost. This included fauna and flora and indigenous plant species, water resources and more. Seeing that large parts of the Game Reserve, mainly to the north, was mostly left untouched, this meant that you would be able to enter a magical space, where going to the Bush really takes on a new meaning.
As there are no fences between the Greater Kruger National Park and Timbavati, there is a big chance that you will see the big 5 during your visit, but as always, it is the smaller sightings, or should i rather say each sighting, that is special.To the west of the reserve is Thornybush (another award winning special nature reserve we will feature soon) and to the north the Klasrie and Umbabat Nature reserves
As with all nature reserves, there is a solid foundation required to sustain all forms of live and at Timbavati it is the layers upon layers of amazing greenery. We are talking a wide variety of trees and grass layers as far as the eye can see, setting the scene and being the backdrop for all the action that happens each day in the reserve. The reserve is situated in the Savanna Biome of South Africa, and this is important, as it both feeds and provides shelter for all the animals, big and teeny tiny small. Timbavati has within its area 2 very important dominant geological formations-Granite and Gneiss. It is important to note that these rock types, with their complex mixture of feldspar, quartzite, silica, oxygen, Iron and magnesium results in sandy soils, making it ideal for savanna vegetation.
The team at the greater Timbavati Nature reserve, together with the assistance of the local community, have set about ensuring that alien vegetation is managed and kept in check, and they regularly clear out vast amounts of alien plants. This gives the natural plants and trees that should be present in a healthy ecosystem the chance to thrive! It also provides lodging for an abundant selection of birds and smaller insects and creatures. They also manage the rejuvenation of the reserve with controlled fires. This allows species that rely on the process of heat and destruction to come back and grow stronger each season, to show off their existence in style.
So, with this green backdrop in place for all the action, what could one expect to see when visiting Timbavati? Besides the Big 5, there is also Kudu, Zebra, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Warthog and Impala and predators such as Lion, Leopard, Hyena, Cheetah and the endangered African wild Dog has been spotted. Antelope such as Tsessebe and Roan has been encouraged to return to the greater Timbavati reserve, and it is interesting to note how sightings of these have increased,
With so much game, what could one expect on a game drive at Timbavati? For one attention to detail. The staff within the reserve have mastered the art of listening, not outright asking guests what they would like to see, and pre-dawn you would often find rangers and guides out and about tracking ‘spoor’. I prefer the element of surprise when out on a game drive, and often keep my ‘wish list’ safely to myself. There is something amazing about setting out at dawn or dusk, not knowing what happens on your chosen path. I have been fortunate to see 6 ground hornbills on a walk across the road, taking their leisurely time, or seeing a large Kudu bull walk across the gravel road, the size of it leaving one in awe. It is times like this, when you only hear the click of a camera or the idling of an engine at a sighting that adds to the thrill and relaxation of the experience.
Join us for the next edition, when I share with you all the accommodation options available within the Timbavati Game Reserve.
Credit: Personal and Timbavati.