Monday, 30 December 2013

Baby Boom

Spring is definitely in the air here, wildebeest calves can be seen playing in all the reserves, zebra foals are causing all sorts of mischief, and the impala have finally dropped their lambs.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Cool to see cheetah

Always very cool to see Cheetah. As with this lady who we often see, she's enjoying the last of the afternoon sun, hoping to kill before the light goes.
Written by Carol

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Great position

Elephants are always a favourite to see on safari. Of-course we have to be very respectful of these giants, but with the right approach, we can normally get you into some great positions.
Written by Carol

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Stay close to water

As seen on safari, the rhino are unmoved when a herd of buffalo walk around them. Both species were keen to stay close to the nearby waterhole on a very hot day.
Written by Carol

Sunday, 22 December 2013

No need fro modern kitchen

kitchen/diner in the bush
One of the real treats about being on safari is the quality for the food. When we cook on the braai (open fire), you'll be able to join the cooks if you wish and see how the experts do it. There is a knack to cooking on an open fire, but once we show you the basics, you'll be able to cook just about anything, without the need for a modern kitchen.

Written by Carol

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Weakening Rand is good news for visitors.

The weakening Rand is great news for our safari guests, as it means that we don't have to raise our South African Safari prices again for 2014. Not only that, but dependant on the currency exchange markets (which normally fluctuate through the year) we are often able to offer you even better deals for direct bookings, than those we publish.
Right now, we have some great deals available, so please get in touch.
Written by Jennie

Saturday, 14 December 2013

We'll be there to meet you. It's all part of the service.

Our promise is to meet your flight at Johannesburg airport whatever time you arrive. This allows you the flexibility to choose the most convenient route and best price.
Of-course we could provide flights, but to be very honest you can most probably find at least as good if not better flight deals by using the one of the online flight agents.
I prefer to use either Expedia or Opodo. Both offer a myriad of flights to Johannesburg. But once I've chosen a good deal (and for my own peace of mind), I always cross check directly with the airlines website to make sure they aren't offering an even better deal, which is rarely the case, but makes me feel confident in booking through an online flight agent.
In terms of route, it is your choice, but my advice is that if possible choose a route that gets you to Johannesburg in the early morning. Many of the airline flights arrive in Johannesburg between 07:00 - 10:00, which gives us chance to transfer to Black Leopard Camp in time to rest and relax before enjoying an afternoon game drive.
Having said that we'll be there to meet you regardless of your arrival time. It's all part of the service.

Written by Will Fox

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

For your eyes only

We've recently extended our leopard research program, into the Balule Reserve, which we also visit on safari. We've developed a great relationship with the lodge mangers Adrian and Kim, who not only manage their amazing bush lodge to the highest standard, but they've also become good friends and always very popular with our safari guests.
Our head guide Becky Freeman will be managing this new research program for us, but moreover she'll be able to provide the reserve managers with data on a variety of species. Including Rhino. 
Balule is open to the Kruger Park and has a healthy population of Rhino, both Black and White, as seen on game drives. But what most visitors don't see is the huge security operation that the reserve runs to protect its Rhinos.
I can't go into that, nor will Becky be able to publish any of her Rhino related data (essentially camera tap pictures). Sadly, those camera trap pictures are taken from set locations and could tip off poachers as to the Rhino location, so must remain confidential. 
However that doesn't mean that the Rhino we find on game drives are off limits. Quite the opposite. As ever we'll do our best to find them for you, so that you can enjoy experiencing and photographing these almost prehistoric giants. 
We've been very fortunate to see both species of Rhino regularly at Balule, and long may that continue.
Written by Will Fox
OTS Manager.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Mighty Termite

The best known animals in Africa are probably the “Big 5”, a term coined by hunters for the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. They are lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. We don’t just go looking for the “Big 5”, we want to see the Big 5000! There are so many more species out there than just those 5. One of the smallest you are likely to see on safari are also possibly one of the most fascinating, the Termite. These cool little critters are often overlooked because they are an insect, but what other animal has such a complex social system, that works so perfectly? They make their homes a nice consistent temperature by opening and closing various air ducts so the temperature never changes in the mound by more than 3 degrees! Much better than any heating system I have ever known that’s for sure! They defend their homes with anything it takes, even their lives if they must. Next time you see a termite mound, stop and take a good look, you never know what you might see happening.
Written by OTS Guide Becky Freeman

Friday, 29 November 2013

A dazzle of Zebra

While out on game drive recently, we were sat watching a group of white rhino at a waterhole, a nice group with 3 females, 1 calf and 1 bull. They were just starting to wander off when 3 zebra also turned up. A group of zebra is known as a dazzle, for the effect the black and white stripes have on your eyes when you look at a group. These three certainly had that effect, and were certainly a dazzling trio.
Written by OTS Guide Becky Freeman

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sunsets on Safari

One of my favourite things about being in the African bush is the beauty that comes every evening in the form of sunset. Sometimes, you get really lucky and it will be truly spectacular, with the light bouncing off the clouds in just the right way. At this time of day, lots of things are happening in the animal kingdom, vultures and other birds of prey are finding safe places to roost for the night, often in dead trees. Lions start moving round, warthogs dash for their burrows, and hippos start leaving the water. It always feels like a real privilege to be out on game drive at this time of day, and of course the drive must stop for “sundowners”, a time to enjoy the sunset with a nice cold drink and some snacks!
Written by OTS Guide Becky Freeman

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Royal Geographical Society

Will talking at the Royal Geographical Society
Will and Carol attended the Royal Geographical Society Explore weekend in London, where Will and been invited to talk about our work in leopard research and conservation, as well as join the panel in the bio diversity workshops.
Our safaris have been created to support wildlife conservation and in particular leopards, which are Wills passion.
Carol discussing our work with leopards at the Royal Geographical Society
Join us on safari where you'll not only enjoy a fantastic wildlife experience, but you'll you'll be guided throughout by conservation experts.

Written by Jennie

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Will and Carol at the Royal Geographical Society

If you can make it to London on the 16th or 17th of November then OTS managers Will and Carol will be manning the Ingwe Leopard Research stand, promoting their work in leopard conservation at the Royal Geographical Society Explore weekend.
Will is very keen to support the RGS as well as get the message out about the realities of African wildlife conservation and moreover the need for urgent work to prevent any further decline in the leopard population.
The Royal Geographical Society has been in existence since the early nineteenth century and many African expeditions were launched from there. From Dr Livingstone to Sir Ranulph Finnes. Recent Presidents include Sir David Atenborough and Michael Palin.
The work of the RGS is no less important today than it was in the early 1800's and it continues to enable expeditions, research and a whole gambit of work across the globe.

We hope to see you there.
Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London.

Written by Jennie

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Hot off the press - Finally an affordable Gorilla Safari for 2014

Bwindi forest gorillas

Hot off the press
We will be expanding our safari packages in 2014 to include an amazing Ugandan safari that includes an opportunity visit the Bwindi Forest gorillas.
And here is the even better news. By working with local ground handlers we have been able to reduce the costs and can offer this twelve night package for the exclusive rate of £2,450 pps
If you're any thing like me, then the first thoughts of Uganda are of Idi Amin in the 1970's. But the country has shaken off those terrible memories and is emerging as wonderful tourist destination, with abundant wildlife, birdlife and of-course primates.
We will be adding this safari itinerary to our website shortly, but in the meantime if you would like us to send you a detailed itinerary then please email Carol
This special safari price is only available for direct bookings with On Track Safaris.
Here are the highlights of our Ugandan adventure:
  • Gorilla tracking in the Bwindi Forest
  • Visit the source of river Nile
  • Mabira forest
  • Ngamba chimp sanctuary.
  • Rhino tracking.
  • Murchison Falls.
  • Western Rift Valley.
  • Chimpanze tracking
  • Lake Edward and Lake George.
  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
  • Ishasha tree-climbing lions
  • Lake Mburo National park. 
  • Makanaga or Mabamba wetlands.

Tree climbing Lions
Written by Will Fox

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Getting involved - we love it!

I have to admit that when Alan suggested that we ask our guests to be involved in the annual game count on our home reserve, I thought he'd somewhat lost the plot. As anyone who has stayed with us at Black Leopard Camp will know, Alan exudes positive energy and is always looking for more ways to involve our guests in the conservation activities we do on a daily (and in this case annual), basis.
But as usual he was right. Our guests love it.
It works like this:
While on game drive we ask that guests count the number of each species of mammal we see. It makes perfect sense, because after all we're looking for game anyway. Someone takes on the job of recording the numbers and then at the end of the drive we add those results to our database. In that way we are building up an accurate game count.
Of-course the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve is far to big to cover in one three hour game drive. It takes four days of game drives just to cover all of the reserve roads, but by varying the route we take each day we're getting there.
I was asked "but why don't you just do a normal game count?". It's a fair question. The normal routine is to fly over a reserve in a helicopter and literally count what you see. I figure you can imagine that offers an indicative number rather than an accurate count. But its not something we can consider. Our problem is that Thaba Tholo is made up from a series of magnificent mountains, cliffs, valleys and canyons. Quite simply awe-inspiring scenery, but helicopters don't like the variable thermal currents. Believe me I've flown in those mountains looking for missing leopards and it's a ride that you don't look forward too. Add to that, that animals can be scared by a low flying helicopter and run away. I figure you can imagine the possible devastation that could result from a herd of Giraffe running towards a cliff. They're very difficult to turn around.
So all in all helicopters are best avoided.
But, thanks to Alan we have a better way and not only that it's great fun.

Written by Will Fox

Friday, 27 September 2013

Rising star

On Track Safari guide Becky
We have finished filming a documentary on Honey Badges for the BBC. On Track Safaris guide Becky Freeman is one of the presenters in the show, much of which was filmed at our safari base. We understand it will be broadcast in early in 2014, but we'll keep you posted.
If you would like to come on safari and be guided by Becky (as seen on TV!), then check out our website and get in touch. Email

Written by Will Fox

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The ever present poaching menace

We've been enjoying some wonderful Rhino sighting recently. Both white and black rhino. Of-course the ever-present threat from poaching is always on our minds. Rhino horn is fetching $75,000/kg on the black market, most of which goes to China, where it is bizarrely used as natural Viagra!
In South Africa we lost over 500 rhino to poachers last year and this year will be even worse. At that rate the rhino will be functionally extinct in South Africa within ten years.
Behind the scenes the anti poaching patrols are doing a great job to keep that menace away from the reserves we visit, but even they can't prevent natural deaths. With this precious resource dwindling it was a great shame to discover the carcass of a white rhino that had been killed in a fight with elephants not far from one of our safari lodges. The reserve is open to the Kruger park with no fences between, so its difficult to know which elephants it was and why. It is something that can happen in the wild, but nonetheless it's a great shame to loose another rhino.

Written by Will Fox

Monday, 23 September 2013

Denhams in the grass

We've been enjoying some wonderful sightings of late at our safari base (the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve). Not least of these was seen last week by Ian and Rose who were on their second safari with us. Black Leopard Camp guide Dylan spotted a Denhams Bustard in some long grass during game drive. When it took to the air, Ian (who is a very talented and keen photographer) shot the picture above. Quite simply stunning.
Written by Will Fox