Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Our Safari base "it's like going home"

Dining room set for breakfast
Most of our South African safaris start and at end at our luxurious safari base Black Leopard Camp. Set within 6,000 hectare private wilderness reserve, which is also home to our leopard research team who have a separate research camp tucked away within the reserve.
The old fireplace now primarily used to heat water for teas and coffees, although the pizza oven and open braai to the left are often in service, with guests enjoying watching master chef Alan cooking over hot coals.
Black Leopard Camp was once a small camp just used by the Watson family for holidays. Although they upgraded and expanded the camp into a luxurious eco friendly haven in 2009, Alan and Lynsey Watson still own and run the camp, which means they maintain the family atmosphere for which it has become rightly renowned.
Black Leopard welcomes you
Key to our success, has been the personal service each guests receives from the minute they arrive. As Lynsey says "guests are part of our family". And that is one of the main reasons On Track Safaris guests opt to return year after year. They're part of the family. We also visit other reserves and lodges in the middle section of each safari and our safari guests often say "it feels like we're going home" when we return to Black Leopard Camp towards the end of each tour. With the first evening normally being spent with staff and guests catching up on what has happened during their absence. Even if it was only six or seven days there is always a lot to share.
Stream that wends way alongside the camp
Each luxury tent at BLC has an individual outlook. Many look over the mountain stream that wends its way along the edge of the camp.
I chuckled to my self when a recent returning guest just arrived from the UK was met with a big hug and told "You are in your usual room and we're having your favourite for dinner".
View from the bar
From the bar/lounge the views of this magnificent reserve can be described as nothing less than stunning. This picture was taken trough one of the window openings with the reserve running away as far as the eye can see.

Written by Will Fox

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Become a camera trapper

You can now subscribe to become a member of our Camera Trappers syndicate. Each month you will  receive a monthly digest of the best camera trap pictures from our research team. Not only that but your subscription will help us to buy more camera traps and increase the amount of research data we get to help protect free roaming leopards in South Africa. Click on the Paypal link below to subscribe and you will be contacted by our research team with some amazing camera trap images not available anywhere else.

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Friday, 25 April 2014

Babies of the Bush

We often see Bush Babies when on night drive, but they are not often photographed by our camera traps (as above).
We're very lucky to have all five SA primate species on our home reserve, with bush babies being very popular around Black Leopard Camp.
They make a sound that is just like a baby crying hence their name, which can catch some folks out late at night!

Written by

Will Fox

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bush Braai

In South Africa, it is rare to get through 2 weeks without a braai, so it is nice to get our guests involved in this tradition. In a beautiful setting, with the river flowing just outside, hippos calling in the distance, the fire is lit and now all is left is waiting for the flames to die down. 

In keeping with the theme of the braai, we have wors (sausage), mielies (sweetcorn) and fire roasted potatoes. 

Written by Becky Freeman

Friday, 11 April 2014

Sizo pre school class thanks to OTS guests

Carol and Becky with the nursery school class we fund
As many of you will know, On Track Safaris supports many causes, one of which is a local rural school near our home reserve - Sizo Primary.
As well as building a new dining room, kitchen and IT centre, we were asked to fund a pre school teacher, such that a nursery school class could be started for the first time.
The class started at the beginning of the new years term and is doing very well. We currently have 20 children all aged 4 years, who are going from strength to strength. In just three months they are learning English (essential for school life), can mange to write their own names and above all enjoy the school environment.
Pictured above are Carol and Becky from OTS with just some of the children. Below are guests enjoying a brief moment away from wildlife on a visit to the school, where they donated pencils, crayons and note books, which as you'll see were put to instant use.

Written by Will Fox

Thursday, 10 April 2014

How could you?

Turning back to talk to my guests on the game drive vehicle, the excitement in my voice let them know what a magical experience we were enjoying.
“Folks, I can’t tell you how special an experience this is. To be able to move through the bush at such close quarters with such a relaxed herd of wild elephants is unbelievable.”
It may sound trite but we load experience after experience into our safaris, and I can understand how its difficult for our new safari guests to quantify just how special such experiences are.
On this particular safari we had two guests who were new to safaris and another couple who had been on many safaris elsewhere in Africa. So I figure you can understand that when all four were blown away by the wildlife experiences we added each day, I felt reassured that we have it right.
And not only our guests, along with all our guides, I never tire of enjoying these moments. How could you?
Join us in Africa

Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Nature finds a way

They say nature will find a way, which is often the case. Take this elephant, which we saw in the Kruger Park the other day. It looks healthy enough and indeed it was. Except for the trunk. If you look carefully at the picture, you’ll see that the end of the trunk is hanging down limply. I’m not sure what has happened but I watched for half and hour or so and it has clearly lost use of the lower half.
But, it has adapted a novel way of bending down to scoop up food, trapping it between his tusk and upper trunk, before gobbling it down. Okay, so it’s a messy form of eating, but it clearly works. Not only surviving but doing well.

Join us on safari

Written by Will Fox

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Winner takes all.

It’s been a while since I have been back on the Thorny Bush reserve, so I was very keen to see how things were between their two lion prides. As you may remember the two male lions from the Southern pride and the single male from the Northern pride were at war, with each wishing to become the dominant lion on the reserve.
So to recap.
The collation of two males from the Southern pride (pictured) could really be described as one dominant male (4 years old) and a second follower. The follower has a long-term injury to his hind leg, so being weaker, he just follows and backs up the dominant male. Who as can be seen from the picture was seen on a night drive em er .....‘dominating'.

The big male from the Northern pride (around 11 years old) is literally the daddy of all the cubs on the reserve, but his son from the southern pride wants his job.
And so the scene is set. Very soon there will be a showdown. In fact it’s a fight that the younger males from the Southern pride are looking for. It will literally be a case of winner takes all.

Join us on safaris

Written by Will Fox

What Happens When an Elephant Eats Your Camera Trap

When camera traps are out in the field, there is always the risk of animals wanting to investigate them. For this reason, the cameras in Balule have special protective metal boxes designed to protect them from as much as possible. No one expected it to be put to the test so soon, the following series of photos shows an elephant not just investigating, but trying to chew and remove the camera. It turns out, the boxes protect against this, and the camera was left undamaged, just facing a slightly different direction! 

Written by Becky Freeman

Friday, 4 April 2014

Not just any rhino

On an early morning game drive, we were fortunate enough to find a rhino, and a very special one at that. There are few black rhino left in the world, far less than white rhino, so every time we see one it is very exciting indeed. 

The biggest clues that it is a black rhino: it has a pointed lip instead of a flat lip, its head is held up as it is a browser, and it is generally a little bit smaller than a white rhino. There is no difference in colour, unless they have been rolling in different shades of mud. 

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Written by Becky Freeman

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Cat Fight

Its rare to see lions move, especially in the day. These are two cubs play fighting, and as one is a male, it is good for him to practice his skills from a young age.

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Written by Becky Freeman

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tuskers in the Park

It was great to see so many large bull elephants in the Kruger Park. In some parts of Africa the big tuskers are still persecuted for their ivory, but thankfully not in the Kruger National Park. As you can see in the pic above this big boy carries a radio tracking collar, which allows the rangers and researchers to track his movements and add to their knowledge of the behaviours of elephants.
Join us on safari

Written by Will Fox

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

First Leopard on Balule

The first day after the cameras went out at Balule, the first leopard was caught on camera, the second day another leopard was there and at quick glance appears to be the same individual. We are yet to ID the individual, but it is thought to be a leopard who is known to the guides and trackers in the area.
Written by Becky Freeman