EKUTHULENI

Imagine arriving at your abode shortly before a scarlet sunset and finding a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl gathering on the opposite bank of the Olifants River before disappearing into the tall reeds;

Helmeted Guineafowl

a pair of Egyptian Geese foraging between the large rocks in the river; and a large crocodile easing its way into the water in front of you.

crocodile

Now imagine waking to the sound of hippos grunting contentedly and observing them emerge from the water to flop down on a stretch of river sand to bask in the sun for much of the day;

Hippo

watching a troop of baboons climbing to the top branches of the tall trees across the river to catch the rising sun; Darters flying up and down the river; Darters

a Giant Kingfisher hovering above the water; vervet monkeys frolicking in the grass in between seeking tasty titbits; and a pair of Egyptian Geese standing sentinel on a large rock.

Egyptian Geese

Imagine all this and you will find yourself in Ekuthuleni (the place of peace) situated in the Blyde Olifants Conservancy near Hoedspruit. I have just had the good fortune to spend a few days in this warm Bushveld paradise.

Olifants River

The winter veld not only looks dry: it is dry and it feels dry.

Ekuthuleni

Lifeless it is not. Bushbabies flit through the trees at speed in the early evening, leaving rustling leaves in their wake; giraffe nibble on the leaves of trees that tower over the drab surroundings;

giraffe

and tree squirrels dart about, throwing up little puffs of dust as they skitter across the dry ground.

tree squirrels

A slow drive through this desiccated landscape provides an opportunity to appreciate the variety of trees, such as the Common Cluster Fig, Leadwood, Tamboti, Red Bushwillow, Narrow-pod Robust Thorn and Marula. One comes across animals unexpectedly: a duiker on the alert behind a thin curtain of dry grass;

duiker

a herd of blue wildebeest gathered around the remnants of their supplementary feast of lucerne;

Blue Wildebeest

and zebras at the waterhole at dusk.

zebras

Sunsets seen from the viewpoint are spectacular.

sunset

So too are the impala lilies and the surprisingly wide variety of birds.

Impala lily

I especially enjoyed a close encounter with several pairs of Wattled Plovers on the open grass near a grove of Fever Trees.

wattled plover

My bird list for Ekuthuleni is:

African Darter
African Grey Hornbill.
African Yellow White-eye
Avocet
Black-collared Barbet
Black-crowned Tchagra
Blacksmith Plover
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Cape Glossy Starling
Cape Turtle Dove
Egyptian Goose
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove
Fork-tailed Drongo
Giant Kingfisher
Goliath Heron
Grey Lourie
Grey-headed Bush Shrike
Helmeted Guineafowl
Laughing Dove
Lilac-breasted Roller
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Pied Crow
Pied Starling
Pied Wagtail
Puffback Shrike
Purple-crested Turaco
Red-billed Hornbill
Red-billed Oxpecker
Red-eyed Dove
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Speckled Mousebird
Steppe Buzzard
Three-banded Plover
Village Weaver
Wattled Plover
White-crested Helmet Shrike

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