Most of the other lodge owners on Balule are always amazed at the excellent sightings of animals at Tremisana. Despite its relatively small size, the area around Tremisana always seems to produce something really good. We have seen all of the Big Five ( Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard) on the property as well as cheetah and wild dog.
There have been many a traffic jam on the tar road bordering our property as a result of exceptional sightings including a number of lion kills. We are told that the locals drive slowly as they pass our lodge as they always hope to see something exciting !
There are two reasons for this situation :
1. As one moves westwards towards the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountain Range, the grass becomes sweeter.
2. Tremisana Dam attracts an inordinately large number of animals all year round.
We have built a hide at the Tremisana Dam. It has its own ablution facilities so guests who really want to experience wildlife at the watering point may sleep over. Our floodlight illuminates the whole area around the dam.
Hide at Tremisana Dam
Elephant, lion and buffalo are seen regularly. In fact, we have had elephants and lions INSIDE the camp on the odd occasion when our staff have left the back gate open !
Recent lion kills at Tremisana include impala, giraffe, wildebeest and waterbuck. In 2001 a lioness gave birth to 3 cubs just below the Tremisana Dam wall.
A troop of Vervet Monkeys has made Tremisana their permanent home and their antics amuse and enthrall our guests. We do not feed these monkeys and insist that our guests follow suit.
At night, the roars of lions and the wails of jackals are often heard and serve as a reminder that we are in wild Africa.
GAME DRIVES are conducted on our open Landcruiser Gameviewers. Viva Safaris is the only tour operator on Balule with access to all the servitude roads on Olifants West reserve. Our Sunset Drive leaves Tremisana at 17h00 and returns around 19h45. In mid-summer, we return a little later so as to facilitate spotlit gameviewing after dark.
Our Sunrise Drive leaves the camp at 05h30.
Our ranger is equipped with a two-way radio which allows communication with other rangers on game drives. In this way, we are assured of seeing all the good game viewing highlights on the property.
NOTES ON THE BALULE SUNSET DRIVE
The name “ BALULE ” is the Tsonga ( language of the Shangaan people ) word for
“ Buffalo ”. There are regular sightings of these bovine beasts on our Sunset Drive.
After dark, the ranger uses powerful spotlights to locate animals. The light from the spotlight is reflected by the tapetum behind the animal’s retina – so what one sees first is the “ eyes” of the animal. The animals usually look towards the vehicle and are thus easily located. However, they may look away and we then rely on the guide to spotlight the animal’s body.
The ranger has been instructed to drive slowly so that, if some animal is spotted, there is no need to reverse a long distance ( by which time the animal may have disappeared).
On any night drive, we are pleased to see any animal, but it is the nocturnal animals that are special. We have regular sightings of Lesser Bushbaby, Scrub Hare, Large-spotted Genet as well as porcupine, wild cat, civet and aardvark.
Nocturnal birds seen include Spotted Thickknee ( formerly called Dikkop ) and the Bronze-winged Courser. Other nocturnal specials that we have seen ( very rarely ) include side-striped jackal, aardwolf and White-tailed Mongoose.
The view of the sky is very special on a cloudless night : the lack of pollution allows for excellent clarity of vision and our guests are always amazed at the view of the Milky Way and the various Southern Hemisphere constellations.
To make the night drive very memorable, the ranger will stop somewhere in an open area and switch off all lights and vehicle engine. Please cooperate by keeping extremely still while you absorb the quiet of the night interspersed only by the various sounds of Nature.
Our armed rangers will accompany you on an exciting game walk. We usually walk along the banks of the Olifants River where abundant bird life is often encountered. Sightings of elephant, hippo and crocodile are common. On other occasions the guides walk on the game rich Balule Plains. The guide will walk at a pace that everyone can handle and will ensure that you are not exhausted. A snack break is held half way through the walk.
Guest photographs giraffe on Balule Plains while armed ranger looks on
The focus is on tracks, scats and other signs of the wild not normally encountered from a game vehicle. Our client feedback has been absolutely awesome.
Male Dung Beetle pushes the load on which female rests