Cape Vidal and St. Lucia. 25th to 30th August 2013.
Sally and I went to Cape Vidal campsite for 2 nights followed by 3 at Sugarloaf campsite in St. Lucia. We endured strong wind for all 5 days. Our tent extension was defrocked one night in Cape Vidal and on the last day when we were in Umfolozi.
Despite the wind the weather was pleasantly sunny and not too hot.
The campsite in Cape Vidal was infested with Vervet and Samango monkeys. Turn your back on them at your peril as they will take any food within your arm’s reach if you are not looking – and sometimes even when you are! It is well shaded and mostly flat and sandy. Beware – it is expensive as they charge for 4 people even if there are only 2 of you. It cost the 2 of us R252 a night and that was with a 40% discount! Sugarloaf cost us R324 for the 2 of us for 3 nights (also with a 40% discount).
The Loop road past Lake Bengazi is closed as part of the road has been washed away – apparently sometime ago and there is no sign that it is being repaired.
Sugarloaf Campsite in St. Lucia is located right at the end of the road to the boardwalk beside the estuary leading to the beach. Unfortunately it is a preferred fisherman’s campsite and so to be avoided at the weekends despite it having 100 campsites.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park (Eastern Shores) is one of our preferred parks close to Durban. It has a good variety of game and is known for its leopard sightings. We go for the birds and we were not disappointed this time with excellent sightings of Southern-banded, Black-chested and Brown Snake-Eagles; adult and juvenile Cuckoo Hawks; Collared Pratincoles; etc…
(If you click on an image it will enlarge and you will be able to scroll through the rest of the pictures in that gallery. To return to the text move the mouse cursor to the top left of the screen and click on the “X” when it appears).
St. Lucia also did not disappoint with a good variety of waterbirds including African Black Oystercatcher, a sea paddling Pied Avocet, Kittlitz’s, White-fronted, Three-banded and Curlew (in partial breeding plumage) Sandpipers, Ruff, Wood and Marsh Sandpipers, Caspian and Swift Terns, Grey-headed Gulls.
However “la piece de la resistance” was a Sooty Tern amongst a group of other Terns, Gulls and Avocets. It was sheltering on the leeward side of the wind in the estuary.
If you visit St. Lucia do take a walk along the Gwalagwala Trail early morning. Park in the Office car park. Listen for Woodward’s Batis and Green Malkoha.
The campsite too has a good variety of birds.
We spent one day in Umfolozi and were not disappointed despite the extensive burnt areas in the park.
The Bhejane Hide is still under construction so our only alternative was the Mfafa Hide. Recently it has been the source of a number of leopard and lion sightings – however for us it was a number of interesting small birds and a rather large Rock Monitor.
Some photos taken around the Park:
Probably our best viewing area was at the bend of the Umfolozi river at the end past the Cengeni Gate. Here we saw quite a number of raptors: a Lanner Falcon on the river bed, a couple of Lanner Falcons dive bombing a Tawny Eagle with a little help from a pair of African Harrier Hawks and a Yellow-billed Kite not to be left out of the action, Bateleur, Brown Snake-Eagle. There was also a good view of a Southern Ground-Hornbill across the river.
Finally to cap the day we had the following sighting on the way back past the Cengeni Gate. It was no more than 20 metres from us but totally camouflaged. Look at the photos first without enlarging and you will see how easy it is to be missed.
Now click on the images and enjoy what we were able to see with the help of our binoculars.
Altogether we saw 88 Species in iSimangalizo (Eastern Shores); 71 species in and around the campsite in St Lucia and 61 species in Umfolozi.
Photos care of Sally and Paul Partho.