Report by Paul and Sally Bartho
The Mkhuze campsite is expensive compared to Sugarloaf in St. Lucia. It is also out on a limb at the main entrance to the park with major water issues. That said we never experienced any problems with hot water. Power is supplied by generator from 05h00 to 08h00 in the morning and from 17h00 to 22h00 in the evening.
The kwaMalibala and kuMahlahla hides are both being re-built. When they are complete kwaMalibala will not have well water provided but the new hide is built over the pan. Work is ongoing to secure the kuMasinga hide picnic area from the roaming lions and other Big Five animals. An electric fence will enclose the picnic site, car park and down the tunnel to the hide. Sorely needed as Lions were seen round the hide the morning after we arrived.
The only satisfying birding we experienced was to be found either in the campsite, around the main office, the kuMasinga Hide and at the hides and picnic area at Nsumo Pan. Again the area is very dry and consequently birds were scarce.
Nsumo Pan was fairly full. Most of the bird life was banked on the far side. There were hundreds of Spur-winged Geese, Egyptian Geese, Black-winged Stilts, Pink-backed Pelicans, African Spoonbills, Water Thick-knee, Grey and Goliath Heron, Reed and White-breasted Cormorants, Pied Kingfisher, Whiskered Terns, White-faced Ducks, Blacksmith Lapwings, African Darter, Great Cattle and Little Egrets, Hadeda and Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, and African Pied Wagtails.
However what was really interesting was the sight of about 60 Vultures suddenly taking flight. They were mainly White-backed but there were one or two White-headed amongst them. Why they took off all together so suddenly remains a mystery.
Some photos of birds seen around the park:
We spent quite a few hours at the kuMasinga Hide each day. The birding was best here and there was a constant stream of Nyala, Zebra, Wildebeest, Warthogs, Impala, Baboons and an occasional Kudu. Playful Baboons came for water and then played all round the hide. A few even ventured onto the roof of the hide and ran back and forth slip sliding as they went.
Nearby to the campsite we had views of an African harrier-Hawk being mobbed and at the Nhlonhlela Bush Lodge we saw Marabou Storks beside one of the pans with a modicum of water.
There were several interesting Campsite birds. The White-throated Robin-Chat serenaded us from the nearby bushes.
Unlike Sugarloaf the nights were very quiet – no Owls nor Nightjars calling.
Nice to get away into the bush but our time could have been better spent relaxing in the Sugarloaf campsite and beach.
Having said that we did identify several specials: Gorgeous and Orange-breasted Bushshrikes, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Fiscal Flycatcher, Grey Go-away-bird, Pink-throated Twinspots, Rudd’s Apalis, Brubru, White-backed and White-headed Vultures, Acacia Pied barbet, Black-crowned Tchagra, Black Sparrowhawk, Red-billed Oxpecker, Golden-breasted Bunting, Marabou Storks, Green-winged Pytilia, Striped Kingfisher, Whiskered Tern, Openbill and Glossy Ibis.