To me, smart on safari is to be wearing my best flip-flops, khaki shorts that sit above the knee and my favourite, three quarter button short sleeve, Teesav shirt. However I have now been introduced to a new form of smart. I have a smart phone which is obviously smarter than me. And on this phone I have a Facebook App. As I have a page dedicated to KwaZulu Natal on Facebook I follow other pages with the same interest. Around a year ago I came across a page and subsequent web site called ‘latestimfolozi’. Here at home in England I love to see what others are seeing in Imfolozi every day of the week. Now here I am, with the help of EKZN Wildlife, on my way to Imfolozi Game Reserve with the intention of testing my newly acquired smartness.
Even armed with the latest gadgets there is a still need for basic supplies. As I was self catering I stopped off en-route in the town of Hluhluwe to buy charcoal, steak, boerewors and beer. The chalets are fully equipped with everything else I needed for my stay. One other essential is a map book of the park which lists all the marker points. Without this you cannot navigate and follow the sightings. These are available at the main entry gates and cover several of the KZN Wildlife reserves. They also contain useful information along with images of animals & birds that you are likely to encounter.
On previous visits to South Africa I have found that my phone has been unreliable at times. On one occasion I could not dial a lodge to tell them I had arrived at their gates and had a long hot wait until someone came looking for me. Whilst looking for sardines I used all my credit up for the whole trip in three days calling the sardine hotline! I also know that downloading data on line can be an expensive experience. So as a back up I had arranged to keep in touch with a fellow member, Nobby Clarke, of the group who lives in the province and was going to be in the park at the same time as me. The new modern smart approach meant that I could also arrange to meet up and do the old fashioned thing and speak!
I could not get a signal as I drove out of Mpila camp heading into the wilds of the reserve. As I approached point number 12 on the map a signal appeared and I sent Nobby a text. ‘Posted 5 minutes ago 3 lions between 28 & 12’ was Nobbys reply. Within ten minutes I was sitting with three lionesses. One was stretched out dozing within a few feet of my little hire car. What a stroke of, not luck, but smartness. Then another text from Nobby. ‘2 females closer to 12 next to road on left’
The sightings kept coming even without the help of “latestimfolozi”. Four of the Big 5 within an hour of being in the park. The following day Nobby texted me before 8am to say he had entered the park at 5am and had seen a pack of wild dogs followed by lions hunting. Sadly these were a couple of hours from me so I missed out. However my short time in Imfolozi had been wonderful. And it was a great pleasure to finally meet up with Nobby.
“latestimfolozi” can be found on Facebook & twitter and through their main web site you can contact, register and join. There is one golden rule; no sightings of rhino are ever posted in an effort to protect these magnificent animals.