Heavy summer rains meant the lodges name sake, the Mkuze Falls, were in full flow. And looking down from my open air dining table I become transfixed by the falling water and the swirl it creates when hitting the pool below. Closing my eyes, feeling the hot summer sun on my face, my ears are drawn to the ocean like noise of the fast running water. Just like magic when I open my eyes there is lunch, a magnificent Mkuze Falls salad that would put any Greek salad to shame. Looking back up into the blue sky vultures soar high above. Closer to me swallows are swooping and feeding, dragonflies and butterflies seem to be everywhere and all attracted like me to the water below.
After lunch I am drawn yet again to water. The lodges pool makes a perfect place to cool off during the typical early afternoon heat of Zululand. From the pool I head back to my room and take a dip in my private plunge pool. From there its an open air shower and onto my deck, overlooking the falls, to dry off.
Afternoon tea precedes game drives and it’s a chance to meet fellow guests, rangers and trackers. My game drive companions are to be Martin & Yvonne from the Netherlands. Our ranger is Jabulani and our tracker is Mbuso who is waiting by the game viewing vehicle to help us on board.
Like all reserves you never know what you will come across but here at Mkuze Falls, even amongst the thick green bush, game is abundant. During our time in the vehicle we meet several large bull elephants. One in particular is giving off the very sweet smell of an animal in full musth. An animal therefore to keep a safe distance from! A herd of over one hundred buffalo, one of Africa’s most dangerous animals, also keep us on our toes.
Mbuso from his position in the trackers chair managed to pick out two cheetahs lying in long grass. I am always taken-a-back by the eyesight of both trackers and rangers. Jabulani takes us in for a closer look and the pair, other than lifting their heads, take very little notice of us.
At a water hole Jabulani points out a beautifully coloured African Jacana bird. As the bird skips across lily pads he is followed by four very young chicks. “Once the eggs have hatched the female leaves the chicks to be cared for by the male” Jabulani explains.
As darkness approaches the setting sun appears to make the whole sky glow red. “This is a good sign for tomorrow” Jabulani tells us. Martin adds that he is a keen sailor at home in Holland and Dutch sailors have a saying which he tells us in his broad accent. “Red shky at night is a shailors delight”
The reserves private airstrip was always a hive of activity. In the bright light of day plover birds noisily searched for tasty insects. Dozens of warthogs, impala and zebra grazed on the short grass watched closely by a pair Wahlbergs Eagles perched in an adjacent dead tree. Three jackals strolled onto the lush green grass and immediately laid down, totally at ease with their surroundings.
After dark it’s another story. Where the long grass meets the shorter grass three pairs of eyes were spotted. Lions, three of them, just appear and like the jackals walk onto the airstrip and lay down. The three lions look like they own everything that surrounds them. The kings of the airstrip maybe? Looking round in the spotlight their subjects have deserted them and they are now the only animals in sight. No doubt taking it easy, before a night of hunting in their territory.