TIPS FOR BEST SIGHTINGS AT NDUMO
With so many attractions at Ndumo, where to go for the best sightings? The entire reserve is a RAMSAR site, and the bird count (421 species, 60% of all bird species found in the country) is the highest in South Africa.
“Pel’s fishing owl is our most special sighting, people come here just for it,” says Ndumo resort manager Linda Mathenjwa. “You have to do a walk to see it. Our guides are mostly local and they are sure to find the Pel’s for you.”
Personally, his most special place in the reserve is Nyamithi Pan, and I have to agree wholeheartedly. “It has so many flying flowers!” He smiles and chuckles, referring to the birds on the trees and reeds, as seen from far away. Early morning at the pan is a sight to behold, never to be forgotten. Golden shimmers reflected in the water, a backdrop of fever trees, and birds everywhere – mesmerising!
According to Linda typical Ndumo visitors spend two or three days. “Ndumo is the best park for relaxation, because it is not a busy place. We have only seven units. There is no noise, you can enjoy nature as it is. Many other parks have no peace and tranquility.”
During the school holidays, the campsite is usually full. “We have only 14 campsites. Everything is small here!”
The low-lying Phongolo and Usuthu floodplains and associated pans are the reason why Ndumo is also known as Little Okavango. The reserve is the only formal protection of these systems in South Africa. The entire reserve is a RAMSAR site, since the saline pans, extensive wetlands and reed beds provide a significant feeding ground for large numbers of migratory and resident wader species.
Some of the aquatic birds one can expect to see are Slaty egret, Black egret, Pygmy geese, White-faced duck, African jacana, Lesser jacana and many heron species. You might even spot an African finfoot on the Phongolo floodplain. Palm nut vultures are often seen at the vulture restaurant, says Linda, a game reserve veteran of 23 years, who was promoted to his current position two years ago, from Mkhuze.
“I prefer the vegetation here. I like Natal mahogany, the fig trees, the fever trees. The pans are very interesting, it is a world of birds. We have countless crocodiles and hippos. Then of course there is the view over Mozambique from the viewing tower at the entrance gate.”
Game counts by walking transects are being conducted by university students and ecologists. Impala, nyala and wildebeest also proliferate. Linda has a soft spot for Banzi pan and mentions that a leopard is regularly spotted there. “It is such a lovely place,” he says, then recommends spending time at Red Cliffs Picnic Site.
We followed his advice and drove there via a short 4x4 trail. It is not challenging, but exceptionally scenic, with the grandest and most imposing Sycamore figs. At Red Cliffs, the view of the Usuthu river and Mozambique on the other side is glorious. What a splendid site to spend an hour! The picnic and braai facilities are absolutely spotless.
Many tropical species occur at Ndumo at the southernmost limit of their range: Broad-billed roller, Southern banded snake-eagle, Woodland kingfisher, Rufous-bellied heron and Narina trogon.
Entomologists will be interested to hear that 66 species of mosquito have been identified here.
Ndumo rest camp has only seven chalets.
Recipe for a magical evening – a giraffe strolls into the rest camp to check out our braai.
Almost two thirds of Ndumo guests are return visitors
The Red Cliffs Picnic spot is an exceptional scenic experience.
Nyamithi Pan is big, so bring along the big lenses
Nyamithi is paradise for aquatic and wetland bird photographers
Posted on: August 8, 2012, 4:08 PM
Posted on: August 10, 2012, 7:45 AM
Posted on: November 23, 2012, 2:50 AM