10 Things to do at Private Game Lodges in Hoedspruit

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1. Kruger National Park Safaris:

Experience the awe-inspiring wonders of the world-renowned Kruger National Park during your stay. Whether you prefer the freedom of exploring in your own vehicle or the expertise of a guided safari, the adventure awaits. Set out in search of the Big Five and other fascinating wildlife species that call this iconic park home.

Guided safaris typically depart from the lodge around 05:00, offering you the chance to witness the magical African sunrise. Throughout the day, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy coffee breaks in the bush and indulge in a delicious lunch at one of the park's scenic rest camps. Your safari adventure concludes around 16:00, leaving you with cherished memories of an unforgettable day in the wild.

enter image description here Photo Credit: Phelwana Game Lodge

2. Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center:

Discover the heartwarming work of Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for abandoned, orphaned, injured, and poisoned wildlife. Visitors are invited to witness the remarkable stories of resilience and rehabilitation as they tour the facility.

Encounter a variety of animal species, including rescued lions, leopards, caracals, servals, cheetahs, as well as various eagle and vulture species. Keep an eye out for the famous 'Stoffel,' the honey badger renowned for his Houdini-like escape tactics.

Your lodge can arrange a tour of Moholoholo and coordinate transfers to and from the facility, ensuring a seamless and enriching experience for all wildlife enthusiasts.

Tour Times: Mon - Sat 09:30 and 15:00. Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. enter image description here Photo Credit: Moholoholo Rehabillitation Center https://www.moholoholo.co.za/

3. Hot Air Ballooning:

Embark on an exhilarating adventure and take to the skies in a hot air balloon. Drift gracefully with the wind as you soak in the serenity and tranquility of the surrounding air.

Advance bookings can be arranged for hot air balloon tours, offering you the chance to experience this unforgettable journey. Please note that flight schedules are weather-dependent and typically confirmed the day before departure, ensuring optimal safety and enjoyment for all passengers.

enter image description here Photo Credit: https://www.suncatchers.co.za/

4. Horse Riding:

Embark on an extraordinary journey with the Wild Rides team on a Horseback Safari led by their highly experienced guides. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the African landscape as you venture close to wildlife in their natural habitat.

Feel the thrill of adventure as you ride through the wilderness, creating unforgettable memories and forging a deeper connection with nature.

enter image description here Photo Credit: Wild Ride Safaris https://www.wildridehorsesafaris.com/p/

5. Panorama Tour of the Blyde River Canyon:

Discover the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the largest canyons on Earth with a visit to the Blyde River Canyon. Explore breathtaking viewpoints and magnificent waterfalls, including iconic attractions like the Three Rondavels, God's Window, and Bourke's Luck Potholes.

Whether you prefer a self-drive adventure or a guided tour, you'll be captivated by the stunning landscapes and natural wonders that await you. Prepare to be amazed as you soak in the majestic vistas and marvel at the power of nature in this extraordinary destination.

enter image description here Photo Credit: Phelwana Game Lodge

6. Blyde River Boat Cruise:

Experience the Blyde River Canyon from a different perspective on a boat cruise. Enjoy stunning views and the chance to spot wildlife including hippos and crocodiles. Your Lodge will beable to arrange transfers and bookings for you to experience this wonderful activity.

Boat trips depart at 09:00 and 15:00.

enter image description here Photo Credit: https://blydecanyon.co.za/

7. Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center:

Visit this unique wildlife facility focusing on conservation and sustainability of rare species. Learn about their conservation activities, education programs, and rehabilitation efforts. https://hesc.co.za/

enter image description here Photo Credit: Joe Botha

8. Big 5 Game Drives on a Nearby Reserve:

Embark on a guided tour in an Open Safari Vehicle on a 23,000Ha reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park, renowned for incredible sightings. Depart from Phelwana Game Lodge after lunch at 14:00 and return just before dinner at 19:00.

enter image description here Photo Credit: Joe Botha

9. Flying Safaris:

Experience flying in a Bantam microlight and view the Big Five from above. Flights of various durations are available, offering a bird's-eye-view of the Blyde River Canyon and Big 5 game reserves.

enter image description here Photo Credit: Phelwana Game Lodge

10. Kinyonga Reptile Park:

Explore the fascinating world of reptiles and learn about their vital role in the environment. A visit to this local reptile park is a must for all visitors.

enter image description here Photo Credit: Phelwana Game Lodge

In summary, the Lowveld area offers a wealth of experiences beyond just encountering the Big 5. Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or serene moments in nature, the Lowveld promises unforgettable adventures and discoveries at every turn. There's something for everyone to enjoy!

5 Interesting Facts on Frogs

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Our Resident Frog Expert @zululand_frogman is sharing his knowledge with you! Phelwana Guide Joe is passionate about frogs and loves to take our younger (and not so young) Phelwana travelers looking for frogs in the lodge garden and around the dam. Make sure to ask Joe all about the interesting creepy crawlies in the bush and follow him on Instagram for wonderful wildlife updates!

![enter image description here Joe Botha @zululand_frogman

The Painted Reed Frog

Gets its name due to its vibrant colours and diversity in patterns that it has on its body. Juveniles in this frog group appear dull brown in colour almost like a blank canvas.

Painted Reed Frog. Source: Frogs of Southern Africa Book Photo Source: Joe Botha

The African Bull Frog

Its taxonomic name edulis means edible and refers to the fact that some rural communities consume the species.

African Bull Frog. Source: Frogs of Southern Africa Book Photo Source: Frogs of Southern Africa Book

The Foam Nest Tree Frog

Makes a nest well a nest in a tree made of foam. It is a very clever strategy because the foam nest is made over bodies of water and will only melt and release the tadpoles in heavy rain ensuring they have plenty full water to hatch in.

enter image description here Photo Source: Jeanine de Villiers

The Banded Rubber Frog

It is black in colour and has red bands along its body. This is a good indication that is a very toxic frog and it’s not one to be played with. It has so few predators that it rarely will hop, walking most of the time.

enter image description here Photo Source: Frogs of Southern Africa Book

The Plat Anna or African Clawed Frog

Spends most of their life in the water. Their prey includes frogs and tadpoles (including their own kind), insects and other invertebrates (mosquito larvae are consumed by young frogs), small fish, young birds and mice that fall into the water.

enter image description here Photo Source: Frogs of Southern Africa Book

Top 10 things to consider for a Valentine Safari

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Planning a Valentine's safari break is a unique and romantic way to celebrate the love you share with someone special. Life is busy, and we seldom find time amid work, children, and other commitments to celebrate the bond we share with the person we have chosen to spend our lives with.

Here are ten things to consider when organizing your Valentine's safari getaway:

1. Destination Choice: Select a location that isn't too far away, no more than a 5-hour car trip or 3-hour flight. This ensures that you embrace a change of scenery, providing a special and intimate setting where you can enjoy each other's company in the privacy of your own space. The Kruger National Park and its surrounds are the ideal safari destination area that will tick all the above considerations.

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2. Accommodation: Choose a luxury lodge or tented camp that offers a comfortable and romantic atmosphere. Look for lodgings providing private suites with stunning views and amenities such as outdoor showers or private plunge pools.

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3. Game Viewing Experience: Research the best time for game viewing in your chosen destination. Consider guided game drives, hot air balloon safaris, or walking safaris for a more intimate wildlife experience.

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4. Special Packages: Check if lodges or safari companies offer special Valentine's Day packages. Some may include romantic dinners, complimentary gifts, or exclusive activities tailored for couples. Make sure to enquire directly with the lodges reservations team as often specials are only available for direct bookings.

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5. Weather Considerations: Consider the climate and weather conditions during your visit. Pack accordingly for comfort during game drives and other outdoor activities, and consider a lodge with air-conditioning and private plunge pools for cooling off during hot summer days.

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6. Travel Logistics: Plan your travel logistics well in advance, including flights, transfers, and transportation within the safari destination. Coordinate with the safari lodge for seamless transfers; some lodges offer airport transfers included in your accommodation rate, so be sure to use these.

7. Romantic Surprises: Consider surprising your partner with special treats or experiences during the safari. Some lodges offer a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine with your booking. These surprises could include a private dinner under the stars, a romantic private meal for two, a night spent sleeping under the stars on a Skydeck, or a couples massage.

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8. Relaxation Time: While the safari experience is exciting, ensure there's time for relaxation. Choose accommodations with spa treatments, and plan downtime for you and your partner to enjoy each other's company.

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9. Activities: Ensure you pick a lodge that offers various activities like game drives and bush walks. Adventure is good for the soul, and sharing extraordinary experiences with your partner is sure to create lasting memories.

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10. Service: Ensure you book a lodge that offers impeccable service, where staff are welcoming and friendly, making you feel like part of the family.

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Contact us at Phelwana Game Lodge and let us assist you in planning your perfect romantic Valentine’s getaway. Planning ahead will help ensure a smooth and unforgettable Valentine's safari break.

Email: Book@phelwana.co.za I Tel: + 27 15 73 2475 I WhatsApp: +27 66 527 6212 I Website: www.phelwana.co.za

A Journey as a Nature Guide in South Africa - Blair Yeatman

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Join me today as we embark on a captivating adventure, deep into the heart of the wild, as I share my experiences as a nature guide in South Africa. As a guide, my days are filled with awe-inspiring encounters, forging connections with guests from all walks of life, and fostering a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature. South Africa's rich biodiversity offers a tapestry of landscapes, from vast savannahs to dense rainforests and dramatic coastlines.

Blair Yeatman

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a nature guide is the opportunity to connect with people from around the world. Each day, I encounter guests eager to learn and experience the magic of South Africa's natural wonders. Whether it's spotting a lion on safari, or witnessing a majestic sunset over the African plains, these shared moments create lasting bonds and lifelong friendships.

Guests enjoying a Phelwana Bush Walk with Blair

Being surrounded by South Africa's mesmerising landscapes encourages guests to reflect on the importance of preserving our planet's natural heritage. As a nature guide, I have the privilege of inspiring a love and respect for the environment through storytelling, game drives, and guided bush walks. Witnessing the spark of curiosity ignite within our guests' hearts as they discover the interconnectedness of all living things is truly a humbling experience.

Witnessing the joy and wonder on their faces as they encounter wildlife up close, learn about traditional cultural practices, or simply take in the raw beauty of nature, brings immeasurable fulfillment to my soul. With each interaction, we inspire compassion, curiosity, and a determination to protect and preserve our planet for future generations. Let us embrace the wonders of nature together and forge unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

This is not a laughing matter… Hyenas on board, by Flora Molepo

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In the most unexpected of circumstances, Phelwana Game Lodge met an unusual guest, Crocuta Crocuta... the spotted hyena. Phelwana is not a Big Five game reserve, but we do have Cape Buffaloes, the occasional leopard, and in this case, a rather interesting critter has joined us on the land. According to the tracks, they wander around the property at night and early in the mornings. We always come across the tracks when out for a morning bush walk, which is always intriguing.

Hyena Tracks seen on a morning Bush Walk

Yes, hyenas are frequently observed in the Kruger, but the prospect of having one on our modest property gives me goosebumps, which is why I find myself lost in time pursuing the animal... They say that time is of the essence, but not in the bush. We suspect they have crossed over in search of a den where they may give birth and rear their young.

Hyena Caught on our Game Cam

The spotted hyena weighs between 46 and 79 kg in males and 56 to 80 kg in females, making the females much larger and stronger than the males. Hyenas are matriarchal, which means the clan is led by the oldest female. They are known to feed on garbage dumps and even dig up dead bodies. They are also believed to have the strongest jaws and digestive systems in the savannah bush and can digest just about anything, from carrion to plastic. They are accepted by certain communities in East Africa because they clean up residential waste from the environment. The Maasai leave their dead for the hyena to "remove." (Aardvark to Zebra, Pg 367). Hyenas can smell carrion from 4 kilometers afar, despite having weak eyesight. It is believed that they only scavenge, but they do hunt as well, hunting about 73% of their food.

Some people find hyenas to be strange animals, but we all know that The Lion King is to blame for this enigma. Nevertheless, I'm here to inform you that these magnificent animals clean the earth, as other carnivores only waste about 40% of the carcass. In fact, they can even eat the bones, which produce faeces that are a strange white color. Other creatures, such as leopard tortoises, feed on the excrement owing to the quantity of calcium they emit.

A Spotted Hyena

To summarize, remember how important they are anytime you come across them, and remember that not everything you see in movies is accurate. I hope you liked this eye-opener. By Flora Molepo, Phelwana Guide

Step into my office.....the bush, by Flora Molepo

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As a field guide, you do not have an office at the lodge; instead, the bush is your office. Please enter. Even though it may seem difficult, the bush doesn't actually understand that it is an office. Funny, right? Of course, the animals would be horrified at the prospect of working as a receptionist.

Afternoon Game Drive

We had the opportunity to witness the birth and death of a baby hippo, but unfortunately, we do not intervene in natural situations because, to be fair, we are in their natural habitat and we always maintain and observe our game from a distance without interfering with or harming their way of life. However, animals are more unique than we think, and their way of survival is beyond human understanding. Being in nature allows you to become one with it, heighten your senses, and begin to realize why going into the bush is necessary. It also fosters partnerships and increases your degree of love and respect for the wild.

Really, this little hippo is a tower of strength. His given name, Mahlatse, is an African name with the meaning of "fortune." He was attacked by a female leopard and a buffalo bull. He was only two to three weeks old, had a wound on his left leg, and struggled to walk in the hopes of survival. Hippos have sensitive skin, thus they prefer to graze at night to avoid the sun's rays during the day. The game lodge is home to a family of hippos, which comprises the dominant male and two additional females. They can move up to 10 kilometers out of water and consume roughly 35 kg of grass, which will make it easier for them to move given that Phelwana has three substantial dams.

Baby Hippo, Mahlatse

Being a part of their world and seeing buffalo, giraffes, vervet monkeys, baboons, and of course, antelopes every day is still remarkable. It has always been a delight to go on game drives and walks at the Phelwana Game Lodge. Although it may not seem ideal to assume that animals might have hope or even trust in something unseen, it is satisfying to know that they can live and make repairs for themselves. It is survival of the fittest in the wild, a concept that humans can identify with.

Come and see the natural splendor that inspires us every day.

By Flora Molepo, Phelwana Game Guide

Flora Molepo