But whilst we’re driving past Tembe Elephant Reserve, it would be wrong not to go in… wouldn’t it? 🙂
Don’t let the name fool you, Tembe Elephant reserve is about much more than just Elephants! There are countless bird species as well as many different game animals. Although saying that, it is also fantastic for elephants, after turning a corner in the park whilst tracking down a bird they came across about 14 elephants just loitering on and to the side of the road.
They certainly had fun as they stayed in the park from gate open to gate close and arrived back at Umkhumbi Lodge just in time for a fantastic 3 course dinner under the stars.
An early start for Jason and Adam today as they head up to Ndumo Game reserve for a full day of fantastic bird and animal sightings.
Only one thing can top a great day, and that is going on a Turtle tour.
Sea turtles who usually live in the deep deep depths come on land between November and February each year to lay their eggs. Female turtles must climb from the water up the beach (the pure physical exertion as they make their way across the soft sand causes the bodies of these cold blooded creatures to radiate an astounding level of heat) before they dig their nests and lay their clutches of over 100 eggs! After this the turtle must then close the nest and then make her way back to the sea.
Baby sea turtles when they hatch have to break through the egg, dig out of the sand and make their way down to the water. What a lot to do on your first day in the world!
Jason and Adam were lucky enough to see three little hatchlings on their way to the water. One of them looked very weak, and was struggling to make it across the soft sand – law states that you are not permitted to touch them or help them in any way – and this troubled Jason and Adam. Using his torch Adam led them on their perilous journey down to the water, safe guarding them from any beach predators who may want to take advantage of these juicy little morsels.
It was quite an emotional moment for the boys as the last little hatchling dipped into the water, I am sure there was even a tear present in Jasons eye! The boys kept watching the water, looking just in case the little ones washed back to shore again, but no – they were ok and off to start their little life adventures.
Then, around the corner, 10, 20, 30, 40 hatchlings fresh from the eggs and emerging from the nest. It was like a motorway during rush hour as they made their way to the water. 50, 60 and still more were coming even as they walked a little further down the beach.
A little further along they found a female loggerhead turtle in the process of laying her eggs. Sitting nearby they watched her as she finished, filled the nest and made her way back to the water.
Armed with our goggles, snorkels and flippers we clambered into the Land Cruiser ready for Tommy to drive us down to Kosi Bay mouth estuary. It is possible to walk down, but after a long day snorkelling driving back up the hill is much nicer! when we got down to the water the tide was extremely high, obviously we had over-estimated quite how much time we would need to stop so Jason could take pictures of Cisticolas (only joking Jason, I know they were cormorants really…! 😉 )
The best part about getting down to the estuary when it is still high tide is that as the water recedes across the estuary mouth, islands of sand appear littered with the small sea-life that water birds class as delicacies. This brings water-birds flocking (pardon the pun) for an easy snack. The sand dunes were teeming with birds such as tern as we walked around the edges of the estuary mouth in search of crabs, snakes, birds, lizards and anything thing else that moved!
As quickly as the tide rises, it drops, so we didnt have to wait for long before we could wade across the estuary mouth to the reef.
At first glance the area of water containing the reef raises a few sceptical looks and raised eyebrows from all who have yet to experience it.
The best way to view the reef is to walk to the top and float down across the reef with the current, it is lazy snorkelling, no effort needed, the best kind of snorkelling!
Jason and Adam saw (to name a few – there are so many!);
– Black Mangrove seed pod
– Shoals and shoals of un-identified baby fish
– Pink Clawed fiddler crabs
– Ring Cowrie
– Ramshorn shell
– Honeycomb moray eel
– Occelated snake eel
– Bandtail cardinal
– Ninestripe cardinal
– Striped grunter
– one spot snapper
– Mussel cracker (juvenile)
– Big eye stumpnose (juvenile)
– small scale purse mouth
– old woman (juvenile)
– emperor angelfish (juvenile)
– double sash butterfly fish (juvenile)
– Boomerang trigger fish
– Spotted toby
And most importantly the lesser-spotted reef dwelling snorkel fish (losticus Jasonus).
After hours and hours of floating around in the estuary (it is surprisingly tiring, but well worth it) it was time to retreat back to Amangwane Kosi Bay for a braai (BBQ to us pommies) and bush TV (fire).
Steak and boerewors (sausage), pap n’ sous (local maize meal and sauce – tasty), potato salad (Africa style), coleslaw, fresh bread and salad. Needless to say we all went to bed on exceptionally full stomachs as it was too good to leave any!
Amangwane at Kosi Bay is one of my favourite places, so imagine my joy when we were to go to Kosi Bay for three nights looking for more birds to tick off of Jason and Adams substantial birdlist!
Part of the beauty of Kosi Bay is that it is not too far from Home sweet home
The viewpoint is spectacular, with beautiful sunsets and even more magnificent sunrises. And we arrive there – after an interpretive walk with Tommy informing us about the different plants and trees and identifying the countless tracks in the sand that we point out to him – to the beginnings of an African sunset.
If you have not yet seen one, it is impossible to describe the colours as the sun rays play on the clouds, even long after the sun has hidden behind the mountains and hills.