Leopard mountain game lodge in Zululand Rhino reserve, KwaZulu Natal

Walking in between the luxury cottages we have to wait for a Nyala that watches us with big brown eyes, my heartbeat slightly rising by seeing this phenomenal beauty. The slender legs moving slowly and her ears turning around to catch all the sounds that will warn her to jump…
A bit further it’s something small and slow that makes me stand still, for a Snail it is an enormous one…I never saw one, big as this. Beauty you can find here just at your doorstep…

It’s difficult to tell what my best safari experience is but it’s definitely (till now) at Zululand Rhino nature reserve. If I tell you that I visited 3 years in a row the Leopard Mountain game lodge because this is a great place to stay and no, I don’t have any shares there.
In the meantime a new plan is already pending in my head … to go back and share this majestic place with more friends.

I remember that time when the three lion brothers were just in the reserve, they had to be tracked every day to see if they were healthy and coping in their new environment.  I also remember the first sight of their offspring, a few beautiful lion cubs exploring and playing on the rocks, while there mommy seemed to be asleep.
Or the period that the wild dogs were still wearing their tracking collar and a year later, when I was looking forward to see them again, I heard from the staff that they migrated through a gap in the fence to the neighbors …


I envy the view from the lodge over the valley, sitting with your sundowner, having the feeling this is the perfect spot in the world, this is how life must be.
Every now and then I long for this extended view and the feeling of that same overwhelming experience…
The last time when I was enjoying the view over the stretched African plains, I was sitting in my private plunge pool, a nyala with calf watching me from a few meter distance….

Most of the times the river was dry…the grass so long that it was difficult to see the animals. But what a fantastic experience if all of the sudden you become aware of two small leopard ears, just reaching above the waving blades of grass. And my oh my, we were so lucky that we spotted two leopards on one evening… and I felt so proud that I saw it first, before the ranger, guess that’s what also makes it for me so special.

Being close to a mother rhino with her calf that walks up to the safari vehicle is a tremendous experience. You just feel the excitement and know that you can’t make a noise, because if mom gets a fright it will mean that she will attack the car… the sight of an animal that looks like stepping out from Jurassic park is so special that I can’t express myself in words. It’s just amazing…

The game drives are so organized that you don’t meet other vehicles, so you have that special feeling that you are the only ones… like the time we were in the middle of a wild dog hunt. They went for a kudu and used the safari jeep as their cover. I can tell you that the adrenaline runs through your whole body. You want to see the catch and the kill, but you also want the kudu to survive…and that is what it did!

The last time when I visited Leopard Mountain game lodge,we were driving for hours looking for an elephant bull, the herd was that time of the day too far away in the mountains, but this lonely bull was feasting on a young tree as supper. While we were clicking away with our camera’s we heard a sound. Trying to find out from which direction it came, it was immediately clear for me that it wasthe roaring lions … driving a bit up we could hear them moving in a circle more toward us. The ranger turned the jeep and driving backward not far from where we were…there was a roadblock of the three brothers.

Their thundering voices and growls where filling the air as the sun went down, it was one of my best safari moments… something I will never forget. The lions were watching us all the time and we were so close that I got really irritated by the guy sitting behind me, who couldn’t sit and keep still. It’s such a disturbing thing, the human voice in this moment of perfect beauty. Trying to drive past the lions wasn’t possible… they pulled up their lips and showed their teeth, sitting on that side of the car I felt to close and didn’t want to end as a lion snack. So the ranger decided to make a huge U-turn.

We had to go… I could have stand there for hours watching them, but our dinner was waiting. Unfortunately on this particular stay we hadn’t one evening sitting in the boma, around the fire outside, the weather was too cold or it was drizzling.

But if you are lucky, those evenings under the trees around the fire are the best. Enjoying great food and lovely South African wines.

It’s a tough world out here in the African bush with early morning safari’s, a comprehensive breakfast, the picnic basket for lunch and a high tea before your afternoon game-drive and a four course dinner! It’s tough to survive…
Oh and please don’t forget to book a safari walk. There is nothing better than be out in the bush, walking in a small group of people looking for wildlife, smelling the fresh air and sometimes a whiff of cold sweat…

From Stellenbosch to the Leopard Mountain Lodge ‘in Zululand Rhino reserve (Big 5 area), in KwaZulu Natal’, we fly from Cape Town to Durban, collect our rented car, driving north-east and in approx. 2 hours you will arrive at the gate of the nature reserve, that is between Hluhluwe and Mkuze….from the gate to the lodge it’s a slow drive with already lots of animals to see. So please drive safe and slow and enjoy from the moment you put up your name at the security gate!

I didn’t mention all the other buck, the beautiful birds, the monkeys, the buffalo, giraffe and zebra’s but you or your ranger can definitely find them in this 23.000 hectare diverse landscape.

Tips from the Winelands, Western Cape
by Zeelandhuys