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Overview, trip report, images and reviews from our visit to Ngwenya Lodge.

Overview

Our previous two visits to the Kruger National Park (KNP) instilled in us a true appreciation of this international landmark and we felt that we had to visit for a third time. As kids, we visited with our parents, but we did not come to appreciate the true beauty of this wondrous park. We previously stayed at Pine Lake Resort and Burchell’s Bush Lodge respectively and visited the KNP as day visitors. This year we exchanged some of our timeshare points for a week at Ngwenya Lodge, to be used as a base to explore the KNP. The nearest town in the vicinity is Komatipoort, in case we forgot to pack something.

Note: The KNP is a malaria area and it is recommended to take precautions. Consult your physician before travelling!

“Ngwenya Lodge is situated on the southern boundary of one of the biggest and best-known wildlife sanctuaries in the world – the Kruger National Park. At Ngwenya Lodge you can literally reach out and touch the Crocodile River, overlooking the game fence of the Kruger National Park, which passes behind Ngwenya. This effectively incorporates the resort into the greater game area and you have every opportunity to see all the same species (Big Five included) that occur in the game-rich south-eastern section of the Kruger Park, without even having to leave the resort. The evergreen riverine habitat of Ngwenya provides an excellent setting from which to enjoy great year-round game viewing and birding. The river view chalets set out over two kilometres of prime river frontage, overlook a scenic floodplain, which allows for magnificent views of an area where the big cats often hunt and guests are treated to unsurpassed game viewing opportunities. Our Dam and Bush view chalets are set back on the property and overlook tranquil dams or bush areas, however, game viewing hides make game viewing on the riverfront accessible to all.”


Travels with Tshukudu: Ngwenya Lodge Trip Report

Ngwenya Lodge

Departure day! The vehicle checks are all done and everything packed and secured in our trusty Jeep Wrangler, called Tshukudu – meaning rhino. Traffic on the N4 was fairly heavy but flowing smoothly. The toll fees are quite expensive on this route but put to good use as the road is kept in good state. The roadworks at eMalahleni (Witbank) are a testament to this. It is recommended to take the Schoemans Kloof route instead of going via Waterval Boven due to stoppages caused by more roadworks. We stopped for lunch at Millie’s as we normally do when travelling to the Lowveld. We arrived at Ngwenya Lodge in the region of 15:00. It was peak-hour with numerous guests arriving but check-in went smoothly and efficiently. A whole entourage of staff awaited our arrival at our unit to help with unloading the vehicle and carrying our luggage inside. The unit was spacious, well equipped, with all the amenities required. After we unpacked our gear and kit we went for a quick exploratory trip around the grounds. It is well worth mentioning that Ngwenya Lodge has very well kept gardens and facilities. The staff was also found to be very friendly and helpful. Details of the facilities and amenities can be found on the Lodge website (link below).

The next day we only departed for the KNP late morning due to the preparation of our kit etc. Our point of entry to the KNP was Crocodile Bridge Gate, a 15 min (10 km) drive from Ngwenya. We obtained sufficient day visitor forms to allow for the whole week’s access. Depending on the length of your stay, it could be more viable to get a Wild Card instead of paying for daily access. Entrance to the Park proceeded very quickly and efficiently. Again, we experienced very friendly and efficient staff. For Route 1, we planned to drive to Lower Sabie Rest Camp on the Gomondwane Rd (H4-2). We had a light lunch at Lower Sabie and took the S28 back to Croc Bridge. The Jeep performed exceptionally on the unpaved roads. An SUV type vehicle is definitely an asset, but the roads are accessible with a standard sedan in the majority of cases. We saw a wide variety of animals (list below). All in all a very scenic drive. We were back at base late afternoon.

The following morning check-in at Croc Bridge Gate went quickly and smoothly due to the pre-filled day visitors forms. As was custom, we stopped at the convenience store at the gate to buy snacks and lunch for the day. For Route 2, we planned to go to Mpondo Dam via the H5 and return to the gate via the S26. In hindsight, this is now most definitely one of our favourite routes due to the scenery and wildlife. We had a very special sighting of a male cheetah, a couple of meters from the vehicle! Through the course of the day, we saw a wide variety of animals again. Back at base late afternoon. That evening we experienced a tremendous thunderstorm with hail the size of golf balls. There were lots of damage to surrounding units and guests’ cars. Luckily we did not suffer any.

Note: The lack of insects in the unit was noticeable, and we are not sure what the cause might be? There were also no monkeys and/or baboons making a nuisance of themselves?!

On our third day, Route 3 took us to Afsaal via the S26 and returning via the S25. We had a light lunch at Afsaal. Here the lack of hornbills and starlings were again noticeable? It was quite a long drive but we saw a wide variety of animals again. The bush was green with thick vegetation but riverbeds are mostly dry, possibly still the after-effects of the recent drought.

On Day 4 we drove to Lower Sabie Camp again, but stayed clear of the tar road and took some of the loop sections en-route. We had a light lunch at Lower Sabie, drove up to Mlondozi Dam and followed some more of the loop sections to return to Croc Bridge. The highlight of the day was when we experienced a mock charge from an elephant accompanied by lots of trumpeting! A few very anxious moments! Luckily the Jeep outran the aggressor quite easily! Customarily, we saw a wide variety of animals – rhinos in particular, which is always very special.

For Day 5, the plan was to drive to Mpondo Dam again, but instead, we decided to explore the area north of Lower Sabie Camp. Unfortunately, our trip along the S128 was cut short when an elephant in musth decided that we and the vehicles behind us are not allowed to pass. He leisurely strolled down the road, making us reverse for the better part of a kilometre before we had an opportunity to turn around and beat a hasty retreat! Facing an animal that size up close with nowhere to go is hair-raising! After that, we detoured north along the H10 and it was a very pleasant surprise indeed! The area is very beautiful and now another one of our favourite drives. Again we saw a wide variety of animals.

And so we reached the last day of our stay, as we had to cut our trip short by one day for personal reasons. We loaded the vehicle and drove via the S25 to Malelane Gate, where we planned to exit the Park. Most thrilling and another highlight: we saw a lioness! It was our first sighting of the day and we felt so privileged! Later we peacefully spent a long while watching an elephant cow eating twigs and delicately stripping bark from the thicker branches. Very special indeed! We made good time driving back, had our compulsory stop at Millie’s for lunch and arrived early evening due to heavy rain en-route. It took some adjusting to the cold and wet weather after the nice warm days in the Lowveld. We were privileged to be able to take a lot of photographs of amazing wildlife and scenery. Visiting the KNP transports you to a world totally cut off from the hustle and bustle of city life and allows for recharging of batteries to face the mundane routine of daily work life. A true blessing and privilege…


Photo albums

2018-05 Ngwenya Lodge (Kruger National Park)

2018-05 Ngwenya Lodge


Resort website

Ngwenya Lodge


Review

Astonishing!



Sightings list
African Animal Checklist Friday, May 25, 2018 Saturday, May 26, 2018 Sunday, May 27, 2018 Monday, May 28, 2018 Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Wednesday, May 30, 2018 Thursday, May 31, 2018 Count
Aardvark Orycteropus afer 0
Aardwolf Proteles cristatus 0
Antelope – Roan Hippotragus equinus 0
Antelope – Sable Hippotragus niger 0
Baboon – Chacma Papio ursinus Y 1
Baboon – Olive Papio anubis 0
Baboon – Yellow Papio cynocephalus 0
Blesbok Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi 0
Bongo Tragelaphus euryceros 0
Bontebok Damaliscus dorcas dorcas 0
Buffalo – African (Cape) Syncerus caffer Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Bushbaby – Lesser Galago moholi 0
Bushbaby – Thick-tailed Otolemur crassicaudatus 0
Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus Y Y 2
Bushpig Potamochoerus porcus 0
Caracal Felis caracal 0
Cat – African Wild Felis lybica 0
Cat – Small Spotted Felis nigripes 0
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Y Y 2
Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes 0
Civet – African Civettictis civetta 0
Colobus – Black & White Colobus guereza/angolensis 0
Crocodile – Nile Crocodylus niloticus Y Y Y Y 4
Dik-Dik – Kirk’s Madoqua kirkii 0
Dog – Wild (Hunting Dog) Lycaon pictus 0
Duiker – Blue Philantomba monticola 0
Duiker – Common Sylvicapra grimmia Y 1
Duiker – Red Cephalophus natalensis 0
Eland Taurotragus oryx 0
Elephant Loxodonta africana Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Fox – Bat-eared Otocyon megalotis 0
Fox – Cape Vulpes chama 0
Gazelle – Grant’s Gazella granti 0
Gazelle – Thomson’s Gazella thomsoni 0
Gemsbok Oryx gazella 0
Genet – Large-spotted Genetta tigrina 0
Genet – Small-spotted Genetta genetta 0
Gerenuk Litocranius walleri 0
Giraffe – Masai (Maasai) Giraffa c. tippelskirchi 0
Giraffe – Reticulated Giraffa c. reticulata Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Giraffe – Rothschild’s Giraffa c. rothschildi 0
Giraffe – Thornicroft Giraffa c. thornicrofti 0
Gorilla – Lowland Gorilla gorilla graueri 0
Gorilla – Mountain Gorilla gorilla beringei 0
Grysbok – Sharpe’s Raphicerus sharpei 0
Grysbok – Southern (Cape) Raphicerus melanotis 0
Hare – Cape Lepus capensis 0
Hare – Scrub Lepus saxatilis 0
Hare – Spring Pedetes capensis 0
Hartebeest (Kongoni) – Red Alcelaphus buselaphus 0
Hedgehog Atelerix frontalis 0
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius Y Y Y 3
Honey Badger Mellivora capensis 0
Hyena – Brown Hyaena brunnea 0
Hyena – Spotted Crocuta crocuta 0
Hyena – Striped Hyaena hyaena 0
Hyrax (Dassie) – Rock Procavia capensis 0
Hyrax (Dassie) – Tree Dendrohyrax arboreus 0
Impala Aepyceros melampus Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Jackal – Black-backed Canis mesomelas 0
Jackal – Common Canis aureus 0
Jackal – Side-striped Canis adustus 0
Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus 0
Kob – Uganda Kobus kob 0
Kudu – Greater Tragelaphus strepsiceros Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Kudu – Lesser Tragelaphus imberbis 0
Lechwe – Black (Bangweulu) Kobus leche smithemani 0
Lechwe – Kafue (Brown) Kobus leche kafuensis 0
Lechwe – Red (Zambesi) Kobus leche 0
Leopard Panthera pardus 0
Lion Panthera leo Mongoose – Banded Mungos mungo Y Y 2
Mongoose – Dwarf Helogale parvula Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Mongoose – Large Grey Herpestes ichneumon 0
Mongoose – Meller’s Rhynchogale melleri 0
Mongoose – Selous’ Paracynictis selousi 0
Mongoose – Slender Galerella sanguinea 0
Mongoose – Small Grey Galerella pulverulenta 0
Mongoose – Water Atilax paludinosus 0
Mongoose – White-tailed Ichneumia albicauda 0
Mongoose – Yellow Cynictis penicillata 0
Monkey – Patas Erythrocebus patas 0
Monkey – Sykes’ (Blue) Cercopithecus mitis 0
Monkey – Vervet Cercopithecus aethiops Y Y 2
Nyala Tragelaphus angasii Oribi Ourebia ourebi 0
Oribi – Ourebia Ourebi Y Y 2
Oryx – Beisa Oryx beisa 0
Ostrich Struthio camelus 0
Otter – Cape Clawless Aonyx capensis 0
Otter – Spotted-necked Lutra maculicollis 0
Pangolin Manis temminckii 0
Porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis 0
Puku Kobus vardonii 0
Reedbuck – Bohor Redunca redunca 0
Reedbuck – Common Redunca arundinum 0
Reedbuck – Mountain Redunca fulvorufula 0
Rhebuck – Grey Pelea capreolus 0
Rhino – Black Diceros bicornis 0
Rhino – White Ceratotherium simum Y Y Y Y Y 5
Serval Felis serval 0
Sitatunga Tragelaphus spekei 0
Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis 0
Squirrel – Ground Xerus inauris 0
Squirrel – Tree Paraxerus cepapi Y Y 2
Steenbok Raphicerus campestris 0
Suni Neotragus moschatus 0
Suricate Suricata suricatta 0
Topi Damaliscus korrigum 0
Tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus 0
Warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Waterbuck – Common Kobus ellipsiprymnus Y Y Y 3
Waterbuck – Defassa Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa 0
Wildebeest – Black Connochaetes gnou 0
Wildebeest – Blue Connochaetes taurinus Y Y Y Y Y Y 6
Zebra – Burchell’s Equus burchellii Y Y Y Y Y 5
Zebra – Grevy’s Equus grevyi 0
Zebra – Mountain Equus zebra zebra 0
Count 0 14 15 14 10 16 13

 

Big five Seen
Lion Y
Leopard
Elephant Y
Rhino Y
Cape buffalo Y
Little five Seen
Ant lion
Leopard tortoise Y
Elephant shrew
Rhino beetle
Buffalo weaver
Ugly five Seen
Hyena Y
Wildebeest Y
Vulture Y
Warthog Y
Marabou stork
Shy five Seen
Meerkat
Aardvark
Porcupine
Aardwolf
Bat-eared fox
Impossible five Seen
Aardvark
Cape mountain leopard
Pangolin
Riverine rabbit
White lion
Feathered six Seen
Kori bustard
Martial eagle Y
Lappedfaced vulture Y
Pel’s fishing owl
Saddle-billed stork
Southern ground hornbill Y

 


Area map


Previous visits to the KNP

2017-09 Burchell’s Bush Lodge