I didn’t know what to expect when our flight touched down in King Shaka International Airport about 35 kms north of Durban, in my home country of South Africa.
We were off to explore a region I have never been to, northern KwaZulu-Natal, a mecca for bird and nature lovers and paradise for anyone seeking to escape the chaos of city life, in the company of creatures great and small and extraordinary plants and trees.
We arrived late afternoon in Ndumo, on the Mozambique border, having stopped for provisions en route and settled into our little thatched cottage equipped with all the basics. And mosquito nets… They were the only unwelcome locals,
(66 recorded species!) but with candles and spray, nets and garlic, (everything is worth a try!) we still were able to sit outside over a welcome meal and listen to the sounds of the bush, with owls, frogs and later bush babies heralding the start of two wonderful weeks in some of the wildlife sanctuaries of this magnificent land.
We drove, walked, sat in hides and watched both parents of European swallow family frantically feed their “ready to fly” young. Their devotion to duty was awesome.
We watched crocodiles glide across the pan, leaving a thin silver line on the otherwise mirror-like water surface, heard hippo roaring and grunting just meters away from us, examined fever trees, watched male weaver birds building nests, only to have them rejected by their partners and waited with baited breath as a group of 6 pelicans landed precariously in the fever tree canopy.
We listened as the fish eagle cried and tracked the movement of a goliath heron. It was baby season in all departments and a three week old giraffe nuzzling its mother will remain in my memory bank forever.
We moved countless tortoises off the road and watched a gorgeous bush shrike (and it is!)quietly cruise into view.
All this in the first full day in Ndumo.
Peace and calm settles in quickly in this quiet and beautiful temporary home, the stars are brighter, the nights are still and the quiet is addictive.
As are the flora and fauna of our most spectacular country.