News & Updates from Heritage Tours & Safaris 14 December 2014
The buzzing sound of Cicada beetles drowns out the mid day heat, reminding us all that its almost mid December now and summer is here. Temperatures are starting to soar but fortunately after a long wait we have received some good rainfall, filling up all the rivers and tributaries in the surrounding game reserves that we visit on a daily basis. The rainfall is very well received by the local people but also the animals, as summer is the season when most animals time their breeding to give birth to their offspring when there is plenty of water and food available to sustain lactating females. Some of the first new borns to be seen are probably those of the very common Impala antelope, who try to overwhelm predators by all giving birth within a short period of time around the start of summer, in doing so they ensure that a large number survive and reach adulthood. This makes them very successful as a species.
Other telltale signs of the change in season are the arrival of the migratory bird species. The overwhelming calls of the Cuckoo birds such as the Red chested Cuckoo (” Piet my vrou” ), Diedericks and Klaases Cuckoos are the most common to be heard at this time. These birds are the evil geniuses of the animal world and they have found a loop hole in the time consuming and energy draining job that is parenting. Cuckoos are brood parasites, meaning they trick other bird species into incubating and raising their young for them. Not having to expend any energy in parental care affords them the ability of laying many eggs in one season, ensuring the best chance of passing on their genetic material. Cuckoo eggs usually incubate quicker than that of the host bird and being the first to hatch they have the advantage of out competing their ” step-siblings” when it comes to feeding or in some cases they simply kill them. Love them or hate them the Cuckoos are fascinating birds.
As the festive season fast approaches holiday makers are arriving in St Lucia hoping to enjoy a well-deserved rest after a long years studying and hard work . Being the Southern gateway to the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, St. Lucia is a prime home base to explore and enjoy the game reserves and other activities offered to visitors. Below is some information of the surrounding area to help with planning your trip or activities:
A mere 10 minute drive from town gains you access to either the Eastern or Western Shores sections of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, with 25 000 year old coastal dune forests, grassland plains,unspoilt beaches and large biodiversity of plant and animal life,the area really lives up to its namesake ” iSimangaliso” which means ” Place of wonder” . Isimangaliso was the first area in South Africa to be proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 1999. Activities here range from game viewing on self drive routes or guided safaris, estuary boat cruises for viewing the scores of Hippos and Crocodiles calling this area home, snorkeling at Cape Vidal,turtle tours and enjoying the panoramic vistas of a landscape shaped by human residents in the Iron Age times. A number of self guided walking trails are found around St. Lucia which are great for viewing some of the 520 bird species found in the area.
Situated a further 45 minutes away from St. Lucia is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa,the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park or HIP as we commonly refer to it. Established in 1895 for the preservation and protection of the last remaining Southern White Rhino population, HIP is the premier Big 5 game reserve in the province. Situated in the heart of Zululand this area was once the royal hunting grounds of Zulu kings. Previously separate reserves, the Hluhluwe and iMfolozi game reserves were amalgamated in 1989 to create 96000ha of hilly topography and mixed woodland that form part of the foothills of the coastal escarpment. Sightings of the many White Rhinos, Elephant and Buffalo are common on safaris but HIP is also home to animals such as the rare and endangered Black Rhino, Leopards, Wild Dogs and Cheetah and Lion. With approximately 350 bird species the park is also a bird watchers favorite. Whether you are an avid naturalist, photographer or just want to immerse yourself in one of the oldest wilderness areas in Africa, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi game reserve is the place to go.
Other activities in and around St. Lucia include horseback safaris, kayak tours or cultural tours, all of which can be arranged by the very helpful and friendly staff in the Heritage Tours office on the main street. So if you are visiting St. Lucia in the near future and not sure of what to do, why not stop by our office and let us introduce you to the area we are lucky enough to call home.
Heritage Tours and Safaris team