Afternoon excursion to the Spion Kop Nature Reserve comprising game viewing and sunset refreshments.
SPION KOP GAME DRIVE
The meeting point is at Spion Kop Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal, from where the vehicles leave to travel to the reserve next to the Lodge.
The reserve is approximately 4 700 hectares in extent, and is surrounds a large 1 529 hectare dam that forms a focal point for visitors. With the Drakensberg Mountains forming the backdrop, the dam is fed by the Tugela River.
Travelling west and east through the grassy plains, you get your first glimpse of the abundant wildlife. This includes include Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, White Rhino, Jackal and Aardvark, as well as a variety of antelope such as Kudu, Red Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Blue Wildebeest and Eland. Bird lovers are also spoilt for choice here and may see African Hoopoe, Cardinal Woodpecker and Acacia Pied Barbet, White-backed Night Heron and Vultures.
As the sun sets, sip a sun-downer, while you quietly absorb the magnificence and sheer natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.
On the opposite side of the dam you will see the highest hill in the area, the famous Spion Kop Battlefield. This was the site of a major battle that took place during the Second Anglo-Boer War. After the Boers had besieged Ladysmith and taken up a defensive line to relieve Ladysmith, they clashed with the Boers at Spioenkop where 1 550 of their men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The Boers, under General Botha, lost 230 men.
Nature lovers are sure to enjoy the abundance of plants, trees and grasses growing in the Reserve. With their nutritional value, animals have adapted to benefitting from this wide variety of plant food, which is nature’s way of ensuring sustainable co-existence.
As the dominant tree in this area, the Acacia Karoo (Sweet Thorn, uMunga) is a valuable food source that grows in many conditions; attracting countless insects and birds (which in turn, attract lizards, snakes and mammals). Acacia Sieberana (Paper bark thorn, umKhamba) is another tree that grows in abundance here.
Termitariums are mounds of soil beneath the trees that house several thousand termites with specialised, elaborate communal functions.
In an area of this size, the reserve will appeal to birders, as it boasts approximately 285 bird species. Bird watching is often best in the late afternoon or early morning.