Motswari, Lodge Life
Waking up to the crested francolin and swainson’s spurfowl is somewhat the norm living in the bush. Their calls are harsh and loud so if they happen to be just outside your cottage window it can be quite a rude and sudden awakening.
Once you’ve overcome the initial shock of being woken in such a manor, the dawn hums and echoes are quite a chorus to behold. The woodland kingfisher, with its distinctive and almost poetic trilling song will always bring a smile to your face and helps build the excitement of what the day might bring.
Lodge life, in an unfenced system with no barricades to restrict animal movements, is a wonderfully wild experience. We have a night watch team keeping lookout through the night to ensure safety for our guests at wake-up time for drive. A female leopard, known as Shongile, roams through the camp on a regular basis. This last weekend she actually caught and killed a vervet monkey just by the infinity pool at 3am! Shame nobody was up to witness it apart from the night watch team – what a thrill for our night watchmen.
At breakfast, it has been a regular occurrence to see herds of elephants come to the waterhole directly opposite our beautiful Lodge. There is something magical about being able to watch the wildlife go about it’s daily business without us impacting and just watching from the ground, mostly in awe. With the dry riverbed meandering past the camp, we get a fantastic view of any herds on their daily feeding journeys. It truly is an African experience to witness such beauty while sitting in an armchair with a cup of coffee in your hands.
Another regular you might see is a little sparrow hawk. Often seen in the green canopies, eagerly watching for an opportunistic meal of lizards or skinks basking on the rocks below. Tiny for a bird of prey, maximum height of 25cm, yet makes up for the lack of size with their incredible yellow eye ring and barred chest – stunning looking bird. However, when the vervet monkeys are around you won’t see this little hawk for dust. Vervet monkeys are incredibly intelligent, annoyingly so at times! They are thieves of note, stealing our hot chocolate sachets at every opportunity and sitting on the roof dipping
their fingers into the sugary substance. You can see them look at you as if to say “neh, neh, neh, neh neh” Cheeky little beggars. Many a guest has captured an entertaining photo of monkey business around camp, they really are characters.
Other frequent visitors include warthogs. So nonchalant, pottering down the paths while sniffing out grass and roots worthy of their time and effort. We are doing our utmost to keep them off our newly planted lawn in front of the verandah at the moment, admittedly sometimes not so successfully. Nyala are the most frequent visitors of the antelope here, maybe they feel a sense of sanctuary within the homely environment – we’d better not tell them about the resident leopard then.
Taking some time to take a wander around camp, with your binos is highly recommended. There’s so much birdlife to enjoy, not to mention the lizards, insects and other little stuff you don’t get to see while on the vehicle. Embrace all Motswari has to offer in its unfenced environment, it’s very special.