< Back to all

A week of waiting for rain...

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Another week of summer has passed us by, and it was another week of checking our weather apps to see when the rain was coming – and only being greeted by the sight of successive days with temperatures maxing out in the upper 30s and big fat 0% in the rainfall column. This lack of rain, combined with high temperatures, led to a central Timbavati that seemed to be losing more and more of what little green tinge it had as each day passed.  Machaton Dam is all but dry, and the lack of water at this point in the dry season did appear to have an effect on the animal movements, with the water-dependent species all but abandoning the east and moving into the central regions of our concession. The good news is that the forecast does look good for some decent rains next week, but I have learnt not to get too excited about such weather forecasts until the rain actually falls.

What this lack of rain also meant was that yet another week passed without the return of our woodland kingfishers. Dale and Guy did find one on November 13th, but it seems as though he was merely passing through, as the calls that so often start filling the bush at this very time of the year have remained absent. I suspect, however, that after the first good rains fall, the kingfishers will arrive in force. The baby impalas continue to drop and some herds are already starting to form their nursery groups of lambs, but the majority of impala ewes are still heavily pregnant. We did also see our first wildebeest calf this week, as well as the return of the red-backed and lesser grey shrikes. On the subject of birds, it proved a fantastic week for owl sightings and not only did our marsh owl continue to be active in the same area, but I also got to see my first barn owl in the Timabvati! Now, this is not a rare owl, and we often hear them calling in the darkness of night, but seeing one has, oddly, proven far more challenging for me (despite there having been two active nesting sites last year!).  Anyway, I managed to see and photograph an individual this week to round off seven days that also included regular sightings of African Barred, Scops and Verreaux’s eagle owls.

Our less-feathered friends also did their bit this week. In lion news, the nicest surprise was hearing that the River Pride were found with a zebra kill near our northern boundary. The pride spent the day around the kill but by late afternoon, they had moved back north leaving the remains for the hyenas and vultures that were waiting ever-so-patiently. The four lionesses and all four cubs were looking in great shape, and we hope that they pop back again soon. That night, the Mayambula Pride may have passed within a kilometre of where the River Pride had their kill, but fortunately neither pride was aware of the other. The latter group of girls returned after an absence of several days and made a nuisance of themselves around Machaton Dam one morning, attempting to hunt giraffes (albeit unsuccessfully), before turning their attention to a small family of Egyptian geese with a bunch of goslings. The young lionesses chased after the flock, and the adult geese immediately ran off feigning injury hoping to draw the lions’ attention away from their goslings, but it only worked on one lioness, and the other couple each managed to grab a couple of the little geese. Some good news is that two of the lionesses are showing signs of producing milk, so we should have new cubs sooner than I was expecting. Both Skorro males reunited with the pride towards the end of the week, after we spent time with one of the males as he roared continuously looking for the pride earlier on. The two Sark Breakaway lions were seen once during the week, but then pulled a disappearing act and completely vanished. We also caught up with the Hercules and Sumatra male lions in the north-eastern part of their territory one evening. It was good to spend time with these two impressive males, even if the Hercules male was looking a little underfed. Sadly, there were no sightings of the Giraffe Pride and their cubs this week.

The leopards started off the week on a good note, but lost points for bad behaviour as they all went into hiding as the week drew to a close. The highlight for me was catching up with an extremely large, and very relaxed, male just south of Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Although he was seen with a zebra calf kill a couple of weeks ago when I was on leave, and had been reported in the area a few months back, it was my first time to see him. It is also the first time I have seen a male leopard of this size in many, many years! We followed him through some very tricky bush as he walked around scent-marking, and he was largely unfazed by us. He wouldn’t walk close to us, but he didn’t ever try to run away, which is a real rarity for unknown male leopards in our area. Another “new” face also showed himself on Nkhari, in the form of a young male leopard that has visited several times over the last couple of months. He is not completely relaxed with us, but given a slow, considerate approach, he is actually very viewable and we had a nice sighting of him one afternoon as he looked to quench his thirst at one of the few remaining mud wallows in the area. This week also saw us getting to spend some time with Ntsongwaan male in the west after he was found resting off a fat belly one day. As impressive as he is (and despite being almost ten years old!), he still doesn’t come close to the other large male we saw. Thumbela and her son spent three days on an impala kill to the north of camp before moving off, and there was a sighting of N’weti and her cub one morning, but sadly the pair disappeared before I could get there. Nyeleti remained very illusive, although there were tracks for her around for the first time in weeks.

The buffalo herds remained active in the area again, with no fewer than three large herds visiting us – the biggest of the lot must have been a herd of around 500 members and the biggest herd I have seen in many years too.  It was quite a sight to watch them streaming into Impala Dam late one morning. The elephants were a little more active than last week, but still not as abundant as we usually expect. We were very lucky to have had Apollo spend a few more days with us, including a morning drinking and cooling off at our camp dam.

The giraffes were out in force in the central regions this week, and they were followed not far behind by many zebras in the same region too. I do suspect that if the rain falls next week, as predicted, they may begin to disperse, but for now, we will enjoy their company while we have them in these good numbers.

But for now, folks, that is it. Until next time, keep safe!





View rates & promotions >

Find Us

We’d love to have you join the family.

Sign up for exclusive access to early bird promotions and other exciting offers, news and updates.

Booking Terms & Conditions

Rates are quoted in South African Rand (ZAR) and include VAT. Rates are reviewed quarterly and are subject to change.


Bookings can be held as provisional for up to 14 days, after which the booking is required to release or confirm. A 20% refundable deposit is required to confirm the booking.


Once confirmed with a 20% deposit, the booking is held on a status of ‘confirmed with refundable deposit’ until any of the following becomes true:

  • The booking is cancelled in writing by the agent.
  • Another request is received with overlapping dates. At such a time, the 20% refundable deposit shall be required to be converted
  • into a 20% non-refundable commitment fee. At this stage, the booking status changes to ‘confirmed with commitment.’ • In such an event, Tanda Tula will contact the client and give them the option to either confirm with the non-refundable
  • commitment fee or reschedule their dates, or, failing that, to release the booking.
  • At 60 days prior to arrival, when the full payment is due, the booking status changes to ‘confirmed with full-payment.’

Final payment is due 60 days prior to arrival. Any outstanding balance on the total reservation value shall be required to be settled at 60 days prior to arrival.

All refundable deposits, commitment fees and full payments are held in a separate call account and do not become part of the operational cash flow until the guest has stayed.

The amount stated on the invoice is what must be received by Tanda Tula nett of bank charges.


Cancellations must be received and acknowledged by Tanda Tula in writing.

‘Confirmed with refundable deposit’: bookings carry no cancellation fees up to 61 days prior to arrival.

‘Confirmed with commitment’ or ‘Confirmed with full-payment’: in the event of any reservation being cancelled after Tanda Tula has issued a confirmation, for any reason other than a WHO-recognised pandemic that impacts the booking, the following cancellation fees will apply:

  • ‘Confirmed with commitment’: if cancelled more than 60 days prior to arrival, the cancellation fee shall be equal to the 20% non- refundable commitment fee.
  • ‘Confirmed with full-payment’: if cancelled between 60 days prior to arrival, the full reservation value is forfeited.

All cancelled bookings that qualify for a refund, will be refunded less a handling fee valued at 5% of the refund amount.


Tanda Tula will allow postponement of a booking for up to 12 months, if travel is cancelled with a commitment fee or 60 days or less prior to arrival due to a WHO-recognised pandemic directly impacting the guests’ ability to travel (e.g. lockdown, no flights, guest not allowed to board a flight, guest falls ill due to a pandemic and unable to travel).

In the event of a WHO-recognised pandemic directly impacting the ability of Tanda Tula to meet its obligations with respect to the booking, all monies received, including the commitment fee, will be fully refunded (e.g. lockdown in RSA, government restrictions on trade).

Any refund is given at the discretion of Tanda Tula management and will be charge a handling fee valued at 5% of the refund amount.

All travellers are advised to take out fully comprehensive travel insurance with ‘cancellation for no reason’. This insurance must be able to fully cover cancellation of travel fewer than 60 days prior to arrival.

The Terms and Conditions are subject to change without notice.