Manyane Camp, Pilanesberg

22 to 24 March 2020

Just before lockdown. We had no idea that it was about to happen so soon. My sister Natasha and her husband Dick were heading north west of Pretoria to collect an off-road trailer that they had just bought. Sally and I decided to go with them and we all planned to camp at Pilanesberg for 3 or 4 nights before returning home. That was not to be however.

Sally and I arrived ahead and checked out both the campsites on the east side of the reserve. To start with Manyane which was quite busy. Then up to Bakgatla to see what it was like. Very hilly camp, busy also but what put us off was that the ground was very soggy. So back to Manyane.

As it happened we found a shady campsite close to the ablutions which had just been renovated. We set up camp easily sharing one stand.

A braai was in order for the evening meal.

Our main concern was social distancing and having to use the ablutions along with other campers. Loads of hand washing and keeping away from people.

The next day we explored the reserve as far in as Mankwe Dam and around it keeping south of the main road to the dam. There was lots to explore and we took our time – intending to explore the other main areas of the reserve in the following days.

Not to be. On return to the camp we received the news about the impending lockdown and decided that we best get home the next day so that we would have enough time to stock up for the intended 3 week lockdown. Such a shame as we were all really enjoying the reserve – with elephant, buffalo and rhinos seen along with other game. For Sally and I, it was a great experience to see different bird species than we were accustomed to seeing at home.

Some of the other birds identified which we rarely see at home in Howick include:

Arrow-marked Babbler; Cape Bunting; Black-throated Canary; Scaly-feathered Finch (Weaver); Jameson’s Firefinch; Marico Flycatcher; Grey Go-away-bird; African Grey Hornbill; Kalahari Scrub-Robin; Magpie Shrike; Swainson’s Spurfowl; Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler; Violet-eared Waxbill; White-browed Sparrow-Weaver.

Here are some of the other birds photographed.

Despite the short time we were there, we did manage to identify 92 different bird species. To see our list click on this link.

We intend to return in the future.

Paul and Sally Bartho

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