One of my greatest delights is discovering a new and terrific campsite and Bonamanzi falls into that category perfectly!
We had been in St Lucia – where we saw Red Squirrel, White-Eared Barbet, Blackeyed Bulbul and Glossy Starling – for Deon & Caroline’s lovely wedding at Seasands, so it was just a short trip up to the False Bay side of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park along the N2 and then about 5km on a dirt road until you reach Bonamanzi.
After stopping to check-in at the well-organised reception, it was off to our campsite on the very good sand roads and through enticing Tongaland Sand Forest – the southernmost occurence of this habitat.
I was blown away by our campsite – each one is private, secluded in the forest and has its own toilet/shower and little kitchen area. Sitting at night under the incredible stars just listening to the sounds of the forest was awesome – you really felt that there wasn’t another person around!
There’s also a swimming pool to use on those hot Zululand days – although it was pretty green during our visit.
Because I was using Bonamanzi as a base to explore places like Muzi Pans and Mkuze Falls, we did not do much birding there, but I did have a lovely walk.
At one stage I was a little alarmed by a game guard suddenly pointing his rifle down the road, so I decided to be very quiet and not spook him as I approached him through the forest at right-angles. He had no idea I was there and seemed a little trigger-happy!
With our camp being right in the forest, we had Yellowbellied Bulbul and their quaint nasal calls, Forest Weaver and their lovely swinging-gate calls, and a cute Bearded Robin all around us.
Best of all, we could hear Vervet Monkey nearby, but they never bothered us!
Driving out the second day, we had a great sighting of a Lizard Buzzard sitting on a telephone pole, his little black throat stripe showing beautifully. He’s not one you see too often, it was probably only my fourth or fifth sighting.
Southern Black Tit
Moreau’s Tropical House Gecko