On a recent safari in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the conditions were extremely hot and dry. In fact, the region hadn’t had any significant rain for at least two months, which is not unusual in the dry season, but can spell disaster in the wet season, when it’s supposed to rain. As bad as this was for animals and people alike, it made for terrific game viewing. Due to the poaching threat I’d rather not mention the specific location here, but at a particular hide we spent a morning having some of the most thrilling game viewing I’ve had in a long time. The hide is sited over a small pool of water, and when its dry, such as it was at the time of our visit, it attracts game from all over the surrounding area. Without cease there was a constant procession of different game species streaming in from all directions, some in herds and groups, others as individuals or loners. The species seen included Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Warthog, Impala and Nyala, with at least six White Rhinos hanging around in the immediate vicinity. For hours they coming and going went on, only interrupted by a big male Lion crashing the party (in the space of a minute the waterhole was suddenly but temporarily deserted). One of the highlights was this Rhino cow leading her calf to the water, with the dried red mud on their flanks making for a nice colour contrast. All in all a superb morning and we were lucky as a cold front arrived that afternoon and there was rain overnight. Visitors to the hide on the following day probably never saw a single animal…
Nelspruit is our home town, nestled in the granite hills and koppies (rock outcrops) of eastern Mpumalanga Province. The area is somewhat affectionately known as the ‘Lowveld’, or ‘Low-lying fields’, though there’s not really a 100% accurate translation of the word ‘veld’ into English. This area is distinguished from the ‘Highveld’ above the escarpment to the west by its lower altitudes, varying from about 700 meters above sea level around Nelspruit to below 200 meters above sea level in parts of the nearby Kruger National Park. The region experiences warm to hot and humid summers, and cool to mild and dry winters. Nelspruit straddles the Nels and Crocodile Rivers, and is both an agricultural hub – the surrounding countryside lends itself well to citrus and nut production – and a service hub. In terms of services offered it draws people from southern Mozambique, Swaziland and other parts of Mpumalanga, and as such is a busy little city indeed. In fact, if you want to do well in life, become a medical specialist of some kind and settle in Nelspruit – your appointment book is bound to be booked up for months in advance. And being able to speak Portuguese will guarantee an even steadier inflow of clients…
Nelspruit is well situated as the gateway to some incredible parts of the country, such as the Kruger National Park, the Escarpment and Panorama Route, the trout country of Dullstroom, the beaches of southern Mozambique and even the charms of Swaziland. All of these destinations are between one and three hours drive from Nelspruit, making for plenty of available activities. Nelspruit is also a gem in its own right, sporting absolutely superb National Botanical Gardens, two local nature reserves, plenty of shopping for those so inclined, and also plenty of open space. In terms of size it’s deemed to be just right by many of the residents, as it’s big enough to have almost everything one would need in negotiating this modern lifestyle, but small enough to be able to get from one side to the other in less than 10 minutes, rush-hour notwithstanding. All in all it’s a wonderful place to live, and few are those who would rue the move to Nelspruit from other parts of the country (and especially the ‘big smoke’ of Gauteng).
So there you have it, Nelspruit in a nutshell, and we hope to see you in our little city sometime soon.
Note that Nelspruit is supposedly called Mbombela now.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mk 11.
Lens: Canon EF 17-40 mm f/4L USM.
A blend of two bracketed images to bring out the best of the lights and darks.
Location: Augusta Street Reservoir area.