Game Drives at Umkumbe : A Visual Journey with Our Safari Guides

Our highly-qualified guides at Umkumbe Safari Lodge spend months observing the natural behaviour of wildlife in the Sabi Sand, a haven for predators. The khaki-clad crew spend days eagerly tracking lion prides, attempting to predict their next move. Their arsenal of knowledge about the wild is eagerly shared with guests that arrive at the lodge thinking they’re just here to view game. Truth is, guests walk away with so much more just a game viewing experience. With Umkumbe, it’s not only about photographing and looking at general game, birds and predators; but it’s also of paramount importance to educate guests about the gentle harmony within the wild and how everything is intertwined; from the heart-wrenching to the heartbreaking. The ‘veld is a place where you learn, feel, experience and absorb.

Umkumbe guests walk away from their safari experience having learnt unique facts about the wild. My first safari experience at Umkumbe – many years back – I learnt why a hyena’s faeces eventually turns white after time. I learnt about herbivore middens and how to determine if the herds were close. I even learnt that a leopard’s scent marks smells a little bit like popcorn (apparently). The team taught me that the vegetation blanketing the earth beneath my feet could be used for various medicinal purposes. I learnt how there are quiet, unspoken messages between trees that “talk”, in particular acacia that release tannins to warn neighbouring trees that the giraffe are approaching. This tannins create an unpalatable dining experience for the giraffe and they eventually move off in search of other trees to conquer. These are things I would never have Googled prior to embarking on a safari and most certainly wouldn’t have looked up in a textbook.

How lucky that these adventurous experiences form part of the daily lives of the team at Umkumbe Safari Lodge? A team so passionate about their place in the Umkumbe family and the wild surrounds. Guides and trackers have relocated black mambas, chased leopard out of the lodge grounds and have plenty of stories to regale about the this part of the Greater Kruger. The pool deck is a firm favourite with guests, who love to chill on the deck chairs, take a dip in the spalsh pool and watch the life unfold on the banks of perennial Sand River. An Umkumbe guide and tracker always has an update to keep us informed and entertained!

While we’re on the topic of Umkumbe guides, we’d like to welcome a new guide to the tight-knit group of wildlife enthusiasts working at the lodge. Waldo started off his new job with a bang, with ample sightings of N’weti the leopard. It’s evident that he has a creative eye for photography and after only being there for a few weeks, he has already sent through a collection of leopard images. It’s crystal clear that he’s found his place in the wild, and we hope to see many more of his images thrown into already awesome images we receive from the team currently guiding at Umkumbe. Today we’re sharing a few of Waldo’s images of  N’weti together some of Shaun Atkinson’s images, one of our other talented photographers at Umkumbe Safari Lodge. 

Form the primitive to the pretty, Umkumbe offers that authentic and real-life lodge safari experience where the focus is on game viewing and the simple bushveld life.

Nweti the Leopard Sabi Sand Nweti Nweti at Umkumbe Safari Lodge Leopard Nweti

Birding in Sabi Sand Civet at Umkumbe Safari Lodge Kambula Lion Pride Umkumbe Lions in Front of Lodge Umkumbe Dwarf Mongoose Umkumbe Serval