We decided to spend a few days in Ezemvelo Nature Reserve outside Pretoria, close to Bronkhorstspruit. We were driven to the reserve and upon arrival we immediately saw plenty of general game like Zebra, Blue and Black Wildebeest, Blesbuck and Springbuck. We also saw interesting birds on the way to camp, with the highlights being a pair of Temminck’s Courser and Capped Wheatear. We put up our tent as soon as we arrived at camp and set off on our first walk. We took the Protea Trail through the grasslands and soon spotted a Black-backed Jackal. There was a lot of general game on the plains as well as many common birds, including Ant-eating Chats and Cape Longclaws. When we made our way down a koppie (small hill) we came across three Mountain Reedbuck. They ran across the plains when they saw us until they disappeared out of sight. The rest of the walk was rather dull, with the same animals all over but nothing particularly interesting. Later in the afternoon we went and sat at a burnt plain and watched as the animals fed on the green grass that was coming up. We saw plenty of general game and were entertained by many jackals calling from different spots on the plain. We sat there until the sun started setting, before making our way back to camp.
The next morning we set off at half past six on our way to the Penduka trail on the far side of the reserve. We didn’t see much on the way there but things started picking up when we reached the Wilge River. The trail wound through the koppies next to the river before winding along the river. It was a beautiful gorge and we decided to make the most of it by sitting on a rock in the middle of the river. After sitting for a few minutes we were lucky to spot two Cape Clawless Otters swimming towards us. They were new for both of us but soon disappeared under the water. When we realised they were gone we continued on the trail. A few hundred meters later we spotted the secretive African Finfoot, once again a “lifer” for the both of us. It ran into the reeds but we managed to follow it and had a reasonably good sighting of it swimming across the water. The trail also threw up Black Eagle and African Fish-eagle before coming to an end. The walk back to camp was hot and boring, but the successes of the morning had made it worthwhile. We relaxed for the rest of the day and watched the wildlife in camp. We saw Slender Mongoose, Vervet Monkeys and many interesting birds. A wonderful day spent in nature.
We left even earlier the next morning and made our way back to the river hoping to find the otter and finfoot again. We saw a pair of African Black Ducks upon reaching the river and once again found an otter. We only glimpsed one this time before losing it again. We decided to go off the trail into the mountains. It was beautiful and after climbing to the top we stumbled upon a cave full of rock paintings. We were amazed to find the intricate works of art but they were somewhat spoilt by the graffiti that had been done over some of them. After admiring the paintings we carried on climbing and eventually made our way back to the trail. We made our way back to camp and packed up, before leaving the reserve. We really had a wonderful time, seeing 92 birds and 18 mammals. It was amazing and we will be back to explore the fascinating area some more.