What is the difference between visiting a game reserve and a zoo? At a zoo the animals are kept in enclosures with little freedom and visitors are guaranteed to see them although the sightings include walls, buildings, fences and cages. At a game reserve you will see the animals in their natural environment and as they are free to roam throughout the reserve but there is no guarantee to see them. So which would you rather do? Personally I would take my chances and rather see them in the wild, even if there is a chance of not getting a sighting. Before visiting Kuzuko Lodge I read a couple of comments on TripAdvisor from people complaining that they didn't get to see the lions or elephants or big herds of this or that. Its times like that when I want to scream at the computer screen for somebody to wake up and realise its a game reserve and not a zoo. Anyway, off we went to Kuzuko with the possibility of getting some stunning sightings or none at all. I am
happy delighted ecstatic to say that we had some amazing sightings on our two game drives and here is the proof.
We encountered Kuzuko's two male lions, Kalahari and Matt, on both game drives. On the afternoon drive they were having a siesta in the shade of a bush and it didn't make for the best pictures, but the next morning we found them in the open with full bellies after making a kill during the night.
With the sun rising behind him Matt even showed off his blazing back lit mane, moving into position in a sunny spot to get some heat on a cold winters morning.
We encountered a herd of elephants in a valley not far from the lodge on our afternoon drive and they put up a really good show for us. First one of the youngsters didn't see the rest of the herd move off and when he realised he was left behind he threw a proper tantrum, stamping his feet and screaming as he ran after them. The ranger strategically positioned us a short distance later so that the herd could move past. It was here that the matriarch decided to mock charge us, giving us a good ear flap and trunk up while nearly trampling an innocent tree nearby.
The elephant sighting was made even more worth while when the big bull, Saracen, made an appearance. He had a quick interaction with the rest of the herd before strutted his stuff as he made his way past us.
Kuzuko has two male cheetahs whom the rangers call Batman and Robin. These two spotted superheroes were a little bit more elusive as we drove around looking for them on the morning drive. We stopped a couple of times in the area where the ranger knew they were but with no luck. Until somebody looked back and noticed that they were coming down the road right behind us.
Although the two cheetahs aren't tame, they are used to people to the degree that Kuzuko offers game walks to go and find them. Unfortunately we didn't have time for this activity during our stay, but it was super awesome to see them as not all the reserves around Port Elizabeth have them and I don't get to see them as often as some of the other animals.
The Cape Buffalo is normally the one member of the Big 5 that people get the least excited about on a game drive. It doesn't mean that seeing them is any less special than seeing any of the other four though. Kuzuko has a small herd of buffalo after their numbers took a huge knock from the lions during the big drought that ended last year. The buffalo is kept in a separate section of the reserve while their number go back up. Only then will they get released back into the rest of the reserve where there are predators again.
We encountered the buffalo on our morning drive shortly after finding the cheetahs and while watching them one of the old ones got so close to the vehicle that he could scratch his neck against the side mirror. One couldn't ask for more close up than that.
During both game drives we also saw a number of antelope species, zebra and even a porcupine. I'm not going to post pictures of every specie we saw, but I want to highlight the fact that Kuzuko is one of only a few reserves that is home to the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra which we saw on both the afternoon and the next morning.
We also saw and heard a number of bird species with the KidZ loving the Pale Chanting Goshawk. Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of it. What I did get a picture of was a Spotted Eagle Owl sitting on a rock against a cliff. Not everybody would agree, but seeing it was one of the highlights of my visit. Perhaps it's because I've been fortunate to visit a couple of game reserves and have seen all the other animals on a couple of occasions. Who knows? What I do know is that it rounded off our visit and all our game sightings perfectly.