Our journey started from Johannesburg and we were in Swaziland at the Malolotja Reserve in time for lunch. It is a beautiful area with rolling hills and magnificent scenery. The bird of note was the Buff-Streaked Chat and there were many of them around.
We travelled with Lilli and Barry, and Margaret, with Grahame Snow of Reach Africa as our guide. He is an excellent birder and generous host and he made sure that we were always well fed and comfortable, whilst, at the same time, sharing his knowledge of the bush and its birds.
From Malolotja, we moved to Phophonyane Falls where we spent two nights in their comfortable tented camp on the banks of the Phophonyane River. The birding was excellent and we saw Pink Twinspots and many other species. A walk around Python Cliffs was exhilarating and Barry showed his grit by taking it on despite his advanced years. Not only did we see many birds, but the butterflies were also out in abundance. Margaret used her time trying to photograph a particularly elusive Olive Sunbird in the lush gardens.
From Phophonyane we travelled east to the Lowveld and the Mbuluzi Game Reserve. The weather was clear and warm and we were able to enjoy long walks along the wonderful trails throughout the reserve. Our accommodation was in the well-appointed Singwe Lodge on the banks of the Mlwalula River, where the African Finfoot hunted along the water’s edge. African Fish Eagles and Trumpeter Hornbills vied for attention along with Baboons and Vervet monkeys.
Our drives took us to beautiful stretches of river and bushveld and we were lucky to come close to a magnificent African Crowned Eagle. All in all we saw 197 species on the trip and these included 2 lifers for me. We made good friends and all agreed to undertake another trip with Grahame in the summer, but next time we will greet our fellow travellers with the names, Mr and Mrs Muffin (Barry could not get enough of the muffins that Grahame produced) and Cuckoo (Margaret was obsessed with finding a Thick-Billed Cuckoo)!
It was a memorable trip and we can heartily recommend Reach Africa as excellent hosts.