Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Staff Highlight: Berti Nolte

With his amazing people skills and a bubbly personality, we are very happy to announce that Berti has officially joined the Rhino River Lodge Family. He deals with our reservations and will likely be one of the first faces you see on arrival at the lodge! 

Berti is such an enthusiastic member of our team. He is always coming up with new ideas and keeping us on our toes for improvements.With such an outgoing yet attentive personality he mingles very easily with our guests and goes the extra mile all the time. He also gets along with the staff very well. His extra positive energy has been a breath of fresh air for everyone around the lodge!

What led you to your position at Rhino River Lodge?
I wake up every morning dreaming of holidays.  Being able to assist travellers arranging their holidays seems to be a perfect fit.

What is a typical day like as Front of house in a Safari Lodge like for you?
I respond to an average of 70 to 100 emails on a daily basis not to mention the phone calls. I love to communicate with people across the world and experience different captures.

When are you in your happiest element on the job and why?
This is a hard one. I guess it must be when guests are departing and they share their Safari experience with me and their stay with us at Rhino River Lodge was successful. That makes my job worth it.

Can you tell us about a funny, off the wall, crazy bush moment you've encountered?
We have a leopard that returns to camp every so often and recently, I had quite the up-close encounter with him. I was walking down to the main lodge with Sli, the assistant manager, and Zola, the main waiter. We were standing in the parking lot near the lodge having a conversation, and the next thing we knew, a warthog came running past us screaming, followed by a loud leopard roar. The leopard was about 20 metres from us in the parking lot. Let's just say I am thankful for not being lunch.

If you were to be turned into an animal, which would it be and why?
Certainly not a warthog! I think I would be a bird simply because they are free.

Select one of the options below and tell us why you chose it:

Bird’s and Beasts?
Neither really. I’ll go with butterflies and beatles.

Bush walking and game driving?
Definitely bush Walks. It is an awesome feeling to walk in the wild freely. I have never experience something so exciting and scary at the same time. Total adrenaline rush.

Chicken or Beef?
Both. As long as I can have it with side of salad.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Staff Highlight: Nombuso Mazolo

Nombuso is a young woman who aspires to do great things in the kitchen and in life. She is always smiling and happy looking, her attitude truly enlightens everyone that crosses her path. She has brought so much life into our kitchen with her new fresh ideas create a very inspiring atmosphere for all our staff. The best thing about having Nomubso around, is her love for the bush and animals. I have often walked into the kitchen at caught her staring out the window looking at the warthogs or Nyala inside the camp. I feel that this is such a great trait and a very important one in this type of working environment.

What led you to your position at Rhino River Lodge?
As a chef, I was looking for a job in the hospitality industry. Cooking is my passion but what makes it the job so amazing position is it is in the middles nature, and I love nature,

What is a typical day like as a chef in a Safari Lodge?
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in a safari lodge kitchen, but staying busy is a great thing and we here at Rhino River Lodge are constantly trying to improve and upgrade our menus. That being said, it can have its difficult moments. We have to be very well organized as we're so far away from shops and markets. If a supplier doesn't deliver, or we run out of stock of a particular item, or we get last minute dietary requirements that we were not made aware of, we could be in a sticky situation. But this all motivates us to think on our feet and to constantly be prepared for anything.

When are you in your happiest element on the job?
I love having the freedom to create my own dishes using different ingredients and making sure it comes out delicious! I enjoy being creative and spicing things up a little in the kitchen.

Can you tell us about a funny, off the wall, crazy bush moment you have anywhere in the wilderness? 
I was doing a Bush Dinner one night when one of our rangers wore a fake leopard skin and hid underneath one of the guest's tables. When the guest came for dinner they saw this 'leopard' and they were then told to run! The guests all started running straight for the trees in a panic and then the ranger revealed himself and the guests had such a laugh about it!

What is your favorite meal to prepare in your kitchen?

Braai day! Why? Because it's something different for the guests, especially those from overseas as it is a very traditional, social meal here in South Africa. This type of a meal setting gets the guests interactive.

If you were to be turned into an animal, which would you most like to be and why?

I would want to be a giraffe because they always look so clean, calm and gracious. I guess it's because they are so tall they could see anything coming!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Staff Highlight: Murray Harrison

Murray recently joined the Rhino River Lodge team in the position of Junior Ranger. Though young, Murray has already proved himself a mature and responsible member of our team, and best of all, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable game ranger. He has even become a valuable assistant to our general manager helping out on the reserve and in the camp. To top it all off, Murray is also a talented photographer. Here we get to know him a little bit better.

What led to your position at Rhino River Lodge?
I was talking to a friend of mine that is managing a neighboring lodge and he told me there was a position at Rhino River Lode. A phone call and an interview later, I was here and haven't looked back since.

What aspect of your new position are you most excited about?
Most definitely the variety of things that I do and being able to try challenge myself and learn new things.

What is your favourite part of being a game ranger?
Wow, there are so many reasons but I must stay showing people animals that they have never seen before and opening their eyes to the whole environment as a big picture and not just ow everyone sees it on TV.

What advice would you give someone coming on safari for the very first time?
Make sure you've got your camera ready and an open mind to make the most of everything. These memories can last a lifetime.

Do you have a favourite animal to view on game drives?
I must say that I'm not phased because everything in nature has good interesting things about them, but if I had to pick it would be an elephant just because they never fail to impress and are always doing something new and interesting.

What do you love best about living in the bush?
The best thing about living in the bush is that everyday is different and you never know what to expect. It is such a privilege to be able to work so closely with animals in a much less stressful environment than in a city.

Best collective nouns for animals on safari

On an African safari, if you have a knowledgeable game ranger, you are likely to learn all sorts of new and interesting information about the animals you see. One of our favourite bits of information to share are the collective nouns used for some of the species.
A collective noun is the name given to a group of animals. While many are common and well-known (like herd, flock, or pride), there are many lesser known but fantastically descriptive terms used to describe African animals.
A group of elephants is called a ‘memory’ of elephants. This is in reference to their strong family ties, intelligence, and reputedly long memories.

Sometimes the most interesting animals on safari aren’t the large predators, but the more common species that manage to capture our imaginations. Zebra are one of the most strikingly beautiful animals in the African bush and it’s not difficult to see why a group of zebra is called a ‘dazzle’ of zebra.

Giraffe are another iconic African species and always a firm favourite with our guests. A group of giraffe is called a ‘tower’ of giraffe, as their heads can often be seen sticking high above the trees on the horizon.

A personal favourite here at Rhino River Lodge, the term for a group of rhinos is a ‘crash’. It is particularly apt for black rhinos as at they generally come crashing through the bush towards you and then crashing right back away again as soon as they investigate what you are.
The term for a group of wildebeest (also known as gnu) is a ‘confusion’ of wildebeest. This probably originates from the noise and confusion that happens in large migratory movements of wildebeest, like the Serengeti’s great migration, but we think it could also refer to the rather comical appearance of the animal. Described by entertainingly by Ambrose Bierce as “an animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.”

A group of buffalo is aptly referred to as an ‘obstinacy’ of buffalo. Considering their bulky bodies, stubbornness and tendency to stay in large, protective herds, this is a prime example of a collective noun that takes its inspiration directly from the characteristics of the animal being described.

Spending their days lazing in the water, and nights grazing on the river banks, a group of hippos is fittingly called a ‘bloat’. While this may sound a little funny, coming across a bloat of hippos out of the water is no joke as hippos are widely considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa.


Memories, dazzles, towers, crashes, confusions, obstinacies and bloats! We’ve got them all at Rhino River Lodge. Start planning your safari to see them for yourself.

Originally published at Africa Geographic.

Orphaned baby warthogs find a home at Rhino River Lodge

Recently the Rhino River Lodge family has extended to include two new members, Sizzles and Peanut. Sizzles and Peanut are orphaned warthogs who have been adopted by managers, Clair and Kyle with a little assistance from the rest of the Rhino River Lodge staff.

Sizzles came to us when he somehow ended up in the garden of a staff member in the northern part of Manyoni Private Game Reserve all by himself. His mother was nowhere to be found and Clair and Kyle volunteered to adopt him. Shortly afterwards, we received another call from a property outside the game reserve where a mother warthog had been hit by a vehicle, and one baby warthog had been rescued.


This little baby was Peanut. Peanut was in a bad state as she arrived severely dehydrated. Luckily Clair and Kyle had already been polishing their rescue skills with Sizzles and they were able to nurse her back to health with some veterinary assistance.

Taking care of a rescued animal is no easy feat. Many wild animals that are rescued don’t survive and, though people are generally well-intentioned, caring for rescued animals takes specialised knowledge and lots and lots of time. Clair and Kyle have been successful, because they have sought and followed veterinary advice and have relied on the support of many other people for assistance when their own schedules were busy.


A strict schedule of feedings, every two hours for Sizzles and Peanut when they were very little (this includes the middle of the night!), left caretakers exhausted. Sizzles and Peanut first subsisted on a special milk formula that Clair and Kyle had to mix up using fresh cream, egg yolks, full cream milk, a special protein powder (to keep the stomach lined and working properly) and liquid vitamins. Beyond feeding, keeping a constant eye on them as they got their daily fill of exercise was a full-time job in itself.


As they got stronger and braver, both warthogs started following their adoptive parents around the lodge. One of the greatest treats for our guests was seeing Kyle or Clair walk around the corner into the lodge and then shortly after,  two adorable baby warthogs racing in after them.


While it is a privilege to spend time with these two baby warthogs, the ultimate goal is for them to be able to survive in the bush and to live on their own. They are spending more and more time each day wandering on their own through the lodge grounds, grazing and encountering other warthogs.

Until then, the team at Rhino River Lodge and our guests are enjoying getting to see the shenanigans of these two warthogs as they grow in their independence. One of Clair’s favorite new tricks is when Sizzles and Peanut recently started doing spins, “as I call it, their dance moves,” says Clair.
“They run up to me and stop and then spin in circles whilst bouncing.” But for Clair, their cutest trait at the moment is when they are tired. “They will go into my house and find anything that smells like me or Kyle and nudge it until they fall asleep. If we are home at the time they will nudge and suckle and lick on our legs until they eventually pass out.”


While all these interactions are rewarding and the Rhino River Lodge team is enjoying having the two little warthogs as part of our family, we are all rooting for them to return to the bush in the not too distant future.

Originally published at Africa Geographic.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Staff Highlight: Andrew Delaney

Andrew is one of our newest rangers at Rhino River Lodge and he is already receiving rave reviews from guests. Here we get to know a little bit more about Andrew...

What led to your position at Rhino River Lodge?
Having worked and been to quite a few different areas in South Africa, I was interested to try somewhere that was new to me. I had heard about many of the reserves in KZN and how amazing they were. I jumped at the opportunity and was not dissappointed.
What aspect of your new position are you most excited about?
Definitely the scenery. The reserve is absolutely stunning and after 3 months my jaw still drops at the beauty of some of the areas. It is also fantastic to work with a great team and I am looking forward to what the future holds.
What is your favourite part of being a game ranger?
Spending time in the wild we are able to observe some truly fascinating interactions between animals. The excitement of taking people out and showing them things that they may have only seen on tv is also amazing.
What advice would you give someone coming on safari for the very first time?
Try and take in as much as possible but at the same time relax and just enjoy nature. Seeing the well know species is always amazing but sometimes the smaller things in the wild can surprise us the most.
Do you have a favourite animal to view on game drive?
Its a tough choice between aardvark and elephant. Aardvark are special because they are so different and being rather hard to find its just always nice to see them. Elephant are just amazing and the way that they interact with each other is special. Each time you see one it feels like a new experience.
What do you love best about living in the bush?
Each time I step out onto the reserve it feels I have traveled back a few hundred years to a time before  skyscrapers and busy highways. Its a special feeling which is rather addictive.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Summer Storm at Rhino River Lodge

The day is oppressively hot, as many are in summer in Zululand. The thermometer is pushing 40 degrees Celcius but the discomfort index reads “feels like 53”. It would be almost comical, a number that high, if it didn’t actually feel like 53 degrees. Guests find respite in air-conditioned rooms before climbing into game drive vehicles with beads of sweat rolling down their foreheads. Impalas stand in small groups, huddled in the shade of acacia trees, moving as little as possible to preserve the small amount of energy the sun has not already stolen from them. Lions lie deep in shaded thickets, belly to the sky, exposing as much skin as possible to the air, desperate for a breeze. Then Africa does the only the only thing she can in response to a heat like this. As the sun begins to wane she gathers the clouds and hangs them heavy in the sky above the bushveld. The air becomes still and stifling and the heat continues unrelentingly. Flashes of lightening dance in the distance and the deep vibrations of thunder roll through the land as we climb into bed, grateful for the air-conditioning.

At eleven pm a deafening crack awakens us. The electricity dies. We rush to open windows around the house, as the world is lit again and again and plunged back into darkness each time. The thunder cracks loud and sure, sometimes settling into a tremendous rumbling.  The open windows do nothing to ease the heat and the air is thick as molasses. Settled back in bed, lightening strobes my closed eyes and thunder continues its metallic roar. Slowly drops begin to fall. Larger drops splash on the increasingly water-soaked ground. The drops build until there is an army of them in full assault. Then the water pours down in sheets, as if suddenly Africa can no longer bear the heaviness of the drops gathered in her clouds. The electrical storm continues unabated, moving off into the distance as I drift precipitously close to sleep only to be awakened by a crash that is too close for the subconscious to tolerate. A slight breeze finally pushes through our window, providing sweet relief from the heat. The storm’s pattern of retreat and approach feels interminable but at some stage the rumbling makes its final departure.

As dawn arises the groggy feeling of interrupted sleep begins to clear, much like the clouds which dissipate on the horizon. Our house has flooded in the night. The air is even thicker than the day before, and I begin to feel I am wading through it. In total 80 mls has fallen. Not the biggest storm this area has seen by any stretch, but big enough. Zululand has been suffering from the worst drought in living memory over the last few years. There was a point the past winter where we questioned whether or not we would have any grass to recover once the rains arrived. 

To escape the humidity, I take a drive with the windows open, beckoning in any wind that is willing. I expect stillness in the bush in deference to the heat but instead the bush is full of life. Impalas drink from puddles in the road. Warthogs roll gleefully in muddy wallows. Giraffes use their dexterous charcoal tongues to nibble at the green leaves on the tops of acacias. Frogs croak in chorus from newly filled pans. Glossy-coloured starlings splash their ruffled feathers in puddles that function as makeshift birdbaths. Crickets sing their high-pitched calls. Waterbuck duck their furry heads as they stand under acacias chasing the shade. 

The bushveld is an impossible shade of green. In winter, the reality of the sepia-toned landscape pushes this colour of green into a black and white memory. It is only after rain, that this deep emerald green emerges and one remembers. This colour green is the visual representation of the nutrients that sustain the circle of life.
 In Zululand, the summer can be harsh, hot and unrelenting. The heat summons the storms, which fill the dams and the rivers and allow the grass, bushes and trees to grow. The storms themselves can be inconvenient and sometimes terrifying. A Zululand safari in summer can be an intimidating prospect, but I promise that every second of discomfort is infinitely rewarded when one sees the bushveld in all its glory, teeming with life. 

Written by Shannon Airton. Originally published on Africa Geographic online.