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ACTIVITIES


Olifants River Back-pack Trail

Mountain Bike Trails

Astronomy (Stargazing)

Daybreak, Sunset and Night Game Drives

Bush Breakfasts and Braais

Morning and Day Guided Bush Walks




FIVE TO SPOT


Elephant

Lion

Hippopotamus

Nile Crocodile

Martial Eagle




KRUGER RESTCAMPS MAP




PEL'S FISHING OWL

One of the world's largest owls, the Pel's fishing owl has a wingspan of about 5 feet and has a habit of ruffling up its head feathers to appear even larger.

But this owl prefers to keep to itself, as translations of its scientific names ('darkness' or 'dove') suggest.

It favours rivers with forests of overhanging trees- a handy perch for spotting river prey.

The Pel's fishing owl is one of the few owls that feed on fish. It hunts exclusively at night, swooping down on its prey with its huge curved talons.

Fishing owls can lift fish weighing up to 5 pounds straight out of the water. Baby crocodiles, frogs, crabs, and mussels are also occasional selections.

Though rarely spotted, the Pel's fishing owl has other ways of making its presence known. Its booming territorial call can be heard up to 3 kilometres away.






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Olifants Restcamp

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Visitors to the main Olifants Restcamp are exposed to an unforgettable window over Africa. The camp is situated atop a hill which towers several hundred feet over the Olifants River. The lookout platforms afford a wonderful vista over the perennial waters below, as scanned for prey by the soaring Bateleurs you can see from the camp. It is not unusual to see herds of elephants (for whom the camp is named in Afrikaans) and multiple pods of hippo (remember your binoculars!).

Many people are attracted here not only by the stunning views, but by the innovative activities that this camp has put together.

Olifants Backpacking Trail

Olifants is the one of a few Restcamps from which you can depart on a Wilderness Backpacking Trail where, unlike with the excellent Kruger Wilderness Trails, you carry all that you need for the 4 day, 3 night, 42km hike with you. This includes tents, food, water and swimming trunks for the inevitable dips in the Olifants River. Check out our Discussion Board for some early reviews.

The only mountain bike trails in the Kruger are also here at Olifants, and resemble guided walks in that their principal focus is on interpreting nature (wildlife sightings and interesting signs). These bike trails are dealt with in a separate section.

Olifants also offers unique stargazing evenings, where a presentation on the southern hemisphere skies and African star lore is followed by night-sky viewing through a large telescope. This activity also includes sunset and night game drives from Olifants Rest Camp to a remote site on the river bank where the telescope is set up for the evening.

Astronomy sessions at Olifants Restcamp

In addition to the usual large shop and petrol station, there is a swimming pool (new as of 2014), and a Mugg and Bean cafeteria with good food and wonderful cakes.

Olifanmts Mugg & Bean eith a view

Olifants has a wide range of accommodation, offering 2, 3 or 4 bed units, equipped with ablutions (most with showers, but some with baths). All have air-conditioning. Some units have kitchenettes while others have communal kitchens. Some are located on the perimeter edge with a wonderful vista of the river below.

Nshawu and Lebombo sponsored Guest Houses both have eight beds and are situated in exclusive locations with a wonderful view. Both are fully equipped with four 2-bed bedrooms (ask if you want a double bed), en-suite bathrooms, kitchen, lounge, dining room, several lookout decks and a television.

GAME

The Olifants area plays host to most of the Kruger National Park’s classic larger game. As the name of the camp suggests, elephant are common in the area. Baboon and vervet monkey both inhabit the camp, as do fruit bats and thick-tailed bush babies at night. Lion and leopard are regularly seen on game drives. Cape clawless otters have been seen from the Olifants lookout point on the gravel road to Letaba.

BIRDING

Two birds to look out for on the Olifants River are White-fronted Plover and White-crowned Lapwing (Plover), both of which can be seen in the riverbed. The bridges on the main tarred road and at Balule are the places to look for these species.

Search the riparian trees on the Olifants River near Balule for the Pel’s Fishing-Owl. It is occasionally seen on night drives from the low level bridge here, while it has also been seen infrequently from the high level bridge on the main tar road. This low level bridge adjacent to Balule is an extremely productive venue. During the day one will get close encounters with several stork, heron and kingfisher species while the lure of the Fishing Owl by night is a big incentive. A White-backed night heron is also sometimes seen here.

Camp bird-life in Olifants, like all camps, is busy. Red-winged Starlings are particularly prominent. Trumpeter Hornbills and Acacia Pied Barbet are regularly seen in camp, and when the many aloe plants in camp are in flower, they act as a magnet for sunbirds. Rufous-bellied Heron have been recorded on the Olifants River a little downstream of the camp. Unconfirmed reports of Woodward’s Batis offer an exciting possibility .

VEGETATION

Olifants is situated in rugged veld on rhyolite/ basalt soil. Lowveld cluster-leaf, raisin bush and mopane are all prominent in the area. Just south of the river is the transition zone between thornveld and the mopane belt; these different regimes prevail throughout the south and the north of the Kruger repsectively from here.

In the camp itself there is a plethora of trees and plants, some of which are scarce elsewhere in the Kruger National Park. A variety of aloe species are a real highlight. Next to the filling station there is a sesame bush. This is probably the only accessible place in the Kruger National Park where it can be seen. In early spring the sjambok pod (yellow flowers) and weeping boer bean (red flowers) are both in bloom so the veld is a contrast of colour. Also look out for tree euphorbia.


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