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Shingwedzi Restcamp

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Shingwedzi lies in the northern part of the Kruger National Park in the heart of mopane (and elephant) country. A scenic game drive along the Shingwedzi River in a southeasterly direction towards the Kanniedood ("cannot die" in Afrikaans) Dam is one of the most rewarding drives in the Park- waterbuck, nyala, kudu and pachyderms are often seen here. There is a great hide, and the bird life is prolific. The Mpongolo river drive often produces lion, and the drive south towards Letaba Restcamp is often a rewarding one.

Shingwedzi is a rustic camp that still carries the essence of the bush, untouched by modern technology. Needless to say there is the restaurant, cafeteria, shop and petrol station typical of a larger Restcamp; there is also an ATM here.

The accommodation is arranged in two separate circles and the glow emanating from each rondavel's braai stand casts a tranquil spell in the evenings.


Accommodation consists of 24 rondavels, each sleeping 2-3 and which share cooking and ablutions facilities. There are 54 Bungalows, roughly half of which accommodate four and the remainder five guests. Most have showers, but some baths; some have air-conditioning, some not; some have hotplates in addition to sinks- please specify when you reserve.

There is one four bed Cottage equipped with two bathrooms and a dining room/ lounge. The sponsored Guest House is called Rentmeester and offers 2 double beds, 2 single beds and a double sleeper couch. Bathrooms are en-suite and there is a riverside view.

Tent and caravan sites are available (with power) for a maximum of six people per site.

GAME

Game can be sparse in the stretches of Mopani Shrubveld in the region, but the alluvial plains in the immediate vicinity of the Shingwedzi River tend to be very productive. Impala, kudu, duiker, bushbuck, nyala and Sharpe’s grysbok are browsers to be searched for, while buffalo and waterbuck are the most common grazing species. Elephant, baboon and vervet monkey are all prominent as are tree squirrels, especially in the camp itself. Predators include lion, leopard and spotted hyena and there are a couple of packs of wild dog that roam these northern reaches of the Kruger National Park.

There are open plains north of Babalala Picnic Site where cheetah are regularly recorded. This is a good place to search for the rare large antelope species: roan, sable, tsessebe, eland and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.

BIRDING

Shingwedzi has abundant bird-life and, aside from the ubiquitous squabble of hornbills, starlings, weavers and Mourning Doves, the camp is a good place to see Bennett’s Woodpecker, Natal Robin, European Hobby (hawking prey at dusk in summer), Grey Penduline Tit, Dusky and Village Indigobird (Black and Steelblue Widowfinch) and African Scops-Owl (at night).

Verreaux’s (Giant) Eagle Owl is also regularly seen in the large riverine trees on the road approaching the camp. One should also keep a careful lookout for Bathawk. Although not easy to spot, they are around and the lucky birder could see them catching bats and swifts at dusk. In summer, the Eurasian Hobby does the same thing. The highwater bridge is a good potential vantage point, while they can also be seen along Kanniedood Dam.

Kanniedood Dam is downstream from the Restcamp and hosts many interesting species. Storks (Open-billed, Yellow-billed, Saddle-billed and Woolly-necked) are prominent. The hide is a good spot to see Black Crake and African Jacana at close quarters. White-winged Tern has also been recorded on the dam. In summer a bit of luck may offer birders the chance to compare the rare Dwarf Bittern with the common Green-backed Heron.

Yellow-billed Oxpeckers are being recorded more regularly in the Shingwedzi area since their recolonisation of the Park. Check buffalo in particular for this species. Broad-billed Roller, Mosque Swallow and Dusky Lark (Summer) are other species that should be searched for in the Shingwedzi area.

VEGETATION

Shingwedzi Restcamp itself is in riverine vegetation with large trees along the river edge. Immediately adjacent to the river, are alluvial planes created by centuries of flooding. There is thus less dense vegetation and sparser grass. Transvaal mustard trees and weeping boer-bean are prominent, and sausage tree, Natal mahogany, and brack thorn should be visible. As one moves away from the river the vegetation changes to Mopane shrub punctuated by apple-leaf.

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