All of this biodiversity, in turn, breeds biodiversity, and the reserve is home to not just the Big Five. The grasslands and savannas support a healthy population of cheetahs, and dense tamboti thickets provide ample fodder and concealment for black rhinos. When you factor in the 436 recorded bird species, a strong argument begins to form for never going on safari anywhere else again! Of course, at Yellow Zebra we don’t condone that kind of radical thinking – variety is the spice of life, after all – but having said this, if it’s variety you’re after then Phinda may well be the place for you.
Having worked in the safari industry in Southern Africa for nearly ten years in areas known for unique and unconventional safaris, I found my short time on safari in KwaZulu-Natal to be a wholly new and exciting experience. I was able to tick off several new bird species – including the majestic long-crested eagle – and even two new mammal species (greater galago and large-spotted genet). Perhaps the highlight for me, besides the amazing sightings of cheetah, rhino, elephant, lion, and leopard, was stopping at a termite mound to inspect some fresh mushrooms that had grown after the recent rains. I recognised them from my time in Namibia as a kind of edible wild mushroom, cultivated by the termites themselves, that the Hereros call omajovas. My guide, Kim, and our incredible tracker, Malosi, were only too happy to oblige in picking a few, and later they were presented to us at dinner, perfectly prepared by the chefs.