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Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge takes home Top Four Star Safari Lodge in KZN Two years in a row!

14/09/2017
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Storm Nel
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Last week saw the return of the prestigious Lilizela Provincial Awards ceremony for 2017. Only the ‘Best of the Best’ in the local travel industry are selected as finalists for this South African Tourism’s flagship event. This year sees the fifth instalment of this ever-growing tourism awards event which hosts the brightest, finest and most admired tourism businesses from the nine provinces.

Mkuze based game lodge, Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge, was privileged to qualify as a finalist for the second year running under the Service Excellence – Accommodation – Four Star Game Lodge category and thus will be entered into the running for the National Awards.

Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa extended her warm congratulations to all the provincial finalists, saying, “We salute these outstanding tourism businesses spanning the length and breadth of South Africa. Being selected as a Lilizela Tourism Awards finalist means you are among the best of the best in the country – that you are truly in a league of your own.”
Established in 2013, the Lilizela Tourism Awards recognises and applauds outstanding service among accommodation establishments and other tourism-related products and services, and is a way of thanking the travel industry for their tireless efforts to make South Africa a must visit destination.
The awards were adjudicated through both a public vote (using data from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa’s Tourism Analytics Programme, which consolidates user reviews for establishments with an online presence, along with public votes on the Lilizela Tourism Awards website) and a 30-member judging panel. This means that 80% of the scores came from consumers and 20% from adjudicators.
Wayne Vivier, accepted the award on behalf of the Vivier Family and Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge at the prestigious Awards Ceremony in Durban last Thursday. “We are incredibly proud and honoured to be a part of this amazing community that helps put South Africa on the tourism map! It was a truly inspiring evening that celebrated our province’s value as a tourism destination and we hope to continue this winning streak and once again take home the award for Top Four Star Game Lodge in South Africa at the National Awards ceremony in Johannesburg!” said Wayne.

Meet Leopard Mountains amazing Chef Khule

27 June 2017
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Chef Khulekani Ronny Mathenjwa is a local in the area having grown up Hluhluwe KwaMduku Area.
He was privileged enough to do his chefs training with &Beyond in the Phinda in March 2009. Khule explains how it was an intensive 6 month training course and he was lucky enough to start working at &Beyond Mountain lodge as a Junior sous chef. From there he worked at various lodges for a period of eight and a half years, harnessing his skills and working his way up to head chef, before deciding to join our fantastic team at Leopard Mountain.
“At Leopard Mountain I am able to be creative, there is nothing more that I enjoy than coming up with new and exciting dishes in the kitchen. Creating new dishes keeps me on my toes and helps me and my team grow and become better chefs. I also enjoy coming up with new curry’s bursting with flavor as well as coming up with new ideas on pastries.” Says Chef Kuhle
For him there is no better feeling in the world then getting feedback from our guests about how marvelous the food is. He loves working at Leopard Mountain and believes that we are all like family here which makes us a very strong team! “One of life’s pleasures is to work in a happy team and the Chef team here at Leopard Mountain is great. I hope that I can help my team here grow and that everyone, guests included, will benefit from my stay at Leopard Mountain.” Chef Kuhle
A lodge like Leopard Mountain, although famous for its wildlife and luxury accommodation, is about far more than just that. The gastronomical culinary experience, which awaits every guest at Leopard Mountain, is thanks to the amazing efforts of our team behind the scenes like Chef Kuhle and we are so proud to have staff like him working for us!

The Twin Genets

22 February 2017
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Storm Catterick
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Our afternoon game drive started with a hunt for cheetah. Earlier on in the day I had picked up tracks of a male Cheetah moving along the fence line, no doubt doing a routine territory patrol. I decided that for our afternoon game drive we should head into this area and try picking up on the big male cheetah.
We drove to the area where I saw the tracks, unfortunately they had been driven over, so we started combing the area to see if we could pick up more tracks and get a starting point. But unfortunately I could not find any more tracks and I had absolutely no idea where he had gone too. We continued on our way enjoying the amazing scenery that Zululand has on offer as well as watching some beautiful birds, stopping for sundowners on top of one of the hills with a vista only Zululand can deliver.
On our drive home we went over Number 4 lookout, with its splendid view of the Ubombo Mountains in the distance and the coastal flats of Zululand before it. We stopped to pause and enjoy the splendor of the evening. Having a look at the stars starting to appear as we were listening to the sounds of the night fast approaching.
Moving down off Number 4 hill, as we came around a bend in the road right there in the middle of the road was a female Genet and her two little kits. The two little kits were very relaxed and continued to play in the road in front of us until mom ran off. They spooked a little and ran off the road into a tree where they continued to play around for a few minutes. Almost like they were playing a game of tag just for us. What a magical sight, it is not very often one sees Genet never mind two youngsters and their mom so nice in the open. The kind of sighting that just reminds you just how special the bush is and how lucky we are to experience this daily.

Conservation through Trails Cameras at Leopard Mountain

8 February 2017
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Storm Catterick
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Conservation is an incredibly complicated and wide-ranging endeavour. There are many aspects to account for when protecting and conserving the fauna and flora of a given area. Adaptability is key as unpredictable elements and uncontrollable factors can swoop in to change your well-thought-out plans. Thus the scope of conservation requires a HUGE amount of research that must be gathered and continued on an on-going basis. Knowledge is definitely power!

Thankfully, some recent advances in technology can assist ecologists, conservationists and rangers in gathering intelligence and data in quantities that previously were not possible without months of slogging leg work and a fair bit of luck. I’d like to highlight one of my favourite tools to be developed in the age of modern technology that we’ve been utilising recently at Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge – The Trails Camera.
Trails Cameras are an increasingly popular means of studying the presence – or absence – of species within a given target area. The advances in flash technology, infrared sensors, SD memory cards and rechargeable batteries mean that Trails Cameras can be used for extended durations of surveying, in a continuous research manner, with relatively low personnel demands. As an example, we set up a camera recently on a game path the rangers had been eyeing out next to a popular waterhole in the otherwise dry riverbed. Once set up to catch any movement along the path, we left and put it at the back of our minds. It is extremely important to leave the trap for as long as possible before returning to check on it – your scent from being in the area may put certain species off taking the path and result in a lack of accurate data collection. Two weeks later we returned to grab the SD card and examine the photos and videos the camera had captured. Take a look at the video mashed together from different video recordings of Leopard’s on the game path!

We were amazed to have such incredible insight into the lives of one of our most elusive predators. We seemed to have struck lucky and placed the camera opposite a scent-marking bush – it’s like the leopards’ version of Twitter, except they spray urine instead of posting emojis! It’s a fantastic example of the advantages of Trails Cameras. Non-invasive, working independently and perfect for remote wilderness areas, the trap provides data on the species present and can assist in determining population densities and individual identities. We’ve started collaborating with Zululand Rhino Reserve’s management team to see if we can identify the individual Leopards seen in the video. It is by no means a quick and easy task as the cameras can produce a huge quantity of images that need to be sifted through – but it certainly is a rewarding one!
It is easy to see the advantages of using Trails Cameras to enter the world of our wildlife in a non-invasive manner.

To View Youtube Video Click on link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz0XeVWNOj8

Leopard Mountain Lioness and the Flehman Grimace

7 February 2017
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Storm Catterick
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The flehman grimace is a rather comical sight when you lucky enough to see it. The organ involved in the grimace in the flehman response in mammals is the vomeronasal organ otherwise known as the Jacobson’s organ. It was discovered by Frederik Ruysch and later described by Ludwig Jacobson in the early 1800’s. The primary role of the Jacobson’s organ is for insight of certain scents and pheromones in corresponding mammals by sending chemical messengers that carry information between individuals of the same species. The word flehman comes from the German word flehman which means to bare the upper teeth. Which if you have ever seen a flehman occurance is a rather fitting name!
But why do mammals do this?

The Jacobson’s organ is used to check hormone condition and identify gender of animals. It often looks like the animal is snarling or baring their teeth at you. The animal inhales the scent and then closes the nostrils to allow the scent into the Jacobson’s organ. The most common time to see the flehman grimace is when a dominant male animal is testing a female’s scent for fertility. This is most commonly done during or shortly after the female urinates.

This morning, during a Leopard Mountain game drive, I was following a pride of lions and in all my years of being a game ranger it was the first time I have ever seen a female do the flehman grimace. What really melted my heart was when her young cub joined her to sniff and then also proceeded to do a younger version of the flehman grimace. I am assuming the big male lions had come passed that tree recently and used it to mark their territory. Every day spent living in the bush is nothing short of incredible - you truly never stop learning and having new exciting experiences!

Elephant calves, Musth and Mayhem at Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge

6 February 2017
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As Leopard Mountain’s trails guide I don’t often get to go on game drives, so when I get the chance I jump at it, with my camera in tow of course! This particular afternoon we were treated to a sighting of a breeding herd of Elephants. As we arrived the herd seemed to be very unsettled with loads of vocalization and mulling about.

When the dust settled a bit we could see one of the causes of the unrest. A tiny little calf only a couple of weeks old, still fluffy and flailing around, not yet steady on its feet.
The other reason for the unrest was a large unruly bull elephant in musth. Musth is a condition in bull elephants when they have large amounts of the hormone testosterone in their bodies; this makes the bulls for lack of a better word ‘pig headed’. A bull in musth will often take on bulls much bigger than themselves as they have no fear and a wandering eye.
The matriarch of the herd had her hands full trying to protect the young cow from being harassed by the musth-ridden bull with less than honorable intentions. Both the big bulls on the reserve are in musth at the moment, so you can just imagine the testosterone fueled debauchery that is going on!

It was very interesting to hear the distress calls of the young calf that obviously felt uneasy with all the commotion going on. All the little one wanted was a minute of peace and quiet to enjoy a meal. Unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen as the herd moved off at a great pace leaving the musth bull in a cloud of dust.
We tried to relocate the herd but kept just missing them and managed to only get a final glimpse of them before they moved off into some very thick bush. It still amazes me that such large animals can disappear so quickly into the bush. Blink and they will be gone leaving only the sound of cracking branches that dare to be in the way!

to view Youtube Video click on below link
www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCze13mYB1M

Leopard Mountain Lends a helping hand at the Sekane Community Creche

24 October 2016
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Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge
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An important part of conservation within Africa is community relations – maintaining good communication and mutually beneficial relationships with communities can go a long way to protecting wildlife and natural areas. Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge exists within Zululand Rhino Reserve, and as such strives to support the reserve management team’s projects in regards to conserving fauna and flora, but also supporting, improving and enriching the lives of community members surrounding the reserve. After all, many of the staff members you will meet during your stay at Leopard Mountain will be from those communities, it’s always important to look after your family.
One of the recent projects that began in April was the upgrade of the Sekane Community crèche. P.Trimborn Agency ignited the project with a generous donation towards building materials and supplies, and what followed were donations of food, toys and stationary. I was also lucky enough to join in the painting of the crèche after local builders were employed to revamp the building. I lent my Michelangelo-gifted talents to the team and painted some of the best-looking rocks one could ever lay their eyes on – later I even assisted with the elephant, really stretching my skills to the maximum.
My time at Leopard Mountain has instilled a passion for wildlife and conservation that I doubt I will ever lose – however this project was slightly different and it was fantastic to see and take part in the work the reserve is doing in another important area. The core team of ladies really did a fantastic job and the finished product is a crèche the Sekane community are already proud of. There were great times from the children who frequently visited during the painting, the elderly woman who blessed the crèche while we continued the work and the ladies obsessively entertained by kid goats from the community.
The crèche will be opened within the first week of November through an event hosted by the Zululand Rhino Reserve Foundation, representatives from P.Trimborn Agency, the local community Chief, Sekane community members and volunteers from the lodges within the reserve. I cannot wait to be there representing Leopard Mountain and the donations and effort we have made!

LEOPARD MOUNTAIN SAFARI LODGE REVEALS ITS UPGRADE!

20 June 2016
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As the old age saying goes a change is as good as a haircut, well Leopard Mountain Safari Lodge has recently undergone its own ‘haircut’ of sorts! The lodge has been abuzz in the last month with some very exciting changes having been done… During the month of May we closed our doors for two weeks and underwent a few upgrades to some of the buildings which has proved to be a massive hit with our guests and places the lodge in a realm of its own. Leopard Mountain continually strives to keep up with the times and undertake in improvements that make our lodge more comfortable for our guests whilst still preserving that great charm it has maintained all these years!

Some of these upgrades include a new Balau deck on the main lodge building that has increased in length and width. The deck also wraps around both sides of the building creating a vast amount of space for guests as well as unparalleled views over the Msunduzi River – it is just spectacular!!! Lighter and bigger tiles now adorn the entrance and main lodge and have made these areas look both brighter and more spacious whilst adding a touch of warmth to the look and feel of the rooms. The new furniture that was meticulously picked by our team resembles our quality, charisma and indelible comfort! It really is a place you want to be in and never leave!

The chalets are sporting more neutral colours which look fabulous within its natural surroundings. There are still a few more small changes on the horizon which we are excited to unravel throughout the course of the year but for now we know you will be impressed with our progress thus far and we cannot wait to welcome you all!

MEET PHUMY MAZIBUKO FROM LEOPARD MOUNTAIN GAME LODGE

30 May 2016
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NAME: PHUMY MAZIBUKO

Born and bred in Durban, Phumy has always been a hard worker. Her father taught her from a young age to always step out of her comfort zone, hence she has constantly strived for the best and has always found her own unique approach when faced with situations. She likes to see light in any problem that arises and believes a good laugh and a positive attitude can help her get through anything. She is at her best when she’s in her treatment room making her clients feel and look great from the inside out. With her sociable, caring nature she has become a valued member of the Leopard Mountain team and runs an exceptional spa to boot!

We chat to Phumy and find out what, how, when and why she discovered her passion for beauty in the Bush…….

What do you do at Leopard Mountain?

I started as a spa therapist and after a year was promoted to a Spa Manager. I also host and assist in other aspects of the lodge; we are like a big family here at the lodge so we all help out where ever we can to make our guests stay an exceptional one.

Why Somatology and why the Safari industry?

During my matric year, a group of friends and I decided to visit different universities to learn more about the different courses offered. I was drawn to the skin therapy section of Somatology and immediately fell in love with skin care therapy. It was right there and then my Somatology Journey began. While studying, I worked as a part time therapist at a salon in Durban; it was a colleague of mine who had worked at a Safari Lodge who told me more about the Safari Industry – needless to say my interest was piqued. I completed my studies, progressed and worked at several spas in Durban and other lodges, in 2015 I applied for a Job at Leopard Mountain and I haven’t looked back since.

What made me choose LM and what keeps you here?

After working for one and a half year at my previous work place, I planned to relocate to Mpumalanga. I just wanted a change of scenery as I have been in KZN my whole life. It was my agent who recommended Leopard Mountain (LM) and although my plan was to relocate, I found myself hooked by the beauty of Zululand Rhino Reserve. My agent then organised a meeting and within a blink of an eye I was one of LM’s employees. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands! LM is constantly busy, each day brings about a new challenge, and your mind is constantly working, thinking and strategising. One needs to be constantly on the ball. Rolling the ball is not always easy, however if you focus, you will reach your goal whether it’s providing the best service, reaching targets or simply just doing an outstanding Job. Reaching goals result in mental growth which is what I have achieved at LM.

During your tenure what have been your interesting and adventurous experiences at the lodge or on a game drive?

I have never realized how much wildlife can impact a person emotionally. My first game drive at LM, we saw a lioness feeding on a Giraffe (which might I add are my most favourite animal). I absolutely enjoyed the sighting but then my favourite animal was killed ….. This was a bitter sweet moment for me to say the least.

When on safari at Leopard Mountain your schedule is pretty chock ‘n block why should guests take time out to have a spa experience?

We are living hectic lives, one of the main reasons people go on vacations is because they want to de-stress. The long hours travelling, long drives, long flight hours, climate change from one country to another, one city to the other and medications taken before travelling. All these factors result to a tensed and stressed body where 80% of the time we do not realise it. We need to think of our bodies like how we think of nature. If you take care of nature it will take care of you in return, same applies to our bodies, if we take of them, they will take care of us. Being in the bush is a harmonious experience; however a stressed body may not be in complete harmony. We need to reconnect with ourselves as much as we connect with nature. It’s amazing how much our treatments with the aid of our products can bring about ultimate tranquillity in one’s life and holiday. Leopard Mountain’s guests should absolutely get treated, we do not “pamper” as such. We are result orientated, we are wellness orientated. We spoil you in a therapeutic way.

How can someone book a spa treatment when visiting the lodge? And what treatment do you recommend?

That’s very easy, email us or call us directly. Every treatment serves its own purpose; every treatment is enjoyable in its own way. I recommend treatments according to the needs of your body. Before we start a treatment, guests are requested to fill out a consultation form. This form assists me into reading your body and its needs. I then decide on the product and advise guests as to what I recommend and why I recommend it.

reception@leopardmountain.co.za

New Zebra Subspecies discovered!!!

01 April 2016
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Leopard Mountain Lodge
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 Equus Stultus Aprilis

A new subspecies of Zebra found at Leopard Mountain! The Mammal Research Institute in Pretoria has recently published a paper on a new subspecies of Burchell's Zebra discovered at Leopard Mountain. This subspecies is recognisable by its distinctive colour pattern variation. The new subspecies has been named Equus Stultus Aprilis and is easily discernible from the common black striped Burchell's Zebra by its distinctive white stripes. Please let us know if you spot this remarkable animal on the game drives.

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