Located within the heart of Zululand in northern KZN on the upper White Umfolozi River Valley is the Big Five Babanango Game Reserve. The rugged mountains and valleys of this KZN game reserve provide refuge for a diverse range of birds, plants, insects, reptiles, and mammals, including the elusive aardvark and aardwolf – with African elephants introduced this year to complete the Big 5!
Nobody is more knowledgeable about all these incredible species than Babanango Game Reserve’s own Safari Guide, Graham Adams. His wealth of local knowledge extends beyond the natural landscape and inhabitants to the rich history emanating from the historical battle sites nearby – Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Visitors are captivated by Graham’s passionate storytelling and friendly nature which make his game drives such an absolute pleasure.
We chatted with Graham to learn a little more about his interests and why Babanango Game Reserve is so close to his heart…
Q: What is your favourite species at Babanango Game Reserve and why?
Graham: My favourite species is a difficult one as everything here sparks my interest! But if I had to choose, I’d say it’s the hard-working secretary bird. Watching these beautiful raptors making nests, rearing chicks, and taking turns venturing out into the bushveld to hunt in the long grass is always a treat.
Q: What is your favourite thing about Babanango Game Reserve?
Graham: The landscapes, the species diversity, the dramatic views, and the pristine yet uniquely diverse vegetation.
Q: What is the most interesting sighting you have had at Babanango Game Reserve?
Graham: Well, there have been a few! From my first Natal red rock rabbit to watching rhinos hanging from helicopters as they were transported! But my best so far was three brown hyenas within a short space of time and distance, one of which was being harassed by two jackals while just trying to mind his own hyena business.
What Animals Can You look For at Babanango Game Reserve?
This game reserve in KZN provides a sanctuary of abundant biodiversity across a range of varied landscapes home to incredible flora and fauna species. Graham takes visitors on game drives across the mist belt grasslands where large herds of wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes can be found grazing. It’s here that Graham’s favourite – the secretary bird – is often spotted or even heard as it takes to the skies.
As you head into the thornveld areas you will enjoy the chance to view giraffes gently plucking leaves from thorn bushes while warthogs and mongoose scamper through the shrubs below. This is the ideal viewing space for the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah, which can be spotted lazily reserving its energy or even reaching speeds of 130km/h as it hunts its next prey. Graham will also help you search for the critically endangered black rhinos hiding among the thorny thickets. These form a central part of Babanango’s conservation efforts with these species, dating back millions of years, now on the brink of extinction.
Where you find water, you find life and besides the river’s edge, you can watch the hippos wallow in the shallows, crocodiles sunning themselves on the river banks, while klipspringers and rock hyraxes perch on the cliffs. In the early morning or evening, you might be lucky enough to catch a sighting of the elusive leopard, eating last night’s catch in the trees or having a drink of water.
Experience the ultimate African Safari at Babanango Game Reserve!