A winter week at Sanbonani (Hazyview)

The Chalet set amongst the trees
The Chalet set amongst the trees

We used our timeshare points from another resort to book a week at Sanbonani near Hazyview, Mpumalanga in the first week of July 2012 – we were joined by our daughter Geraldine, husband Andre and Megan and Maia, 2 of our granddaughters, for what turned out to be a wonderful family week in the warm Lowveld.  The resort, which is a short distance from Hazyview and 10 minutes away from the Phabeni Gate into the Kruger Park, lies in a V-shaped property bounded by the Sabie River on the one side and a smaller tributary on the other and boasts spacious grounds and a small forest of trees. 

The self-catering units are comfortable and well-appointed and perfect for our needs, with a patio, overlooking the river, which became the ideal spot for our morning coffee, our evening braai and much of the in-between times. A large Wonderboom fig tree (Ficus Salicifolia according to my tree book) overhanging the patio proved to be irresistible for many of the birds in the area and there was a constant to-ing and fro-ing of birds eager to feast on the wild figs which were in abundance on the tree.

View from the patio
View from the patio
Plenty of wild figs for the birds to enjoy
Plenty of wild figs for the birds to enjoy

This is an ideal spot for relaxed “don’t-have-to-go-anywhere” birding as we built up an extensive list of Bushveld and Riverine forest birds without going beyond the patio – 42 species in all – hey that’s 5% of the total species in South Africa! Highly recommended for birders of all levels of expertise, as the close-up views allow you to really get to grips with and enjoy the variety of species, literally on your doorstep. An added bonus is the proximity of the Kruger Park with Phabeni Gate just 10 to 15 minutes away, however being school holidays it was quite busy when we were there and arriving at the gate just before opening time, we found ourselves at the back of a longish queue – but that’s another story (watch this space).

The facilities in the resort, such as the large swimming pools, tennis courts and the putt-putt course mean that there is enough to keep you busy and active besides the birding and we also enjoyed venturing out to Hazyview and in particular the Perry’s Bridge shopping centre, with its interesting array of small boutique-style shops, located on the outskirts. The bakery has some special goodies to enjoy with coffee. 

The pool area at Sanbonani
The pool area at Sanbonani
Megan and Maia braving the chilly water (in the middle of winter)
Maia and Megan braving the chilly water (in the middle of winter)

A selection of the birds seen from the patio :

Purple-crested Turaco
Purple-crested Turaco
Green Pigeon
Green Pigeon
Southern Black Flycatcher
Southern Black Flycatcher
Olive Woodpecker
Olive Woodpecker
Kurrichane Thrush
Kurrichane Thrush
Trumpeter Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Yellow-breasted Apalis
Yellow-breasted Apalis
African Pied Wagtail
African Pied Wagtail

There were plenty of other species in the resort grounds of which I did not get good photos, such as Dark-capped Yellow-Warbler, Green-backed Camaroptera, Golden-tailed and Cardinal Woodpeckers, Dusky Flycatcher, Shikra, Black Saw-wing, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Collared Sunbird and White-browed Robin-Chat. The river held Green-backed Heron and Reed Cormorant, amongst others :

Flycatcher
Ashy Flycatcher
Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike
Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike
Reed Cormorant
Reed Cormorant

While braai-ing in the evenings we enjoyed the night sounds of the lowveld including the calls of 2 owls – Southern White-faced and Wood Owl. The moon happened to be full on a couple of the evenings which added atmosphere to the experience.

Full moon
Full moon

There’s no question that a week in the lowveld in winter is full of delights and leaves you feeling like Superman :

The Super-Leonards - up, up and away
The Super-Leonards – up, up and away

2 thoughts on “A winter week at Sanbonani (Hazyview)”

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