Will Goodlet

Discovering Tsendze Rustic Camp

Discovering Tsendze Rustic Camp

 Cattle Egret flies past green mopane trees in the morning sun at Tsendze Rustic Camp

Cattle Egret flies past green mopane trees in the morning sun at Tsendze Rustic Camp

Will Goodlet

I came across a photograph some time ago snapped by artist and photographer, Peter Hall. It was of an old gate with a weathered steel chain and padlock wrapped about it. The caption was simply, “My own little "Happy Place" the gates at Tsendze.”

I’d heard of Tsendze but never ventured beyond that gate. I was intrigued and vowed that the next time I visited Kruger I would also visit Tsendze rustic camp..

 Firefinch in the morning light at Tsendze, Kruger National Park

Firefinch in the morning light at Tsendze, Kruger National Park

When the rain started to fall in late November and the Mopane came into leaf, I knew that it was time. The Impala had started to drop and the leaden skies meant that I would be able to photograph long into each day. Tsendze was beckoning.

 Male Lion emerges from the riverbed, Tsendze, Kruger National Park.

Male Lion emerges from the riverbed, Tsendze, Kruger National Park.

Tsendze rustic camp is buried deep within the Mopane woodland along the Tsendze river in the North/central part of Kruger near Mopani restcamp. It is a secluded, camping only site with just 34 spaces carved out of the bush.

 Tsendze Rustic Camp, colourful beetle on a fruit.

Tsendze Rustic Camp, colourful beetle on a fruit.

In November, before the rush of the school holidays, the camp was almost deserted. Stretched out in my camp bed, under the tall swaying trees, it felt as if I was alone in the wild.

There were lions nearby, and their noises in the night were a perfect accompaniment to my peaceful snoring.

 Tsendze Rustic Campsite, Orange Breasted Ground Thrush singing.

Tsendze Rustic Campsite, Orange Breasted Ground Thrush singing.

Tsendze isn’t just a tranquil place to sleep, far from the hustle and bustle of more populated campsites. It also offers a fantastic opportunity to walk under the bright green trees discovering the small sights and sounds that escape us when driving in Kruger.

 Tsendze Rustic Camp, fresh green mopane leaves in spring.

Tsendze Rustic Camp, fresh green mopane leaves in spring.

The canopy above echoes with the song of the Orange Bush Shrike, a notoriously difficult bird to catch in the open, while paradise flycatchers dance amongst the tangled bushes.

 Tsendze Rustic Camp, Mopane Leaf bitterfly

Tsendze Rustic Camp, Mopane Leaf bitterfly

Tsendze is famous for owls too and its’ charismatic management team know where they roost and will show you the spots if asked.

Taking a late morning walk around the camp ground is always rewarding, the scampering squirrels are always fun to watch, while each bush and tree seems to have it’s own special clan of insects.

 Tsendze Rustic Camp, green mopane leaves in the springtime

Tsendze Rustic Camp, green mopane leaves in the springtime

If you are ever up in the northerly parts of Kruger, spend a night in the wild at Tsendze. It is truly, a happy place.

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