We are exceptionally privileged at Silvan. We get to wake up to the call of the wild, surrounded by Africa’s unbridled beauty and pristine landscape. Our backyard is untamed, ever-changing and full of surprises. Every day is different & there is no “standard day at Silvan”. And while our lodge is a safe haven within this wild reserve, it is still very much in the wild and we are mere lodgers here. Silvan truly belongs to the wild animals.
Encounters at the Lodge
We tell all our guests when they arrive that it is wild in the lodge and to make sure they are never walking to and from their rooms at night. Over my time at Silvan, I have had many wildlife encounters within the lodge. Everything from leopards growling at me in the long grass on the way to do wake up calls in the morning, to stubborn buffalo who were not wanting to move off the pathways.
When I first arrived at Silvan, I was eager to meet the famous Tiyani (Silvan’s resident leopard) as I had heard so much about her. After 10 days of no sightings of her, I was beginning to wonder if she was more myth than real creature. Tiyani is well known for being relaxed around vehicles as well as often visiting the lodge and our guests have seen some incredible sightings of her. So where was this amazing leopard then?
One morning I didn’t have guests so went to the main lodge for our morning meeting. All of a sudden the bushbuck started barking and alarm calling and one of the guides turned to me and said, “Are you guys ready to meet Tiyani?”
My introduction to Tiyani
Obviously I just thought that he was trying to be funny. In reality, he knew that it was about time that she would make an appearance at the lodge. We walked to the lodge entrance and she causally came walking down the raised path towards the boutique, with her cub in tow. It was an amazing introduction to this special leopard and I love that she was also my first leopard I got to see at Silvan.
I have since seen Tiyani on countless occasions in camp. One of my favourite was when I was walking one of the guests back to their suite at night after our evening game drive. I had heard from staff that they had seen a leopard in camp in the afternoon – and I hoped it was Tiyani – as she is fairly relaxed around camp. As we came around a corner, there she was, beautifully perched on one of the mounds just off the pathway with her cub playing around her. She looked at us, then promptly put her head back down, very happy that we were no threat to her or her cub.
Other animals in camp
I have had numerous encounters with hyenas in camp. They are inquisitive animals always looking for an easy meal. Generally, one hyena by themselves is harmless and they will rather sneak off than confront you. But it can get interesting when there are a few of them and they get a lot more bold in their behaviour. They are mostly nocturnal animals, and I often come across their prints in the sand when walking around the lodge in the morning.
Some other leopards have also been known to spend some time at Silvan. I have personally come across Hukumuri at the spa a couple of times (it seems even a leopard is in need of some pampering). One day I also encountered him just as I was leaving the lodge on a game drive and urgently let the staff know that he was heading directly towards the lodge, so everyone needed to be careful.
On a number of occasions we have also had wild dogs run through the camp. These animals are prolific travellers, and can cover vast distances in a very short space of time and they seem to enjoy keeping to familiar routes as well. We have spotted them on a number of occasions running up the Manyeleti River (in front of the lodge) and then up the Simba River (under the bridge and by the spa), much to guests huge surprise and delight.
Custodians of the Land
The animal encounters we have at the lodge are a constant reminder that we are in a wild environment. The staff at Silvan take enormous care to make sure all the guests are safe. Some of the measures in place might seem extreme and even pedantic at times, but are all necessary.
Silvan is wild, untouched & beautiful. And while Silvan is a safe and isolated place within this great African wilderness, we cannot forget that we are only brief custodians of this land and the actual owners are the animals who frequent it.
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