TAKE TIME OUT IN NATURE’S BEAUTY
Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge has 422 hectares of diverse habitats. Two mountains loom 1900 metres over the farm on one border overlooking a beautiful indigenous forest nestled in the valley. This forest is home to a large variety of beautiful birds, animals and flora. Pine plantations from previous generations of woodcutters give way to grasslands and African bushveld on the lower part of the farm where two dams are fed by clean mountain streams.
The spectacular indigenous forest is dotted with rare Yellow-woods (Podoccarpus falcatus) and giant Cabbage Trees (Cussonia spicata). It has been untouched for hundreds of years and a walk on the forest trail offers absolute tranquillity in an ancient forest. Giant trees like the Cape Chestnut (Calodendrum capensis), Red Stinkwood (Prunus africana), Strangler Fig (Ficus craterostoma), LemonWood (Xymalos monospora) and the cool-barked Plane Tree (Ochna arborea) provide shade for ferns, moss, orchids, clivias and forest vines or liana. The pine plantations present a different kind of beauty, with wild mushrooms poking out of the pine needle-covered floor. The Koppie trail takes you through grassland and bushveld areas where Acacias and Aloes abound. Proteas and Erithrinas are found on the mountain trail to the top of Schnellskop where mushrooms, edible and poisonous, come up after rains.
Thomas Packenham's book ‘In Search of Remarkable Trees’ features Kurisa Moya’s Cussonia spicata which has been declared a Champion Tree by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This Cabbage Tree is also in the Dendrological Society’s Big Tree Register.
Because Kurisa Moya is situated between the lowveld and the highveld, it enjoys the benefits of both climates and environments. The climate is temperate, but high summer rainfall makes the farm lush and green. Historically, the farm was used for pine and gum plantations and a variety of crops including carnations, cabbages and garlic. Today, the mist belt and rainfall on the shadow side of the mountain provides moisture for mushrooms, moss, ferns and orchids in the indigenous forest and allows Yellow-woods, Cussonias (Cabbage Trees) and other forest trees to grow to impressive heights.
A wide variety of wildlife abounds on Kurisa Moya. You are likely to see Samango and Vervet monkeys and hear baboons barking on the mountainside. The indigenous forest plays host to many other animals like bushpig, duiker and bushbuck, while the elusive leopard lurks in the mountains.
Guests may be lucky enough to see our nocturnal animal visitors including porcupine, civet, genet, caracal, bushpigs and bushbabies. Jackals can be heard calling as they run down the road past Thora Boloka. Early in the morning, warthog and otters may be spotted down at the dam while Mountain Reedbuck are often seen on the mountain grasslands.
Of course, there are the smaller creatures - geckos, lizards and chameleons. Geckos are often found doing mosquito patrol on the walls of the lodges and one of the more interesting reptiles uniquely found in this area is the Transvaal Dwarf Chameleon. Over 50 species of Butterflies have been photographed and identified on Kurisa Moya.
Kurisa Moya's animals are naturally-occurring and not stocked. Tracks and signs of animals are always to be seen on the trails, even if the animals themselves are not. For those who would love to explore the 7 walking trails through 5 different habitats but would prefer to go with someone who knows the route and can tell you about the animals, birds, trees, mushrooms and butterflies you are seeing, book a guided nature walk with Kurisa Moya’s experienced bird and nature guide. Look out for the rare Samango monkeys or maybe even a Bushbuck or Caracal; have your photo taken next to the biggest Cabbage Tree in the world or check out the saw pit used by the woodcutters of old. From R50.00 per person per hour
Please click here for a list of mammals that call Kurisa Moya home.
Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge boasts over 250 species of birds in five different habitats. When you take a guided bird walk, you have the unique opportunity to find and identify the special birds of the area including the Black-fronted Bush Shrike, Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot, Scaly-throated Honeyguide and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatchers which top most people's lists but the Knysna Turaco, Olive Woodpeckers, Chorister and White Starred Robins also always impress. The hard work and stiff necks of forest birding is usually rewarded with 15 to 20 forest species.
The 4 x 4 drive to the top of the farm to an altitude of 1900 m provides an opportunity to see Guerney's Sugarbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Striped Pipit and Barrett's Warbler among a host of other grassland and raptor species. The fallow lands and bushveld areas of the 422 hectare farm offer sightings of Grassbirds, various Cisticolas (including Croaking, Wailing and Lazy) as well as Shelly's Francolin. The Grey Wagtail returned to Debengeni Falls and the Pectoral Sandpiper turned up at Turfloop Dam. Mamabolo Grasslands have reliable sightings of Short-clawed Lark. There has been a sighting of a Harlequin Quail in the fields and a European Honey Buzzard was also spotted near the Turfloop Dam. Magpie Mannikins can be found in Tzaneen and the recently re-erected Bat Hawk nesting platform ensures reliable sightings of the Bat Hawk pair as well as juveniles in season.
If a birder travels an extra 20 minutes further in any direction from Kurisa Moya, there are amazing birding spots to be found. After all, this is the area where the Rubber Ducks set a new Birding Big Day record of 293 species in 24 hours. A single day's birding for Rob and Gail Dalton of Australia on Kurisa Moya and the Turfloop Dam resulted in 112 species.
David Letsoalo is the top local Bird Guide in South Africa. Take a two hour bird walk along the marked trails identifying bird calls and nests, or a 7 hour guided birding outing down Woodbush Forest Drive and the New Agatha Bat Hawk site. Rates are from around R100-00 per hour for two people but depends on the number of people in the group and the time spent out with David. Kurisa Moya residents get discounted rates.