Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
This morning we had a late breakfast and didn't leave Satara Camp until after 8:00 a.m. But before we left, a herd of Cape Buffalo was grazing by the fence outside our bungalows.
And I got a close-up of a Crested Barbet before we piled into our rental van.
The Nsemani Dam isn't far from the camp, and it's a great wildlife viewing area, so we tend drive by there at least once a day.
On our first pass this morning, there was a herd of Impala drinking.
The antelope all drink cautiously, and we have to admit we would watch in anticipation for a "nature moment" expecting a crocodile to explode out of the water at any time. But that never happened.
Continuing on, there were several cars pulled over on the side of the road. That usually meant a "cat" sighting. Sure enough, through the branches, we could make out the spots of a Leopard lying on the ground. Eventually it got up, and I snapped the best picture I could get, although our view was quite obstructed.
I'm one of those annoying people that is a little skeptical when it comes to claims of certain wildlife sightings, so having a photo (even an obstructed one) makes me feel better when I'm relaying stories of what we saw, especially in the case of Leopards.
Of course, I say that and then we saw a lioness and a rhino so far away that I didn't bother trying to take photos. So you'll just have to trust me .... and the rest of our crew on that. Actually, the lion is easier to believe as we've been seeing lions every day, but the rhinos have been somewhat scarce.
Back at the Nsemani Dam, there was a huge herd of elephants cooling off in the mud.
It was only about 9:30 a.m. and we had seen the "Big Five" in about an hour and a half. Again, some people spend days here and never get to see the "Big Five" during their entire visit, and we saw them all yesterday in one day and again this morning in 90 minutes. We certainly don't take our good fortune for granted.
There were hippos and one crocodile we could see, ....
and this pair of Waterbucks walked down the bank to get a drink, again, with caution.
Moving on from Nsemani, we saw this family of five Giraffes nibbling on a single acacia tree.
In the distance, we spotted a Black-backed Jackal hunting. We watched for several minutes until it stopped. It stalked and then leaped straight up in the air to pounce on something.
It came up empty, but we later saw another jackal (perhaps the same one) with a bird or small rodent in its mouth.
We worked our way back to camp seeing a few buffalo as we drove.
Back at Satara, we sat on the veranda and enjoyed lunch and ice cream while being entertained by the monkeys.
This troop of Vervet Monkeys had several babies, and the little ones were a hoot to watch as they wrestled while the adults looked on with disinterest.
After playing and tussling for a while, they went back to the arms of their mothers.
Our friends went back to their bungalows for a little siesta while we did some birdwatching and took a few more photos.
This Grey Go-Away Bird was feeding on some flower blooms.
Although the photos aren't great, we found a couple more new birds for us - a Groundscraper Thrush (below left) and a Yellow-fronted Canary (below right).
When we got back together with our group, we learned that monkeys had gotten into Tony & Jackie's bread which they had stored on top of their refrigerator behind an iron mesh gate in an alcove on their bungalow porch. Apparently, the little rascals got their hands in through the gate.
Jackie & Tony have been having their share of critter issues on this trip. They have a Honey Badger that has been raiding the trash can on their porch in the middle of the night and, in a different camp they had a bat in their room. As they say, "Welcome to the African bush".
For our afternoon game drive, we proceeded along the N'wanetsi River. The camp "Sighting Board" didn't show much out along the river, but we thought we'd check it out anyway.
The Sighting Boards allow guests to place colored magnets on the board indicating sightings of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, rhino) plus Cheetahs and African Wild Dogs. We haven't seen any Wild Dogs yet, so that's a remaining goal.
On our drive, we got our best look yet at a Bateleur, a very distinct eagle of the African savanna. Bateleur is French meaning acrobat, tumbler, street performer, juggler, etc. and it appears this eagle may have gotten its name from its aerial acrobatics.
Moving on we saw this beautiful Steenbok ewe.
Our final sighting this afternoon was this frisky, young bull elephant. He definitely wanted us to know he was boss with his body language, his extended ears, and his wide open eyes.
Adult male elephants go into a period of "musth" each year (much like a "rut" in the deer family) in which they are producing testosterone at about 40 - 60 times normal levels. During musth, they are more sexually active and more aggressive. They can be quite unpredictable during this period of a few weeks to a few months, so it's best not to take any chances when they are displaying aggressive behavior.
We had lost track of time, and had to hustle to get back inside the gate by 6:00 p.m. One thing we are learning is our theory that we would see more wildlife on the less-traveled gravel roads is proving to be incorrect. Though we can't help ourselves and insist driving the "back roads", we are consistently seeing more animals on the paved (or "tar) roads.
Once safely back at Satara, we continued with our usual nightly routine. After dinner, we noticed an African Wild Cat had entered the camp. I followed it and took a couple of pictures before it wandered off.
That was a nice ending to another wonderful day of watching wildlife.
Tomorrow, we'll be back at it again - another animal treasure hunt.