Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Today, after yesterday's long drive and fantastic wildlife viewing, we rested a little spending more time at camp than in the van. We still went on two short game drives, but we didn't wander far from Satara.
Once everyone was up and had their morning coffee, we then walked up to the camp restaurant for breakfast.
After our leisurely morning, we piled in the van and drove west to the Nsemani Dam, a place we've visited almost every day due to its proximity to the Satara Camp and the potential for wildlife.
We just sat and watched a herd of elephants stripping trees and having a leisurely morning of their own. At some point, the matriarch decided it was time to cross the road to the pond by the dam.
She gathered the herd and they started moving toward us. They stopped short and it was clear we were blocking their intended path, so Tony backed up out of the way. Then they continued forward to the edge of the road, stopping until we backed up just a few more feet.
When she was ready, she started across the road and the others didn't follow, so she stopped in the middle of the road until they lined up behind her; then they proceeded as a group. Very interesting. I don't have photos, but Linda took some video with our little Kodak Playsport video camera.
We drove around the area a bit, and then returned to the dam where there was a traffic jam. Must be cats. And sure enough, there were lions milling around and walking amongst the cars.
The lioness above brushed by our vehicle and as she was walking by another, a fellow stuck his arm out the window, not realizing she was coming up from behind. She flinched and we thought for a second she was going to grab him.
There are reasons for the park's many rules including these:
Jackie & Tony were quite adamant about following all the safety rules as they had a good friend in Zimbabwe who had half his face taken off by a lion through an open car window. Also, we had to be very cautious about having windows down with the van turned off as there was no way to "roll up" the electric windows quickly without turning the key to engage the batteries.
All the vehicles were jockeying for position, so it was hard to keep the lions in sight. Then we glimpsed six cubs under a tree on the other side of the road. Two lionesses had come to gather the cubs and take them to join the rest of the pride.
We watched as the cubs crossed the road and went down the bank on our side walking away from us. It was a struggle to get pictures and the ones I got aren't very good, but I'm posting them anyway.
The cubs all had fat little bellies and looked quite healthy. It was a thrill to get to see them.
We have seen lion cubs, elephant calves, rhino calves, and buffalo calves. If we are lucky enough to see leopard cubs, we will accomplish the "Small Five" wildlife sightings. Of course, it's hard enough to find adult leopards, so we weren't very optimistic about seeing cubs.
On the way back to camp, we saw this rhino.
Back at camp, we had lunch and simply relaxed for a few hours going through photos, watching the animals on the outside of the fence, and walking around camp.
I got up close and personal with this Southern Tree Agama.
And I got this photo of a Red-billed Hornbill with a grub.
We gathered for a late afternoon drive heading east on the N'wanetsi River Road. We came upon two male lions lying along the side of the road panting.
Apparently, they had just killed a large buffalo. Lionesses do a lot of the hunting in prides, but males certainly also take down prey. Some male lions that have not yet established their own prides will become solitary hunters or they will join with other males in a small group.
We watched for a good half an hour or so, before the lions started to move toward the large buffalo to begin feeding.
Unfortunately, it was getting late and we had to get back to camp before the gates closed.
So, today was the first day in Kruger where we spent more daylight hours at camp than in the van. Still, we witnessed very interesting elephant herd behavior, lion cubs, and the aftermath of a male lion buffalo kill plus more (see below). Even on a "rest" day, we had amazing experiences.