Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Today we decided to do another long drive. Since we've been at Satara for over a week, we've driven almost all of the area roads and many of them twice.
Also, Jackie & Tony said the Lower Sabie River area is one of their favorites and they wanted to provide an introduction. Unfortunately, when reservations were made eleven months prior, they couldn't get as many consecutive days at the Lower Sabie Camp as they would have liked. It will be our next camp, but we'll only have two nights there.
Here are a couple of more detailed maps showing today's route.
Credit to Siyabona Africa for the maps above.
Remember the red roads on the maps are the paved (or tar) roads. So we would take the H1-3 south from Satara to the Tshokwane Picnic Site, and then, rather than veering southwest toward Skukuza, we will continue south on the H10 toward Lower Sabie on the far right of the lower map. It would be around 60 miles (or 100km) one way.
On the return, we would take the H4-1 making a stop at the Sunset Dam and the Nkuhlu Picnic Site before using the H12 to connect to the H1-3 and then the H1-3 back to Satara.
Thunderstorms overnight kept us from having a full night's sleep, but we were still up early and ready to leave Satara when the gates opened at 5:30 a.m.
Our first significant wildlife sighting wasn't far from Satara. We came upon a pair of Cheetahs.
They walked through the grass in view for several minutes, and they came close enough to the road for a really nice photo opportunity.
That was an awesome start to the day.
We had been across the stretch of tar (paved) road from Satara to the Tshokwane Picnic Site several times already. Instead of taking more photos this morning, we just enjoyed the wildlife, stopping on occasion.
Once again, we stopped at Tshokwane for breakfast. Having experienced the "monkey bite incident" here a few days ago, we were cautious, and I leaned a large stick up against our table. The monkeys were not as aggressive today and my stick helped keep it that way.
While there, Linda decided to spice up the wildlife viewing and spotting. She took out some paper and created bingo cards with a different species in each square. And thus began our own version of "Bush Bingo".
After breakfast, we took the H10 tar road making a side trip to the Orpen Dam overlook. On the way in, we got a good view of this big-eyed Water Thick-knee. That bird wasn't on anyone's bingo card.
Here is a view from the overlook. The water was down, and we only saw a couple of crocodiles. Granted, one of the them was HUGE.
Backtracking, we picked up the H10 again. Soon we found a Warthog rooting in the dirt near the road. It was fairly common to see them on their knees like this when they were drinking or turning over the soil looking for food.
Next we saw a herd of elephants feeding and wreaking havoc on some trees.
We then stopped at the Nkumbo Overlook where we were again able to get out of the van and stretch our legs. It was a wide view and we were hoping to see some large herds. We scanned with our binoculars, but saw nothing in the distance.
Next, we came to an area in the foothills of the low mountains. It looked like a war zone where elephants had destroyed the trees. But it made the wildlife easy to see.
This was certainly one of our better looks at rhinos.
Continuing, on one side of the road were Zebra and Wildebeest ....
and on the other side, an elephant passed by a private safari vehicle.
Eventually, we crossed the Sabie River stopping on the bridge for this view of hippos, crocs, and birds in the foreground and the Lower Sabie Camp restaurant beyond.
A few minutes later, we were at the rest camp and choosing a table for lunch. This was easily the best setting for a camp restaurant we had seen so far.
After our brief visit, we were definitely ready to change camps to Lower Sabie in the next few days. And we can see why Jackie was disappointed we won't be able to stay here longer.
Leaving the camp, we went to Sunset Dam, a very short drive from Lower Sabie.
There were lots of hippos in and out of the water.
The hippo calves were quite cute.
But the most entertaining thing to watch was Grey Heron "hippo surfing".
The Grey Herons were riding on the backs of the hippos as they moved around the pond. If a hippo sank too far underwater, the herons would fly to another exposed back and ride a new host. Sometimes the hippos would be completely submerged, and the herons appeared to be riding a hidden conveyor belt. It was quite amusing, and we watched this for a good half hour or so.
In addition to the Grey Herons, there were Yellow-billed Storks and crocodiles.
Eventually, we continued northwest along the Sabie River. We saw a distant lion under a tree along the river, and then found this Nyala Bull feeding.
At the Nkuhlu Picnic Site, we watched this Cape Buffalo take a dip in the river.
That was our first visit to Nkuhlu. It's a very nice picnic area.
Moving north we spotted a Klipspringer on a large rock.
Getting closer to Satara, we saw two large herds of elephants standing in the shade under large Marula trees. Looking closely we saw they were standing in a circle all facing outward, and there were baby elephants sleeping inside the circle.
We watched intently as the individuals shifted. At one point, one of the teenagers started fiddling with a stick, and then it walked over and nudged one of the smaller calves with its foot as if to say "Wake up, I'm bored".
From the standpoint of watching animal behavior, the elephants have been by far the most fascinating.
It was getting late, so we left the pachyderms behind. Our next stop was to watch a large baboon munching on a Kigelia Tree (more commonly known as "sausage tree") fruit.
We pulled into Satara after a long day of driving and more fantastic wildlife watching. The evening unfolded as usual with some drinks and a dinner cooked on the braai.
After two weeks of doing game drives every day, you'd think we might be tired of it, but you would be very wrong. Linda and I could have spent even more time outside the camps exploring and just sitting at some of the water holes waiting to see what might transpire. We're loving our time in Kruger.