Wednesday, 22nd November DAY 8

We are heading for Satara today but decide to first go down the Salietjie Road (S30) next to the Sabie River. First out the gate at 4.30am, we first coffee on the high-level bridge over the river before beginning a slow dawdle. Everything is right today – the weather calm and still, no other cars and a beautiful Kruger road. But after three hours we come up with absolutely nothing and I do not even lift my camera. There was a time when one was almost guaranteed to see cats along the Salietjie road but for the past few years we have seen nothing at all. Very strange.

Returning up the main tarred road (H4-1) we come across the familiar sight of ellies blocking the traffic. We rapidly pack up at camp and by 8.30am we have the caravan in tow and are heading northward for Satara (H1-2). Again, there it is a very pre-frontal heat today. We stop at Tshokwane for refreshments. Thereafter the countryside gets more and more dry as we travel northwards.

We stop at Nkaya Pan which still has quite a lot of water in it – and a herd of ellies keeping cool. Between the Nwanetsi tarred road (H4) and the Nwanetsi River we come across the first piece of burnt veld and we note a very interesting spectacle. At a distance what appears to be plumes of black smoke turns out to be strong whirlwinds sucking up the blackened ash hundreds of meters into the sky. On such a hot day the intense heat of the blackened ground is so great as to cause this unusual feature.

Arriving in a very dry Satara, we fail to find any heavy shade and must make do setting up camp under a straggly tree. But the air con is soon working to keep us comfortable.

It becomes quickly apparent that I have a major problem. Earlier this year I complained bitterly to the authorities about the lack of internet at Satara. This is the second biggest camp in the flagship Sanparks tourist attraction of the country and they can’t even provide internet. Unbelievable. At present I am dealing with the matter of our forthcoming move to Simbithi and it is vital that I have Internet access. So there is nothing to be done but to pack up tomorrow and go back to Skukuza. So infuriating but typical of the incompetent indifference Kruger Park’s management. And no amount of complaining helps. Having experienced the immaculate Cape Parks a few months ago then I find it scandalous that the world famous Kruger can be so badly run.

After a swim to cool off, we drive out to Nsemani Dam (H7). The most interesting sight was a Black-Shouldered Kite perched with a mouse in its talons. After a while its mate joins it.

Mugg & Bean at Satara has been closed down because the affirmative franchisee was not paying his staff and soon ran place into the ground. (We were here earlier in the year when this happened). After the day’s exertions, we venture to what remains of the restaurant and in the murky darkness of the veranda we find a table and a shabby waitress. There are three items on the menu. Pap and Wors, Potjie and Rooster something or other. Defeated, we return to campsite and Renette comes up with a tasty supper instead. Where oh where is “Oom Dirk” from Karoo National who ran that Park so well? It’s all about management and when appointments are made for reasons other than ability, then the wheels fall off.

A cool south wind comes up through in the night and I hope we get some rain.