We have a meeting today with Warren at the Satara airstrip at 9.30am so we decide to do a quick circuit – northward up the tar (H1-4) for 7Km’s and then cut across east (S90) to Gudzani and then back up the Nwanetsi river road (S100). A light south wind is blowing and it is overcast.
Along the eastern gravel road we meet a convoy of three army vehicles escorting an ambulance. One can only speculate what has happened. A ranger wounded in a clash with poachers? Or in the mad world that we live in, a wounded poacher?
9 o’clock and all’s well.
This is a green drought of note. The veld is thick with meter length grass but the streams and dams are bone dry. Some of you may remember a month or two back me forwarding a clip of the Sweni and Nwanetsi streams as raging torrents. So localised was downpour that the Gudzani Dam, 10Km north, is but baked clay and grass and no water at all.
The S100 is really on form this morning. We arrive at a group of cars to be informed that a leopard has just alighted from a nearby tree. Vast herds of zebra, wildes, giraffe, waterbuck, buffalo line the road and it really is a most beautiful spectacle. But we must hurry by.
We arrive at the Satara airstrip (1Km from camp) just in time to meet Warren who is preparing the way for today’s intake of guests. At R25,000pp/day they expect a little pampering and Warren is ensuring that their parch throats are soothed as they tackle Africa’s dangers.
Of course we cannot be there when they arrive so we return to camp where I braai in the warm, wintery sun in what is now a perfect day. What a paradise to be blessed with. In the distance we can hear planes coming and going so Warren is being kept busy.
Between breaks in the incoming flights we take Warren some braai lunch and meet guides Quinton and Jarny. Now if there is one great regret that I have it is that I never spent a year studying the bush like Warren has done.
These three guides now show us the holes in which live Baboon Spiders. A little tickling with a blade of grass brings these incredible creatures to the surface.
They are enormous, hairy and orange coloured and so, so impressive. I am told though that despite their fearsome appearance they themselves are easy prey to a large black spider-hunting wasp that stings them to death, drags them to a suitable recess and then lays its eggs in the corpse. What an astounding crash nature course we are given. More guests are arriving so we are shushed away just as a plane is landing.
The internet is non-existent at Satara so after 3pm we drive down the Nwanetsi tarred road (H6) and then turn left to where Warren is accommodated in the Singita staff quarters. Actually this used to be an old army camp in the past and Singita have taken it over. The main purpose of going there is to make use of the camp wi-fi so that I can get my business matters sorted. But although I receive all the incoming emails, I cannot send for some reason so my diary and letters of complaint to Sanparks must wait another day.
Striking, is the happiness of all the staff working within Kruger. All say to us how grateful they are to be working in such peace and tranquillity whereas outside the Park “everyone wants to fight”. Evans, a jovial Venda character from Messina, is the camp supervisor and as usual could not be more friendly and accommodating. Amy, wife of the Singita maintenance manager, Trevor, runs a school for all the staff’s children and says how happy she is to be where she is. At R25,000pp/night then 40 guests means plus R1 million a day but I am very aware of the huge overheads that this operation bears. And it is all apparent how meticulously it is managed. Warren must account for each Coke the guests drink but I know from my chicken days if one is tardy about these little things then one quickly loses control.
Back again to Satara with the sun setting across the plains. Where the main tarred road crosses the Nwanetsi River the same cluster of cars are jostling for a better view of some oh so boring lions that are still fast asleep in the grass.
We both marvel again at how the day flies by and that there is just no time for boredom. We love it here.