Lower Sabie Tue 11th Dec
One cannot stay at Lower Sabie and not travel the beautiful Nwatimhiri road (S21). The rain has stopped and even though the cold south wind is still blowing, the cloud is high and we head thither.
We begin with coffee at the 4Km pond which is still bone dry. Evidence of water running along the roadside can be seen but none of the steams has flowed and this area received much less rain than Lower Sabie. We really creep along the length of the road but see very little which is disappointing.
But we all know Kruger – one moment quiet and the next frenetic action. Rather than double back, we continue past Renoster Koppies and Skukuza and then quickly back down the Sabie River Road (H4-1) without seeing very much. Back at camp at 10.30am which is a six hour trip – far too long.
The sky has cleared and the wind dropped by the time we leave for Mlondozi Dam at 3.30pm.
We do see a pair of rather rare and impressive Reedbuck. At Mlondozi Dam we find a few pools of water but the stream feeding the dam has not flowed here. Sarah is delighted to get a good view of a pair of Pearl-spotted Owls.
Gareth is adamant that during tea he hears the unmistakable grunting of a nearby leopard. As we leave we look carefully but with no luck.
A view back to the picturesque Mlondozi picnic spot.
Not the best of days but we live to fight another day and tomorrow is Salietjie (S30).
Lower Sabie, Wed 12th December
Today is clear, calm and cool as we leave the gates second in line at 4.30am. We are headed for our old favourite Salietjie road (S30) which we hope will reward us after our disaster on Nwatimhiri yesterday.
Up the long gravel road (S128) towards Mafourteen and we stop to watch a group of hyena snuffling about in the damp earth close to the road. Coffee at our usual spot at the start of Salietjie and then a slow crawl along this most beautiful of roads with the rising sun at our backs.
Gareth is driving with Sarah in the front seat busy sketching scenes as we pass. She is one of these incredibly gifted people who have the ability to translate what they see accurately onto paper with a few squiggles of her pen.
Gareth is masterful at positioning me for a photo and quickly turns so that I can shoot an immature Bateleur. A brilliantly white African Hawk Eagle stands out at a distant in a tall tree but quickly flies off.
Soon after that we have a group of Ground Hornbills around the Quantum and whilst we are watching them, three Wild dogs lope past.
We follow them to that pool where they drink and then move on. Sarah very cleverly picks up a hyena call and we soon see him through the bush. Meanwhile the wild dogs have settled in the road and one rests in the shade of the Quantum.
Where the Nwatinhdlophu stream meets the Sabie, we are alerted to two lions lying on a nearby rock.
A quick breakfast at the beautiful lookout with Sarah’s pen scratching away.
Chattering monkeys indicate a nearby leopard but we cannot find it. We pass two Nyala rams which are now quite common in Kruger.
From the high level bridge we see three African Harrier-Hawks (Gymnogenes) but they skulk away in the foliage of a sycamore. Not far down the Sabie road I spy a Broad-billed Roller which is soon joined by another. Now this is not a common bird in Kruger and I am delighted to get some reasonable photos.
Soon after this a small flock of Retz’s Helmet-Shrikes.
Yesterday’s poor sightings are but a distant memory and we return to camp buoyed by a morning of non-stop activity.
Late afternoon Renette and I travel up to the Nwatimhiri Causeway and then drift back down the H4-1 river road in the evening light. I find a Wahlbergs Eagle close to the road.
Down near Sunset Dam we meet a dark Tawny Eagle which obliges by taking flight from a tree over the road.
And so ends one of the most pleasant days that we have spent in Kruger. We saw so many unexpected sightings in glorious sunny, cool weather.