Lower Sabie Thurs 13th Dec
Today is our last day at Lower Sabie before moving to Satara tomorrow. We are third in line today and, oh dear, both lead cars are heading, like us, to Salietjie. We just let them go and after coffee travel slowly along this magnificent road. There are little items of interest but somehow not the frenetic action of yesterday.
We spend a while at the lookout point at Nwatindlophu Confluence where Sarah gets sketching.
Thereafter we continue and everyone breaks into song with “meneer die luiperd…………..”. This is a family habit of pleading with a leopard to show itself. A minute later we arrive at the rocks on the left where many years ago we had a brilliant sighting of a mother leopard with three cubs. Renette explains to Sarah how it happened as we creep past. Sarah looks backward towards the rocks and rather casually informs us that there is indeed a leopard there before dissolving into a gibbering incoherence. Rather disbelievingly, we follow her line of sight and sure enough, there draped across a rock, lies the most beautiful of leopards sunning herself in the early morning sun rays.
Oh my goodness, what a sight and all thoughts of our hours of fruitless endeavour evaporate. This is Kruger at its very best. Our lady does not stay long and after a couple of minutes climbs down and disappears towards the river.
Quivering a little, we press on with Sarah flushed red from elation – as well she might as this is her second leopard success. This latest was no fluke as it took a really good spot to see it and I suspect that a number of vehicles drove straight past without seeing it.
We stop at Nkuhlu Picnic Site on the way back to stretch our legs and regain our composure.
This afternoon we go up the Lullaby rocks from where we see two resident lionesses on the far bank. Just beyond we sit and watch some ellies splashing across the river towards us in the evening light.
This being our last night we decide to go to Mugg & Bean for a final evening meal. Sitting on the deck under the high thatched roof Renette and I feel the odd drop of moisture on us and wonder if the cool south wind has brought some rain. Before long a sheet of white fluid splatters down from the dark roof mainly over me and peering up into the dark rafters I can make out the white face of a Barn Owl. Of course there is much merriment from the other diners as we hurriedly change tables and the waitresses bring me towels to try and remove the owl’s ‘love gift’ from my clothes and hair. And so ends another wonderful day – full of incident and the unexpected.
Lower Sabie/Satara 14th December
There are tactics to be used when moving camp. One must try to get into a new camp after 8am giving people who are moving out time to pack up but early enough to beat the influx from Jo’burg arriving at midday.
We are packed and leave Lower Sabie at 5.30am heading up the H10 past Muntshe towards Tshokwane with Gareth and Sarah trailing behind in the BMW. There is no time for dithering so we travel quickly. North of Muntshe much rain has fallen and pools lie in the veld. Beyond Tshokwane, Mazithi Dam is surprisingly overflowing and Kumane Dam is moderately full. The Sweni and Nwanetsi Rivers have come down in spate and again there is still water lying in pools in the open veld. It is evident how dry was Kruger before the rain because, despite the flush of green grass, there are large areas of bare earth devoid of any cover.
A note on the Satara reception desk says that 58mm of rain was measured over the 9th-10th December and the green grass within the camp testifies to that. Our tactic works well as we find an excellent shaded campsite that has been vacated just before our arrival. Renette and I quickly have the camp set up whilst Gareth and Sarah enjoy a leisurely and very productive drive on the way up.
This evening we take a short drive up the main road to the north but sadly note that the streams and water courses are still bone dry. Kruger could do with some follow up rain but yr.no predicts nothing over the next eight days.
We look forward to the Sweni Road drive tomorrow and keenly anticipate what this great camp and environs has to offer.