Lower Sabie 13-14th December

Lower Sabie 13-14th December

Sunday, 13th

The prolonged heatwave is taking its toll and I go out by myself, heading for Salitjie S30. The forecast is for cooler weather today and change is indicated by a large storm cloud to the north with lightning flashes.

Salitjie is quiet today (or is it my fading eyesight) despite me being sharp and quietly creeping along. I reach the lookout spot over the Sabie and settle down to watch the goings on for an hour or two.

A fish eagle is perched above the water and after a while he dives down but returns to his tree unsuccessful.

The animals are coming to drink in numbers and I wonder if our crocodile is lurking but there is no sign of him.

Female Nyala
Two Black Ducks are also feeding

With the temperature again rising I head for the H4-1 and return to camp. All along this route clusters of cars have gathered to watch panting lions in the riverbed.

I suppose that it is cooler today – 37℃ but the humidity has increased and it is unpleasant. Late afternoon I venture out and up near the Nwatimhiri causeway I find two White-headed vultures in a dry tree.

These vultures are becoming quite rare. Back at Sunset Dam I find some crocs lying on a bank.

We were due to return to Jo’burg on Tuesday, 15th but with two more days of 40℃ heat forecast we decide to call it a day and return a day earlier. Renette has bravely endured the heatwave that has lasted a week but she feels the heat more than I do and it is no fun cooped up in the caravan under the air con. But before we go, I would like to spend a couple of hours at Sunset Dam at daybreak tomorrow.

Monday, 14th

I am all ready at the dam as the sun rises at 5am. Rather unusually, a pair of Saddle-billed Storks are strutting along the shoreline.

Female Saddle-billed Stork

Note the facial differences between the males and females.

Female with yellow eyes
Males with black eyes and pendant yellow wattles

There are no Fish eagles or Giant Kingfishers active today but there is nevertheless a lot of interest.

Grey Heron
Great White Heron
Unusually, a flock of Glossy Ibis fly over

I am back in camp by 7am and we leave at 8am with caravan in tow. This is the first time ever that we have willingly left Kruger early but the combination of heat and drought just made our stay at Lower Sabie very disappointing. Rain is forecast for later in the week and I do hope that it materializes.

I think that we must plan our summer visits to Kruger a little differently in future. Rain brings such life to the Park and we must try and avoid the very trying conditions that we experienced at Lower Sabie. Yes, there will be a lot of lions concentrated along the river but it is just all wrong to have to spend most of the day sheltering under an air con. Large areas at both Satara and Lower Sabie were just not worth visiting because of drought.

We are going down to Cape Town for a family Christmas then we will be coming up the coast again and we hope to be in a wet and buzzing Kruger at the end of January. Thank you for sharing the trip with us.