Lower Sabie 22nd February

Lower Sabie 22nd February

Saturday, 22nd

At first light we are busy packing for Lower Sabie. We have so enjoyed Skukuza with its easy campsite and great roads. In the winter months with the crowds then Skukuza is not the best option but in February with a desolate campsite and empty roads, it really is great. Each camp has its trademark and Skukuza’s must be the White-browed Robin-chat (Heuglin) which calls incessantly.

White-browed Robin-chat

We were here in November and the heat really made things tough. But once the rains start, the temperature falls and summer to me becomes highly desirable in Kruger. We have now been here nearly five weeks and we have not experienced any intolerable heat. So the trick of summer visits to Kruger is,,,,,,,,, wait for the rains to begin.

Summery Kruger

Just after 6am we head out of the gates for Lower Sabie. At the vulture/hyena feast near the 4-way crossing, great leg bones of a giraffe are strewn at the side of the road – thus indicating the source of the stench.

The H4-1 river road is spectacularly beautiful this morning. In summer when there is hardly any traffic, it is an excellent early morning option. A little misty with some light cloud, the scene against the rising sun is just superb. But I have the caravan in tow which makes it difficult to manoeuvre and we must get to Lower Sabie before the others arrive.

A family of Egyptian Geese cross the road
Male Bushbuck
H4-1 Sabie River road.

At the Nwatimwambu stream beyond Nkukhu, two powerful lionesses are standing in the road obviously in hunting mode. We haven’t seen many lions on this trip and I think that our leopard count exceeds them.

We arrive at Lower Sabie at 7.30am and spend a while trying to find a suitable site. LS has the worst campsite in the Park – all sites small and most lacking shade. We eventually move into a reasonable spot next to the one really shady site in LS. This site is occupied by a couple who have sold their house in Hillcrest, KZN, and are living permanently at Lower Sabie. They have been here since August and are booked here indefinitely. I ask Renette to have a serious chat to them.

The number of baboons that always roamed the campsite here has now swelled to a large troop who have taken ownership. They fearlessly stroll through camp looking for easy pickings. Our neighbours tell us that two lots of tourists have left because of the baboons. Such is the state of management here, nothing at all will be done – until there is a serious incident. It doesn’t matter if the baboons impact negatively on tourism.

The pool though is great and we cool off at midday surrounded by European tourists escaping the northern winter. How they enjoy Kruger. This is really body and soul stuff and throw in really healthy eating and one couldn’t do better.

At 4.30pm we go up to Muntshe mountain along the H10 road – beautiful in the late afternoon light. These rich grasslands are alive with birdlife.

The grasslands around Muntshe
The songster of the grasslands – Black-crowned Tchagara
Yellow-throated Longclaw – a common bird of the grasslands

But the star performer of the afternoon was an extravagantly beautiful pair of Green-winged Pytillias (Melba Finches). Here the male is presenting his partner with some grass seed as a love offering.

A really beautiful afternoon with non-stop activity. Readers will know that my real ambition in Kruger is to track down and photograph new species of birds. My total for SA now stands at 499 species so there will be much celebrating once the 500 mark is reached.

Thunder and lightning is evident in the south and good rain is predicted for tomorrow morning which would be welcome.