After arriving at Skukuza on 13th October, we finally take our leave today. You may remember that we were meant to go to Satara for two weeks but what with the drought and having to go home to Ballito for a week, we decided to continue at Skukuza – and very successfully.
We are packed and making rapid progress down the Sabie River road H4-1 at 5.45am. We have no interruptions and reach Lower Sabie at 7am. We are fortunate to find a partially shaded site where we quickly set up before the heat builds up. Lower Sabie campsites are tiny and shade is scarce. The ground is stony and I must use my electric drill so as to set the tent pegs. By noon the temperature has reached 40 degrees and I am a little steaming. We cower in the caravan for most of the day with the air/con making a valiant effort to keep us cool. At 3.30pm we go for a swim in the murky swimming pool together with many sweaty foreigners.
I really hate to moan but all the businessman in me wells up when I see the shoddy maintenance of the camp. This is SA’s premier tourist destination and should be immaculately managed as we compete with the rest of the world for tourists. No such luck as litter lies everywhere, fences stay broken, drains blocked and toilets smell. It is just so simple to manage properly and I itch to quickly correct it. As I have said before, fortunately the animals outside thrive on neglect and that is really why we are here – so we must just grin and live with the irritations. But I am going to visit the camp manager – for what it is worth.
This evening we take a short drive out along the H10 towards Mlondozi. The Lower Sabie area has had some rain and there is a flush of green grass.
We pass herds of wildebeest, zebras and giraffe whilst warties, ellies and steenbokkies keep Callum occupied.
In fact the road is surprisingly busy with game.
Tomorrow it is forecast that the temperature will be even higher so I am afraid that our first two days at Lower Sabie are going to be rather restricted. Thereafter the days cool and a little rain is even forecast over the next week.
Lower Sabie of course means Sunset Dam but……. from a photographic point of view, conditions must be just right. No wind, allowing for a glassy water surface and a clear sky for soft, golden light at sunrise. So, with lions roaring around the camp, everything is right this morning and we take up our position at 4.45am.
The action is immediate and continuous both from bird and beast.
A hippo crosses the road from the river and belly flops off the bank into the water right next to us.
But after an hour the wind picks up and with a real scorcher ahead, we make for camp where, in the morning cool, we get the tent prepared for Dave and Steph who arrive tomorrow from Jo’burg.
Today is the worst heat of all and we pity the poor campers arriving at midday. Our early morning tactics certainly work well. 4pm for a quick swim in the filthy pool facility and then off across the bridge along the H10.
Much activity is taking place below. Stagnant pools have concentrated the fish and crocodiles and birds are having a field day.
A rotting carcass floats in the water and the crocs are busy feeding off it – spinning as they tear off the flesh.
Out along the H10 road, game is plentiful. A Secretarybird alights atop a bushy tree and tends to a concealed nest.
But the best part was coming across a large herd of buffalo that filled the road for some distance.
Remarkable were not only how few males there were but how many young calves filled the herd. Another remarkable feature was that there was not an Oxpecker to be seen.
The weather should cool now and I so hope that the rains arrive.