Satara 11-13th June

Satara 11-13th June

Saturday, 11th

With still a light drift from the south and some cloud about, we head for Sweni S126. There is always the dilemma of whether to go quickly and be the first to find exciting sightings on the road or creep along allowing other cars to pass but enjoy the smaller things of interest. Today is a case in point as Sweni seems to be a popular destination and a number of cars hurry by.

However, the bushveld at sunrise is something to savour and we so enjoy the beauty of it all.

A pair of White-crowned Shrikes huddle together on a chilly 5 ℃ morning

As already explained, during these times of abundant rains the animals just scatter far away from the rivers and waterholes leaving these usually very productive roads barren. So it is with Sweni this morning. Perhaps only the real Kruger enthusiast will understand that it can still be most enjoyable – even if nothing exciting is on show. In Kruger the possibilities are limitless so the anticipation is always there.

Our Sweni breakfast venue – looking out over the Welverdiend waterhole. No animals to be seen.
The Sweni River from the mainroad bridge

Sunday 12th

The tactic today is to leave the camp gates at 6.15am and creep down the S100 Nwanetsi river road after the early rush of cars has subsided. This morning is the coldest yet at 5℃ but the sky clear and the air calm. The sun rises at 6.34am as we sip our coffee at the ‘big sycamore fig’ near the beginning of the road.

Thereafter we begin our slow 10kph dawdle along the road. I stop to photograph a Yellow-throated Longclaw in good morning voice.

Despite travelling about 18km of prime game spotting country, our grand total of any animal seen is one male Bushbuck in thick bush.

This is almost unheard of along this famous road. Again, the result of the widespread pools of water lying everywhere in the open veld.

Nwanetsi River road

Just before the S100 meets the S41, there is some veld that has been recently burnt with a lush regrowth of green grass. Suddenly there are kudu, impala, ellies, waterbuck, zebra all feeding here.

Breakfast next to Gudzani Dam with hippos sloshing and snorting alongside.

This afternoon we go northeast along the S90 to the Mavumbye waterhole. Along the way we see the quite common Double Banded Sandgrouse at the edge of the road enjoying the last rays of the sun .

Monday, 13th

Today we are heading north so, leading the pack, we head up along the main H1-4 on a usual clear, winter’s day. The temperature is 10℃ as we leave camp but drops steadily as we head north. After 28kms, we turn right onto our favourite S147 Ngotso stream track and here in the depression, the temperature drops to 2℃. I fear that no self respecting leopard will go walkabouts in these conditions and would prefer to find a sheltered nook and sun itself.

Again, we cross over the mainroad and join the Timbavati S39 road with the temperature rising to 7℃. We spend a couple of hours along this splendid road seeing animals all along the way. Amazingly, we travel the full 28km without seeing a single car. There is no doubt in my mind that this wonderful road, under the present conditions, is the best option to take from Satara camp.

Kori Bustard
Black-backed Jackal
The Timbavati River
A Secretarybird takes off ahead of us on the way back to camp

Lunch at the Satara Cattle Baron restaurant that has improved so much on the catering standards in Kruger.