Sunday, 27th January
Right on forecaster yr.no’s schedule, rain starts to beat down at 10pm last night. Not violent but enough to rapidly form puddles and have water rushing down the camp roads. By 1am it subsides and in the morning I inspect my rain gauge and find that 22mm fell. Great for the grass but I fear that the streams and water table need much more.
We venture out at 5.30am in a light drizzle and a cold south wind necessitating jerseys – in January!
We take the main H6 road down towards Nwanetsi and in the dull light we do see two very sleepy lionesses, a clan of hyena, jackal and the usual assortment of game.
By 8am we are back in camp.
At 12noon I take off down the S100 river road but despite creeping along and really concentrating I see little out of the ordinary.
It is striking how yesterday the Woodland Kingfishers were calling continuously but today not at all. At the end of the road I turn left and head northward along the Gudzani East S41 road. All is quiet but I do hear the ‘twit twit twit’ from a Harlequin Quail very close to the road. Sitting quietly, l am rewarded when this shy little beauty shows himself amongst the grass stems.
The further north I go, the lower the grass gets until it is at ankle length with no seed stalks at all. It is like this all the way back to the main H1-4 road and there is no cover and not much to see. Two years ago a waist high carpet of grass played host to those enormous flocks of queleas and all the other seedeaters. Amazingly the stream that crosses the Old Main (gravel) Road (S90), although not flowing over the causeway, still forms a very attractive pool filled with water lilies – despite the drought.
At the junction with the main road a collection of cars tell me that two cheetah are sitting some 80m off the road.
I am back in camp with a few squalls of rain and the sky dark by 4.30pm. But I fear that is the end of the rain.
Monday, 28th January
Satara still maintains its lead ahead of the other Kruger camps – in my opinion. It lacks the frenetic buzz of the large southern camps and the roads are quieter especially at this time of the year. The S100 Nwanetsi River road is magnificent but in the winter months it is just too busy.
Today we choose again to go down this road in glorious weather. There is not a breath of wind, the air is cool and there is high cloud making for lovely soft light. We dawdle along stopping to enjoy a large herd of zebra.
I suppose folk that with the lack of spectacular sighting you may think that our interest is flagging. Far from it. Today we enjoy the best morning of the trip just marvelling at the splendour of the African savanna and the great array of animals and birds.
Near the end of the road we come to some Carmine Bee-eaters that are hawking bees from their vantage points and I spend a good hour photographing them in the most perfect conditions.
Thereafter we retrace our steps passing through great herds of buffalo, wildebeest and zebra. The grass is just vibrant after the rain and all signs of wilt have disappeared.
Back in camp I seize the opportunity that the weather brings to go photographing the birdlife.
I am pleased to photograph an Acacia Pied Barbet which is not common in Kruger.
This afternoon I again go a short distance down the S100.
I then pick up Renette and we enjoy a late afternoon coffee at Nsemane Dam which has filled quite a bit since the rain.
Heavy rain clouds are unexpectedly threatening but so far nothing has materialised.
There seems to be a marked improvement in the running of the camp. The shop is well stocked with fresh groceries and the camp grounds are clean and neat. Both of us are so happy in these surroundings and it is lovely feeling to know that there is no hurry to get home.
Pete Jan 28, 2019 at 5:46 am
Fantastic Fred – living your trip through your daily reports. They really do make the day ahead more bearable. Hope the rain comes to Kruger without it spoiling your camping.
Pete Jan 29, 2019 at 5:27 am
So true Fred – it is not always the spectacular sightings that generate the excitement of Kruger,. Learning how to simply appreciate the surrounds, regardless of season or weather, also leads to the satisfaction unique to wilderness environments. It also certainly helps to know what you are looking at and to have a basic understanding of the ecological systems.
Richard Grant Jan 29, 2019 at 8:45 am
We are certainly not cracking it here at Satara but we are loving every minute of our time here Pete.