Satara 28-31st May

Satara 28-31st May

Saturday, 28th

We always enjoy Skukuza even though this was a stuttering effort. Rain and Nelspruit interrupted the flow but today we head for Satara, then Shingwedzi, back to Satara, back to Skukuza and then finally Bergendal – each for a week. This was a late booking by which time Lower Sabie was fully booked. Hopefully up north we will settle into our normal rouitine.

At 6.40am we leave Skukuza with caravan in tow. It is heavily overcast today but quite warm. We move quickly up the H1-2 main road stopping at Tshokwane for a great bobotie pie and cappuccino. The Tshokwane area is often the first to feel the effects of drought but now there is a carpet of thick green grass. But it is evident the further north we go that not as much rain has fallen here. The Mazithi and Kumana Dam levels are quite low.

The Satara campsite is full but we find a good site at the southern end. In winter shade is nor a prerequisite making selection much easier. At midday the sky clears heralding another glorious May afternoon. This bushveld winter climate is just wonderful. We shoot off to Nsemani Dam at 4pm but again all is quiet. A quick visit to Giravani Dam reveals a very low water level. So, the scene is set and tomorrow we will take on the lovely Sweni S126 road.

Sunday, 29th

A lovely sunny day awaits us as we leave the gate at 6am. Hopefully, our favourite Sweni road will reward us. The cars ahead of us stop at the Nwanetsi River bridge where we find a group of lionesses and four cubs blocking the road in the gloomy light. The front two cars draw up alongside the lions and there they stay. Eventually the lions get up and stroll leisurely along the road heading south. And still those same two cars stay alongside blocking all others from getting a view or passing by. The lions walk all the way to the Nwanetsi H6 turnoff and those same two cars steadfastly keep their spot. Around a corner I look backward and the line of cars stretches some 200m behind us. Really, life in Kruger is all about being considerate to others and the behaviour of those front two cars is just so so selfish. Have a look, take your photos and then move on to give others a turn. Finally we squeeze past at 6.45am, long after sunrise and now late for our Sweni.

Long grass and plenty of pools of water have again made game spotting difficult and despite crawling along beautiful Sweni we see very little. At Welverdiend we have our breakfast and gaze out across the deserted waterhole. Finally some impala make an appearance.

Thereafter, we turn and head back to camp.

This afternoon, we head northward along the H1-4 for about 12kms but the long grass prevents good viewing. After coffee, we turn and head back toward Satara and soon an African Wildcat is scurrying along the road ahead of us. It obligingly turns for a photo before disappearing into the grassy verge.

Monday, 30th

Another winter’s day in Kruger as we take the S100 Nwanetsi gravel road out east. Traffic is light as we creep along this magnificent bushveld road. I now fear that I am going to lose my faithful followers from sheer boredom when I report to you that we see very little out of the ordinary. Only some buffalo, wildebeest, kudu and impala – nothing else. But sunrise along this beautiful road is worth every minute spent.

The cats are certainly lying low and it isn’t just our failing eyesight – the other cars are equally scoreless. But as always in Kruger, it is the anticipation that spurs one on and perseverance will gain the reward.

Yellow-throated Longclaw

Down at Gudzani, we cross the clear waters washing over the causeway before entering the full dam.

As we sit there the south wind arrives with a rush and clouds begin to race across the sky from the south. After breakfast at the Gudzani Dam lookout, we travel slowly up the S100 but again it proves desolate.

Nwanetsi River viewed from the S100

Later in the day the wind subsides but the sky remains heavily overcast but with no rain. Late afternoon we go out west to a dark and gloomy Nsemani Dam in rather adverse conditions. Tomorrow’s weather forecast is encouraging so we will no doubt head north.

Tuesday, 31st

We are at the gate at 5.45am in the dark but in true Satara tradition we are well back in the queue. We head north up the main H1-4 road under a cloudy but thinning sky. It comes as a surprise when, without warning, a red sun slips over the horizon which appeared to be covered by thick cloud.

Beyond the Ngotso Dam and waterpoint is a little known jewel of Kruger. This is the single track, one-way S147 road that winds along next to the Ngotso stream. It was along this road that we saw a leopard and cubs a couple of years ago. Great trees mark the water course whilst the grass is shorter here making game viewing really excellent. It was along this road too that I became stuck in some treacherous mud a couple of years ago and had to walk a couple of km’s to find help.

At the end of this 7km road we turn left, cross the main H1-4 road and join the S39 Timbavati road. We do see interesting sights along the road.

Kori Bustard

I really recommend the route that we took today when the grass is long and thick around Satara. This area is drier and the roads around Ngotso and Timbavati are quieter and so beautiful.

From the Timbavati Picnic spot we take the S40 road that cuts across to Nsemani Dam. Along the way we come across some lions in the long grass but we only see some ears twitching. At Nsemani Dam, a lone lioness is busy stalking an impala but is unsuccessful.

Back in camp the sky has cleared and we enjoy the warm winter sun of the Lowveld.