First of all, another apology as my website goes on the blink – apparently because it is overloaded with photos. I have finally got it going again.
Today I am moving to Lower Sabie some 90kms distant. But first I enjoy for the last time the golden sunrise hours along the Sweni S126 road.
Thereafter, back to camp where I pack up preparing for the trip to Lower Sabie. My Satara stay this time was certainly enlivened by the S100 leopard which gave such a wonderful show. With the temperature again in the mid thirties, I set off southward at 12 noon. Kruger is so incredibly flat and along its almost 400km length there is scarcely a hill. So even with a heavy caravan trailing behind me one can gently travel the full distance almost without changing gear. I quickly find a vacant site and am comfortably bedded down by 4pm.
Lower Sabie, quite justifiably, is the most sought after camp in Kruger – because of the excellent game viewing in this area. Especially during the dry season, the Sabie River acts as a magnet to the herds of game and their accompanying predators.
I venture out for the last hour and drive up the main H4-1 Sabie Road and find a rather battered, old leopard lying near the road completely at ease with the nearby traffic jam.
I then come to some buffalo amongst the reeds in the riverbed and stop to watch. Suddenly four of them burst out of the reeds with a big male lion hot on their heals. They come up the bank and then thunder over the road just behind the Quantum. The lion gives up the chase and returns to the water’s edge for a drink. I am afraid that I was caught unprepared and missed a really good photograph.
One of the big drawcards of Lower Sabie is Sunset Dam – a few hundred meters from the camp gates. This morning the sunny, still conditions are perfect for photographing so I seize the opportunity.
One just marvels at the keen eyesight of the Kingfishers. This male (rufous waistcoat) perches high in a dead leadwood tree and then flies all of 50m to dive into the water and scoop up a tiny fish. Remarkable.
After a while I move around to the bridge/dam over the river and photograph some birds in the reeds.
Upstream one has a clear view of the restaurant deck that provides such a lovely setting for a meal.
Now I must explain myself. Our very dear friends/cousins, Werner and Noleen, from the Freestate are in good need of a break – so we have offered our caravan to them for a 12 day stay at Lower Sabie. They arrive this afternoon and I will move into a chalet for two nights whilst Werner learns the workings of the caravan. They duly arrive at 4pm.
Leaving our visitors to lie in on their first morning, I return to Sunset Dam.
I join Werner and Noleen for our evening drive and again we go up the river road. We do find a leopard but only see the tip of its tail twitching in the long grass. On the way back. we come across a mating lion couple and in the gloom I do manage a photo of this oh so impressive animal.
With Lower Sabie camp being booked out, I move to nearby Skukuza for a night before ‘handing over’ to Werner in the morning. After a period of heat, today is heavily cloudy with a south wind blowing. For a change, I visit Transport Dam along the Pretoriuskop H1-1 road. The top end of the dam is some 3-400m from the parking area and I note a small herd of wildebeest and some impala at the water’s edge.
After a while, the impala begin their alarm snorting and following their line of sight, I find a large, gingery male leopard surveying the scene.
After a while, he comes down to the water for a drink. Three immature Saddlebilled Storks approach him along the shoreline and both pay scant attention to each other.
I really get the impression that the leopard population of Kruger has increased a lot over the years as they seem now so plentiful. Not that I complain about that at all.
Rain falls overnight and on a dark, chilly morning I make my way back to Lower Sabie where I join Werner and Noleen for breakfast. Thereafter I bid them farewell as I sadly leave the Park and return to Jo’burg before flying off to join Renette in Somerset West in the Cape on Friday.
I am afraid that this has been a rather short Kruger visit by our standards and I hope that once we have settled in our new Cape home, we will be returning soon to our beloved Kruger. On the horizon I do have a dedicated bird photography trip to Kgalagadi lined up at the end of November with Renette’s brother. Steven. That is something different which I look forward to immensely.
Don Barclay Sep 10, 2021 at 2:34 am
Many thanks for your reports Richard, they are always so interesting to read. I look forward to future accounts of your travels. I was supposed to go to Kgalagadi with my South African friend this year before covid reared its ugly head. He guided me with friends for three Kruger trips but alas, covid took the life of my friend, I am devastated. When I can I will honour my friend and make a trip to Kgalagadi.
Beth Molasky Sep 10, 2021 at 4:01 am
You’re back in your glory again with all your wonderful bird shots and majestic animals! Happy for you
Richard Grant Sep 11, 2021 at 8:20 am
So sorry to hear about that Don. Yes, Kgalagadi is the most interesting of places and hold very good photographic opportunities. I look forward to the trip immensely.