Yesterday evening we trundle down to Kanniedood Dam along the S50 but the wilted vegetation and baked ground make it desert like.
We decide that with conditions so adverse at Shingwedzi that we will move down to Satara today, Sunday. But first, one last stab at the S56 Phongolo River road. So at 5.15am we move out through the surprisingly open camp gates and are soon following our river road. What a picture with the rising sun behind us.
We turn at 6.45am and retrace our steps as we must pack for Satara before the heat sets in. The buffalo herds are coming down for their drink in the riverbed. One really fears for the fate of these Shingwedzi buffalo if good rains do not fall shortly.
Back on the tar, we are delayed by some European Bee-eaters which are really performing for us.
Our packing in camp is interrupted by a pair of beautiful Bennett’s Woodpeckers that are feeding on the ground closeby.
We leave camp at 8.30am and move rapidly southward. The condition of the veld improves immediately and around Mopane the grass is much healthier. Poor, beautiful Shingwedzi. Probably one of the most desirable camps in the Park but in drought conditions we must just sadly give it a miss. We will return when conditions are better.
Past Mopane, we pass a Tsesebe but other than that very little delays our progress. Once we have crossed the bland Olifants River, the veld improves immediately to how we always envisage the Satara grasslands to be. Dense meter high grass waving like wheatlands in the wind. It truly is good to be back in the land of plenty.
Arriving in Satara at 12.15pm we are fortunate to find a good campsite with dense shade and in no time we are setup and ready.
Late afternoon we go north again up the H1-4 and then turn right along the S90. What joy to be in these rich grasslands again bristling with life. The widowbirds, larks, spurfowls, whydahs and bustards.
We have a quiet cup of coffee at the Mavumbye pond which surprisingly is not flowing over the causeway – although full.
It really is good to be back at Satara with so many road and habitat options. We look forward to our time here.