I follow a long line of cars out the Skukuza gate at 5.30am under a heavily overcast sky. This morning I am going to try the Salitje S30 which always promises so much but has disappointed of late.
After the high-level bridge over the Sabie, scene of yesterday’s Otter excitement, I turn right onto Salitje and crawl along this most attractive road that at first runs along the northern bank of the river. But disappointingly all remains quiet and still. Further down the road they have burnt the veld on the right which also detracts from the enjoyment. The clouds thin and the light improves and on an impulse I decide to push on to Lower Sabie and Sunset Dam.
Reaching the Dam I am disappointed to find the south wind blowing quite strongly which ruffles the water making photos unattractive. So I push on up the H4-1 river road and at Lullaby Rocks I come across the resident lion pride sprawled out across the rocks.
Shortly thereafter I meet four Southern Ground Hornbills foraging through the dry grass.
Not far beyond a Yellow-billed Kite swoops down ahead of me and catches a small green snake (Boomslang??) which it rapidly swallows.
A really interesting sight that. Next a Red-billed Oxpecker on an Impala.
I am really amazed by the high concentration of game along the Sabie river road south of the river (H4-1) as opposed to the desolate Salitje road on the north bank. Why this should be is rather mystifying. I pass large herds of impala, giraffe, many ellies, bushbuck, duiker, nyala, buffalo and twice I come across lion prides down in the riverbed. So if one can stand the traffic then the H4-1 is the place to be.
The cloud cover remains and with the light still good, I set out for Lake Panic at 1.30pm – much earlier than usual. Although I find nothing out of the ordinary, it is always interesting here and I take a few photographs.
At 3pm I feel I have exhausted my chances at Lake Panic and decide to push on to the Doispan S1 road. Hardly have I turned on to it than I come across some cars viewing a distant leopard sleeping on a branch.
Thereafter I push on all the way to Phabeni and then come back along the S3 river road towards Paul Kruger Gate. This is such a beautiful road with large riverine trees but again, very little stirs.
So not the most exciting of days but Kruger is Kruger and it does make those special moments all the better when they come.
Shaun Jenkinson Oct 15, 2019 at 5:34 am
Morning Mr Grant.
A great read once again. The reason you seeing more game on the tarred road as opposed to the Salitje road is that, on the Salitje side the grass and trees are full of dust from passing cars which is not great for the grazers and browsers that feed on them and make it less palatable to eat. On the Sabie River tarred road you don’t get the dust that you do on Salitje and that’s why there is this huge concentration of game on that side… Firstly the fresh running water in the river attracts them and so does the vegetation as it’s not as dusty, which in turn would attract more predators that feed on those animals too.
An interesting thought but makes sense to why one side is plentiful with game and the other side is quiet.
Richard Grant Oct 15, 2019 at 12:38 pm
A very logical reply Shaun. And I’m afraid that that applies to all dusty gravel roads.