Skukuza 15th October

Skukuza 15th October

Today I apply my new tactics and head down the Sabie river road (H4-1). Again, I am frustrated by missing a glorious sunrise which is over by 5.30am. Really the gate opening time should be 5am in October.

Down the road I come across a hippo who is a bit late after his night’s foraging.

Kruger without the Sabie River is unthinkable. This unpolluted lifeline threads its way through such a dry and sterile landscape giving life to so many animals. It is far and away Kruger’s most beautiful river. And this morning’s drive really reinforces that thought.

There is nonstop activity as herds of animals cross the road making for the cooling waters. A lioness plods down the road paying no heed to the traffic building up behind her.

As I pass her, I again am reminded of what tough lives these lions lead as I look closeup at her battle scarred face. Which is much the way it is with lions who look lovely from far but far from lovely when one is close up.

The game is everywhere. Following on from my comment yesterday, Shaun Jenky has kindly explained that the dust, at this dry time of the year, from the Salitje S30 gravel road (adjacent to the north bank of the river) settles on the plants making them unpalatable for animals which keep away – as of course do the predators. Thus the concentration along the tarred H4-1 on the south bank. Thank you Shaun.

The traffic is not excessive and I thoroughly enjoy the drive in beautiful morning light. There is so much of interest down this scenically splendid road.


I finally reach Sunset Dam which is quite low and I turn around. In the fifteen minutes that I have been away, the Lullaby lions make another appearance in the riverbed. And so it is all the way up the river with regular sightings of lions. The most impressive sight though for me was a large herd of buffalo that surge over the road blocking traffic for a good ten minutes.

Through the bush I can hear the front runners splashing about in the water lowing in delight.

The birdlife too is prolific.

Brown Snake-eagle
Brown-hooded Kingfisher

At the H12 high-level bridge I am told that I have just missed a leopard that was going walkabouts below the bridge.

Approaching camp, I note a cluster of vehicles on that short loop road next to the river. Investigating, I find another large buffalo herd but these are showing some agitation. Some break away and charge towards a clump of bush on the far bank out of which burst some lionesses in full retreat. However, the buffalo lose their nerve and it is their turn now to turn tail and rush back to the herd with the lionesses hot on their heels.

After a while they seem to establish a truce and everything settles down.

At midday with the temperature climbing, I decide on a swim but this time head for the large pool near the doctor’s room. The water here is also green but not as bad as the pool near the campsite. The pool attendant is present and I ask him if he is trained to look after pools. Oh yes he replies, he knows all about PH, chlorine and acid. Why then I ask, the disgusting state of the pools? What must he do, he says, when they run out of chlorine and don’t buy more. Good answer. But the chlorine arrived today and we can happily expect an improvement.

The nearby, vast, new hotel that was completed in December remains empty and locked. Apparently Sanparks cannot get a hotel group to run it for them which does sound a little lame after spending mega-millions building it.

Renette returns by air to the Skukuza airport at 2pm after fulfilling her grandmotherly duties down in the Cape. So all my bachelor, backsliding, bad habits must now come to an end as I become “civilised” again.

After taking a nap and on a dark evening, we trundle down the H4-1 again this time seeing two groups of lions.

Really these lions have it made just waiting in the riverbed for their prey to fall into their mouths. Come the first rains and they are going to have to start working for a living.