Thursday was time to leave Skukuza and head up to Satara – but first, my camp had to be taken down and the car packed. I managed to do this in an hour and a half and set out by 7.30.
I popped into the Day Visitors’ area just outside Skukuza to have a look around – I was pleasantly surprised. To be honest, I have always written off this place but on Thursday I did a bit more exploring and it’s now definitely going to be a place I use more often. It’s right on the Sabie River so has some good views. The manager, Lena, is a wonderfully friendly lady who offered to show me around (find her and say hi when you’re next there). I was impressed with the cleanliness of everything here – especially the bathrooms, where everything works as it should. I’ve seen a lot of broken soap dispensers and empty paper-towel dispensers and there were none of those here. They have kitchens with hot plates, sinks and boiling water – and there are a few scattered around the various picnic spots so you don’t have to walk very far to find one close to your picnic site.
There is a stunning, clean swimming pool with thatch awnings to picnic under with a gorgeous view of the Sabie River. There are showers and a changing area in the pool area. Large groups can use the boma, where everyone can sit and eat together. The braai areas are dotted amongst the trees, making it a bit more private than your average day visitors’ area. All-in-all definitely worth a visit if you are in the Skukuza area and need a break or a refreshing swim.
The H1-2 is still closed so I made my way back along the H4-1. I got to have a quick breakfast sitting less than 3 metres from 3 male lions who were resting in the shade of some bushes in the centre of one of the river viewpoints. So special.
I headed on the H12 to the H1-2 up to Satara. Mantimahle Dam is looking very full. Unfortunately the access road is closed so I couldn’t see much of it. Although the road actually doesn’t go very close to the dam at all, even when open. Last year, there was a road that you could follow right down to the water’s edge but when I as back here earlier this month, that section had been closed again.
The road to N’watindlopfu dam is also closed.
The N’watindlopfu River is small but flowing again and Olifants Waterhole has some nice water in it now.
I was very happy to come across a leopard eating a water monitor just before Leeupan! He was in the dip on the righthand side of the road and only one car could see him at a time, so I waited in the queue for my turn. Just a note here, please always turn your car off at sightings like this – animals, especially leopards, get annoyed and will move off, ruining the sighting for everyone. This has happened a few times to me in the past and it is so frustrating. Besides that, the smell of diesel is not one that most people can handle! Thankfully, this leopard was too engrossed in eating to care about the engines 🙂 I didn’t get the greatest shots of him as there was some grass around his head but it was a treat just to see him. Spent a quick 2 minutes there and then moved off to allow other people a chance.
Leeupan is so full at the moment. For years it was dry and barren. In the last couple of years, it has been full again at times, but this is definitely the fullest I’ve seen it.
For those that don’t know, Silolweni Dam was closed and then the dam wall broken last year in an effort to eradicate a harmful algae there. The Park tried to find a solution but nothing worked and animals were dying as a result, so they made the decision to break it. This was one of my favourite dams along this route with a couple of lion sightings previously.
I had forgotten all about Orpen Dam just 4km’s off the road, so quickly went there to see how it had changed. And realised they also have toilets, so if you need to make a stop in the next few months before Tshokwane is rebuilt, keep this place in mind. The river here has filled up nicely. I really like this spot – lovely and peaceful just to sit and chill for a few minutes.
I headed back to the H1-2, hoping to be able to take photos of Tshokwane. It’s still closed but there were people around so I got out to check if it was ok to photograph. I ended up meeting the Media Relations Practioner, Laura Mukwevho, a lovely lady who was taking a camera crew from the SABC news around for a story on the floods. I chatted to the crew and even got interviewed for the news that night – they wanted to know what changes I had noticed since being here 3 weeks ago. Apparently it was on SABC 2, just a short clip, which I’ll try and get hold of one day to put up here. Tshokwane was probably one of the worst hit places with it being right on the N’waswitsontso River which flooded its banks. The damage is still being assessed so no news yet on when repairs will be begin or when we can hope to see it opened again.
After Tshokwane the road name changes to the H1-3. The N’waswitsontso riverbed is rather open now with a lot of the palms gone.
Mazithi dam is full of water which is lovely to see. There are random pools of water all the way up this road, so the animals definitely have no shortage of places to choose from. This probably means a slightly smaller chance of spotting game as they will no longer congregate around bigger rivers and fill waterholes.
I took the N’waswitsontso Loop (S86) which is normally along a dry riverbed but this time there was water and it is a beautiful road to take – and only an additional 2km’s to the journey! Worth it…
The Kumana dam is huge! I never knew it stretched so far along the road – as you head north it must follow the road for a good few hundred metres.
Nkaya Pan is also now full and another beautiful spot to go and see.
I was very pleased to see that the S100 is open as a lot of dirt roads in the area had been closed just after the floods. That’s got to be one of the most famous roads in Kruger and always has good potential of rewarding you with any, if not all, of the Big 5.
So I arrived at Satara a little past 2 in the afternoon, checked in and got the name and number of the Sectional Ranger who I will chat to while I’m here. Found a lovely (although not particularly well-shaded!) campsite along the fence line and set up camp – this time all on my own! And it only took an hour and a half – I’m getting into this camping thing! Only issue – who plants wag-n-bietjie (buffalo thorn) trees in camping areas?! Got spiked a few times…
The rest of the afternoon was spent blogging and just chilling at my campsite. Had dinner (including fresh salad ingredients from the best-stocked shop here at Satara) with herds of Impala and Wildebeest just on the other side of the fence – life is good! I love Satara – there is something about it that just feels more like you really are in the wild. I heard Pearl-Spotted owl (one of my favourite owls) in the evening and had a Hyena walk past the fence and another one call in the distance, all while sitting under a huge sky painted full of stars – what a display of God’s beauty. This is the life 🙂 I do feel so blessed to be able to do this.
Tomorrow I will update you on the S100, N’wanetzi Picnic Site and the H6.. I’m off back into the bush!