Photoblog: #CrossingKruger week three

Posted by Adel Groenewald on 10 May 2013

It’s already three weeks into my Crossing Kruger trip and this week I travelled a bit further north to start exploring the central regions of the park. I knew that this area is characterised by far-stretching grasslands and open plains, but I didn’t realise that there was such a clear line, in the form of the H7, that signifies this shift in landscape. As soon as I reached this road, I saw further across the bush than I ever had before. These flat landscapes allowed me to spot large herds of animals easily and I spent lots of time watching giraffe, zebra and wildebeest, happily grazing life away.

I stayed at the safari tent camp of Tamboti – a satellite camp of Orpen Rest Camp – and then I moved to the east to spend a few nights are Satara Rest Camp, the park’s second largest camp. I’m currently in Lower Sabie, a place where the open spaces are spread over hills and ridges to afford the most beautiful views and where the Sabie River forms the view from my front stoep.

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It seems like synchronizing your movements is the way they roll in these parts. These giraffes were playfully nudging each other with their necks and stopped for a pretty pose.

As I said, large herds of zebra are plentiful in this region, and when this particular group finally decided to let us pass, they showed off with a spot of synchronized running.

One specific herd of wildebeest made a flat plain at the turnoff to Tamboti their home for the entire time that I stayed there and this one looked so peaceful, mid-graze, with the clouds overhead.

The H7 that runs between Orpen and Satara is well known for great lion sightings. I didn’t get to see the lions up close, but this pack of hyena spoiled me with a group trot down the road one morning.

I was actually just about to turn off and park at a viewpoint when I saw something to the left and this beautiful waterbuck stood there, quietly staring out into somewhere unknown to me.

I was on my way to this wonderful viewpoint. Found just about 12km from Orpen, you can get out here and gaze out over Bobbejaankrans. You wouldn’t believe you’re this high up when you’re traversing the plains.

Did I mention that I saw a lot of giraffe? This one actually wasn’t busy chewing on a tree when I saw it, it was just peeping out from behind the grass. I love how curious they always look.

Although the flat plains are beautiful, I had to work to get there. This road is probably the most deserted one that I have driven so far, and believe me, 100km feels much further than it is when you’re average 30km/h.

Proof that this is rural Kruger: the toilets at the public picnic spots are still old school. Old school in the long-drop sense of the word.

One of the many far-stretching grass plains found around the Satara area. You can see why they call this big cat country.

I found it strange to see a touch of the manmade on a morning drive, but with the grass and the cloudiness, the windmill looked rather striking.

The area around Satara is also known for hosting many vultures. Perhaps because of the large lion population, giving them lots of catch to prey on.

Nsemani Dam is beautiful large mass of water that you find right beside the tar road, 7km from Satara. It’s such a convenient place to stop off at and you’re bound to be rewarded with some croc and hippo sightings.

I wanted a great picture of a rhino so badly, but clearly none of the rhino felt the same. This was the best I could do so far, with him hiding neatly behind a tree.

I found another incredibly viewpoint – this time at N’wanetsi Picnic Spot. There’s a little path the runs up a steep hill from the picnic area and then you can stand up here, looking down over the beautiful river.

At another picnic spot, Tshokwane to exact, I just sat down for the first toasted sandwich I’ve had in weeks, and a monkey almost snatched it right off my table! Thank goodness for fast reflexes.

Tshokwane Picnic Spot has one particularly impressive attraction – a massive sausage tree jutting out in the middle. It is so magnificent that they decided to build the restaurant around it.

One of the many reasons why Lower Sabie is such a popular rest camp – the Lower Sabie River. This bridge is conveniently wide enough for two cars, so take your time when you cross it. It’s a pretty fantastic experience, even if you don’t spot wildlife drinking on the banks.

Another treat that comes with Lower Sabie is the Sunset Dam, just about 500m from the camp’s gates. The dam has a resident croc, Beauty, who is about 8m long. The early mornings are a great time to see if you can spot lions drinking here. Otherwise, enjoy your flask coffee and listen to the hippos grunt.

I have lens envy of anyone with a longer lens than me (which is pretty much everyone else in the park), because I haven’t been able to get any shots of birds. I was therefore happy to find this little pied kingfisher on the edge of the Lower Sabie Bridge.

And just as I was returning from my morning drive, this huge herd of buffalo came marching by just off the road. I was amazed at how quiet they were, just moving on in single file, eating as they go.

Not all mornings need to be spent in the bush as soon as the gates open, though. Sometimes it’s great to just enjoy the early mornings from your stoep, especially when it overlooks a beautiful river.


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