October 11, 2006

South AfricaToday we were moving from Pretoriuskop to Satara Rest Camp, where we would spend the next two nights. So we were up at 6:15 am to start our day. Just outside our door we could see guineafowl, and vervet monkeys a little way off. We made our tea and had muesli and rusks for breakfast. We tried making toast on the solid electric burners; that wasn’t a total failure, but it wasn’t very good toast either.

We packed up the car and organized our food to be stowed in the trunk. But at one point we were both away from the food, and a vervet monkey zoomed in and stole our bananas. We should have known better, but luckily we chased them away before they could do any more damage. We left about 7:30 am, turned in our key, and headed off. The plan was to drive to Skukuza over the same route as yesterday, then follow the river down to Lower Sabie camp, and then to turn north and drive to Satara. After yesterday’s experience we knew that would be an ambitious amount of driving, but we also knew how to manage our time better.

We had already started our sightings list as soon as we woke up, but it grew quickly as we went along. Since we had already driven the H1-1 part of the road, we didn’t follow the side roads off it again. But we did drive down to the waterholes to see the hippos again, and today there was an African Fish Eagle there. The scenery today was much improved from yesterday; today the clouds were higher and it looked like the sun might break through.

Our first stop of the day was at the new Skukuza day visitors’ site. It had a swimming pool as well as a picnic area, and a little shop where we bought ice creams for a treat. However it was too early for lunch, so we carried on along the Skukuza-Lower Sabie (H4-1) Road. All along the road there were muddy lion footprints going across. There were quite a few turn-outs next to the road, and it was at one of these that we saw several cars stopped, so we turned in. Across the river were three female lions sunning themselves, and not far away a large male was sitting. It was difficult to see him when his head was down, but luckily he got up and walked, so we did get a good look at him.

It wasn’t long before we both felt hungry, and luckily the Nkuhlu picnic spot was close by. It was quite lovely, situated on a high bank above the Sabie River. We found a table in the shade and proceeded to make our lunch. The wildlife highlight there was a water monitor lizard that we saw down by the river.

From there we cruised on beside the river, stopping only for significant wildlife. Just before Lower Sabie we stopped at Sunset Dam, which was a large pond inhabited by a huge herd of hippos. There must have been fifty of them, and most were out on the shore. We turned into the Lower Sabie camp briefly to fill the car with gas, and then crossed the river and turned north towards Tshokwane.

This stretch of road, the H10, was in the “Best Drives” section of one of our books, and it certainly deserved to be there. The scenery was very savannah-like and before long we were encountering large herds of zebra, impala, and waterbuck. Periodically we would see giraffes and on several occasions we came across families of warthogs. This must have been Warthog Day as we saw more of them today than in the previous two days combined. At one point we could see in the distance a large brown bird sitting on the road. As we got closer and closer it didn’t fly off, and we were able to drive right up to it. We made this an exception to our “No Trying To Identify Brown Eagles” rule and quickly determined that it was a Brown Snake Eagle. It was drinking water from some tiny puddles on the road that must have come from a car’s cooling system.

We stopped at Tshokwane for a short break, but today we were keeping an eye on the time. We by-passed several turnoffs on the road to Satara, only stopping to look at waterholes that were right beside the road. But there were unusual things like Comb Duck and Saddle-billed Stork there. We pulled into Satara just about 5 pm and checked in.

At reception we were assigned hut G168, which we already knew had a good view. It was very much like the one at Pretoriuskop, just a little bit smaller and not as new. But the outdoor kitchen was more conveniently right next to the front door, and there was indeed a good view through the electric fence to the outside world. We unloaded the car, made some tea, then prepared dinner. Tonight we had rice with vegetables and sweet-and-sour sauce. Very good it turned out! Dessert was chopped apples with custard.

By now it was very dark but we still managed to see something run along the outside of the fence. It might have been a warthog but we couldn’t really tell. We also heard the distinctive whoo-oop call of the hyena and another call that could have been wild dogs. We washed the dishes then headed inside to write our journals and plan tomorrow’s route. A bit later we went out for a walk in the dark, to see if we could find the waterhole where they have the webcam installed, but even with our headlamps we didn’t know where we were going, so we didn’t go far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s