I awoke with excitement at the prospect of driving north from Lower Sabie to Satara, which is situated in the middle region of the park. After four days of low grey cloud, I was convinced that Kruger would give me some different weather, and she didn’t disappoint.
It was now raining!
Satara is only 93 kilometres from Lower Sabie, and I could only check in at 14:00, so I had plenty of time to wander along the many loops and dusty roads between the two camps. At around 08h00, I pulled up to one of the usual traffic jams that are solely reserved for big cat sightings. After manoeuvring the car around many of the safari 4×4’s, I got a great photographic line into a female cheetah and her three adolescent cubs. It was overcast and raining incessantly, yet they went about their business as usual, and I vowed not to complain about the weather anymore. They endured us for about an hour or so, before heading off to get some lunch.
A Camp for Owls
Determined to keep a positive outlook and continue shooting, I decided to focus on the smaller creatures that are everywhere if you take the time to look. I had the first of many Leopard tortoise sightings as these speedsters move onto the tarred roads to drink from the puddles. One of them was the smallest I have seen in the wild so far, and also the fastest, well, as tortoises go anyway.
This trip I booked into Satara for only two nights, and while trying to sleep on the first night, I heard the gentle calling of a pair of African Scops owls in the tree outside the bungalow I was in. When I left at 04h30 am the next morning, they were nowhere to be seen. I knew that they favoured the same roosts, and so I planned to come back later that day to see if they’d returned. I was rewarded with three owlets roosting quite near one another. They are indeed the cutest of the owl family, and they would stand majestically eye-to-eye with a can of soup. I managed to get some decent shots of these diminutive creatures although they did make me wait to get some shots of them with their eyes open.
During one of my drives around the Satara area, I was treated to a massive buffalo herd. Those types of herds are seen in the middle and northern regions of the Park. I can only guess the number, and I think it was around 300+ which always makes for an interesting encounter. I have always been lucky with photographing buffaloes. If you understand animal fear zones, you can position your car and let them walk you into their fear zone. This resulted in close-up photos of these curious wild cows which I love taking.
On another drive, I managed to finally get some stock photos of female mountain Reedbuck. These elegant shy antelope keep well away from the tarred and dust road. I spent 30mins with two females as they nervously ate until they had enough of me and wandered off
I must admit loving being on a shot with creatures that are not part of the fabled big 5. To have people pull up next to you and ask if it is lion or leopard is great. The absolute look of amazement on their faces when they see the big lens pointing at something small. Priceless. They shake their heads, smile at you as if you should seek help then drive off.
This was the first time in all the trips that I’ve stayed at Satara that I didn’t see big cats. It’s a great place to catch them with all the open terrain, but not a single sighting this time. Then again, I was enjoying focussing on the smaller stuff and looking forward to the Mopane surrounds of Letaba and Olifants rest camps.
Key places Visited:
Tshokwane Picnic sites, N’Wanetsi bird hide.
Kori Bustard + all the usual suspects mentioned in the previous post
White Rhino, Hippo, African Crocodile, Hyena, Lion, Bushbuck, Waterbuck Dwarf mongoose, Mountain Reedbuck,
Leopard tortoise…many of…
In case you missed it, CLICK HERE for Part 1 of the trip – Lower Sabie Rest Camp
CLICK HERE to go to Part 3 – Letaba and Olifants rest camps
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