We are staying at Satara camp in Kruger.
Satara camp area
We have a little bungalow in the camp that is completely fenced in. This does not keep everything out. There are Vervet Monkeys roaming around and seeing what food they can grab from people. There are also other critters such as Mongoose and even some Warthogs find a way in but mostly we are safe to walk around within the camp.
There is a store and a restaurant as well. When we are out of camp we are not allowed out of our vehicles except at designated sites such as picnic areas and a few restaurants that are part of the park. We left this morning at 5:30 when we could get out of the gate and drove along the roads stopping at N’Wanetsi Hide where we could get out and view a waterhole. At first it looked like there wasn’t much there until we saw the 6 Crocodiles and 5 Hippos come up.
Then some Giraffes came but didn’t come down to drink as the Crocs were along the bank.
Lots of new birds arrived as well. Along the road we saw lots of different Antelope species, Elephants, a White Rhino, African Buffalo, Wildebeast, Warthogs, and lots more.
There were several species of Hornbill, lots of different Eagles and lots of smaller birds.
There is a slight problem with finding birds and animals and that is that this country is suffering one of its severest droughts in history. This has had a great impact on Kruger Park in particular. Greg says that he has never had so few animal sightings even though we are thrilled with what we are seeing. The birds aren’t as abundant either. One can see that the animals are suffering. Many of the usual waterholes have dried up and Hippos and Cape Buffalo are dying off as are some of the other species. They are even considering having to make the difficult decision to actually kill some of the elephants as they take most of the available vegetation. In the part of Kruger Satara Camp is in everything is brown, not a lot of grass where there once was green grass and you can see many animal carcasses as we drive the roads. The weather is scorching hot in the daytime.
Hooded Vultures with Carcass
When we got into Kruger we changed vehicles from our air-conditioned van to an open Landrover type vehicle and added a local guide, Dirk. It’s nice to have the better viewing and we do have a roof over our heads so the sun doesn’t beat down on us but it is quite hot.
After starting out at 5:30 we stopped for breakfast at about 8:00 at a small picnic area overlooking a river. There was a short walk up a path with a lookout where we could see more animals and birds. There were dwarf Mongoose running around the trash area, lots of Hornbills and great looks at White-bellied and Marico Sunbirds which are exquisite.
Then we visited Sweni Dam after which we came back to camp for lunch and a break from the heat. Then went for an afternoon walk in the campground. There is a small Scops Owl next to the reception area who seems to be there all the time. He is about the size of our Screech Owl and blends in just as well.
Slender Mongoose are around, too. We walked around where there is a swimming pool and 3 Warthogs were happily eating the grass. People were in the pool and they didn’t seem to bother them but when we were walking through our path was a little too close and they sort of snorted at us so we backed away and went in the other direction. Some of our favorite bird sightings for the day were the Lilac-breasted Roller and the Purple Roller, Brown-headed and Pied Kingfisher and Orange-breasted Bushshrike.
Lilac-breasted Roller (our favorite)
After dinner we went on a night ride in a large open vehicle. The highlights of that were a Wildcat, a Civet and a White-faced Owl. There was also a mother Hyena who has an infant and looked like she wasn’t done giving birth. The ride was from 8 to 10 and we were ready to sack out after that was over.