South Africa Day 11

Use the following link to see the next day's diary.
Use the following link to see the previous day's diary.

Use the following link to see today's photos.

After the night before, it's a grim start. I manage to leave by 0725. It's a lot drier but the temperature has dropped to 18, and it feels really cold.

Today, I move to Satara. This is about 140K. I'll do it in three stages. First, there's about 50K to Skukuza; then 40K to some services at Tshokwane; and the final stage is another 50K.

So the first secion is out along the road that often has cheetahs and special antelopes. I don't see anything until I get to the Shitlhave dam. Here there are 9 waterbuck, and two hippos. Back on the main road, I see 3 zebra, lots of baboons, another 3 zebra and a wildebeeste. I turn off to go to the Transport dam, and see some monkeys and 4 waterbuck. I get to the Klipspringer rocks, but I don't find the klipspringer.

Here I decide to go the long way round to Skukuza. It passes the point where the lions were eating a giraffe that hey'd killed when I was here last week. There is no sign of the kill from the road but there are vultures at the point where it was, and so I guess they are consuming the remnants. The other interesting point on this route to Skukuza is the dam at the S114. (Here it was last week where I saw a hyaena at approximately the same time on two consecutive mornings.) Today, there is little at the dam except for a woollynecked stork. This is the first time this trip I've seen a woollyneck. I'd forgotten all about woollynecks and I had to look it up in the book.

When I get to Skukuza, I find from the sightings board that people had seen cheetah and wild dogs along the route I'd just travelled. Sometimes the sightings board can be very depressing. But both animals often don't stay in one place and son in you're not in the right place at the right time you won't see it. Espeically today when it's not hot. Can you think of any more excuses?!

After looking at the sightings board, going to the shop and to the loo, I set off on part two: the trip from Skukuza to Tshokwane. First, the first of two river crossings. The river at the first one is a lot fuller than last week (because of all the rain). I see 3 maribou stork, 2 hammercop and a large lizard.

During the next 90 minutes (40K), I see some baboons, a chameleon crossing the road, a buck of some sort, 3 giraffe, some hippos and a little egret.

At Tshokwane I go to the loo again, and look in the cafeteria/shop. It's 1245 and I could be tempted to have some lunch here, but I'm in a hurry and the service doesn't look very fast. So I set off again after about 10 minutes for the remaining 50K to Satara.

I see many buffalo, many zebra, 3 maribou and 4 giraffe. A car has stopped suspiciously. I look and see a lion walking away.

Just another 12K to Satara, and I see a rhino, lots of wildebeeste, lots of giraffe and one wildebeeste, 4 waterbuck, a buffalo and a wildebeeste.

It's 1430 when I arrive, and I'm exhausted.

In the restaurant, I find the list of reservations for tnoight, and so I put my name down.

There are many place to go at Satara, and although i'm staying two nights, it's probably best to stay three. Having looked at the sightings board, I choose a circular route where people have seen two leopards and a lion.

There are a lot of cars on this route, and it's reasonably competitive driving for the first 21K. During this time (one hour), I see lots of giraffe and one waterbuck, a female steenbok, 5 waterbuck and some baboons, Some more baboons, lots of wildebeestes (including some kids), a wildebeeste, 2 giraffe, some more baboons and lots of wildebeeste.

Then I stop behind tow cars parked on the right hand side of the road. I quickly find what they are looking at. It looks like, and when I get my binoculars out I confirm that is a bateleur. Yippee! One of my favourite birds. Unfortunately, it's not possible to get a good photo. I'm so pleased.

When I get to the end of the road, I meet a car where the occupants are dithering. They ask me whether it will be possible to do the circular route (the same one as I was planning to do). I've already decided not to do it. It all depends on how fast they want to rush around. I say that I'm going to the dam first and then going back the same way that we've come. I leave them to it.

The Gudzani dam is about 1K away. There I see with my binoculars a Giant Kingfisher. Excellent. Again another of my favourite birds, and again this is the first I've seen this trip. There is a also a pied kingfisher.

Moaning to the birders last night about not seeing any bateleurs or giant kingfishers paid off: today I've seen both.

There is little to be seen on the way back (a goliath heron and 3 hippos) until I come across a traffic jam. To the right I can see some lions, in front I can two lines of cars. The lions are trying to cross the road, and the cars are jockeying for best position. I get some photos of cars as they pass between the front of two cars. Time is getting on. We are all going to late back at camp and they can then fine us. But there's no way at the moment I can do anything about it because there's about 20 cars in front of me. But gradually I make my way forward. And get to the front. I take some quick photos, and with some fast driving get back to the camp just behind two others at 1830. The guard is just getting to the gate to close it. He not very seriously says that you're nearly late. I explain that there were lions and it was difficult to pass the other cars. I said I think there are 20 cars behind me. Whether they got fined, I don't know.

In the restaurant, it's the same sort of food for the usual price (110 rand). The roast is either pork or kudu. I have both, but leave most of the kudu as it doesn't taste nice. I got a bottle of wine, and remember to ask for the cork. I drink half of it.

Use the following link to see the next day's diary.
Use the following link to see the previous day's diary.