Year in the Wild Blog

Kruger catch-up – Week 4 – Lower Sabie, Satara and Talamati

From today, I’m catching up on my Kruger blog posts, because the past week I have been catching up on sleep! After three years of almost continuous travel, I’m allowing myself a few days to chill out!

So I’m delving back into my last four weeks in Kruger in September. I’m going to write a wrap-up of my time in Kruger soon. Right now, I am feeling lots of bitter-sweet things…and I need to get my head and heart around all the wondrous and not-so-wonderful things I have seen during my two and a half months exploring Kruger.

These photos were taken near Lower Sabie, Talamati and Satara. Enjoy.

This bull ellie near Satara was scratching his head against a leadwood tree...what was fascinating was the absolute immovability of the tree. The ellie was probably about 6 tons, and was leaning heavily against the tree. Sure, he wasn't pushing as hard as he could, but nevertheless, the tree and it's branches hardly moved. No surprise: the leadwood is one of the hardest woods in Africa, and will sink in water because it's so dense. So it's a proper match for a big bull ellie.

Another perspective on the bulle ellie...elephants can be hard to photograph, unless you are really close to them, and can craft a photo from their textures skin, or if you are far away, and they are contextualised in the enormous landscape. Anything in between, and you're left with normally an ordinary image.

One of the biggest pods of hippos I have seen in Kruger. This one is to the west of Satara Camp, at Nsemani Dam, which has an excellent view from the road. These hippos are lying out of the water during the day because it's winter and quite cool - usually, they are well immersed in water during the day, not only to keep cool, but also to feel safe.

Textured mopane leaves at Talamati Camp. These trees (and shrubs) cover most of central and northern Kruger, and after a while you can get rather bored of them! But they are a vital food source for the elephant herds, and form the foundation of much of the rest of the ecosystem here. The immense amount of leaf litter itself provides vital compost for the soil.

Lioness...on the road near Talamati. This pregnant beauty was looking for her pride.

The pregnant lioness on the road, early morning near Talamati. Now that I'm back home, within the confines of my room and urban life, looking at this image suddenly does things to me: I can suddently taste the dust, smell the earth, hear the black-headed oriole and orange-breasted bush shrike, and see the gaze of the lioness' eyes. At the time, I took these things for granted, now I yearn for them again...even though I've only been home a week.

The nose pickers - two red-billed oxpeckers doing what they do best: eating ticks from a Cape buffalo's nose. Bliss.

Impressive male waterbuck coming to drink from Talamati Camp's waterhole. This camp has a superb hide that overlooks a waterhole, which always attracts animals during dry season. Talamati is definitely one of my favourite spots in Kruger, especially because the area around Talamati is offlimits to the general public and only accessible to people who have booked at the camp.

During dry season, waterholes are magnets for animals. Herbivores tend to drink during the heat of the day, when predators are least active. I found Jones-se-Dam waterhole north-east of Skukuza on the S36 to be very productive, but then again, it's all about luck.

Impala drinking as much as they can while it's safe to do so...

Looking out from Nkumbe View Point, just south of Tshokwane Picnic Site. This is one of the better views in Kruger, so enjoy it, because views in this largely flat national park are hard to come by.

Early morning mist near Satara...now, where's that silhouette of a male lion roaring!?

Looking down the Sabie River...

The viewpoint of the Sabie River from Lower Sabie camp...

Can you spot the leopard? I spotted this one on the side of the Lower Sabie-Skukuza H4-1 Road, but it was very well hidden. As anyone who's been to Kruger knows, this road is very busy with tourists, and when I stopped to look at this leopard, a whole lot of other cars stopped too...but no matter how hard I tried to explain to the car next to me, they couldn't see it. My 500mm lens is great for images like these. This particular image is not going to win any awards of course, but the 500mm lens does allow me to get a good view of what I'm seeing, especially when I zoom into the picture.

Black rhino! Undisclosed location in Kruger...a very lucky sighting indeed. There are no more than about 5 000 black rhino left in the wild of Africa. This is one of them.

Note the hooked lip on the black rhino - used for browsing leaves off trees. The white rhino has square, flat lips, because it's a grazer, which is why these two species can share territories - no competition for food.

Hippos playing at Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie camp

Grey heron prancing around on the backs of hippo at Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie camp. I wish I had more time here...an award-winning image is surely guaranteed if you spend enough time here watching these birds catch fish off the backs of their curmudgeonly, cantakerous taxis.

Satara savanna woodland, sunrise, mist clearing. One of my favourite sights in Kruger.

Terrapin on tree branch in Sabie River.

Cheetah! These were the only two cheetahs I saw in two and a half months of travelling all the way through Kruger. I spotted them just north of Satara...

Catching a ride, Kruger style.

For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Check out my Flickr photos at www.flickr.com/scottnramsay and my Instagram photos at www.instagram.com/wildscotty. Twitter on www.twitter.com/yearinthewild.

Thanks to my partners Cape Union MartFord EverestGoodyear, and K-Way.

As well as WildCardEeziAwnFrontrunnerGlobecommHetznerNational LunaOutdoor PhotoSafari Centre Cape Town, Tracks 4 Africa, and Vodacom.

Conservation partners BirdLife South AfricaBotswana Department of Wildlife and National ParksCapeNatureEastern Cape Parks and TourismEzemvelo KZN WildlifeGorongosa National ParkiSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

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