On our way to the wilderness – day 2

Joubert and I were the first people out the gate at Skukuza on our first morning in the Kruger National Park when we visited last week. In the week before our arrival other visitors were bragging on the Park’s social media pages with their sightings of a big herd of sable antelope north of Lower Sabie, and as these rare and beautiful antelope are a favourite of ours, our route for the morning took us along the Sabie River and then in the general direction of the Mlondozi Picnic Spot. Along the way we had the joyful encounter with the young elephant knight we showed you two days ago.

By the time we reached Mlondozi, we hadn’t yet found the sables we came looking for. We were planning on having brunch at the picnic spot, but it was packed with other visitors and not a single table was available. We spent a few minutes enjoying the view, getting pictures of the birds and animals, and waiting for a table to clear, but eventually decided to rather move along.

We decided to use the extra time we had available due to the postponed lunch to do another circuit around Muntshe Mountain, and how wonderfully that turned out! We found the sables, and had probably the best sighting of these magnificent antelope I had in 30+ years! More about that soon, I promise.

Extremely satisfied with our morning, we headed for Lower Sabie where, just before the camp, we had a quick sighting of a leopard and enjoyed the abundant life that always congregate at the causeway over the Sabie River.

In contrast to Mlondozi, the picnic site at Lower Sabie was deserted, and Joubert and I could lunch in peace surrounded only by birds and butterflies.

By the time we finished lunch it was still too early to head back to Skukuza, so we drove south in the direction of Crocodile Bridge for a few kilometers along the main road, returning along the gravel Mativuhlungu Loop to Lower Sabie. Stopping at the causeway over the river again we were rewarded with a clear, though distant, view of an African Fish Eagle swooping down to snatch a catfish from the water. We’ll share that full sequence of pictures with you another day this coming week.

Just outside Lower Sabie, on the way to Skukuza, Sunset Dam is always a great place to stop and sit for a while, just soaking in the sights and sounds of the bush. On this occasion however the usual serenity of the place was shattered when a pair of teenage male baboons savagely attacked a much younger baboon at the water’s edge, seemingly intent on killing it. Baboons are always fascinating to watch, but I definitely have never experienced such a disturbing glimpse into their behaviour before. We’ll share some pictures from this harrowing sighting this coming Saturday, but please be warned!

It’s just a 45km drive, but with so much to see along the way it still took us 3 hours to get back to Skukuza and we made it back into camp with just a minute or two to spare before the gates closed. Our last sighting of the day was a pack of African Wild Dogs guarding the scraps of their kill against a bunch of vultures – what more could we ask for after such a wonderful day!?

Before ending off, I have to show you these photographs of a family of white rhinoceros we came across on day 2 of our trip to the wilderness. I won’t disclose when and where we saw them though so as not to tip off any poachers.

 

 

27 thoughts on “On our way to the wilderness – day 2

  1. Pingback: A memorable encounter with Sable Antelope | de Wets Wild

  2. Aletta - nowathome

    Jy was voorwaar gelukkig om so ‘n verskeidenheid diere en voels te sien! Ek stam saam met die ander dat die Zebra foto fantasties is. Natuurlik is die kameelperde ook een van my gunsteling foto’s! Dankie dat jy dit dit met ons deel!

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  3. SoyBend

    You were lucky to see a rhino with its calf! Thanks for not saying where you saw it. I liked the giraffe family shot as well. I’ve always kinda liked secretary birds – like a raptor interbred with a stork. 🙂

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  4. Reflections of an Untidy Mind

    What lovely day 2 photos, jam-packed with all your favourite animals. The light is lovely, Dries. It pays to get up early in the morning. I love the sparkles of sunlight on the Nyala bull. I see that is Joubert’s photo. Well done, Joubert. Is the Tawny Eagle his photo too?

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Thanks very much, Tracy, and indeed yes it often depends on whose side of the vehicle the sighting is. On Thursday I’ll post a bunch of photos that Joubert got of an African Fish Eagle catching a fish in the Sabie River.

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  5. Anne

    You have provided an interesting commentary to accompany an equally interesting array of photographs. This day was filled with special sightings – how wonderful for you both.

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  6. H.J. for avian101

    What a fantastic tour! Wow! You both have excellent captures! I’ve noticed that the rhinos still have their horns intact. Don’t they have rules to prevent poachers from killing rhinos in Kruger?
    Thank you for the tour D. and Joubert. 🙂 👍

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      While we have some very good anti-poaching laws in South Africa, H.J, the challenge is in enforcing them. The Kruger National Park is a vast place – the size of Israel – with enormous tracts of wild bush only accessible on foot. The poachers are highly skilled and well equipped, and not at all averse to taking human life. It is a war. That we have any rhinos left is only thanks to the dedication and hard work of our ranger corps.

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  7. lois

    What a day you had! The ‘huge herds of plains zebra’ photo is beautiful. And the blue waxbill–what a pretty little bird. Great portrait, Joubert. Dries–no offense, but I might skip over the baboon murder. The cycle of nature and I do not always see eye to eye. But everything else is fascinating!

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