Looking back at all the places we stayed in while exploring South Africa’s wild places in 2019!
The September school holidays presented the perfect opportunity to visit the Kruger National Park again, this time basing ourselves with family and friends in the south-eastern corner of the Park at Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp.
Crocodile Bridge is located in one of the Kruger’s most game-rich areas, and even inside the camp there’s an abundance of wildlife that I found quite distracting from camping chores… From blossoms to butterflies and birds, bats to bushbuck, all placed themselves in the cross hairs of our camera lenses, and when we were quite certain we got enough shots of them we could peer just over the fence (or through it, in Joubert’s case) towards the Crocodile River flowing in front of the camp for even more subjects.
Despite being right at the southern border of the Kruger Park, Crocodile Bridge offers a multitude of drives to choose from when heading into the Park. Heading in a northerly direction towards Lower Sabie is a selection of different routes making for comfortable excursions and providing great sightings along the way. Whether you choose the main H4-2 road or one of the gravel S28, S130 or S82 routes, you are bound to arrive at Lower Sabie excited with what you’ve seen. You can then return to Crocodile Bridge along an entirely different option, getting a glimpse at different habitats and having all new wildlife encounters to boast about too!
Whether you stop in Lower Sabie for a simple body break, an ice cream from the shop or a meal at the Mugg & Bean restaurant overlooking the river, don’t miss the chance to stretch your legs with a walk on the lawns along the river in front of the bungalows. From the deep shade of enormous trees you can gaze over the river, perhaps being lucky like we were to see a pair of lions hunting right there, and revel in the songs of a multitude of birds flitting about the branches above you.
Quite literally a stone’s throw north of Lower Sabie is the Sunset Dam, one of two wonderful wildlife magnets no visitor to this part of the Kruger Park should miss out on. There’s a constant stream of wildlife coming and going at Sunset Dam at anytime of day, and the resident crocodiles and hippos (including these boisterous buddies) are easily among the most habituated of their kind anywhere in Africa, making for excellent photographic opportunities.
Just on the other side of Lower Sabie, the causeway over the Sabie River is another highlight. Here too there’s always crocodiles (like this one having fun in a cascade), hippos, terrapins and all manner of wading birds in attendance, often accompanied by elephants, buffaloes, antelope, baboon and giraffe, while the elevated vantage point provided by the bridge offers excellent views into the clear water of the Sabie below.
Because there was so much to see around Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie, we didn’t really feel the need to venture farther, and only took two extended drives to other parts of the Park. One of those excursions was to Skukuza, roughly a four hour drive from Crocodile Bridge along the most direct route past Mpondo Dam. After spending the midday hours at Skukuza’s nursery and a delicious buffalo pie at the golf club, we headed back to Crocodile Bridge via Lower Sabie again.
We only wandered north of the Sabie River once, putting a full day aside to traverse the routes between Lower Sabie and Tshokwane Picnic Spot – where we had to contend with a dusty, blustery wind of note while trying our best to enjoy our picnic lunch! Our rewards for sticking to the planned route despite the deprivations of sand and dust on our ham-and-cheese sandwiches was the little leopard cub and flashy hornbill we showed you a few days ago, so you’ll hear no complaints from us!
Sad as it was to return to Pretoria at the end of a fantastic week, we could at least console ourselves with the knowledge that the December holidays aren’t that far way… Guess where we plan to be heading?
One of the most compelling reasons when visiting the Kruger National Park (or any wildlife area really) to get up early and be one of the first vehicles through the gate in the early morning is that you exponentially improve your chances of having truly amazing wildlife encounters. We did just that while staying at Crocodile Bridge in September, and were rewarded with this incredible sighting of a clan of Spotted Hyenas on the move and reveling in the puddles of water on the road following a spring shower the night before.
When we arrived at the Kruger Park‘s Nthandanyathi Hide (between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge) early one morning in September, we found two groups of Three-banded Plovers in a heated argument about a piece of shoreline. Pretty soon they were exchanging blows, leading to one family having to beat a hasty retreat…
Come to think of it, I probably didn’t look that kosher either, hanging around the ablution block with my camera…
This group of Plains Zebra, seen in September between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie in the Kruger National Park, illustrates perfectly just how well those black-and-white stripes are at breaking the individual animals’ outlines, making it much more difficult for a predator to single out a target.
But we are back now, fresh from another jaunt in the Kruger National Park. It almost goes without saying that there are lots and lots of photos to share and stories to tell over the next few weeks, so let us start off with a little gallery of pictures taken by Joubert to get you all excited for what is to come.