Tag Archives: Kruger National Park

Taking in the Kruger’s amazing scenery

Our recent winter visit to the Satara and Mopani areas of the Kruger National Park provided constant reminders of just how privileged we are to have this amazing natural area in our country. While it is the astounding bird and animal life that find a home here that draw people from all over the world, that would not have been possible had it not been for the incredible landscapes that has now been protected from human exploitation for over a hundred years.

 

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Finding Mopani’s rare antelope

The Kruger National Park‘s Satara Rest Camp is known for its abundance of predators, but when you visit the Mopani area, you should keep your eyes peeled for some of South Africa’s rarest antelope species, which are regularly seen here. Along the roads to the east of the camp, past Mooiplaas and Tinhongonyeni waterholes and along the Nshawu marshes, there’s always an excellent chance of encountering Tsessebe, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Southern Reedbuck, Eland and Roan Antelope, while Sable Antelope is regularly reported from the Shongololo Loop and H1-6 tar road to the west and north of camp.

Baobabs and Owls in Mopani

Inside Mopani Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park grows a most impressive specimen of a Baobab, which has now been selected as a nesting site by a pair of barn owls. During the day they remain well hidden, but during a night-time walkabout we were thrilled to see one of the pair pluck a thick-knee out of the air in mid-flight!

Bountiful Birding in Kruger, even in winter

The Kruger National Park has a list just short of 500 bird species recorded there. Many of these are summer migrants, while a few others are rare vagrants to these parts. Even in winter however, the Park abounds with feathered life, and here’s just a few of the 115 species we managed to tick in our recent eight day visit to the Satara and Mopani areas of the Park.

 

Creepy Crawlies

When out and about in the Kruger National Park, even in winter, there’s always a chance of spying some cold-blooded creatures, many of them extremely dangerous to humans!

A dry Kruger is a predator’s paradise

Our winter visit to the Kruger National Park, suffering through one of the worst droughts to hit it in recorded history, provided several excellent sightings of some of the predators for which the Park is renowned. While many of the herbivores are finding survival difficult now with limited water and grazing, the predators are having a royal time, as the movement of prey revolves predictably around the remaining water sources where they can be easily ambushed.

The Satara area of the Park is well known for excellent predator sightings, and the guided night drive we took part in there delivered lions, hyenas, black-backed and side-striped jackals and two leopard sightings!

Even just walking around the fenceline at Satara could provide close encounters with dangerous predators, though 99.9% of the time seperated by an electrified fence. Spotted hyenas are to be found on most nights, as visitors often feed them scraps from their evening meals. The reason why this is illegal is because the animals become very bold beggars, which often ends in tragedy for the hyenas and sometimes also for the human visitors, as evidenced by a hyena attacking a teenager when it somehow found its way into Crocodile Bridge recently. We therefore expected to find hyenas on our evening walkabouts and weren’t disappointed, but the leopard that unexpectedly appeared in the glare of our spotlight near Satara’s entrance gate, safely on the other side of the fence, caused us great excitement!

 

Dazzling in the Dust

With the Kruger National Park in the drought’s firm grip, we weren’t surprised that the majority of our sightings of Plains Zebra during our recent winter visit to the Satara and Mopani areas were near or at some of the artificial water holes maintained by the Park’s staff. The most spectacular congregations were at the Mooiplaas waterhole, where hundreds of zebras (if not more) milled around the water during the midday hours, kicking up dust (often further exacerbated by strong winds) and getting on each other’s nerves.