Tag Archives: Lower Sabie Rest Camp

Our 2017 in pictures

Looking back at the places we stayed at during another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

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Thank you very much for your support!

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The night before we ventured into the Wilderness…

Earlier this month I was joined by my mother, sister and brother in the Kruger National Park, chiefly to participate in the Napi Wilderness Trail, one of several guided multi-day walking trails available in the Park.

However, with the trail only starting on Sunday afternoon, we weren’t going to let the weekend go to waste and got underway from Gauteng to Kruger in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Arriving at Kruger’s Malelane Gate around 07:30 allowed us time to enjoy a quick picnic breakfast and coffee before following a meandering route along the quieter gravel roads as we made our slow way to Lower Sabie, making frequent stops to appreciate the wildlife and scenery for which the Kruger Park is world renowned.

Our accommodation for the night was a basic but comfortable 4-bed hut located close to a communal kitchen and bathroom at Lower Sabie‘s eastern fenceline. These huts are surrounded by enormous trees and indigenous shrubbery frequented by a myriad of birds and small reptiles that are quite used to having humans poking lenses in their faces…

Our game drive for the afternoon took us first to Sunset Dam just outside the camp’s gates, then a quick detour across the causeway over the Sabie River, and then along the S28, S137 and H4-2 roads to the south of Lower Sabie, returning to camp just before the gates closed.

Walking around camp in the dark after dinner, looking for nocturnal wildlife with a flashlight, is a firmly entrenched tradition for the de Wets. Both inside and outside Lower Sabie, there’s always plenty to see, and we’re almost unwilling to go to bed for fear of missing out on something interesting!

Being one of the first vehicles to leave Lower Sabie when the gates opened at 06:00 on Sunday morning, we opted to take the main road to Skukuza before this hugely popular route gets too busy with traffic. A quick detour along the short Nwatimhiri causeway-loop rewarded us handsomly with a sighting of three young lions trying to hide, with limited success, in the thick riverine vegetation. Along the way we also popped into Nkuhlu Picnic Spot, Skukuza’s airport, the Skukuza Golf Club and Lake Panic birdhide, before heading for historic Pretoriuskop, all the time enjoying some more of the Kruger Park’s sights, sounds and smells.

After arriving at Pretoriuskop there’s more than enough time to pop into reception to complete all the necessary formalities for the Napi Trail and then take a gentle stroll through the camp appreciating the astounding variety of birdlife that occurs there.

Right on time (at 15:00) we were met at the designated spot by our two guides and group of four fellow trailists for the main event; the Napi Wilderness Trail (more about that wonderful experience in our next post, so stay tuned!).

 

 

Our 2016 in pictures

Looking back on another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places!

Never miss an opportunity to go back to Lower Sabie and Olifants!

There was a reason I dedicated the previous two posts on de Wets Wild to Lower Sabie and Olifants, two of the most popular camps in the Kruger National Park. That is because I had the opportunity to visit both camps again earlier this week, and now that you have been introduced to both destinations we can all just sit back and enjoy some photos from this latest trip. Here’s hoping you enjoy the gallery as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

 

Lower Sabie Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

Lower Sabie must be the most popular destination in the Kruger National Park. It is exceedingly hard to get a booking here if you don’t book a year in advance. In peak season, even just finding parking to visit the shop or restaurant can be a challenge, as visitors from all over the the southern sections of the Park flock to the camp. The camp’s location on the banks of the Sabie River, in an area of exceptionally high-quality grazing in the south-eastern corner of the Park, ensures that its surrounds is frequented by an astounding variety and number of herbivores and their attending predators, making for game-viewing heaven!

Lower Sabie (22)

The Sabie River got its name from the Shangaan word “saba” meaning fear, probably due to the large number of enormous crocodiles that call the river home. The dam in front of the camp came about after the causeway across the river was built in 1987 (it had to be rebuilt higher after the floods in February 2000).

The first tourist accommodation at Lower Sabie was a 5-bedroom house converted from ranger Tom Duke’s quarters in 1930, but this was demolished again just two years later after becoming dilapidated. The only access to Lower Sabie was via Gomondwane from Crocodile Bridge until the road from Skukuza reached it in 1931. The next attempt at providing guest accommodation at Lower Sabie then commenced in 1936, when three buildings, built in a u-shape and each housing six bedrooms, were erected – these units are still used as accommodation to this day, but has been extensively renovated since. Over the years, more accommodation and a camping site was added to the camp, leading up to an extensive project to revamp and enlarge Lower Sabie in the early 2000’s. Today the camp provides overnight accommodation in 117 huts, bungalows, cottages and safari tents and has space for 34 caravans and tents in its camping area. Lower Sabie’s restaurant (Mugg & Bean), with its deck overlooking the Sabie River, is especially popular. The camp has a well stocked shop for groceries and curios, a fuel station, swimming pool for overnight guests and a day visitors picnic area near the gate. Along the river, in front of the bungalows south of the restaurant, lush lawns and deep shade provided by enormous trees is just the place to spend a lazy afternoon, surrounded by Lower Sabie’s prolific birdlife.

We can certainly recommend joining at least one of the guided activities on offer from Lower Sabie, as excellent sightings are almost guaranteed.

Sunset Dam is a brilliant spot just a kilometer from Lower Sabie, and as its name suggests is very popular with visitors whiling away the last minutes before they have to get back to camp in the evening. You can park your vehicle right on the water’s edge, allowing excellent photographic opportunities of hippos, crocodiles, wading birds and herds of game coming to quench their thirst.

Heading north from Lower Sabie along the H10 tarred route to Tshokwane, you’ll encounter the first highlight of this route just minutes after leaving camp. The causeway across the Sabie River is a favourite spot for many visitors, who flock here to enjoy glorious sunsets and an abundance of game and bird species attracted to the water. The plains between Lower Sabie and Tshokwane is home to incredible herds of zebra and wildebeest at the end of winter, and is also an excellent place to look for reedbuck, one of the rarer antelope that occurs in Kruger. Of course, with so many herbivores roaming around it stands to reason that the predators are not far behind. If you, like us, enjoy your game viewing with as little other traffic as possible, try the gravel S29, S122 and S128 loops that turn off the main road as alternatives to explore this area. Two other beautiful places not to be missed is Mlondozi Picnic Spot, overlooking a large dam from Muntshe mountain, and Nkumbe Viewpoint, which offers an exceptional view over the open plains of Kruger.

The tarred H4-2 Gomondwane Road leading south to Crocodile Bridge is another very productive route for game viewing, though we personally prefer taking the gravel loops running roughly parallel to the main road (S28 Nhlowa Road, S82 Mativuhlungu Loop, S130 Gomondwane Loop and S137 past Duke’s waterhole) as these carry a little less vehicle traffic.

The H4-1 road between Lower Sabie and Skukuza carries more traffic than any other road in Kruger, and not without reason. There’s an excellent chance of seeing all the “big 5” game animals and so much more along this route, which follows the course of the Sabie River, on just one drive. The vegetation along the portion of this road nearer Lower Sabie is much more open than the stretch between Nkuhlu and Skukuza, making for even better game viewing. Keep your eyes open for lions and leopards at the rocks at the Lubyelubye stream crossing about 5km from Lower Sabie, as this is one of their most reliable haunts. Also, don’t miss the short S79 gravel loop that crosses the Nwatimhiri causeway, which is another favourite spot for feline predators. Nkuhlu Picnic Spot is a great place to get out, stretch the legs and have a bite to eat (though beware the monkeys and baboons that hang around here, as they will attempt to steal your picnic if they get even the slightest chance!). The gravel S30 Salitje Road along the northern bank of the river is a wonderful alternative route back to Lower Sabie.

If all these photos did not convince you, allow us to reiterate: Lower Sabie IS game-viewing heaven! Remember to book early if you also want to enjoy all it has to offer.

Summer heat at Lower Sabie

We knew our December 2015 visit to the Kruger National Park was going to test our personal thresholds for high temperatures. It is general knowledge that South Africa’s Lowveld region has sweltering summers, confirmed by the weather forecasts in the week before our departure. On our early morning way, descending into the Lowveld along Schoemanskloof on the N4-highway, we were amazed at how quickly the outside temperature our car was registering was climbing upwards. By the time we arrived at Malelane Gate just after 08:00, we had reached 33°C, with the sun blazing down relentlessly. And yet, we couldn’t think of any place we’d rather be; we were back in South Africa’s flagship National Park, one of our favourite wild places, and we had ten days to explore the length and breadth of it to look forward to!

We were heading to Lower Sabie, and instead of following the tar roads via Skukuza we opted for the more direct route, along the gravel S25 and H5, from Malelane. Of course we had wonderful sightings along the way, most especially of some sleepy elephants! Early December is lambing season for the impalas, and each herd we passed had a few new members, all ears and long legs, to broaden our smiles.

By the time we checked in at Lower Sabie Rest Camp for our 3 night stay, the temperature had soared to a searing 43°C. Our cottage (unit 93), with a lovely view of the Sabie River in front of the camp and surrounded by huge, shady trees, provided welcome respite!

But of course no amount of heat was going to keep us indoors for long when there’s Big-5 country to explore outside! Our afternoon drive took in Gomondwane, Duke’s waterhole and a section of the Nhlowa-road to the south of Lower Sabie, after a quick visit to Sunset Dam just outside camp. Highlights of the drive included an unusually relaxed black rhinoceros, our best sighting ever of a side-striped jackal, and the cutest little warthog piglets you could imagine!

The itinerary planned for Sunday 13 December meant that we would be out of camp all day: a slow early morning drive (the camp gates open at 04:30 in high summer) to Skukuza along the Sabie River, visit with good friends at Skukuza over lunch, and then back to Lower Sabie via the Sand River, the Salitje road, Muntshe Mountain and Mlondozi Picnic Site. Covering that big an area is sure to deliver some unusual sightings; apart from a skittish leopard and all the more commonly seen game animals, we even found an African Rock Python along the way. Our final wildlife encounter of the day was with a pair of mating lions, within sight of Lower Sabie, resulting in sightings of all the Big-5 on a single day!

That wasn’t the end of the day however, as we were booked for a guided night drive after supper. Unfortunately strong winds sent the nocturnal animals into hiding, and the drive did not yield much more than a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and enormous scorpion to get excited about.

We had one more day to explore the Lower Sabie area, and headed for Crocodile Bridge along the Nhlowa Road as soon as the camp’s gates opened. About halfway we met a large pack of hyenas at their den, and after spending some time with them our grumbling tummies told us that it was time to go enjoy our picnic breakfast at Croc Bridge. More great sightings on our way back to Lower Sabie along the Gomondwane Road, including a herd of elephants coming to drink from the Sabie River. We also noticed a male lion lying on the river bank and after slaking their thirst, the elephants started crossing the river. This was the lion’s cue to vacate his spot, and we were thrilled that he chose to head into the bush straight past our vehicle!

Lower Sabie is a wonderful place to while away the hot midday hours as there’s a constant stream of animals coming to drink from the river and birdlife abounds in the camp grounds!

There’s no better way to spend your last afternoon at Lower Sabie than slowly driving along the river, and spending some time at Sunset Dam. So that’s exactly what we did!

With that, our final night at Lower Sabie had arrived. Next morning we’d depart for Olifants Rest Camp, further north in the central regions of the Kruger National Park. We’ll share more about our time at Olifants next week, and will dedicate a special post in which we’ll tell you all about Lower Sabie and surrounds in an upcoming edition of de Wets Wild.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2015 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site.

SA Blog Awards Badge

Thank you very much for your support!

Our 2015 in pictures

Looking back at the marvelous places we stayed at while exploring South Africa’s wild places in 2015 😀

 

> Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, January 2015

> Forever Resorts Loskop Dam, Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, April 2015

> Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, April 2015

> Kamberg Nature Reserve, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, May 2015

> Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, May 2015

> Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, June 2015

> Mpila, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, July 2015

> Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park, July 2015

> Sweni Wilderness Trail, Kruger National Park, July 2015

> Thendele, Royal Natal National Park, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, August 2015

> Ntshondwe, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

> Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, October 2015

> Pafuri Border Camp, Kruger National Park, October 2015

> Lower Sabie, Olifants and Shingwedzi, Kruger National Park, December 2015 (trip reports to follow soon!)

________________________

If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2015 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site.

SA Blog Awards Badge

Thank you very much for your support!