Tag Archives: Lower Sabie Rest Camp

The lady that stops traffic

This lioness was using the bridge outside Lower Sabie in the Kruger National Park as her own personal catwalk, settling down to give her adoring fans some close up views of her beauty – and I was lucky to get a front-row seat!

But lions aren’t always such show-offs – sometimes they like to keep their distance, and other times they lie hidden in plain sight…

 

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Love Bites

Well, apparently, if your a Striped Skink love should bite if you’re doing it right! This couple was having their honeymoon right outside my vehicle in the parking area at Lower Sabie Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park, but then headed for the privacy of a crevice in the concrete when the scene was threatening to turn too steamy…

 

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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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.