Tag Archives: Satara 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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Camping fest at Satara

At the end of April, we had the privilege of visiting the Kruger National Park with a wonderful group of friends; altogether 21 adults and children from 5 families and by far the biggest group we’ve ever accompanied to the Park! Our base for the four nights was the camping area at Satara Rest Camp, allowing us to introduce our friends to many of our favourite places in the central section of the Park.

A wonderful group of friends enjoying the scenery at Nwanedzi

Our previous visit to the Satara area was in the winter holidays of 2016, at the height of one of the worst droughts on record in South Africa. What a pleasure seeing the region transformed into a sea of lush green vegetation now at the end of the summer rainfall season, and experiencing a few of the final showers rolling over the Lowveld before winter sets in!

Of course the dense vegetation made game-viewing very tricky, and in stark contrast with our visit last year when there seemed to be predators resident at every one of the few remaining pools of water, we really had to work hard to find the meat-eaters for which Satara is so famous on this visit. We don’t consider ourselves “Big-5” chasers, but when you’re introducing a couple of newbies to Kruger’s wonders you do want her to put her best foot forward, and luckily Satara remained true to her reputation as one of the best game-viewing areas in the Park. Even if the predators kept us in suspense at their appearance, there were still a myriad of other species of game to be found in good numbers and keeping us enthralled on our drives, and even in camp! Of course, we expected to find high concentrations of plains zebra, blue wildebeest and giraffe roaming the central plains, but we were very surprised to find so many elephants around Satara!

For anyone looking for birds, Kruger could never disappoint, however on this visit the Park seemed to be bursting at the seems with feathered inhabitants even more than usually. We’ve shown you the enormous flocks (rather swarms!) of queleas in an earlier post, but notably we’ve also seen bigger flocks of marabou stork and wattled starling on this trip than ever before – no doubt in response to an eruption of food in the form of grass-seeds and the insects that feed on it.

At the end of our stay we had to contend with every camper’s worst nightmare – having to break up camp in pouring rain! They say that any friendship that survives going on holiday together will remain standing come what may, and happily it seems despite the hardships of dripping wet, muddy bodies and thoroughly soaked camping equipment, our friendship with the Bernards, Krugers, Nels and Therons have come through the tribulations with flying colours.

Camping at Satara, Kruger National Park, April 2017 – click the image for an enlarged view

(If you’d like to find out more about Satara and surrounds, have a look at the dedicated blog post we published about this popular part of the Kruger National Park)

Red-billed Quelea

Quelea quelea

Some of the most impressive sights of our recent visit to the Satara area of the Kruger National Park was the enormous flocks of Red-billed Quelea occupying the grasslands of the central plains. Following the good rains that bought respite from an awful drought, the savannas are heavy with a rich harvest of seeding grasses, and literally millions of the little birds are making the most of the abundant foodsource. When their population reaches a peak, as it currently has, there could be as many as 33-million Red-billed Queleas swirling in cloudy swarms over the Park!

The Red-billed Quelea is a small (20g) seed-eating sparrow-like nomad inhabiting grasslands and grainfields (causing enormous losses to farming communities). Swarms that could number in the millions descend on watering holes at least twice daily. While feeding they “roll” over the grasslands in a wave-like motion, most impressive to witness! While seeds make up the vast majority of their diet they do catch small insects as well, especially when raising chicks.

Nesting occurs communally in the rainy months and hundreds, even thousands, of nests are woven per tree (prefers thorn trees) by the males. Breeding colonies could consist of more than 2 million monogamous pairs, and is a magnet for every imaginable predatory bird, reptile and mammal that is large enough to take adults and chicks. Clutches normally number three eggs and the female incubates them for only 12 days, whereafter the chicks fledge within another two weeks!

The Red-billed Quelea may well be the most abundant bird on the planet, with an estimated population as large as ten billion, and as such is considered as being of least concern by the IUCN. It occurs widely in the savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa and can be found in every one of South Africa’s provinces, where it must number in the hundreds of millions.

(The photos in the following gallery were taken on visits to the Kruger Park and elsewhere)

Our 2016 in pictures

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

Them Big Old Bulls

What better way to wrap up the report back on our winter visit to the Kruger National Park‘s Satara and Mopani Rest Camps, than to appreciate those majestic elephant bulls that roam the Lowveld!

Herbivore Haven

The Kruger National Park protects an amazing variety of wildlife. Our recent winter visit to the Satara and Mopani areas of the Park allowed us to tick 35 different species of mammals, in addition to the many kinds of reptiles and birds we’ve already shown you. We told you about the hardships the drought is causing for the hippos and we’ve bragged about the buffaloes, predators, huge zebra herds and rare antelope we encountered. Here’s a chance now to look at some of the other herbivorous species that find sanctuary here in South Africa’s flagship 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.