Kruger: unforgettable family adventure (part two)

Last night’s ferocious thunderstorms persisted until the wee hours at Satara Camp, knocking out power briefly 3 times. We kept waking up to check on the kids and to listen to the downpour. It was wonderful!

Our Family Cottage at Satara Camp
Inside our Family Cottage at Satara

Gas station at Satara Camp

Fence surrounding Satara Camp 
Ruth and I let the kids sleep in a bit this morning while we headed out for a game drive as soon as they opened the gates at 5:30am. We didn’t see many animals (though we did see a lot of birds), but we enjoyed the beauty & tranquillity of an African sunrise illuminating the lush green grass still damp with rain. (Other early morning adventurers were more fortunate and saw Leopards at 3 places we’d driven past, proving once again that seeing wild African animals is all about chance.)

Secretary Bird
Leopard Tortoise
After a hearty breakfast of a sausage roll, fried eggs, bacon, stewed tomatoes, and toast and croissant with butter and jelly, we packed the VW diesel van for the short drive (we thought) north 79 kms to Letaba Camp. However, no one told us, nor were there any warning signs posted to the effect, that several roads and bridges en route north had been washed out in the mid-January floods that had devastated the Park.

Thanks to friends in South Africa, we had seen pictures in January of water 18 inches deep at Letaba Camp, which is built on a high bank of the Letaba River. But nobody told us of the wash-outs, or that no repairs had since been made.

Thus a trip that should have taken a couple of hours took until 2:00pm. We arrived Letaba after a harrowing drive from Satara. We found 3 bridges washed out and not yet repaired, which by itself would have not been so bad. However, Park officials had posted no detour or warning signs in advance, and we didn’t know about the washouts until we reached each one. This caused us to backtrack many kms and detour each time.

I tried to bring this to the resident Park Ranger’s attention at Letaba when we finally arrived, but discovered he was attending a conference and had left no backup. I’ve made too many trips to count to the Kruger since 1991, and I’ve always been impressed with the professional management of the Park. Until now.

Many people coming behind us this afternoon had the same experience. A lot of families arrived late as a result of the failure of Park management to post warning informational signs.


We nonetheless enjoyed the day immensely. I didn’t expect to see many animal species after the torrential rains of last night; usually they disperse into the bush after such a deluge. So we were very pleased to see many elephants at numerous locations, as well as lots of Vervet Monkeys, Chacma Baboons, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, impala, warthogs, Cape Buffalo, hippos, kudu, bushbuck, waterbuck, Leopard Tortoises, and 2 species we had not seen the previous 2 days: a large monitor lizard (over 3′ long) and a steenbok.

Waterbuck (all females)
Lions (from previous day’s drive to Satara)
In the avian world today we saw the usual flocks of doves and francolin and guineafowl, lots of Yellow-billed and Red-billed hornbills, many Lilac-breasted Rollers, a couple of Saddle-billed Storks, some Maribou Storks, a Burchell’s Coucal, and 5 Ground Hornbills (which are as large as American Wild Turkeys).

White Rhino & Impala

Giraffe by the car
Momma & baby near Olifants

Elephant in the grass north of Satara

Big tusks!
The temp peaked today at 34.5 C (almost 95 F), which made for more comfortable game drives than yesterday (we tool around with the windows down for optimal viewing as well as for a natural experience). Tonight and tomorrow night we rest in rondavel number D43 here at Letaba. We’re relaxed but tired and going to bed early in order to rise early for another game drive before breakfast.
Letaba rondavel D43

Letaba rondavel D43

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