Kruger 2020 diary – day 6

Notes for readers:

  • Diary entries are written in first person as they were composed in real time.
  • The “we” refers to me and a lifelong friend, Razz Rasberry, who has always wanted to see African wildlife.
  • This is one of a series of posts chronicling my March, 2020 visit to the Kruger over 11 days and 10 nights.

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I write this as we have reached Satara for breakfast after leaving Olifants Camp at dawn.  Razz saw his first lion this morning, so my job as big bwana guide is done except for rhino, which I hope we will see south of Skukuza towards Berg-en-Dal Camp in a few days. What a relief to have made Razz happy! I would hate for him to return to Raleigh skunked.

  • Leopard (I can’t believe Razz’s luck in seeing TWO leopards on one trip to the Kruger, as leopard sightings are uncommon)
  • Ostrich (5 females and a male)
  • Hyena (many, in several different places, like this one below–also note more hyenas in the mirror)

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  • Wildebeest
  • Impala
  • Zebra
  • Francolin (well, I don’t usually list them because we see these partridge-like birds by the hundreds every day, all day)
  • Mongoose
  • Elephant
  • Lion (new species today)

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  • Giraffe
  • Oxpecker
  • Kudu
  • Waterbuck
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Baboon (big troupe on the Olifants River bridge)

An astonishing array of species for just two hours of viewing!

I was happily surprised to see another leopard and skads of hyenas this morning coming home with big bellies from the night’s marauding.

After breakfast, we took off again and saw even more animals:

  • Leopard Tortoise (new species today–tortoises frequent wet roads to drink from the small pools for both moisture and accumulated minerals)

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  • Elephant (including one on the road that forced us to back up for a kilometer–note the tusk on the pachyderm below)

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  • Impala (munching in the luxuriant tall grass of summer, which is also great cover for lions and leopards on the hunt for impala)

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  • Red-billed Hornbill
  • Wildebeest

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  • Zebra (including more in the mirror)

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  • Waterbuck
  • As always, hundreds of birds that I’m no expert identifying. The ones I list I’m certain of, but even then, sometimes generic of a bird class. For example, there are many species of Francolin.

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Pretty good for two hours in the mid-morning to late morning period when many animals normally seek shade and rest to escape the brutal summer sun. But this is a beautiful day, with fluffy clouds and the occasional refreshing shower, as can be seen in the photo just above of a landscape about 30 kms. from Satara.

Razz and I are ensconced at Satara Camp for 3 nights in “perimeter” (meaning on the fence) rondavels numbers 165 and 166. We washed clothes at the laundromat before chilling with some cold ones by the fence late this afternoon (below).

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We were visited by many birds looking for handouts, including African Hoopoe, doves (species unknown), Red-billed Hornbill, Glossy Starling, and several unknown LBB species (Little Brown Birds). The birds are completely without fear, jumping up on the table and staring expectantly for food.

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Then to dinner on the Satara restaurant terrace by the perimeter fence with filthy, thieving Vervet Monkeys sneaking around the tables. I enjoyed a delicious Kudu pie, very tender and stewed with veggies.

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Final photos for today below are of the Satara Camp store, or “shop” in Kruger terminology.  Note the zebra and other hides for sale, all from Kruger carcasses of non-threatened species found by rangers and then skinned and tanned to be sold in national park shops.  Money from sales goes back to the park for conservation.  Tanned skins come with Kruger Park veterinary certificates that show them as legally acquired.

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Kruger “shops” like this one at Satara sell a wide variety of groceries and libation, as well as clothing with Kruger logos and African themes, curios, and, importantly, Kruger Park maps in several languages (on the right in the photo below).

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Tomorrow our early morning game drive (the prime time for wildlife viewing) will be east to Orpen Camp and the Orpen Gate where I have often found a pride of lions that lives close to Orpen and, if we get real lucky, African wild dogs.

The days are passing too quickly here, as always.  When I plan these trips at home, ten nights and eleven days sounds like about right, but is never enough.  Once I am in the Kruger, I don’t want to leave.

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