Back in the Rat Race after an excellent trip to Kruger.
I’m not very good at these trip reports but I do think this trip needs mentioning. I spent from 21st to 29th Sept camping at Satara. I will do a separate report in the Satara thread about the camp site itself.
For those non believers I’m sorry to inform you, but the S100 rocks.
We entered at Orpen Gate and travelled to Satara on the H7. For the first time this road did not produce like it normally does. For the duration of our stay we did the H7 twice and both times saw almost nothing. Wild Dog were reported near Talamati on a daily bases, so those going there soon keep a watch out for them. Unfortunately the area produced very little other game and the roads around there are very corrugated. On most days the Wild Dog were reported on the S36, S145 and the S106. Gordon the night drive guide said they are resident in the area and are seen quite often. I had no luck.
The H1-4 tar road to Olifants was very good with loads of general game. There is a huge resident Lion pride that hang around from Ngotso pan south up to Ngotso Dam. We saw them on both occasions we did the trip to Olifants, on one trip we saw the pride at a Buff kill and it looked like there were about 16 odd lions with some cubs. We also saw Lions at the S90 junction and they were spotted around there also on a daily bases.
Olifants area was quiet but we did spot Leopard on the S92 near Balule and heard other people say they also saw leopard around there quite often.
Our area of concentration was the H6 tar to Nwanetsi, down the S41 to Gudzani and back on the S100.
On every trip we saw Lion on all 3 roads. We had a beautiful Lion kill on the H6 right next the road and watched a wonderful bit of interaction between Lions and Hyenas. Lions won hands down. The Sonop water Hole on the H6 was very good for Lions. This is one of the water holes that is still operational. The S41 was good also but the grass and bush is quite thick and visibility is rather tricky. We watch a herd of Buffalo show a pride of female lionesses just who is boss.
The S100 was just brilliant with Lions on it every day. The first 10kms from the Gudzani Dam side are IMO the best. There is also a resident Leopard that hangs around a huge Fig tree on the S100. If you come from Gudzani Dam side you get two very small loops on your left, the third loop is slightly bigger and goes down to the river. If you enter this loop from Gudzani dam side there is a huge Fig tree right in front of you. Park under this tree and wait. We saw her there on two sep occasions. The one day I must say must have been a nightmare for her. She had just killed an Impala and was caring it up the tree when a herd of Ellie arrived and started trumpeting at her. In her panic she dropped the kill and bolted down the tree and into the river. About 15mins later she returned to retrieve her kill and drag it back up the tree when suddenly a Lioness appeared. The poor Leopard had to climb right to the top of the tree and lucky for her the Lioness took no further interest and left.
We also just missed a Cheetah kill on this road but had great views of it eating its kill. Amazingly no other predator stole the kill and when we returned on the night drive the cheetah was still there looking very fat and relaxed. There is also a Cheetah that hangs around just outside Satara camp. We saw it on the one morning right outside camp.
From a birding point of view I do not believe Satara is the best camp. The weather was a bit overcast but still very hot (no rain until last day) and birding was not great. Satara is known for it’s raptors but we saw very little of them.
We also did a trip up to Timbavati and had a nice drink with Jose. The area around there was very quite and the roads are also corrugated.
Sunset at the Nsemani Dam was also great. On one occasion we watched a stand off between Ellie’s and Rhino’s. There are now quite a few Rhino in the area and we saw them on a regular bases.
All in all we had a great trip with 6 of the big 7 and loads of other game.
Pics to follow.