• Steph Anderson

Kruger National Park Safari, Nov 2018 (part 2)

Our next stop was Satara Camp, a popular camp due to the large lion prides that occupy this section of Kruger. This part of the park is tinder dry and many of the waterholes are dry making life tough for its residents. First sighting from Satara was a pride of 5 lion on a buffalo kill, the dominate male was still in attendance and commanding the ‘lion’s’ share of the meal before deciding to move to a beautiful Maroela tree for shade, thus allowing the rest of the pride to eat in peace. This area didn’t disappoint, we decided to follow the Timbavati River north and even though the river is currently dry we still found 2 further lion sightings, one lioness sitting in the riverbed and a male slowly walking off into the bush after finishing an impala he’d killed during the night. Popular belief is that the hunting is done by the lionesses in the pride, but male lions are often alone as they patrol their territory and are perfectly happy to hunt for themselves.

Leopard eating a Impala - Kruger Park

The next day we headed east to a loop road known as N’wanetsi, this loop borders the private game concession of Singita, a stunning 5-star lodge set within the Kruger National Park. Here we stopped to chat to a fellow visitor to the park who told us about an Impala kill close to the road, the leopard hadn’t been seen for some time, but he was hoping to return later to get a glimpse. With time on our hands we decided to just park up and wait patiently. Sometimes patience is the name of the game when sighting leopard. A couple of hours passed with no action, people came and went, but we continued to sit and wait. Then at about 4:30 in the afternoon he appeared; clearly he’d been there hiding all along, no doubt waiting for the afternoon heat to abate. This massive male leopard slowly walked back to his quarry and rewarded us with a prime view of him devouring the Impala.

After a couple of successful days at Satara we continued to head north to Balule Camp, a small basic camp on the banks of the Olifants River, this river flows all year round and is teeming with life. Herds of elephants and pods of hippos everywhere, a line of Nile Crocodiles basking on the riverbanks and a sprinkling of Cape Buffalo enjoying the sweet grass that grows on the river’s sandbanks. This really is an oasis at the centre of a landscape hungry for the summer rains.

Lions in Sabie Riverbed Kruger

Our final stop on this trip is Lower Sabie Camp, back in the southern section of the park. Like Balule, this camp also sits on the banks of a flowing river, this time the Sabie River. Here is where we witnessed the highlight of this trip, during the day we’d seen several prides of lion sitting in various spots along the river banks however the sightings had been busy with other visitors to the park so we hadn’t stopped to view for long but as the afternoon drew on the park becomes quiet and is the perfect time to re-visit some of the sightings seen earlier in the day.

We’d spotted a number of lionesses sitting on rocks in the morning, so we thought we’d give them another try but as we approached there was a herd of Cape Buffalo crossing the road, heading for the relative safely of the river where they would usually settle for the night. The buffalo were crossing exactly were the lions had been sleeping so I dismissed the chance of seeing the lions again, but my husband had a hunch and wanted to take one final look before we headed back to camp for the night. As we pulled onto the edge of the river bank we could see that the herd of buffalo had rushed into the river and then we spotted the reason why, the lions we’d seen earlier in the day had ambushed the buffalo and chased them into the Sabie River. The buffalo came bursting out of the waters, where they then proceeded to organize themselves into a formidable line and with heads down and horns pointing charged at the lions, pushing them back towards the river bank.

Hippo at Sunset Dam - Kruger Park

There was continued toing and froing, first the lions would inch forward panicking the buffalo before they would turn on the lions and charge, pushing them back down the river bank. It was so exciting to witness, such natural animal behaviour between two mortal enemies. Unfortunately, that was where it ended for us as we had to leave and return to camp before the gates closed, we did however return first thing the following morning, both lion and buffalo were nowhere to be seen so the buffalo had lived to fight another day.

This trip to Kruger turned out to be astonishing, we saw so much action that it would be impossible to relay it all in a short blog, but if you're interested take a look at the video we made of this particular trip. Should you ever get the opportunity I would strongly recommend a visit to the famous Kruger National Park, so you can witness these events for yourselves.

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