Satara is a lovely camp from which to explore the northern section of the Kruger National Park. Travelling as far as Letaba Camp makes a good day’s outing – pack a picnic lunch though! The many trees in Satara help to make the camp a haven for birds, perhaps the most striking of which are the Red-billed Buffalo Weavers.
Grey Louries flit about for most of the day, sometimes giving their characteristic ‘go away’ calls. Mostly they are silent as they work their way through the trees eating pods or berries. They also enjoy coming down to drink from pools of water left over by the rain or containers left under the communal standing taps dotted about the camp.
There was such a range of interesting things to see in this area that I can only touch on them. A favourite place to visit, for example, was the Nsemani Dam on the Orpen Road, where one can be guaranteed to see hippos, crocodiles and a variety of birds ranging from African Fish Eagles to Water Thick-knees to Three-banded Plovers.
You know how, when driving through a game reserve, every log purports to be an animal of some kind? Well, one morning we came across a cheetah sitting upright and looking for all the world like a log!
Having discovered a spotted hyena den in a culvert only about two kilometres from the camp on the Olifants road, we spent over an hour watching these interesting creatures as soon as the gates opened at six in the morning. We would also stop by to observe them in the late afternoon if we were returning to camp from that direction.
Returning from one such sojourn, we felt privileged to watch a Martial Eagle perched in a tree next to the road, within sight of the turn-off to Satara Camp. This sighting is all the more precious as there are apparently only thirty known breeding pairs left within the Kruger National Park.
Other interesting sightings within the camp itself include the Brown-headed Parrots that gathered to feed on the long seed pods of the long-tail cassia (Cassia abbreviate subsp. beareana) tree growing next to our campsite. The parrots break open the long seed pods in order to extract the seeds. The opened pods are later visited by other birds, such as African Mourning Doves, Cape Glossy Starlings, Grey Louries and Red-billed Woodhoopoes.
Flocks of Arrow-marked Babblers, with their raucous cackling laughter, fly through the veld – usually heard before they are seen – and are regular visitors to the camp.
Having seen two black rhino on the Orpen road soon after our arrival, it was wonderful to come across three white rhino on our way back from a drive to Letaba Camp.
It was on that drive that I photographed these spectacular species of Impala Lilies at the Olifants Camp.
I have already mentioned the amorous giraffe couple and found I could not resist photographing the heads of these elegant looking creatures.
An abundance of Red-billed Oxpeckers have been seen in this area riding on animals as diverse as giraffe, hippo, impala and buffalo.
A really special sighting was that of a single Ground Hornbill walking among a herd of impala.
Who can resist focusing on the characteristic pattern on the rear of a waterbuck?
Moving from patterns to shapes. These are the knobbly lateral roots of some of the tall fever trees growing near the reception area of the reception of Satara Camp.
During our stay in Satara we experienced searing heat, a spectacular thunderstorm, set-in rain, bright sunshine and some evening with a welcome chill in the air. We even experienced what everyone thought at first was Eskom load-shedding, except that the electricity remained off for 24 hours. A small notice at reception and in the ablution blocks the following day informed visitors that a power cable had broken.
While we thoroughly enjoyed our sojourn in Satara, tent campers be aware that the sites consist of open stony ground with hardly a blade of grass in sight. Walking barefoot is not really an option and one is advised to clear the site of as many sharp stones as possible before pitching one’s tent!