There are a variety of habitats in the south-east, including the rugged Lebombo koppies, the open basaltic plains, mixed woodland and thorn thickets along the watercourses. The grasslands around Lower Sabie are usually reliable for large herds of zebra and buffalo, Crocodile Bridge area is good for giraffe and lion while white rhino are invariably seen grazing along the Nhlowa Road.
- Thorn thickets along the lower contours of the river valleys
- Open grasslands around Lower Sabie
- Lebombo foothills in the Mpanamana Concession
- Mixed bushwillow and acacia woodlands north of Biyamiti
- Pockets of fine riverine bush along the Sabie River
The black rhino is the choice sighting of the south-east, but it is rarely seen, spending most of the day deep in the thorn thickets. The best chance of seeing leopard is to stay at Shishangeni Lodge in the Mpanamana concession, which offers game drives into the hidden kloofs and gorges of the Lebombo.
The lowest point in Kruger is where the Sabie River cuts through the Lebombo (120m) range and enters Mozambique. The south-east is hot and dry, with less rainfall (300mm pa) than the Park average (650mm pa). Malaria is a concern during summer.
Crocodile Bridge Gate Explorer Options:
- The Gomondwane Road to Lower Sabie (H4-2); 34km; 1,5 hours; tar road; thorn thickets give way to open grassland around Lower Sabie; animal sightings traditionally good;
- The alternative road to Skukuza via Randspruit (H4-2; H5, S114); 68km; 3 hours; mostly dust road; thorn thickets into mixed woodlands; game viewing is a gamble but you may strike it lucky;
- Crocodile River Road to Biyamiti (S25); 26km; 1 hour; dust road; thorn thickets into mixed woodland, good birding and itinerant game viewing;
- Nhlowa Road to Lower Sabie (S28); 28km;
1 hour; dust road; open savanna grassland with good views over the Lebombo; usually good for grazers and excellent for birding.
Rhinos and crocodiles go back a long time. A common ancestor to the rhinos one sees today has been traced back to 50 million years ago. African rhinos evolved from the Asian lineage approximately 10 million years ago. The black rhino (Diceros bicornis) is more primitive than the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), which separated ancestral pathways approximately four to 5 million years ago. Rhinos have passed their evolutionary peak and survive only in protected areas.
The crocodile has a much older ancestry. Its origins lie in the archaesaurs approximately 200 million years ago. Crocodiles, in their present evolutionary state, survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.