Letaba, meaning 'river of sand' in Sotho, is one of the most delightful camps in the Park. It offers spectacular views of the Letaba River, prolific bird life and a few tame bushbuck that live in the camp. Guests can also view game from the Letaba restcamp restaurant and recreation area.
Letaba is situated on Mopane shrubveld surrounded by mixed grass plains and apple leaf trees. Apple leaves are also known as rain trees because they flower ahead of the spring rains. Taller trees like leadwoods, tambotis and nyala trees are found along the drainage lines and riverine forests.
Facts on Letaba:
- Riverine and mixed woodland within mopane and thornveld
- One of the best winter game congregation along the Letaba River
- Engelhard Dam is one of South Africa's top bird watching sights
- Lots of Elephant activity in the mopaneveld around Letaba
- Lions are the dominant predators
- Look out for the tsessebe north of Letaba on the Mopani Road
Letaba River Loop (S47)
The best game viewing opportunities in the north exist is along the rivers as many of the animals are found not more than 6 kilometres/3.7 miles from the water. The Olifants and Letaba rivers also feature a prolific gallery of forests with sycamore figs, tambotis and sausage trees.
The Letaba River Road is good for game viewing and various specimens of these trees are found all along the riverbed. This is the best places to spot the elusive Leopard in the north. There is also a great waterhole on this road called the Mingerhout Dam which is home to many Crocodile and frequented by Elephant.
Letaba to Mopani (H1-6):
Travel slowly on this road to spot the game surrounding the Letaba River which flows past on the left. You will also get to see Elephant, Hippo and free tailed bats from the high level bridge over the river. These bats are usually only seen at night but there strong scent can be smelt during the day.
When traveling from Letaba to the north you will experience flat plains that are dominated by Mopane as well as several waterholes. Letaba offers many game viewing opportunities. The new picnic spot at Makhadzi River is 9 kilometres/5.6 miles along the road to the new Giriyondo border post leading to Mozambique.
To the south of Mopani you can see the escarpment to the west, the hill of Masorini near Phalaborwa Gate and the Lebomba to the east. You will also be able to see the Oliphants Gorge in the Lebombo Mountains when traveling southeast. Be on the lookout for the rare Roan antelope.
There are often herds of Roan north of the Letaba River looking for taller grasses in lightly wooded savannah. The Tsendzi Loop (S48) is about 40 minutes north of Letaba. This is a good and preferred detour, unless it has been raining heavily. It traces the Tsendzi River, where tall riverine trees contrasts with the surrounding flat plains.
The one best game viewing in the north can be found along the dry river beds or streams. White Rhino is usually associated with southern Kruger but a small population is found in the north after a group of 12 was released there in the 1960's. The Mooiplaas get out point is the perfect place from which to admire the Tsendzi River and its environs.
Letaba to Olifants:
The main options for traveling from Letaba to Olifants is the main tar road (H1-5) or Letaba River Road (S46 leading into the S44). The main road is approximately 45 minutes drive through flat Mopane shrubveld.
Olifants offers you lush forests along the Olifants River and beautiful stretches of rugged bushveld. The Letaba Road features much more game than the tar road. This road is one of the main game viewing roads in the north and you will be sure to see something interesting.
Why not stop at the Olifants get out point, which offers the most beautiful views of the river and the surrounding countryside.
Masorini to Letaba (H9):
For the next 20 kilometres/12 miles the main road to Letaba consists of fairly monotonous Mopane flatland where game is scarce. There are, however, a wide variety of termite hills. These hills are about 100 metres apart from each other because of the fierce territorial habits of these insects.
These insects can stay in the mounds for centuries and during summer you might witness eagles gathering on top of the mounds, waiting for some of these protein rich creatures to make an appearance.
After Shiawaru Hill on the left, the road will run next to the usually dry Nhlanganini Stream. A loop road takes you to the Nhlanganini waterhole where Elephant and Hippo are possible sightings.
A number of terrapins have been known to be spotted at this waterhole. This is creature has a unique defense mechanism; when disturbed they release a powerful odour that makes them smell like a Lion. About 6 kilometres/3.7 miles along the H-9 before Letaba you might come into contact with Buffalo and other grazers at the pan, especially in the late afternoon.
The routes around the Engelhard Dam are probably some of the best in northern Kruger. It offers wonderful landscape and diverse game. Take the Mopane Road then turn off after the Letaba Bridge onto the S62.
Matambeni bird hide and Engelhard view site are 2 good viewing points on this road. Engelhard Dam can found from either the S62 on the northern side of the Letaba River or from the S46 on the southern side. This is one of the biggest banks in Kruger and is frequented by numerous animals.
To the east of Engelhard is the Lebombo range and to the west is basalt Mopane shrubveld. This ensures that there is a good selection of bird and animal life. You might a chance to see Waterbuck, white Elephant, Kudu, Buffalo and Impala in this region.
This area is home to populations of Hippo and Crocodile. This is also a bird lover's paradise. Heron species, plovers, bee eaters, storks, crakes and jacanas can be found in this area.