Lake Panic and Skukuza Nursery
Lake Panic and Skukuza Nursery are both accessed from the main road between Skukuza and Paul Kruger Gate (H11). Lake Panic apparently got its name from its status as the emergency reservoir for Skukuza Camp. Early Skukuza staff used to say there was no need to panic about water supplies because of the reliability of the dam, and somehow the name stuck.
There is a resident croc in the dam that feeds off the fat barbel that scavenge in the water below the hide. This is one of the few places in Kruger where osprey are seen. Skukuza nursery is a good place to stretch the legs, admire the sunbirds and buy some indigenous plants to take home.
The game around here is quite used to the presence of humans, and wild animals often wander through the streets of the nearby Skukuza staff village.
Skukuza Nursery has become a prime birding spot since the construction in 2006 of a wooden walkway through the reedbeds and woodlands around the nursery. It is also a place to get interesting indigenous plants at cheap prices.
Skukuza Explorer Options
- Visit Lake Panic and Skukuza Nursery (H11; S42) 6km (half-an-hour to 1,5 hours): thorn thickets, riverine bush, good birding and plant shopping;
- Rhino Koppies Route (H1-1; S112; S22; S114;) 31km; (1,5 to 2,5 hours); scenic drive through thorn thickets, mixed woodland and rugged koppie landscape; historic route with good get-out points;
- Sabie Sand Loop (H4-1; H12 and H1-2) 31km (1,5 hours); river drive through mixed woodland; very good game road and best chance of spotting lions around Skukuza.
Rhino Koppies Route
The well-watered catchment area of the Sabie River consists of a series of gently rolling hills with knob-thorns, marulas and bushwillows on the upper slopes; magic guarri, sickle-bush and acacias on the lower slopes and leadwoods, sausage trees and sycamore figs along the watercourses.
A number of granite koppies protrude sharply from the gently undulating landscape – these are a series of inselbergs that run in an east-to-west direction across central southern Kruger. One of these is Mathekenyane Koppie (385m) (also known as Granokop), which offers wonderful views of the escarpment to the west and the landmarks of Ship Mountain, Legogote and Pretoriuskop.
To the south, the Malelane mountains are visible, while on a clear day one can see the Lebombo over the game-rich grasslands to the east.
A short distance away, on the S112, is Shirimantanga Hill where Stevenson-Hamilton and his wife, Hilda, requested their ashes to be scattered. Stevenson-Hamilton died in 1957 at the age of 90, 11 years after his retirement in 1946.
Although his vision of Kruger was secure when he stepped down, he worried that it would become “a glorified zoo and botanical garden, dotted with scientific experimental stations of every kind, hotels and public recreation grounds, which are all preliminaries to the liquidation of the last vestige of wildlife”.
Shirimantanga is part of a picturesque collection of huge boulders, collectively known as “Rhino Koppies”, where these animals are often seen. This is a good drive to do at sunset.
Spotted hyaena females are considerably larger than the males. Females are also masculinised due to having more testosterone in their bodies than most male hyaenas.
As a result, females dominate the social hierarchy, are more aggressive, and have a penis-like clitoris.
Also, their vulva is fused to look like a pseudo scrotum and testes, making it extremely difficult to determine the sex of a hyaena.