Satara to Olifants (H1-4)
The most direct route between Satara Rest Camp and Olifants Rest Camp is the H1-4 tarred road. However, an interesting alternative is to take the S40 to Timbavati which goes through a wider variety of habitats. Another option is to take the Old Main Road (S90) through the eastern grasslands.
The H1-4 north initially goes through open grassland with shrub bushwillow and occasional marulas. Ngotso Water Hole about 20km north of Satara is the main water hole on the Olifants Road. It is a man-made dam fed by a vlei area that is favoured by elephant. It is usually a good birding spot frequented by the African fish-eagle. North of Satara, the magic guarri becomes less common, and in its place, are the grewia species – the raisin bushes.
The H1-4 passes through a large swathe of open shrubveld and a series of pans along the Ngotso watercourse which is dominated by leadwoods. Many of these pans are too far away to be interesting, but they attract a lot of giraffe and zebra to the area.
South of Olifants Camp, the landscape becomes quite rocky as the road starts dropping into the river catchment area. This area is known as Olifants rugged veld and is a transition zone between the woodlands of the south and the mopaneveld of the north.
Red-billed Mass Action
There are more red-billed queleas in the world than any other bird. These nomadic little birds are among the most important bird species in Kruger in terms of how many there are and how much they eat.
There are an estimated 37 million red-billed queleas in Kruger, occurring in nesting colonies of up to a million birds.
Studies in Kruger show that quelea colonies, which feed in a six-kilometre radius from their nests, can consume up to 480 kilograms of plants and insects per hectare per day. Red-billed queleas are the avian equivalent of impala in that everything preys on them, including lion and crocodiles!
The wives of Kruger’s early rangers had it tough, living in the most primitive of conditions far from any luxury or social life. They were hardy.
In the same year that Mrs Lloyd buried her husband at Satara, Mrs Ledeboer at Letaba spent two months in a leaky hut of mud and grass, single-handedly nursing her pneumonia-ridden husband and sick baby back to health, not seeing another person for that entire time.
Ranger Cecil De Laporte frequently deputised for Stevenson-Hamilton during the 1920s and spent large stretches of time away from his wife who lived at their Crocodile Bridge quarters.
Late one night, while Mrs De Laporte was on her own, a pride of lion got into the stables and attacked the donkeys. The infuriated former World War I nurse emerged from the house with guns blazing. She shot dead four lion and scared the others away into the darkness.