About the Skukuza Area
At Skukuza Camp
Paul Kruger Gate
Phabeni to Skukuza
Rhino Koppies Route
Sabie Sands Loop
Skukuza to Lower Sabie
Skukuza to Satara
Tshokwane and Surrounds
Tshokwane to Lower Sabie
Tshokwane to Satara
See Kruger Park Skukuza Area Self-drive Map
Whatever one's view may be, his name has become synonymous with the South African wildlife experience, and tourism authorities are understandably loath to tamper with the destination branding. The gate is on the Sabie River which is the dominant watercourse in southern Kruger.
The Sabie is known for its hippos and crocodiles which lie log-like on the sandy river banks, or cruise the mid-stream with just their eyes poking above the water. The Kruger Gate bridge is a good birding spot with the rare Pel's fishing-owl recorded along this stretch of the Sabie at sunset.
Oom (uncle) Paul scowls over the Sabie River, having survived the politics of the new South Africa and attempts to have the bust removed in the interests of political correctness. The former president of the Transvaal Republic was a fervent Afrikaner nationalist and racist to boot - but he was also an anti-colonialist who had environmental foresight and a love for the bush.Imagine the severity of the floods of 2000, when Paul Kruger Bridge was actually under water! The floods had their lighter moments. Bruce Bryden recalls the incredulous sight of a shrieking baboon clinging surfer-style to a log that was swept down the river - the log hit the bridge and the baboon escaped onto dry land.
Crocodile Drama on the Sabie One of Kruger's most fearsome battles between man and beast took place between Paul Kruger Gate and Skukuza one hot summer's day in November 1976. Two Skukuza rangers - Tom Yssel and Louis Olivier - went fishing at a water hole on the Sabie River near the staff village.
The two were wading thigh-deep in the river when the water suddenly erupted around them as a five-metre crocodile shot out of the reeds and grabbed Yssel by the leg. Olivier desperately tried to save his friend and lunged at the reptile as it headed for deeper water. He managed to get astride it and, thrashing about in the shallows, desperately tried to prise the crocodile's jaws open.
The struggle lasted for what seemed like ages, before Kruger helicopter pilot Hans Kolver, who had been enjoying a cold beer on a sandbank nearby, rushed over to help. Kolver dug his fingernails into the crocodile's eyes, but it maintained its deadly grip, shaking Yssel from time to time to improve its grip. Yssel was in agony and losing blood fast as the men tried in vain to pull him free. Neither side would give in.
The croc then surprised everyone by letting go of Yssel and grabbing Kolver by the wrist, pulling him under water. By this time, Olivier had managed to get a knife and rushed back over, stabbing the crocodile in its eye sockets.
Only then did the crocodile release Kolver, and sink back under water. Olivier and Kolver, terrified that other crocodiles would be attracted by the blood, hauled Yssel out of the river and rushed him to hospital. Miraculously, he survived. The crocodile was shot the next day by another ranger, as it was badly wounded.
Olivier and Kolver were awarded the Wolraad Woltemade Decoration for Conspicuous Bravery in 1978.