Experience Africa – The Kruger National Park – Part 1 – South of the Sabie River
In this 3 part series we will explore Southern Africa’s largest nature reserve, The Kruger National Park. In this 1st part we discuss the former Sabie Wildlife reserve, which spans from the Sabie River, south to the Crocodile River.
The original reserve was formed in 1898 by President Paul Kruger in response to the over hunted wildlife in the area south of the Sabie River and was then called the Sabie Wildlife Reserve. Its first warden, Colonel James Stevenson-Hamilton, was stationed at Malelane gate in 1902, marking the start of what is the Kruger National Park today. The region is known for its interesting vegetation including Giant Sycamore Trees, Knob Thorn Acacias and Marula Trees. The Knob Thorn Acacias attract giraffe for grazing and the area in general offers a large amount of wildlife as the vegetation is ideal grazing grounds for zebra and impala. Close to the Mozambican border of Lembobo is the Crocodile Bridge Gate, west of that another crossing over the Crocodile River is the fore mentioned Malelane gate.
The S110 (Berg-en-Dal-Malelane Road) Leads from Malelane north-westward to Berg-en-Dal. It leads through a mountainous bushveld, offering a wide variety of different habitats and possible game sightings. Granite mountains surround the Matjulu River Valley and feature the Krugers highest peak, Khandzalive. A common sighting is herds of buffalo feeding of the lowveld vegetation, as well as zebra and Impala. Rare buck that appear in this region include the common reedbuck and sable antelope. The area is also known for a white Rhino population and lion sightings are common.
The H3 road is tarred and leads from Malelane right through to Skukuza, with a picnic stop, Afsaal Picnic Site, featuring a shop and BBQ facilities. Afsaal is perfectly situated on a strip of gabbro, a rock type formed by magnesium and iron rich magma rapidly cooling. Gabbro offers farm more nutrients to plants then granite thus the Afsaal Picnic Stop is filled with rich vegetation attracting a variety of buck and White Rhino. The area around Afsaal also offers Jackal-berry and red ivory trees. The red ivory tree produces a berry that is a local delicacy.
Further north from Afsaal along the H3 Road we find the Makhoutlwanini Koppies. Large boulders populate these hills and often see Lions scanning the flatlands below. As you head further north into the Biyamiti river follows alongside the H3 Road. During dry seasons animals are found closer to the rivine but tend to disperse during the wet season. Hornbills are often seen feeding on the magic guarri tree berries in the wet season.
From Crocodile Bridge gate one follows the H4 Road through to Skukuza, there are other options along dirt roads which take you past the Biyamiti river. Along the H4-2 road, between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie, you find large acacias which attract giraffe and similar to the H3 road one is likely to see Lion, imapla and Zebra. If you are lucky Black Rhino may be sighted too. The Gezantfombi Dam is just off the H4-2 Road and is a great stopping point to view elephant, who come to bathe in the summer. Another great dam to visit along the way to Lower Sabie is the Dukes Waterhole.
From Lower Sabie to Kukuza, the H4-1 road follows along the Sabie River. The 40km drive along the riverside road is a great option to view birds such as the Giant kingfisher, Goliath heron and Brown snake-eagle. Hippo and Crocodile also inhabit the Sabie River and are a common sighting along this route.
Our Featured accommodation is in Marloth Park, situated just south of the Kruger National Park, 35km East of Malelane Gate and 14km west of Crocodile Bridge Gate. You’ve read about it now go and Experience Africa for yourself!
Author: Sebastian Bergman – Account Executive Hotel Stays Africa