Mopani Camp Drives: Kruger National Park ...

The Tsendze River Loop ... An Important River with its Catchment Inside the Kruger.

It had been impossible to get accommodation at Letaba or Mopani for the duration of my August trip (school holidays) so I'd had to accept a lot of traveling up and down the main Letaba via Mopani to Shingwedzi road to complete the drives I wanted to do. The map below shows some of this criss-crossing so I've highlighted this drive in yellow. Waypoint 368 is where the S48 turn-off to Tsendze from the H1-6 starts. The loop is not very long being some 10 kms before the road rejoins the H1-6 south of Mopani.

Tsendze River Loop Map Drive Kruger National Park I'd managed 1 night at Letaba and was able to complete the Engelhard Dam drive before rejoining the main tar road north to complete the Tsendze River (the subject of this page) and Tshongololo Creek (S142) loop drives on the way back to Shingwedzi.

Waypoint 369 is a wonderful view of the remaining pools of the Tsendze River ...
Tsendze River Catchments and Woodlands map

The Tsendze River is  a seasonal one and its catchments area is completely within the Kruger. This is an important point and means the waterway is not at all influenced by other riparian river activities as occur and influence the main perennial rivers running through the Park all if which rise outside the western boundary of the Kruger. It's just a pity that flow is limited and seasonal. The picture here is a very interesting one illustrating clearly what I've just said ... notice the very large number of streams and creeks entering the Tsendze from both sides west and east. The ground level (scale in bottom right hand corner of map) at the extreme left of this image is 320 metres above sea level (the thin brown lines) while the river runs through a valley at level somewhat less than 280 metres. The ground east of the river rises quite quickly again to 320 metres just on the other side of the main H1-6.

Just before this point we'd crossed a very dry and wide river bed where tributaries of the main Tsenzde flowed a couple of times per year.


Tsendze river pools Kruger National park

Another interesting observation to which I do not know the answer and have seen many times ... the first few kms of the drive were on a grey stony road surface only to change to that familiar brownish red sandy and smooth road surface about 2 kms before the Tsendze view I mentioned and show here.

Much of the woodlands shown in the above map is of Mopane trees, about 3 metres high. On this drive that after a short while the ground opened up into Umbrella thorn trees. At the point where the change in trees took place the road surface also turned back to the grey stony colour.

I have been trying to learn about these factors that are so common in the Kruger and have at last started (repeat started) to get a beginner's understanding of the complexity of the landscapes in the Kruger ... it is these landscapes essentially driven by underlying rock structures that are responsible for what grows where based upon soil conditions, water availability and fire frequency and intensity over very long periods of time. And based upon what grows is the animal population density and species variety.

The landscapes of the Kruger has become a fascinating study for me and one I'll return to in an effort to explain the things we, as casual visitors, see around us every time we visit the Kruger. But for now I need to get a bit more studying under my belt.


Monarch butterflies Kruger National Park I got a nice shot of what I think are Monarch butterflies flittering around the lavender-type bush I mentioned on the previous drive just before we got to waypoint 370, that marked the rejoining of the Tsendze drive with the main H1-6.
close up of Monarch butterfly
Tsendze and unknown river confluence Waypoint 371 is the confluence of the Tsendze with an unknown river. It's about 50 metres off the main road and is a beautiful spot. A Saddle-billed Stork was feeding when we visited. The small bird you can see in the first picture is a juvenile White-backed Night-Heron (still got its barred chest markings , and white wing markings) . The Tsendze is entering at the bottom right ... the other incoming river is entering the confluence from the centre top.
Saddle billed stork and night heron tsendze river

This second picture shows the two birds looking for the next meal.

Waypoint 372 is just off the main road and is the Mooiplaas Picnic spot. The picnic spot is a bit bare. However a thatched lapa with tables and chairs has been positioned about 50 metres away from the actual picnic area and it has a splendid view overlooking the Tsendze River.

Tsendze river pool with fish Kruger National park

There were lots of fish to be seen in the pool at the bottom of the viewpoint... Probably the likes of the Sharptooth Catfish, Mudfish and Mozambique Tilapia...

butterfly on shrub kruger national park

And whatever that shrub with the small purple flowers is there is no doubt it is a major attractor of butterflies. Here's a shot of another species on the same shrub. Wherever we came across this plant there was butterfly activity.