Into Timbavati Country Made Famous by "The White Lions of Timbavati" ...
Today we would complete a fairly long loop drive through the area made famous by The White Lions of Timbavati. The area is west of Satara. White lions are not a true white but pale versions of the normal lion sandy colouration. This is a genetic aberration passed on into successive generations.
We would head down the H1-3 for a short distance before turning west
onto the Sweni River road (S126) before turning right onto the S36. This
sand road would take us across the main Satara to Orpen road up the S39
which then would loop back to Satara via the S40 and H7. The initial and
middle sections of the drive are along rivers. Waypoints 278 to
300 Timbavati Loop via S126 (Sweni Drive), S36, S39 and S40. The
first section of the drive would be along the Sweni River (means to
close eyes tightly) which is the largest tributary of the
N'wanetsi where we saw
the big Tusker yesterday.
| A nice sighting of a
Coucal got us of to a good start before we reached the S36 turn off
to drive along the Sweni River at waypoint 278 to be followed shortly by
a stop at the Sweni watering point. Egyptian geese were flying overhead
Wildebeest were close to the water feeding in the open area (see
below) as was a male Kudu. The country here was more closed than
yesterday but still relatively open compared to other areas in the
Waypoint 280 was a point where large boulders just "grew" out of the
ground and became the start of a ridge and more dense bush.
Weather was cool and cloudy today and yesterday.
Just before we got to waypoint 281 we had a close sighting of an
elephant that crossed the road in front of us (see how he's watching us
with that right eye). 281 is the Welverdiend watering point (meaning
well earned success after hard work ... referring to successful sinking
of the borehole here in 1975 or thereabouts).
At the small watering point in an open area we saw a
Spurfowl previously called Francolins (picture is of a juvenile) and
a slender mongoose.
Waypoint 282 ... after passing some beautiful
Impala we saw an interesting
phenomenon at waypoint 282. The photo below shows an Epiphytec Orchid growing in
the fork of a tree. These
orchids do not like permanent moisture and would quickly rot if they were in
soil. The idea growing position is, as can be seen in this photo, in the fork of
a tree where the plant has the right substrate (bark) and good air circulation
which is vital for success. Learn more here:
Waypoint 283 is the junction with the S36. At this point we turned left to
the Muzandeni (named after seeing
Tssessebe in the area during road surveyance
work by J. Klopper in 1958) Picnic denoted on the map as waypoint 284. Close by
on a dead tree and paying close attention was a
Vulture . On cloudy days there are fewer thermals to power so much loved by
soaring raptors such as vultures so they tend to perch more. The
picnic spot is
about 100 metres higher than Satara camp at around 380 metres above sea level.
Waypoint 285 is the Rockvale watering hole. donated by Ena Rhind in memory
of her husband "who loved animals". Apart from a few
zebra travelling in perfect
single file there were few
animal sightings on the road. The views were still
terrific just like this one here ...
Waypoint 286 was the junction with the main H7 road where we turned left to
look out from the Bobbejaan (Baboon) Krans, waypoint 288 ... at the Krans there
is a get out point and a beautiful bench has been placed "in loving memory of
Theo Emmet, who spent many happy hours here" and where yours truly was captured
on camera talking to himself ...
On the way up to Bobejaan Krans we crossed the Phelwana River at waypoint
287 ... the river was dry and the rocks in the river, worn smooth over millenia,
were a beautiful red sandstone colour. You can see from the photo where the
river level gets to as shown by the change in colour.
Waypoint 289 was the turn onto the S39 heading towards the Timbavati picnic
spot 32 kms away (the road straight ahead would have taken us to
some 79 kms away). The photo shows a typical shot of the vegetation and
countryside around here. The trees are varieties of acacia thorn tree including
the Umbrella Thorntree.
Shortly after turning onto the sand road about 5kms just before
waypoint 290 we saw one of the highlights of the day and even of the
whole trip. Two
Black-backed Jackal were in the middle of the road. This
was close to a spot on the Timbavati River where vultures were circling and the call
of a Hyaena could be heard.
We were able to watch and follow the Jackals for about 10 minutes as they
slowly moved off parallel to the road in a south easterly direction.
Waypoint 290 was a lookout over the dry Timbavati River. and then 291 was
the crossing over a small dry river where we saw a herd of Impala and also
shortly after that a group of
Kudu. There are many small streams crossing this
woodland area as you can clearly see from this detailed map
Waypoint 292 is Leeubron (Lion Spring) watering facility sponsored by First
National Bank "in the interests of nature conservation" and certainly judging by
the number of Wildebeest and Zebra at the spot they appreciated this very much.
Shortly after waypoint 293 which provided a spectacular view of the dry
Timbavati River bed there was a very large herd of
Buffalo lying down in the
grass. Buffalo are rarely far from a water source since they need to drink every
Continued ... A number of Giraffe and Impala were also in
the immediate area. Shortly after this at waypoint 295 we came
across a single tree half of which was completely covered in a
vine of some sort.
It was the only tree in the area that had this growth all over it. It was most
peculiar. I wonder if it is some kind of air plant?
Waypoint 296 ... Crossing the Sandspruit stream just before it enters the
Timbavati ... the stream had a small shady pool, in a grotto as it were, in
Jameson's Firefinches were drinking.
|Waypoint 297 is the Timbavati Pan where Giraffe with splayed legs were drinking. Just before that a nice herd of Wildebeest with youngsters. 298 is the Timbavati picnic spot where we stretched out legs.|
Waypoint 299 and 300 ... Magabayane Koppies. These 2 hills are part
of the Clarens Sandstone Formation. They are named after Creeks that rises here.
One is called Nsemani (300) and the other Mangadyane (299). Quite impressive
formations at about 335 and 354 metres above sea level respectively. The road
was around 300 metres. The scenery in this area is very different from the S39
and animals were quite scarce in comparison too. Remember we had traveled along
the Timbavati river for the last couple of hours. Now the country was bushveld
rather than riverine/bushveld mixed. We had seen more Wildebeest.
Before arriving back at Satara we made a short detour down the S12 to take
a second look at the beautiful
Sycamore Fig tree we'd seen at the Girivana
watering hole the previous day. The windmill at Girivana was donated by Mr and
Mrs C.C. Kay in 1981. This also meant we managed to get another look at the
Nsemani Pan also.
From here we left to meander up the H1-4 for the last hour before the Satara Camp gates closed. At waypoint 301 we were told about 4 lionesses along the S90 so turned around to take a look. We were in for a surprise. We were told that the rear tyre on the car was flat as we were watching 4 lions. I asked my wife to get out and change the tyre while I watched out for the lions ... see the truth here.