N'Wanetsi Picnic Spot, Sweni Bird Hide, Harry Wolhuter Memorial
Another long loop drive was the order of the day.
We would also relive the Harry Wolhuter lion encounter of August 1903 (103 years ago) by visiting the memorial.
Waypoints 303 to 315 Along H6, S37 and S35 to the Wolhuter memorial
elephant were seen before we turned left at waypoint 304 onto
the H6 heading towards N'Wanetsi Picnic Spot 21 kms away.
Shortly into the H6 drive we came across 2
Steenbok about 100 metres away
in a clearing. It is unusual to see 2 Steenbok since they are very much solitary
animals (albeit monogamous) except for a mother accompanied by a lamb and when
mating was taking place. This was such an instance where the signs were
unmistakable. See the photo. The male was however unable to climb onto the
female since whenever he tried she would walk away for a few more steps. The
male just kept following. There signs of much burning in the area before we saw
the Steenbok and a Kori Bustard was looking for food in the burned remains.
Waypoint 305 with attendant
Wildebeest, a solitary Buffalo and Kudu
... the Shishangani watering hole. Shishangani is the name of a creek and has an
interesting meaning (refer
"Dictionary of Kruger Park Place Names". The name is derived from Tsonga and
refers to a ritual undertaken before any undertaking that should succeed. An
example might be placing a rock on a heap of stones next to the road when
entering unknown territory with the belief that the journey will be safe and
that food will be obtainable at the end of the journey. On a morning walk such a
collection of stones was pointed out to my son and these stones had probably
been placed there by illegal immigrant crossing the Kruger.
Waypoint 306 is Sonop watering point next to the Shishangani. It means Sunrise and named at the time the borehole was sun in 1975. The pump system was "donated by family and friends in memory of Elaine Stephenson for her dedication to the cause of Nature Conservation." She died at the age of 44 in 1985. Zebra, Impala and Warthogs were present. There were lots of animals to be seen on the drive up to N'Wanetsi Picnic Spot from Sonop.
We would start down the H6 to the N'Wanetsi picnic spot (see image for view
from the Picnic Area) before spending
time at the wonderful Sweni Bird hide opposite..
View from N'Wanetsi picnic spot.
Waypoint 307 is the N'Wanetsi Picnic Spot, a beautiful place overlooking
the Sweni (not N'Wanetsi) River where a largish pool with
water lilies has
formed. Directly south (see photo) there is a 200 metre above sea level ridge
(the Sweni River is down at 160 metres). The end of this ridge overlooks the
Sweni Bird Hide our next stop. While we were looking down at the pool a large
elephant passed from one hiding spot to another on the far bank. It took about
15 seconds and in that time, although the picnic area was very busy, I don't
think anyone else other than ourselves saw it. The N'Wanetsi Bush Lodge (now
called Singita Lebombo and is a luxury private development) is about a 1 km
drive from the picnic spot.
Gareth and his mom at N'Wanetsi picnic spot. On the early morning drive to day at this waypoint 303 Gareth and other
members of the drive were party to an unseen
Leopard kill. As he was saying to
his mother ... They'd stopped to witness a lot of unusual Baboon activity. The
Baboons were highly agitated and were shouting in a direction over towards the N'wanetsi River. In between the Baboon screams and calls the death-like calls
and bleating from an Impala could be heard from the same direction the Baboons
were staring into. They did not last long. The Baboons climbed to the top of a
tree during the commotion and after a while came down again at which point 2
loud growls were uttered by the unseen Leopard. The Baboons continued as if
nothing had happened, maybe knowing that, at least for the moment, there was
little else to fear.
Waypoint 308 and 309 (marked it twice) is the Sweni Bird Hide. The Wildlife
Society of South Africa contributed to he building of this wonderful
in commemoration of 2 young men who had died. Their names were Johan Schmidt
aged 20 at death and John O'Donnell who was 29. ... The picture shows an African
Darter and a Terrapin arguing over the rights to the rock perch. There is so
much to enjoy in the peaceful seclusion of the bird hide. We saw
many birds, geese, ducks, and other interesting sights. This
picture is of a
Kingfisher on the side of the dam.
Waypoint 310 is the low level crossing of the Sweni just after leaving the
hide. Got a nice shot of a small crocodile sunbathing on a rock. The picture
here looks back to the bird hide and shows what a great piece of construction it
| Waypoint 311 ... Just after sighting a lone male Steenbok we came across a
large herd of male Impala in a clearing between the Thornveld. A number of the
males were apparently fighting .
Kudu can be seen in the background quite oblivious to the action.
Waypoint 312 is the turn off from the S37 onto the S35 heading towards
Orpen Dam and, before that, the
Harry Wolhuter monument. The drive up to this
point had been quite uninspiring and we had the whole road to ourselves almost.
|Click this image to see exactly where Ranger H C Wolhuter killed that lion on August 26th 1903 then read on. Waypoints 312, 313 and 314 form a small cluster of geographical points which tell one of the most well known Kruger Park stories of them all but I'm fairly sure this spot has been visited by only a tiny minority of Kruger visitors. This is the spot where Harry Wolhuter (H C Wolhuter, Sabie Game Reserve, was an early Park Ranger) was attacked on August 26th, 1903 by one of 2 lions that had pounced on his horse. Wolhuter fell off his horse which bolted with one lion in pursuit. The other lion, trying to get a hold on the horse's neck grabbed Wolhuter as he fell onto it. With the lion holding his right shoulder Harry Wolhuter was dragged for some 60 metres before he managed to stab the lion with a sheath knife. There are 3 brass plaques commemorating this unbelievably brave incident and this is what they say (refer to Google Earth image above) ..."At this spot, while riding alone at night, Ranger H C Wolhuter Sabie Game reserve was seized by a lion on August 26th 1903." "On this spot Ranger Wolhuter was dragged by the lion and here single-handedly killed it with his sheath knife "The plaque is on the remnants of a tree ... "Into this tree Ranger Wolhuter badly wounded climbed in order to avoid an attack by a second which remained near by until assistance arrived." Read the full Wolhuter Lion account here ... but before you do just imagine the scene. It was night, he was alone on horseback, and the country was totally uninhabited. From here we continued down the S35 towards Orpen Dam and on to one of the perfect viewing spots in the Kruger ... Nkumbe look out.|