Mating Lions at River Sabie | S112, S22 for Shirimantanga, S21 N’Watimhiri Rd to H4-1
|It had rained hard and long during the night, a welcome springtime rain which would start the annual rejuvenation process. It probably signaled the end of the dry season for this year. Tuesday October 3rd 2006 is when I drove south from Skukuza camp down to visit the Stevenson-Hamilton memorial rocks at Shirimantanga. From there I took an easterly route direct along the S21, N’Watimhiri Road, to join the main, and probably, most visited road in the Kruger Park as a whole … H4-1 between Lower Sabie and Skukuza. This latter road along the banks of the Sabie River rarely disappoints and today was no exception. I would be privileged to watch a superb male Lion and a Lioness mate on 3 occasions before they finally moved off down into the river bed, presumably for a bit more privacy.|
The act of mating between Lions is a brief affair that culminates in fierce
growling by both the male and female. A good sequence of shots was able to be taken.
Mating resumes after about 15 minutes of rest.
Click the of the map to enlarge it to see the exact route ending at waypoint 614 where I reversed and drove to Lower Sabie rest camp where I would stay for the next 2 nights. Lower Sabie burned down not long ago and has been refurbished with the new rooms being very modern by Kruger standards. Lower Sabie rest camp is situated on the banks of the dammed section of the Sabie River. Many people choose Sabie Camp as the best for all round experiences. Certainly the drives from this area are hard to beat.
The image shown here is taken from Google Earth and shows the Lower Sabie Rest Camp on the banks of that dammed portion of the Sabie River. It also shows in the top left the famous Sunset Dam that makes a spectacular viewing point point at the end of most days. The dam has a large herd of resident
Hippos and there are many
Waypoint 599 is the turn onto the S112 and 600 is onto the S22 short loop to the Stevenson-Hamilton monument. The drive up is spectacular in terms of the closeness you get to the bush on this narrow climbing sand road. The rocks at the turn around are true memorials, probably to rest here for ever. It is possible to leave the car at this monumental point (waypoint 601 Shirimantanga).
Waypoint 602 is the turn off onto the S21, the N’Watimhiri Road. This sand road is named after the word Puffadders in Tsonga. These snakes are probably responsible for more deaths from snake bite (across Africa as a whole) than any other. Puffadders are more active at night than in the day and like to lie on warm ground such as footpaths. They do not move away at a sense of approaching footsteps relying upon camouflage for protection. Biting is a last resort. The possibility of standing on a Puffadder in the camp area is always there and while it is highly unlikely it pays to take a torch whenever you walk around the camp at night.
Waypoint 603 is a crossing of the upper N’Watimhiri River and on the right is Siyalu Hill, or Rock Koppie formation. The word means a bubbling spring. The tree growing in front of Siyalu on the picture is in its bright green spring foliage. It makes a nice contrast with the Koppie.
Waypoint 604 is watering point donated by family and friends of Noel Bourhill for his dedication to Nature Conservation who died at 24 years of age in 1972 in a car crash. Waypoint 605 is the N’Watimhiri watering point supplied with 2 windmills. Close by was a termite mound showing the entrance door for I wonder what? Maybe a
Warthog since it is quite large. By using the binoculars it was possible to get a good look inside the disused termite mound that plainly showed the cavernous type of construction so typical of these complex building projects engineered by totally blind worker termites.
It was close to this point that took a shot of this Burchell’s Coucal. Its mate had just caught a small snake and flew off just before I could get a photo.
Waypoint 606 is the crossing of the Mhlupheka Stream which is a tributary of the N’Watimhiri River. It is a significant stream in size and close to the confluence with the N’Watimhiri.
Waypoint 607 was a large mudhole and while it was quiet today it is obviously well used. Shortly after this I reached the junction with the H4-1 at waypoint 608. From here I drove right to complete the N’Watimhiri Loop that would bring me back onto the main road (waypoint 611). The initial turn off was at waypoint 609 and from here I drove along the banks of the Sabie to the N’Watimhiri Causeway (610). At this point in previous years I’ve seen large herds of Buffalo.
At waypoint 612 is the spot where I stopped to watch the Lions mating. The photos speak for themselves.
From here I drove to the Nkhulu Picnic Spot at waypoint 614 after crossing the bridge over the N’watinwambu River (613). At the Picnic spot I could get a close up view of the creamy yellow and white blossomed trees I’d been seeing occasionally. They were Gardenia Trees and had nicely scented blossoms.
Shortly after leaving Nkhulu I stopped to take a photo of another dead snake … driven over. This was I think the 4th ot 5th dead snake I’d seen since May and yet I’d seen only a single living one. What a great pity. I can only hope that the killing was an accident and not deliberate.
Please click here to read continuation of this drive.