Skukuza & Sabie River to Tshokwane Via Salitje & Vutomi Roads | S30 to S36, S35, S37, S33 & S34.

Now that I was staying at Skukuza and using it as my base for the next 3 nights I made a mental note of the fact that I wanted to spend some time in the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library and the sign outside stated that it was open between 7pm and 9pm on weekdays. This was great because it meant that after dinner I could spend a couple of hours there … I found out later that there was an over-riding message at the bottom of the notice board which said the library closed at 4pm every weekday and didn’t open at all on Sundays. I would make a plan...

Map Kruger Park Drive October 1st | Kruger National Park The map below (click to enlarge) traces the route I would take today starting at the short sand road that skirts the south bank of the Sabie River close to the new Skukuza day centre. The route would then take me along the northern bank of the Sabie River along the Salitje Road (S30) south eastwards to join the S128 heading north. I still had a couple of roads to travel that I had missed on previous visits. These included the S34, S36 and S37.
Blossoms Small Shrub-like Trees | Kruger National Park One of the first interesting observations for today was a profusion of blossoms on small shrub-like trees. The flowers had a feathery, shuttlecock kind of white structure and the stamens were tipped with a bright orange colour.
Feathery Flowers Orange Stamens | Kruger National Park I need to find out what it was because I would see the blossom in lots of different areas over the next week.. I completed the short sand road along with the short loops close to the main H4-1 marked on previous visits and once more was made aware why the H4-1 was such a great road on which to see Lions and Leopards. The number of Impala along the whole stretch was simply enormous. They were everywhere.
Kudu Bulls Browsing Shrubs Close To Sabie River | Kruger National Park I also got a glimpse of 2 superb Kudu bulls browsing the roadside shrubs..It wasn’t long before I reached the Sabie River crossing and glanced left to see the family of Hippo that inhabit this backwater stretch of the Sabie River. There is almost always a lot of traffic stopped on this bridge and today was no exception.
Dry Salitje River In The Kruger | Kruger National Park After crossing the bridge I turned right onto the Salitje Road named after a tributary of the Sabie and a chief of times gone by.
Waypoint 550 is a low level stream crossing. There were lots of reeds in the dry N’Watindlopfu River sand bed. The name of the river can be translated to “Creek of the Elephants”.
During 1987 2 Game Reserve employees, Sam Fourie and Gert Erasmus, found a panel of rock paintings in good condition close to this point. One of the painting showed 4 Elephants on a small granite hill confirming Elephants had roamed the area thousands of years earlier. The same Sam Fourie was killed by an Elephant in the Stolsnek area of the Kruger some years later.
The Salitje Road would cross 4 distinct Ecozones, D, E, G, and F. Later pages will be added to this site covering an in depth review of the Ecozones and Landscapes within the Kruger since it is these that determine so much of the biodiversity that exists in the Kruger National Park.
Waypoint 551 marks the long term experimental eXclosures being used to test the impact of both large and small animals on the riverine vegetation. There is a sign on the opposite side of the Sabie pointing to these eXclosures (keeps things out) also. One of the exclosures is designed to keep out only Giraffe and Elephants while the other keeps everything bigger than a Hare out of the exclosure. The exclosures were erected in 2001. At waypoint 552 there was a plaque that stated that some unknown prospectors were looking for gold or diamonds at this point somewhere around 1879 to 1880. 
Monitor Lizard Swimming In Pool | Kruger National Park Waypoint 553 is a lookout point opposite a large rock face on the far side of the Salitje River. The river was dry but on the opposite side of the road right next to the road itself was a small pool. I only noticed this pool because I watched a Water Monitor Lizard cross the road and disappear over the parapet. I drew up to the edge and glanced over … there was the Monitor Lizard swimming in the small pool. The sun shining on the wet skin colour really brought out the yellow scales on the skin of the large lizard.  It was diving obviously looking for an easy meal. After a while the reptile climbed out of the pool and walked up the bank to sun itself.
Hamerkop Hunting For Food In Water | Kruger National Park There was another intriguing resident at the pool. I watched for 10 minutes while a Hamerkop seemingly oblivious to my presence (I was only 2 metres away) stood absolutely motionless on a stone protruding out of the pool. Although motionless its stance left no doubt that if anything showed close to the surface where it was standing then it was going to be breakfast for the Hamerkop. It’s sights like this that make driving the Kruger so unique, special and exciting.
Close to this point I was once again reminded of an important bit of bushcraft …
A question for those who have read other pages of this site. If the sun was hidden how would I know in which direction I was travelling? Yes I’ve got a compass in my car but the point I’m making which I’ve confirmed for myself so very many times is that Buffalo Weavers build their nests almost invariably on the northern side of a tree (to protect from prevailing south easterly winds) and sure enough here was another tree with about half a dozen nests on the northern side.
Elephants and Zebra Along The Road | Kruger National Park Waypoint 554 was the junction of the S128 with the S30, where I turned left (north) to drive the S128. Very soon after the turn off there were large stands of Magic Guarri shrubs, with their curled up leathery thick leaves, to be seen. These shrubs seem to occur in patches rather than in any continuous way. Where they do occur however there are normally many of them in close proximity.
Rietpan Marsh Grass | Kruger National Park I saw Elephants and numerous Zebra along the drive up to waypoint 555. Here, at this waypoint, was “Rietpan” (after the marsh grass in the area) fairly close to the road and I was able to stop and watch for quite a while.
2 White Rhinos Playing In Mud and Water | Kruger National Park There 2 White Rhinos enjoying the mud and water. They were joined by a herd of Wildebeest and a lone Elephant patrolled the pan where it had just undergone a mudbath.
Wildebeast Herd and Lone Elephants Mudbath | Kruger National Park  2 more Elephants were heading in this general direction through the long grass of the savannah
From the number of Middens in the area and trampled grass it was possible to see the paths these large Rhinos took as they went about their daily lives.
Harry Wolhunter Memorial Site On Lindanda Road | Kruger National Park Waypoint 556 is the junction of the S128 with the H10 and I saw quite a few Giraffe and a couple of Steenbok. I called in briefly at the Nkumbe lookout point which was quite close (about 7kms) to the Rietpan. From there I drove along the H10 to join the S35 and S37.
On the Lindanda Road, S35, I once again passed the place where Harry Wolhuter was attacked by a Lion in 1903. The memorial at the point on the Lindanda Road always reminds me of exactly where I am … alone, “miles from anywhere”, in the Wilds of Africa, where anything can and does happen.
At waypoint 557 along the S37 the landscape changed from open tree savannah to dense thornbush. It was like a line had been drawn so abrupt was the change. This existed only for a short stretch of about 2 kms. It also coincided with the colour of the sand road surface changing to a whitish colour. Shortly after that I saw a group of 5 Elephants hurry across the road in front of me.
Waypoint 558 is the junction of the S37 with H1-3 and I crossed right over to join the S33. At this point in 1838 Louis Trchardt and his group passed here and the event is commemorated by a plaque at the crossroads.
The S33 is called the Vutomi Road after the river it follows. On this road at waypoint 559 I crossed quite a wide dry sandy river bed.
Tinhgongana Borehole and Vutomi Pan at Ripape Creek | Kruger National Park Waypoint 560 was the Tinhgongana Borehole and Vutomi Pan at the Ripape Creek and I was treated to a wonderful sight of an Elephant paddling the shallows close to a pair of Saddle-billed Storks. I was also able to get a good close up shot of a Giraffe eating lunch. It was 13.45 and the temperature was 39 degrees C. Elephant paddling in water close to Saddle-billed Storks | Kruger National Park
Lugmag Airforce Dam In Kruger National Park | Kruger National Park At waypoint 561 I turned onto the S36 and headed north towards the Nhlanguleni Picnic Spot via the Lugmag (Airforce) Dam at waypoint 562. This dam was donated by the South African Airforce when they completed the building of the Skukuza runway around 1957. This was an impressive stretch of water with an island and numerous dead trees. There was a Waterbuck on the island while I was there.
Lugmag Airforce Dam Close To Skukuza Runway | Kruger National Park Beyond the Nhlanguleni Picnic Spot and just before I turned around (waypoint 563) having completed the S36 northern section drive was the N’Gwenyeni Dam situated at waypoint 564.
I made a brief stop at the Nhlanguleni Picnic Spot (waypoint 565) built in March 1962. It is named after the Magic Guarri shrub and tree which grows in tree form close to the Picnic Spot.
The rest of the drive down to Skukuza along the S36 and the H1-2 was uneventful.
I did make a brief visit to the Skukuza Airport at waypoint 571 before going into Skukuza Camp. Waypoints 566 and 567 were road junction markers. In order to complete the S34 and the southern section of the S36 I did an about-turn at Tshokwane, waypoint 568, and drove back along this S34 road to rejoin the S36 at waypoint 567.
At waypoint 569 I took a photograph of a recently formed termite mound.