Flowering Aloe time in Kruger – continued

Tamboti Tented Camp

At the end of our 4 nights in Letaba, we headed south towards Orpen and the nearby Tamboti Tented camp for the next 7 days of our Kruger Park visit. Tamboti lies a couple of km’s off the main Orpen – Satara tarred road, along a river course which is dry for most of the year. All of the units are tented, with some having their own private bathrooms and others sharing an ablution block – we had chosen one with a bathroom and an outside kitchen, more like a chalet with canvas walls than an actual tent. The whole unit is raised above the ground and has a deck which overlooks the river bed – really comfortable as long as you realise that in winter canvas walls  provide very little insulation from the cold nights, so warm blankets and a warm body next to you are highly recommended for a good night’s sleep.

Early morning coffee and rusks on the patio is all part of our ritual when visiting Kruger and Tamboti was no different once we had dragged ourselves out of the warm cocoon of the bed and onto the deck to get the kettle boiling in the chilly morning air – it took some cajoling to get a slightly reluctant Gerda to join me but once we had a steaming mug to hand, the sights and sounds of the awakening bush and the crisp, fresh air made it all worthwhile.

Tamboti Tent camp - view from the deck
Tamboti Tent camp – view from the deck

A slow walk around the camp with binos and camera was next on the schedule and it was soon evident that there was plenty of bird life working their way through the dry bush – Southern Boubou was particularly prominent and vocal, while both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Hornbills showed themselves, the latter having caught a large centipede which he deftly worked into his long curved bill until just the legs were showing and soon disappeared altogether.

Southern Boubou, Tamboti
Southern Boubou, Tamboti
Yellow-billed Hornbill with doomed centipede
Yellow-billed Hornbill with doomed centipede
Yellow-billed Hornbill finishing breakfast
Yellow-billed Hornbill finishing breakfast
Red-billed Hornbill, Tamboti
Red-billed Hornbill, Tamboti

The bush between the units, set well apart, was home to many other species, some of which I was able to capture digitally –

Black-crowned Tchagra, Tamboti
Black-crowned Tchagra, Tamboti
Burnt-necked Eremomela, Tamboti
Burnt-necked Eremomela, Tamboti
Blue Waxbill, Tamboti
Blue Waxbill, Tamboti
White-browed Robin-Chat, Tamboti
White-browed Robin-Chat, Tamboti
Jameson's Firefinch, Tamboti
Jameson’s Firefinch, Tamboti
Magpie Shrike
Magpie Shrike
Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Tamboti
Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Tamboti

Besides the numerous birds, other visitors to our unit included the usual mischievous Vervet Monkeys, which you always have to keep an eye on if you value your fruit and bread, which they will grab in a flash and jump onto the nearest branch. An unexpected “robber” in the guise of a Tree Squirrel gained access to our tented unit via a tiny gap in the canvas and got into one of the biscuit tins while we were out one morning so after that we kept all our food in crates, weighed down with heavy items. A few Dwarf Mongooses (Mongeese? No, don’t think so) were also regulars around the tent, looking for food amongst the leaf litter and there is often a Gecko or Lizard to observe, in and around the tent.

Tent visitor
Tent visitor
Dwarf Mongoose, Tamboti
Dwarf Mongoose, Tamboti

Once we had spent a day or so relaxing in camp we were keen to get out on the road for a game and birding drive – the road to Satara is usually good for a variety of game, especially as you get closer to Satara and was fully up to expectations –

Zebra - Most photogenic animal in Kruger?
Burchell’s Zebra – surely the most photogenic animal in Kruger
Another Oxpecker take-away
Another Oxpecker take-away
Kudu
Kudu
African Buffalo
African Buffalo
Black-backed Jackal
Black-backed Jackal

The nice thing about being a birder in Kruger is that whenever you stop for a bird, as often as not an animal is spotted and vice versa, so there is never a shortage of interesting  sightings. The area close to Satara is also one of the best for spotting Ostrich – yes, you can see hundreds at a time on farms around Oudtshoorn and every second farm across SA has a few in the fields, but there is just nothing like seeing the real thing in one of the National Parks – they just look more handsome and genuine than the farm-raised Ostriches.

Ostrich near Satara
Ostrich near Satara

Then a group of White-crested Helmet-Shrikes drew our attention – I have this theory that says these birds must be able to count, as you always see them in a group of 7 or 8 – how else would they know when to allow a newcomer to the group or get rid of an unwanted member? Anyway that’s a theory that probably needs some more work to make it believable.

White-crested Helmet-Shrike
White-crested Helmet-Shrike

Satara Camp

Satara camp is one of the Kruger camps that has managed to retain a lot of its old-style atmosphere, despite being the second busiest camp and very popular with tour groups. The restaurant doesn’t serve those glorious burgers  and pies that were worth looking forward to, but the stoep and the view across the lawns with the grand old trees in the middle, full of Buffalo-Weavers and like-minded species, is still there. Fortunately, the aloes in Satara were also in full bloom and attracted a variety of birds –

Collared Sunbird, Satara
Collared Sunbird, Satara
Speckled Mousebird, Satara
Speckled Mousebird, Satara
Bee on Aloe
Bee on Aloe

Near the reception the resident African Scops-Owl was still attracting knots of tourists and is probably one of the most photographed birds in Kruger but maintains a rather disdainful attitude towards his fame –

African Scops-Owl, Satara
African Scops-Owl, Satara

The picnic spot for day visitors is set to one side and attracts a steady stream of avian and butterfly visitors to entertain while you picnic –

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Satara
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Satara
Orange-tip Butterfly
Orange-tip Butterfly (Colotis evenina evenina)

During a walk around Satara I came across a couple of species which allowed a close approach  – a Bennett’s Woodpecker  was so engrossed with inspecting the lower leaves of a large Aloe that he paid no attention as I crept closer to get some nice sharp photos and a Black-headed Oriole was equally unconcerned when I got up close and personal.

Bennet's Woodpecker, Satara
Bennet’s Woodpecker, Satara
Black-headed Oriole, Satara
Black-headed Oriole, Satara

Destination Muzandzeni

The loop that lies south of the Orpen-Satara road is good for a morning’s drive, bypassing Talamati Bushveld camp and with Muzandzeni picnic spot ideally placed for a brunch break. On the way there is a good chance of spotting game and at the picnic spot there is always a gathering of birds and Tree-squirrels to keep the grandkids busy.

Croc and Crake
Croc and Crake
Impala at waterhole
Impala at waterhole
Buffalo with Oxpeckers
Buffalo with Oxpeckers
Red-billed Oxpecker on Buffalo
Red-billed Oxpecker on Buffalo
Crested Barbet, Muzandzeni
Crested Barbet, Muzandzeni
Muzandzeni picnic spot - brunch being prepared
Muzandzeni picnic spot – time for brunch

Late afternoon in the camp is time to get the evening meal together, rounding off another day in our private paradise –

Preparing a meal in the outside kitchen
Preparing a meal in the outside kitchen
Spotted again - Maia and Megan (Leonardii Mosselbayi)
Spotted again – Maia and Megan (Leonardii Mosselbayi)
Rear view of Leonardii Mosselbayi just as pretty
Rear view of Leonardii Mosselbayi –  just as pretty

2 thoughts on “Flowering Aloe time in Kruger – continued”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.