By Roxanne Reid
If you’re looking for a technical challenge, you probably won’t want to drive the Mananga 4x4 trail near Satara in the Kruger National Park. But if you want a piece of conservation paradise almost exclusively to yourself and the animals, then this is the trail for you.
Don’t think of it as a game-viewing drive in the bush. It’s an opportunity to get away from the formal tourist roads and the crowds (a maximum of six vehicles are allowed on the trail at any given time), and to enjoy the wilderness. Viewed in that light, it’s a fabulous chance to do something different in Kruger.
We enjoyed a richness of impala, steenbok, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe and even an elephant reaching up high in a fever tree for a tasty morsel. In all, we counted 13 mammal species. We’re keen birders too so it was a treat to find kori bustards, the endangered saddle-bill stork, three vulture species, brown-headed kingfisher and at least a dozen more.
At the waterhole we had a spotted hyena to ourselves, surrounded by a lappet-faced vulture with a don’t-mess-with-me beak and a flurry of white-backed vultures. A lone jackal strutted confidently by for a drink after the hyena moved on, and a family of warthogs approached with tails held high and manes on alert. We later heard that a leopard with two cubs had recently been seen around the waterhole. Although they didn’t come out of hiding for us, we went back to camp more than satisfied with our experience.
Don’t go there expecting a challenging drive; that’s not what the Mananga trail is about. But if you really love the bush, if seeing animals and birds undisturbed in their natural environment is your idea of bliss, I can highly recommend it.
- Book at Satara reception, tel 013-735-6306. There is a cost per car to do the trail, plus a deposit that is refundable when you return. This is largely to make sure you report back to reception; if you don’t, they know you’ve broken down somewhere and will send a vehicle out to find you.
- If it has been raining you won’t be allowed on the trail.
- You can stay out the whole day if you like, as long as you’re back at Satara before gate-closing time.
More about the Kruger National Park
Copyright © Roxanne Reid - No words or photographs on this site may be used without permission from roxannereid.co.za