Kruger National Park – Lower Sabie

About the Birding

Heading north-west on the main road to Skukuza, just a short distance from the camp gate is a small dam called Sunset Dam that regularly attracts a variety of storks, including Marabou Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, African Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Saddle-billed Stork and Black Stork. Red-billed Buffalo Weaver and Village Weaver both nest in the dead trees located in the dam. Sunset dam is also a great spot to scan for waders with common ones being: Wood and Common Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Three-banded Plover- but watch out for any rarities as the dam played host to a Pectoral Sandpiper in the summer of 2019. The overhanging branches close to the parking area sometimes host a White-backed Night Heron in them. A short distance to the south-east of camp, the causeway over the Lower Sabie River is a good spot to look for waterbirds including African Jacana, Goliath Heron, Green-backed Heron and Wire-tailed Swallow- some of the rarities here have been Lesser Moorhen, Greater Painted Snipe, Bat Hawk, Dwarf and Little Bittern.

A few kilometres up the road towards Skukuza White-fronted Bee-eater breed in a in the sand banks of the Sabie River. Further up the road the N’watimhiri causeway is a spot to look for White-crowned Lapwing, although they seem to be spreading and may be seen at various points along the river. The Nkuhlu Picnic Spot is also good spot to scan the river for any water associated species watching out for African Finfoot. The surrounding plains support Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Red-crested Korhaan and Black-bellied Bustard, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Common Quail and Harlequin Quail and Kurrichane Buttonquail. On very short or burnt veld you may find Temminck’s Courser and Senegal Lapwing.

If one chooses to head north from Lower Sabie across the low level causeway, the S29 or staying on the tar H10 to Mlondozi Dam is a worthwhile destination. Mocking Cliff-Chat and Yellow-throated Petronia are usually found at the site, while the dam always has an assortment of herons, storks and waterfowl. This area of open grasslands in the rainy season attracts Black Coucal and when the roads are flooded can produce African and Corn Crakes close to the Mlondozi lookout.

Continuing north on the Muntshe Loop one should look out for Grey-rumped Swallow. One can then choose to return to camp on the western side of the tar road via the S128 and S129. There are several pans in this area and patches of open grassland. Senegal Lapwing, Croaking Cisticola, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah and Black-bellied Bustard are some of the species to search for, while in summer it is one of the regular haunts of the migratory harriers.

At Nkumbe mountain on the road northwards to Tshokwane, look for Shelley’s Francolin and Yellow-throated Longclaw.

About the Birding Site

Lower Sabie is located along the Sabie River east of Skukuza towards the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. The surrounding plains are covered in a low scrubby savanna. The rest camp is busy, but the gardens are pleasant and the camp overlooks the Sabie River. Some of the birds one may encounter in camp include: Terrestrial Brownbul, Bearded Scrub Robin, Green-backed Camaroptera, Kurrichane Thrush, Grey Tit-flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Brubru, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Marico, Collared and White-bellied Sunbird, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Southern Black Tit, Pied and Giant Kingfisher, Red-billed and African Firefinch, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Cardinal and Bearded Woodpecker, Coqui Francolin, Brown-crowned and Black-crowned Tchagra, Burnt-necked and Yellow-bellied Eremomela and many others.

Other Related Information

The southern camps can be accessed through the gates at Crocodile Bridge, Malelane, Numbi, Phabeni and Paul Kruger. The closest access gate to Lower Sabie is Crocodile Bridge Gate and the closest town is the town of Komatipoort.

Skukuza GPS Point: -24.993, 31.593
Crocodile Bridge Gate GPS Point: -25.358, 31.893
Malelane Gate GPS Point: -25.461, 31.534
Numbi Gate GPS Point: -25.156, 31.200
Phabeni Gate GPS Point: -24.970, 31.410
Paul Kruger GPS Point: -24.981, 31.485

The Kruger National Park charges a conservation fee as below for 2021: Wild cards are accepted at all the gates.
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R105 per adult, per day R52 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport) R210 per adult, per day R105 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee R424 per adult, per day R212 per child, per day

Entrance Gates Opening Times:

Oct – Mar: 05:30
Apr – Sep: 06:00

All visitor facilities, i.e. entrance gates, restaurants, shops and venues, are accessible for wheelchairs.

Contact details:
SANPARKS Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

Text prepared by:

Marc Cronje (Nature Travel Birding)

Key species:

Greater Painted Snipe, White-backed Night Heron, White-crowned Lapwing, Bearded Scrub Robin, Black Coucal, African Finfoot, Brown-headed Parrot, Red-faced Cisticola, Senegal Lapwing and Kori Bustard.

Contact details:

SANPARKS Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111