While sightings - especially big cat sightings - are never guaranteed, Satara Rest Camp has certainly gained a reputation for being a hotspot for predator sightings in Kruger Park. The area around the camp is lush and fertile and attracts herds of antelope, which, in turn, attracts lions (Panthera leo), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and leopard (Panthera pardus).
Aside from being a great spot to… well… spot Africa’s magnificent wild cats, it’s also one of the larger rest camps and a popular stop for Kruger safari guests as they explore the diverse and open terrain in this part of the park.
Satara Rest Camp, which has a rustic look and feel to it, is centrally-located and surrounded by an open landscape, littered with Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) and Knob-thorn trees. The vegetation is excellent for grazing, which is why it’s likely that you’ll come across several different antelope species like impala (Aepyceros melampus), kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus).
Better still, there are a few well-known water sources around the camp including Sweni River, which is located about 30km from Satara, while Piet Grobler Dam is around 35km from camp. At these locations, you’ll find the Sweni and Ratel Pan Bird Hides, respectively.
These are just some of the reasons that game drive routes around Satara are so fruitful and popular with safari enthusiasts.
The closest gate to Satara is Orpen Gate, located about 46km from the camp. However, guests can also access the camp via Timbavati.
Your first stop when you visit a rest camp should more often than not be Reception. Here, you’ll be able to check into your accommodation and to find about the activities that that specific rest camp offers.
At Satara, you'll be able to book guided bush walks and game drives, educational programmes for the kids - these are seasonal though - and even catered traditional dances at Reception. However the latter has to be arranged with the camp. Each evening in the camp (except on a Sunday) can also be an exciting and invaluable learning experience as they screen wildlife films on a big screen.
Other activities include the Sweni Wilderness Trail, which is a pre-booked, overnight activity and the Mananga 4x4 Adventure Trail - an incredible but weather-dependant experience.
Satara Rest Camp has a filling station, and a laundromat for overnight guests. It's also ideal for families as it has an awesome children's playground with a swimming pool, to keep the little ones entertained. Basic first aid assistance and cell phone reception is available at the camp and you'll also find a public telephone, post boxes, a curio shop, a deli and restaurant, and a mini ATM facility in the restaurant.
Day visitors can take some time out from their drive through the park at the boma/picnic area, which is found on your left as you enter the camp, or visit the eco-information centre and amphitheatre.
Satara offers the same accommodation options as many of the Kruger’s other rest camps, including campsites, bungalows, guest cottages and guest houses.
Guests can make use of tented accommodation or caravans at the campsite. There are about 100 sites available and guests will have access to communal ablutions, electricity points and cooking facilities, with 24-hour boiling water, electric hot plates and washing up facilities on offer.
In terms of the bungalows, which are grouped in circles, there are about 75 x 2 or 3-bed units with communal kitchens, 57 x 2 or 3-bed units with kitchens, a luxury bungalow and 19 x 2-bedded bungalows situated on the perimeter fence. These are especially popular as they offer guests an uninterrupted view of the veld.
For families or big groups, there's one 5-bed and 9 x 6-bed units, each with a kitchen and two bedrooms. Both bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms and the kitchen is equipped with a gas stove with an oven, a fridge/freezer, sink, cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery.
The Wells, Stanley and Frankel guest houses sleep 6, 9 and 10 people respectively with varying facilities.
As we said before, you’re sure to see (almost) all manner of wildlife and birdlife around Satara Rest Camp. From the tall and majestic giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) to the tough and tenacious buffalo (Syncerus caffer) - a crucial member of the iconic Big 5. Other animals like elephants (Loxodonta africana), zebra (Equus quagga burchellii) and hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are also seen fairly regularly around the camp.
For the birders, look out for the burchell’s starling (Lamprotornis australis), the verreaux’s (giant) eagle owl (Bubo lacteus) and the lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus), which can often be seen in and around Satara.
Should you decide to overnight at Satara, the same rules apply as with Kruger Park’s other rest camps - it’s very important to carry a torch with you should you need to leave your accommodation at night.
It’s always best to carry a warm jacket with you. While the Kruger National Park does receive a generous amount of sunshine, as with South Africa in general, depending on which season you decide to visit the park, the evenings can get quite chilly.
Guests also need to be aware of the critters found around the camp, like bats, spiders, snakes and scorpions and the fact that Satara is in a malaria zone.
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