Sausage Tree Safari Camp / Cambridge 25, Balule Nature Reserve, R40, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa / +27 15 793 0098

The Sausage Tree Safari Camp is located in the Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, a sanctuary for the Big Five. It includes a bit of the Olifants River. (Balule is from the Tsonga name for the river.)

Named after the trees that dot the landscape, Sausage Tree Safari Cam also has marula, acacia, and thorn trees. It has its own watering hole, which I’m hoping we’ll visit. From many points along its paths one can see the Drakensburg mountain range on the horizon; very nice!

Unlike Satara, Sausage Tree is clearly upscale.

The outer deck — where the al fresco dining area is (on the right in this picture) — feels spacious and lofty, raised up high over the predator/prey drama that goes on below.

Our room is a wonderful canvas tent, a safari tent, writ large. It’s perfect ambiançe for the location. Carmella and I are very excited.

We head out for an excursion through the bush. Here our vehicle is much more open to the environment; we’re not surrounded by vertical poles nor covered by a canvas tarp roof. There are two guides: our driver mans the right-hand-side driver’s position; the tracker sits in a seat welded to the front bumper, where he can better see the signs of animal movement.

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

Our driver maneuvers us very close to a herd of cape buffalo. Dangerous in reputation, this herd eyes us in a still, calm manner, with the largest bulls positioned closest to us, the females and young ones protected in the center.

A close-up of the cape buffalo herd.

At a pause in the ride, Carmella is beaming with joy as she sits in the tracker’s position.

Our driver-guide, whose name I have regrettably lost, gives us a great explanation of how the ecosystem hangs together. I like his manner, his accent, and especially his hat.

Driver and tracker whip out a card table, cover it with a tablecloth, and prepare drinks and snacks for us. It’s more delicious for being completely unexpected.

As we continue, we come across a recent kill of a cape buffalo. We’re shown that all the good parts — those nutritionally dense and high-calorie — have been eaten, leaving behind the bones, horns, and a stench that I can barely describe to you other than by saying it’s almost palpable, physical, overpowering, revolting.

We’re very lucky to encounter a black rhino, there are so few remaining. (We also see white rhinos on this trip. They’re not actually white; the name comes from the Dutch word “wijd” (wide), referring to their mouths. Black rhinos have narrow mouths.)

The day safari over, Carmella and I hang out at the Sausage Tree main building, then in our tent we nap, in preparation for our night safari drive.

As the day ends the sun treats us to a spectacular display of crepuscular rays (“god rays”).

That’s evidently our signal to head out, so everyone grabs something warm, something filled with a beverage, and mounts up.

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos
New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

Just as they had done during the day safari, driver and tracker break out a mid-drive treat. Tea, coffee, wine, etc., and treats.

New video by Michael Sattler / Google Photos

Our hosts have said that dinner would be ready upon our return. Good, because I am really hungry from so many hours in the bush. We’re completely taken aback by the sheer elegance of the spread they’ve laid out for us; it’s beautiful!

The food is no less eye-catching, tasty as one would expect from haute cuisine in the big city, and plentiful. Courses and refills keep coming.

Everything is delicious and carefully prepared, food cooked with spices and techniques of the surrounding area; just wonderful!

The dessert is very European: ice cream with hot fudge and a fruit touch. Inauthentic but terribly appreciated.

The next morning we wake to see another magnificent specimen of African insect: the banded-legged golden orb-web spider (Nephila senegalensis).

We have a bit of a drive today, all at limited speeds through Kruger, so we leave early. Tonight in Satara Rest Camp, tomorrow night in Needles Lodge:

As we drove south, towards the Needles Lodge, we saw monkeys more frequently. They were closer to the road, and happy to stay there, ignoring the car.

Another stately giraffe.

Then a whole family. Every time I see them I have to stop the car; I’m enchanted.

At one point we got lost, drove in a small circle until we saw this signpost for the second time. Back to looking at a paper map; the digital ones don’t reflect truth on the ground. Let’s take the left path instead…

Success! We link up to the desired road and make it to the Satara Rest Camp.

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