Safaria Diary : 3 Day Naturalist Safaris in the Kruger Park

We recently spent 3 amazing days with the team from BirdingAfrica journeying through the central Kruger National park on safari. The purpose of the expedition was to get 13 naturalists with a keen interest in wildlife, closer to the Kruger’s many wonders. 

Having already spend 10 days travelling from Cape Town through the Garden Route to Kruger, this leg of their journey explored the abundant diversity between the thorn-tickets surrounding Skukuza to the central grasslands around Satara. 

For this stretch of their journey Safaria lead the team under the guidance of Chief Guide Andrew Wagner through very specific habitat to particularly maximise on their birding opportunities.

“The team had up to this point already documented over 200 bird species and our goal was to get them another 120 savanna species” – Andrew 

With the Kruger National Park boasting roughly 520 of the 980 species found in South Africa, our clients where sure to add to their life lists but the challenge was ensuring that the correct habitats where explored as nearly 70% of Kruger’s birds still had not returned from their summer feeding environments. 

Day 1 : Skukuza Thorn-Thicket

Our first day was really tough with a midday high of 40 degrees, guests struggled, animals slept and the birds where in dense undergrowth in search of the coolest hideouts. Our day started with a slow meander down the Sabie River Road and brought is a few great sightings that included Hyena, Elephant, Buffalo and some nice birds. Notable bird species included African Fish Eagle, White Crowned Helmet Shrike, Southern Ground Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Rollers,Tschagra’s and Waxbills.  The first day was a general orientation day and the goal was to pick up as many common species as possible to get the list rolling. Our Midday was spent in the shade at Lake Panic Hide which offered us Bushbuck, Water Monitor lizard, over 3o Hippo, Crocodile and Giraffe. The birding was fairly good with Water Thick-Knee, Pied and Hooded Kingfishers as well as Plovers. The Afternoon was spent at Nyamundwa Dam with a Herd of 200 Buffalo. 

Day 2 : Skukuza to Satara

With the weather being slightly cooler the day was off to a good start with a sighting of 4 Lions in the Sabie River and a few lovely morning song birds. Our journey to Satara was a full day safari covering 100km but full of wonderful sightings. Day 2 was about looking for specific species of mammal and bird. Our mammal goal was to find Leopard and Cheetah and specific birds such as Korhaan and Bustards. The day was a huge success adding over 40 new birds that included Kori Bustard, White Headed Vulture, White Backed Vulture, Lappet-Faced Vulture. One of the highlight sightings of the trip was two male lions just off the S33 dirt road that were feeding on Giraffe only a meter or two off the road. Our day ended with a wonderful sighting of a female Cheetah just before Satara Camp. 

Day 3 : Satara Region 

A day in search of Lions and Grassland birds that certainly did not disappoint. Early morning we set off in search of Ostrich. To many this seams far from the typical exotic, multi coloured bird varietal but is indeed one of the rarer and region specific birds with a small population. We fortunately didn’t travel far and already ticked Ostritch and Kori Bustard again along with a head of 100+ Buffalo. Viewing the Buffalo gave us a rare sighting of Yellow Billed Oxpecker taking final days list to 133 Kruger species. Ending the day on the fabled S100 loop via N’wanetsi hide we managed to add a further 19 Lions to our list which ended on a 36 Lions over the 3 days. This surely must be a near Kruger record. 

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In the end we had ticked of many notable species, here is a brief list of the special sightings :

Mammals :

  • Lion 
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Spotted Hyena
  • White Rhino
  • Buffalo 
  • Sable Antelope 
  • Black Backed Jackel
  • Impala
  • Giraffe
  • Zebra
  • Blue Wildebeest
  • Kudu
  • Nyala
  • Bushbuck
  • Waterbuck
  • Steenbok
  • Grey Duiker
  • Kilpspringer

Birds :

  • Southern Ground Hornbill
  • Kori Bustard
  • Ostrich
  • Green winged Pytilia
  • Lizard Buzzard
  • White headed Vulture
  • Lappet Faced Vulture
  • Saddle Billed Stork 
  • Yellow breasted Apalis
  • Striped Kingfisher
  • Black Cuckoo Shrike
  • African Wood Owl 
  • Wahlburg’s Eagle
  • Bateleur

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In the end it was a very successful journey that showcased the Kruger National Park and its wonder-filled diversity. The two regions provided deeper insights into the variety of fauna and flora. 

Embarking on an Unforgettable Kruger National Park Safari with Guide Andy Wagner of Safaria

The African wilderness has always held an allure that transcends time and borders. It’s a realm where the rhythms of nature unfold in all their untamed glory, and where every moment is an opportunity to witness life in its purest form. Within this vast expanse of wonder lies Kruger National Park, a sanctuary that beckons explorers from around the globe to experience its breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife. And in the heart of this wilderness, one guide stands out, offering a safari experience that’s nothing short of transformative—Andy Wagner of Safaria.

A safari with Andy Wagner is not just a journey; it’s an immersion into the very essence of Africa. With a passion for the wild that runs as deep as the rivers that wind through Kruger, Andy is not just a guide—he’s a storyteller, a protector of nature’s secrets, and a conduit between travelers and the untamed world they’ve come to witness.

Setting out on a safari with Andy is like stepping into a living, breathing documentary. His knowledge is a treasure trove of insights into the behaviors, habitats, and intricate relationships that define the park’s ecosystem. As you traverse the savannahs, woodlands, and riverbanks, he unravels the mysteries of animal tracks, deciphers the melodies of bird calls, and narrates the stories of predator-prey dynamics that play out in the shadows.

But it’s not just the depth of his knowledge that sets Andy apart—it’s the way he shares it. With each anecdote, his eyes light up, and his voice carries the fervor of someone who’s not merely relaying information, but inviting you to join him on a personal journey of discovery. Whether you’re a seasoned safari enthusiast or a first-time adventurer, his enthusiasm is contagious, igniting a sense of wonder that bridges generations and cultures.

And then there’s the magic of the unexpected—the surprise encounters that only a seasoned guide can deliver. A leopard perched majestically on a tree limb, a herd of elephants splashing playfully in a watering hole, or the heart-pounding sight of a lioness on the hunt—these moments are Andy’s signature, a testament to his intimate knowledge of the park’s residents and their habits.

But Andy Wagner’s impact extends beyond the confines of the safari vehicle. His commitment to conservation, sustainable tourism, and community engagement is evident in every facet of his work. He understands that the preservation of this wilderness is a collective effort, and he’s dedicated to fostering a sense of stewardship that transcends borders.

As the sun dips below the horizon, casting its golden glow on the savannah, a safari with Andy Wagner becomes more than an adventure—it’s a pilgrimage to the heart of Africa’s soul. It’s a reminder that amidst the complexities of the modern world, there are places where the ancient rhythms of nature still hold sway, and where, for a fleeting moment, we can reconnect with the raw beauty that stirs something primal within us.

So, whether you’re an intrepid traveler seeking a genuine safari experience or a seeker of moments that leave an indelible mark on the soul, consider embarking on a Kruger National Park Safari with Guide Andy Wagner of Safaria. It’s a voyage that promises not only breathtaking landscapes and remarkable wildlife but also a profound connection with the wild and a guide whose passion and knowledge will illuminate every step of your journey.

If you are looking for to experience the Kruger National Park on a Privately Guided Safari then get in contact with us by sending a mail to [email protected]




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