Orpen gate to Satara road

The H7 tar road between Orpen Gate and Satara is recognized as one of the “big five” routes and is undoubtedly one of the best game-viewing roads in the Park. It provides the chance to see a variety of game including lion, cheetah, rhino, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, jackal, hyena, or wild dogs, hippo, waterbuck, baboons and waterbirds.

Starting in the west, driving east towards Satara, just outside Orpen there are open plains for about  8-9 km, attracting large numbers of the plains type game, including amongst others, Blue wildebeest, impala, zebra, and giraffe.  Early mornings are good for spotting leopards, usually resting up in the bigger trees. Warthog families are common on the roadside and these open plains are also a great place to search for Black-backed jackal.

Proceeding further along you leave the open plains and along the Timbavati River it becomes extremely dense and forest-like. In the riverbed you can search for elephant and buffalo, whilst along the road you should encounter baboons. This is the most scenic part of the H7 with three viewpoints, one about 25km the other approximately 29km from Orpen gate, in Bobbejaankrans (Afrikaans for baboon cliff) and lastly Nsemani dam close to Satara. The second of these three viewpoints called Bobbejaanskrans, you can alight from your vehicle. It provides a spectacular view as you look down over the Timbavati River. Driving east from Bobbejaankrans, you re-enter open country. Along the H7 at the junction where the gravel roads S39 north and the S36 south split, well seasoned travellers through the park report excellent sightings of cheetah.

The Nsemani dam, a short distance from Satara, is great for sightings of waterbuck and you generally will find hippos in or around the water along with small antelope, like steenbok and duikers. Leopards are also regularly seen in the bush surrounding the dam. Nsemani Dam is home to a great variety of birds, including Egyptian and Spurwing geese, African fish-eagles, African spoonbills, Blacksmith lapwings, Grey herons and Red-billed buffalo weavers.
Although the H7 can get rather busy, it is at least not quite as busy as the main tar roads around Skukuza or Lower Sabie in the south.

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