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10 May 2012
Hello All and as promised today the review of Managa 4×4 Adventure Trail near Satara in Kruger National Park which my friends and I did on the 30 April 2012.
Satara is 95km away from Skukuza the largest main camp in Kruger Park and the actual trail only 5km away from the Satara Camp.
The cut off time is 11.00 and you are able to make this an easy day’s outing from Skukuza if you leave between 6.00 – 7.00 a.m. and take a leisurely drive leaving you enough time to do some incredible game viewing on the way, but be aware that on a speed limit of 50 km/h you will need good 3 hours to get there as you definitely will go slowly to watch the wildlife along the road.

Taking the H1-2 towards Tshokwane Rest Point, you will experience the ever-changing bushveld on which I have seen some amazing like the mating lions. Unfortunately Tshokwane was still under construction due to flood damage at the point of our travel and the shops and restaurant is closed at this stage but the Park has made provisions for toilets.

Should you make the trip from Skukuza ensure you take enough fluids and a few snacks with you as you will have very little time in Satara to stock up, as Tshokwane is closed until further notice.
From Tshokwane you take the H1-3 to Satara which is one of the bigger camps in Kruger National Park and the road is absolutely amazing with an ever-changing scenery ranging from dense bushveld to open grass savana.

We arrived in Satara just before 11.00 a.m and checked in at reception to pay for our drive, unfortunately reception staff in Satara is very slow and it felt like we causing an inconvenience for them showing up at this time and were promptly told that we can’t go on the trail anymore. We were hassling a bit and the manager finally allowed us to carry on, however we had to fill out the necessary paperwork inclusive an indemnity form.

Due to the pace of the reception staff a formality which would have taken maybe 5-10 minutes per car we ended up spending nearly 20 per car, virtually leaving us no time to grab something to eat in the take-away/fast food outlet or the restaurant.
The cost of the Mananga Adventure Trail is ZAR 475,00 per vehicle,no extra cost per person and ZAR 100,00 deposit.

Satara features public telephones, post box, restaurant, deli, shops, laundromat, filling station, communal kitchens and bathrooms, basic on-site first-aid assistance, cutlery and plate hampers available from reception, a day visitor picnic area and boma on the perimeter of the camp, an eco information centre and amphitheatre, and a swimming pool with a children’s playground but as you may have noticed no ATM.
The petrol station is only taking cash or South African Petrol Cards and you are not able to pay with credit card at any of the petrol stations within the Kruger National Park, so ensure you either bring enough cash when you are entering the Park or draw enough money in Skukuza should you come from there.

In general vehicles will consume a lot more petrol due to driving very slowly and the continuous stop and go to either watch animals or because you are forced by larger mammals who are occupying the road for what ever time they feel like.

So from the Satara Rest Camp it is 5km to the entrance of the 4×4 trail which is 48km long and has a very easy difficult level, actually in dry season you would not even need a 4×4 vehicle to do the route but your car should have some good ground clearance. During the rainy season which is from September – February, as a non 4×4 vehicle will get serious problem mastering all the mud and dirt roads.

Your point of entry is open savanna and a great opportunity to spot lions and other cats before you come to a waterhole where a very large elephant bull has set up his territory. My guess he is good 40-50 years old, only has one tusk and is not to shy to give you a good fright by flaring up his ears and mock charging your car.
Watch his moves and behaviour as Kruger Park elephants are known to be aggressive.

In our case we switched off our diesel Landi and at the end we were less than 10 meters away from him, making it impossible to start the car as we would have spooked him without any chance to either out run him with the car or hide anywhere.
Yep maybe shouldn’t have bought it in a very bright yellow my good friend 🙂

The route then takes you from the Mavumbye waterhole towards the Gudzani Dam which is open bushveld with herds of blue wildebeest, buffalo, zebras and impalas
Honestly most of the wildlife is posing for you while you take your pics, reminds me of Disney World. sometimes

After the dam we turned left at Gudzani Road as we were told that there is a pride of lions a few ilometers up the road and lucky we were, as they still had their kill from last night, however the other 20 cars around spoiled it a bit for us after being already 6 hours on the road with virtually no other people around us up to this point.

Driving back on Gudazni Road for around 10 km we turned right into the last  stretch of the Managan Adventure Trail through a mixture of dense bush, open savanna and grass-land before coming back to Satara around 15.00 hours.

We quickly collected our deposit which is used that you check in and that  you are not stuck in the bush somewhere which took as another 15 min thanks to the speed of the reception employees and headed back another 95 km to Skukuza hoping we are going to be off the road before the rangers are cruising and fining non authorised vehicles on the road as Rest Camp closing times are 17.30 during the early winter months.

Summary of the Managan 4×4 Adventure Trail:
For ZAR475,00 per car it is an absolutely amazing trip, easy to drive in the dry season and really to recommend.
The area around Satara is known for big cat activities with multiple daily sightings or lions, cheetah and leopards. We got 4 out of the big 5 that day only missing the illusive leopard, however the lion kill made it all up for us.
However it is a long drive from Skukuza to Satara and back and we spend 13 hours in the car that day, so for a family with small kids not really advisable, except you stop over at Satara and are willing to deal with rather slow staff (they called us at 18.00 hours and ask us how far we are to pick up our deposit which we did 3 hours earlier).
We seriously enjoyed the drive to and back to Satara as we had no traffic and you would have never assumed that the Park was fully booked over this long weekend.
The game spotting opportunities at Managa 4×4 trail is amazing, however you are reminded and urged that this is a 4×4 trail and should not be used for a game drive.
Which brings me to one last point: For serious 4×4 enthusiasts this trail is just not challenging, not even in the wet season.

For the trip consider following:

Take enough water and food, Satara is very hot, even in winter with temperatures up to 40+ degrees celsius common
Ensure that your car is in a very good condition and not likely to break down, as you have absolutely no cell phone reception once you leave Satara.
Bring a decent camera, spare memory card and battery
Bring enough cash for petrol
Bring long sleeve t-shirt as the sun will be burning you and your passengers, except you decide you drive with your air con on all day
Remember that you are in a Nature Reserve of the size of Israel and distances are far.
Even you are allowed to leave your car whilst being on Mananga 4×4 Adventure Trail,the wildlife will eat or kill you if you run or if you taunt it.
And DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR when you leave the trail as the rangers will lock you up 🙂

PeAce Out
Ford Prefect
Hitchhiker of Life