Paul Kruger Gate
Paul Kruger Gate is the closest entrance to Skukuza and the quickest way to get in and out of the Park from Kruger’s “capital”. One is confronted by the large, somewhat controversial bust of Paul Kruger by sculptor Coert Steynberg as one crosses the Sabie
Oom (uncle) Paul scowls over the Sabie River, having survived the politics of the new South Africa and attempts to have the bust removed in the interests of political correctness. The former president of the Transvaal Republic was a fervent Afrikaner nationalist and racist to boot – but he was also an anti-colonialist who had environmental foresight and a love for the bush.
Whatever one’s view may be, his name has become synonymous with the South African wildlife experience, and tourism authorities are understandably loath to tamper with the destination branding.
The gate is on the Sabie River which is the dominant watercourse in southern Kruger. The Sabie is known for its hippos and crocodiles which lie log-like on the sandy river banks, or cruise the mid-stream with just their eyes poking above the water. The Kruger Gate bridge is a good birding spot with the rare Pel’s fishing-owl recorded along this stretch of the Sabie at sunset.
Imagine the severity of the floods of 2000, when Paul Kruger Bridge was actually under water! The floods had their lighter moments. Bruce Bryden recalls the incredulous sight of a shrieking baboon clinging surfer-style to a log that was swept down the river – the log hit the bridge and the baboon escaped onto dry land.