Balule is situated on the southern banks of the Olifants River, 6 kms downstream, south of Olifants Rest Camp. The six huts which were built before 1930 are still in use today. There is also the added pleasure of a small adjacent camping area.
The old world huts of Balule still stand in the companionable circle of the 1930’s. In the center are large sausage trees, filling the space with cool green shade during the summer months. Sturdy benches placed under the trees offer the perfect spot to while away long lazy afternoons.
Sausage trees are actually found in most of the rest camps in Kruger Park – in fact at Letaba Rest Camp there is a sign warning people to “beware of falling sausages”.
Sausage trees are easily identified by very large fruits that hang like enormous sausages, and that remain hanging on the trees for most of the year. Then between July and October the trees bare enormously large beautiful dark red flowers.
In the 1930’s there were four pontoons in the Kruger Park which facilitated north /south traffic. There were no bridges; all the major rivers were crossed using pontoons. Two crossed the Crocodile River – one at Malalane and the other at Crocodile Bridge. There was also a pontoon for crossing the Sabie River at Skukuza.
The remaining pontoon crossed the Olifants River at Balule.
Col. Reitz visited Kruger to select the spot where the pontoon should cross the Olifants at Balule. Another member of National Parks Board Mr. Paul Selby who was a mining engineer, built the pontoon, which was in use from 1929 to 1937. There is a plaque commemorating the event in the camping area at Balule.
Baboons, monkeys, porcupines, and bush pigs eat the ripe fruit from the sausage tree once the fruit drops. Elephants and kudu sometimes browse the leaves.
The beautiful red large cup like flowers are eaten by kudu, nyala and impala when they fall to the ground. Monkeys, baboons, sunbirds and insects love the nectar.
In Mozambique Kigelia is the traditional name for the tree, and Africana means from Africa.
From the pen of Marissa Greeff in her book A Site-by Site Guide to Trees in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. We sell this book for R260.00 excluding postage.
The Sausage Tree is available for sale at the Kruger Indigenous Tree Nursery near Skukuza.
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