Race to Kruger before nightly gate closing!

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August 7th 2015
Published: June 24th 2017
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Got some much needed rest and relaxation at Shoestrings before heading out to the park. Take the easy way out on dinner by going to the Protea Hotel which is just one block from their door. The food is nice and not outrageously expensive and fun to visit with the wait staff. Back to Shoestrings to catch up on news with Rob before heading to bed.

Early up the next morning sharing a cup of coffee with Rob, and getting some supplies from him to make our trip more wonderful. Everything loaded and on our way. Thank you GPS for helping us get out of the city on on the toll road. The toll road is very easy to use and the tolls to Kruger Park are 50 rand for first one and 75 rand for the second which is not really bad at all. The only word of warning is watch the speed limit signs like a hawk!!!!! There is some construction going on in various places and the speed limit can suddenly drop and there they are..............the traffic police to pull you over for speeding. Many of the rental car companies have some sort of agreement with the police to report if a rental car is given a speeding ticket and the rental car company will also charge you a fine.......or you can pay a fine on the spot for your transgression. Seems the easiest thing to do. This time they kind of let us set our own fine! Live and learn.

Robert had found an opening at Pretoriaskop and so we did our shopping in Nelspruit and dashed into the park only to find out the gate did not close until 6:00 pm instead of 5:30 as we thought. Had a nice evening of leftovers and fresh salad and visited with a retired gentleman from South Africa who complained only slightly about us foreigners who are taking all the camping places. In some places in South Africa, there are problems with rolling blackouts. We had one at Shoestrings and another while at Pretoriaskop and another at Melalane but we weathered them all with no problem.

Next morning we are up and heading to Skukuza. Welcome to the Park with a sighting of a leopard moving through the grass! Drove on just a little further and our first rhino sighting. Were also entertained by the kori bustard, karihaan, zebra giraffe, wildebeest and warthogs. Great way to enjoy getting reacquainted with the park.

Got to Skukuza and drove directly to the camping area. Know you are supposed to check in first but the good sites fill up fast and plug spaces are limited in some areas so we have found it is better to get your site, set up and then check in. We found a nice site with some shade near the ablutions and cooking area and got set up. We ran into problems with our electrical cord and found some new friends in the site next to us. Jeffrey and his daughter Lee were happy to try to make our electrical cord work. Jeffrey had all sorts of tools to check out any problems and we found what needed to be repaired and he kindly loaned us a cord until we could get ours fixed. What wonderful people to welcome us to Skukuza! Jeffrey has a facebook site, "Kruger National Park - the best place on earth that he invited us to become part of. We have talked to several of the members of this group since we first met them.

Jeffrey has been coming to the park since he was eight years old and this is the driest he has seen it. We now are beginning to notice that many of the waterholes are dry and the rivers are very low.

Did an evening drive and with some help from another camper found the leopard "in the muddle" of the vegetation on the river edge. Drove around some more and found elephants and buffalo and on the way back in saw some cars pulled over. What are you seeing? we ask. She says, do you see the sand in the middle of the river and what looks like a log? Well that is a lion on its back. Wow! Sure enough it is a lion. So, great Kruger beginnings. First full day in the park and we have seen the Big Five. For those who do not know. The Big Five are the leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo. The reason these are the Big Five are they were the most dangerous and difficult to hunt in the old days.

Need more trivia. How about the Little Five? Leopard tortoise, lion ant, elephant shrew, rhino beetle, and buffalo weaver. Green Five? Leopard orchid, lion grass, elephant ear, rhino thistle, and buffalo bean. There you have it.

Additional photos below
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30th August 2015

Really nice shot.

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