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Published: August 8th 2007
A special treat in Kruger park.
Kruger national park is a world famous game reserve, dear reader, and this impressively run park is north east of Jo'Burg. It features a huge variety of wildlife, often at very close quarters. Game spotting is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life, and if our encounters in the park are an accurate guide you won't be disappointed! We spent three days in the Kruger park, which is South Africa's most famous tourist attraction, and we left one of the world's oldest wildlife parks exhilarated by our viewing experiences. There are an incredible number of animals to spot, and it's a wonderful privilege to be in their world as nature intended.
To recap from the previous journal, my American friend and I went through the formalities at the border crossing in Swaziland, then headed north in the car back into South Africa for the short drive to the national park. I was the designated navigator, although a little uncertain about my qualifications for this role, and also doubled up as the petrol chip-er in-er. My friend was charged with the driving to complete our Nissan hire car safari team. The roads in Kruger are superb, with the main roads
Lions on the prowl
These juvenile males meant business, passing right by our car door and staring at my friend. We chucked a u'e to follow them, when they were confronted by a buffalo.
paved and also various dirt back roads, but there are no problems navigating the park in your own car. We made a booking in a bush camp bungalow north of where we entered the park, and had the whole afternoon to explore the roads and loops along the way to our destination. Game spotting is quite easy in Kruger due to the sheer number of wildlife on offer. Our technique was to take our time while constantly scanning both sides of the road for game. When we spotted an animal we'd stop and really take in the moment, while scanning for other animals. Most animals tend to congregate in the wild, even different species who do so as protection against predators, so spotting one animal inevitably leads to seeing more animals in the vicinity.
We'd spend all morning in the park game spotting, take time out for lunch in one of the superb bush camps, then head out again for the afternoon while ensuring we arrived at the camps before 5:30pm. This is essential to avoid the hefty fines imposed by the rangers for visitors who arrive after the gates have closed. The Kruger camps have modern creature comforts,
including fridges and air conditioning in the bungalows. That's until you hear hyenas cackling and screeching in the night outside the camp fence, which reminds travellers you are in the wilds of Africa.
The most amazing part of being in an African game reserve is the silence. Wild animals live their entire lives in silence, except when they are communicating with each other. The silence in the park is total, and as responsible tourists we kept our conversations to a whisper when having close encounters with the animals. The wildlife are used to cars and don't feel threatened by having us in close proximity, providing you do the right thing. This is in stark contrast to the Kruger Krazies, as they are known by the park officials. The basic rule in African national parks applies whether you are witnessing a giant crocodile trying to swallow a baby hippo, a pack of lions preying on a recently downed giraffe, or Michael Jackson doing a moonwalk is ... you must always stay in your car!
And what about the wildlife then? Absolutely brilliant is the description that springs to mind. We saw four of the big five, but didn't get
to do a Nissan safaris high five, as the elusive leopard was reverting to type. There are 1,000 of the predatory big cats in the park, and we scanned hundreds of trees to no avail. However, we had no problem spotting buffaloes, elephants, lions and rhinos. We even witnessed two male lions go into hunting mode right in front of us on the road after smelling potential prey, when suddenly a buffalo burst out of the bush to chase them off. That got the adrenaline pumping like you wouldn't believe, and was an incredible wildlife experience.
We finished our South African safari adventure with a return drive to Jo'Burg after exiting the park, including a stop off at the Blyde River canyon. We enjoyed stunning views of the canyon from God's window lookout on a fine morning. We got a little lost on arrival in Jo'Burg when attempting to find the Airport backpackers near OR Tambo international, but eventually checked in on a freezing Jo'Burg night to finish a wonderful South African adventure. Kruger park is a highly recommended game park in southern Africa, with plenty of wildlife and a great variety of birds on offer. It's a massive
Giraffe at an Acacia tree
Watch out for those thorns my friend!
park the size of Israel and is in the process of being dramatically expanded, as fences are torn down in Mozambique and Zimbabwe to allow wildlife to follow traditional migration routes. This super park is known as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier park, and will be an astonishing asset to southern Africa upon completion. The World Cup is arriving on the African continent for the first time in 2010 when South Africa host the biggest show on earth but why wait, basically all of you should be here now!
When a leopard dies, he leaves his skin; a man, his reputation." Oriental proverb
As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now
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