Kruger was something else.
We spent four days and three nights in this magnificent nature reserve and I’m happy to say, for me, that was just about the right amount of time.
A nature reserve is a space of land where the animals are free to roam, but also free to eat each other and act like they should do in the wild. Kruger is South Africa’s largest nature reserve and although we were there for a good number of days, we only covered a small part of this park. It’s apparently the size of Israel.
Our time at Kruger was planned by yours truly and with quite a few hours of driving each day by my lovely step-dad Joe. We stayed at three different hotels whilst there, driving in the park during the day between stops.
We saw so many animals, I won’t write them all down but have tried to include the best photo from each encounter. Because the animals are free to roam, there’s no certainty you’ll see the animals you wish to see – it could be that you’re driving down a road and stop to look at an elephant, just as a lion passes behind your car. You never know.
But that’s what makes each sighting more enjoyable!
I still remembered when we first saw an elephant. We were driving back to the Malelane Gate at 5:30pm (the gate closed at 6pm) at a good 30 km/h which is too fast to really notice any animals. But just as we passed a bend, I spot a big grey thing beside the side of the road, “STOP” I yell and we slowly reverse to see a couple of huge African elephants munching away at some trees.
Now, elephants, for all their majestic qualities, were to become a common sighting for us in Africa. That is not to say that we got bored of them! Elephants are amazing.
Upon returning to our hotel for the night, we enjoyed a great meal in the hotel next door, which saw Mum try kudu and Joe have eisbein – which is a fried pork knuckle. Both were amazing. Earlier on, I had personally enjoyed noticing how my room had 40 individual mirrors in it.
The next day we drove on further, taking a lot of dirt tracks to our next port of call, Crocodile Bridge. We saw a lot more animals and experienced what it was like to have to wait for them to cross the road.
That night we slept at a little place, again overlooking the park. This lovely little spot had more of a community feel, which was great for us and we quickly made friends with those also staying in the permanent tents which held our beds. I took a little dip in the pool just after lunch and later did my first braai (= BBQ) with steaks that were as big as my face, but as cheap as chips!
There, the dozen other guests and we ate around a big table and shared stories of our days. One woman told us that her husband and she were driving down a road and stopped to watch an elephant cross, however, the elephant didn’t cross at all. It stopped in the middle of the road and caused a roadblock for fifteen minutes. All they could do was sit there and wait.
Apart from lots of other animal encounters, the only other thing to say is that when we stayed within the park, we were amazed and blessed to have a huge herd of elephants wander naturally to the fence separating us and the park.
Here we just stood and watched these amazing animals in their natural habitat, doing their own business just a few feet away.
And one more thing!
The morning after that, we went out on our sunrise drive around the camp. Now, it was early Spring when we came to Africa but man does it get cold at night. We woke up at 3:45am to get to the meeting point for 4:30am, all in pitch black.
And although we didn’t see many animals at first, we were delighted to see a troop of monkeys tease and play with a stray hyena. It was quite funny to see them run back and forth and scatter up the trees as the hyena learnt just how outnumbered it was.
Kruger was amazing.