Hi again, I'm all excited! Kruger Park, here we come!!!
But let's start at the beginning ... From Graskop we took the road to Hazyview and then entered the park at the new Phabeni Gate. Now Kruger Park is not your average National Park ... for one thing, it is huge, and I mean HUGE!!! It may be kind of narrow - about 60 or 70 km at its widest - but if I’m not mistaken it's over 400 km long from top to bottom!
You can drive around in Kruger in your own (or a – as in our case – rental) car and stay at one (or more) of the many camps like we did or you could spoil yourself and spend about ten times as much and stay at one of the luxurious private game reserves and get driven around by rangers. These rangers communicate with each other via radio all the time and are allowed to go off road with their jeeps, so you’d probably see more animals and you’re likely to get closer to them – but you pay a premium for it and many locals shun this kind of ‘canned’ wildlife viewing. And since I’m not a rich pig we went for the more basic ‘spot-it-yourself’ experience, which turned out to be very exciting nonetheless!
Now for your own safety you have to follow certain rules while in the park – the most important one being ‘Don’t get out of your car unless you’re in a camp or in one of the few ‘get out’ areas’ – you may not see that lion hiding behind those bushes but he sure sees you! Another thing is you don’t want to have to back up to get out of the way of a charging elephant – these guys are BIG!!! – so the best way to watch eles is through your rear window – and don’t turn off the engine! And don’t eat bananas with your windows open when you’re surrounded by a troop of baboons! But the most important rule of all is ‘Don’t endanger your travel pig by holding it way out of your car window to take a picture’ – if you drop it, you may not be able to get out and pick it up again!!! And what could be worse than loosing your favorite travel buddy???
Then of course there’s courtesy – if there’s a car stopped in the road in front of you it’s very likely that the people in that car are watching an animal, so don’t speed by and scare it off or pull up right in front of them and block their view.
With all that said, let’s get back to our personal experience in Kruger. The first mammals we saw in the park were warthogs, a mama and her four babies. Many people think they’re ugly but I strongly object – of course I’m biased, they’re pigs after all – the grown-ups may look funny but they have the cutest kids! So after sending a few oinks their way we moved on to see the first of many many impalas, some giraffes (my second favorite animals in the park), white rhinos and eventually a group of elephants at a waterhole – not to mention kudus, blue wildebeests and lots of birds.
On our way we stopped at Skukuza, the biggest camp in the park, and we were glad we didn’t stay there over night, it was just too busy. It’s very well equipped with a large supermarket, a bank, a garage and whatnot and even though we were there for only a short time we got the impression that it was more like a small town than a camp in the bush. From Skukuza we went all the way to the southern end of the park to Berg-en-Dal camp where we spent our first night in the park. More later, gotta go now, it’s getting late! Toodaloo, Livi.