10 BEST THINGS ABOUT THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
1.One of the largest reserves in the world!
At a whopping 20 000 square km, Kruger is bigger than many countries! It will take you 18 hours by car driving from the North Parfuri Gate to the South Malalane gate. It’s not a highway though, one will encounter many wild animals on the way!
2.Teeming with African wildlife!
Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, Leopard and Elephant rule the roost. Just the Elephants number at over 15 000.The animal’s territories are expanding, as the Kruger National Park continues to grow. Due to the merging of neighbouring parks and private concessions. The fences are lifted allowing for thousands of new square kilometres of park each year.
- Driving in Kruger is very exciting!
One never knows what is around the next corner. It can appear as a family of enormous steel skinned Rhino, a pride of savage salivating lions or a sounder of waltzing baby warthogs. A 4×4 car is not necessary, a small one will do. Although a bigger car will offer better protection from a thundering Rhino charge! Do drive slowly on the dirt roads, as they can present challenges, especially after the rains. It can get edgy if your tyres sink into a mud patch with the Rhino now at full throttle, in a murderous black mood! This is where a deep physical strength will surface, allowing you to heave the car out, racing off in the nick of time! Use common sense when navigating a herd of Elephant, not getting too close. Quite a few cars have been over turned in the past! The sheer force of these beasts is evident as the tusks find the bottom of the car as the trunk flips it over like a dead tree blocking its path. The same common sense applies to any animal encounter, as they remain wild! Distances are also deceptive. In a city, 10 km may take a few minutes on a good road, in Kruger it can take a few hours. Lion sightings create much excitement, attracting all in the area. This can block the road for quite a time. The speed limit is 40 km/h on dirt roads and 60 km/h on the tar roads. Its best to have a careful plan in place for the next day. Choose exactly what route you will take and stick to it.
- Magnificent scenery!
With seven beautiful rivers running through the park. Having a sundowner overlooking a river as the sun sets is a wonderful moment. Massive sharp toothed Crocodiles populate the river beds, proud grunting Hippos wallow gently in the river pools, crafty baboons saunter by in troops as herds of heavy footed buffalo come to quench their dry mouths. The smell of the barbeque will invite your appetite to the thatch roof restaurant. The fires flames are ready to offer an excellent Sirloin, served with a Madagascan green pepper sauce and a good bottle of South African Merlot. After the meal, retiring to the campfire to sip on a Muscat D`Alexandrie.The hunting activity of the bush intensifies as the night blackens. Hideous howls penetrate deep into the black night, whistling furiously along the lengths of the land, echoing off the rock mountains. Then a quite silence grips the land, until the next furious battle in the bush escalates into another crescendo of terror.
These are in open vehicles with armed rangers. The rangers carry heavy calibre rifles if there is an emergency, such as a lion attack or Elephant charge! This is not common though, as the Rangers are skilled in the ways of the bush. The Safaris operate in the early morning or late afternoon. This is when the predators are on the hunt for food. For city dwellers, this is a unique experience. It ranks high on the list of many. The early morning Safaris leave before dawn. Hot coffee and rusks are served, whilst one bundles up, as it gets very chilly at that time. Setting off in powerful 4×4 open vehicles, the thrill of the chase begins. The afternoon/evening Safari allows for sunset drinks in the bush as a viewpoint. Once the dark descends, the rangers scan the bush from left to right with high illumination beams mounted to the vehicle. As the car ploughs through the thick thickets, one may encounter a family of elegant Giraffe, or a hunting pack of wild dogs. The eagle-eyed ranger may point out a four metre Black Mamba lying menacingly in the branch above. Ready to launch a rapid split second devastating bite of lethal poison. Imagine the scene if the snake drops into the car! Returning in time for dinner is always welcome, as one enters a civilised environment for the evening. Just don’t walk around the camp at night alone! Leopards are known to make quick work of the fences, if your camp has them!
The Rest Camps in the park offer a variety of rustic accommodation. A river view bungalow allows the opportunity to have a barbeque with a magnificent view. Be aware that the smell of meat on the fire attract many predators at night. One can then walk to the perimeter fence and shine a strong torch. A thousand sets of glaring yellow eyes meet yours. You may be feeling outnumbered by now. Then, deadly, threatening roars from hungry throats encircle you. The days of cavemen ancestors come to life! Best to move away at this point. Try control the urge to run for your very life, as this may provoke an attack! Walk backwards slowly to the bungalow, your hair will be standing on end. The threat slowly subsides as the welcome lights of your hut brings you to relative safety. Now is a good time to have a stiff drink! Nasty experience that, as the ice cubes crackle and melt into your glass. The 5-star lodges offer the utmost in bush luxury. Many themed on the classical Livingstons Africa. Four poster beds, African art, thatch roof, private deck with plunge pool. Outside shower. Twice a day Safaris as well as a bush walk. Meeting fellow travellers, recounting the day’s activities around the fire at night. Outstanding Haute Cuisine!
7.Being at the beginning of time.
The stark contrast to bustling cities is tangent. In Kruger the eerie still silence is only interrupted by the sounds of chirping birds, the bellow of the hippo, the trumpet of the Elephant. The thunderous roar of the lion that carries many miles into the dark depths of the night. In Kruger the ancient terroir sits heftily in its timeless place, pondering over the next many millions of years to come. Basking in the hot African sun like an earthy lizard. Drinking thirstily from the quenching waters that fall from the sky. Flowing deep into its belly, allowing its floral and tree children to thrive .Allowing its legged and winged creatures to walk and fly freely over its vast ancient terrain.
8.Sitting on your deck when Elephant come to graze!
A surreal experience, especially if from a big city. After time one becomes accustomed to the Elephants presence and will enjoy the time with them. The long trunks snake themselves around the branches, ripping off the leaves with gliding precision. Munching down the thicket gathered. They may move closer to your balcony, at which point it is good practice to move into the lounge. Now that you are out of reach, choose to ignore the long trunk slurping up your Whisky! Another word of warning though, a couple entered their suite to find a leopard in the lounge! They promptly barrel rolled out and called the ranger! They chose to sleep with the windows closed that night.
- A Lion kill in the dead of night!
Everyone whispers instinctively. The sheer force of these animals can only be seen with one’s own eye. The hunting strategy escalates to the chase, where the Lions adrenaline rises to its peak, as its 200 kg mass explodes into furious motion. Massive claws ripping into the ground, as their muscles expand and propel them like a spread winged eagle swooping down with deadly precision. By now you are thrown back to your earliest ancestor’s lives. The savage call of the past rings in your ears with a deafening reality. The hunted is running for its life, hooves slipping and sliding, as the animal craves its escape. Saliva drooling out its mouth, eyes wide with terror. The Lion is now at its hunting peak, operating with savage intent. The prey is now within reach. Feeling the strangle of the lion, the animal is brought down. As the lions then feast for their own survival.
10.The Africa Bug Bites!
After one has experienced the Kruger National Park, its often only when one returns home that one feels the impact of the experience take hold. Back in the traffic, the shopping malls, the crowds. A silent yearning begins to grow inside. A pull takes hold. A pull that stems from that ancient terroir. A pull that feels magnetic. It stretches into your very core. When the Africa bug bites, you will yearn for the great plains, the people, the sunsets, the food, the animals, the old world feeling. You will know when that happens! Karen Blixem aptly wrote in her “Out of Africa “memoires…
“HERE I AM IN AFRICA, WHERE I BELONG “
Written by Alex Simon – Co Director of African Welcome Safaris
African Welcome Safaris offer solid custom planning when travelling to Southern Africa. Highly specialised in arranging your dream “Out of Africa “vacation or honeymoon. Drop us an email, Whatsapp or call if you would like to discuss how we could show you the best of the Kruger Park – details below.
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