Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most popular safari destination.
The wildlife snobs don’t call it a true experience as a lot of the roads are paved and tar, but we absolutely loved our day there. Much more than we thought we would.
Before the trip – I didn’t know the animals / wildlife are called game(s). And these safaris are called game drives.
I’ve heard of big four in advertising industry, having worked at WPP and IPG Mediabrands. And the big four consulting firms PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (E&Y), Deloitte, and KPMG. But during the trip, I came to know of the big five here – elephant, lion, rhinoceros, leopard and buffalo.
We chose to drive our own car, but you have the option to go in one of the organized tour jeeps too.
Depending on the season, the doors open at 5:30 or 6:00, and people start lining up from 4:00 or sooner. They say it’s a good idea to secure your entry online, or risk getting to enter if you’re too late.
Easter was supposed to be their busiest time, after Christmas. And that’s when we were there. Bright and early, queued up at 5:00 in the morning. It was 6:15 or so by the time we got in, with about 35 cars ahead of us at the Phabeni gate, closet to where we stayed, based on where we’d plan to enter from.
The sister and her husband had done all the planning and due diligence and our hotel guy told us to do this route. And that was plenty for the day.
Entering from Phabeni gate, we went to Skukuza. Soon after entering, we saw a group of giraffes and zebras, and that was a start to our game drive!
After getting to Skukuza, we ended up wasting 45 minutes to get coffee, because of long waits and lack of staff at Cattle Baron.
But those rest areas were very nicely done, full with kids play area and all, should you want to take a nice break.
Lots of deer family animals – kudus and the likes, more zebras, plenty of African buffalos or Cape buffalos. A variety of birds that I don’t recollect the names of. A snake or two. Owls. Hippopotamus.
More giraffes and few more zebras on the way.
A quick lunch stop at the Lower Sabie rest camp to pick up fries and a sad parfait from Mugg & Bean (we’d carried some lunchies with us) and a few people talking about spotting a group of 10 lions / lionesses, we headed there.
Though we saw about three lionesses, it was far in. And the unprepared group that we were, without binoculars, I tried using the SLR and my phone to zoom in hard to get a look at the lioness’s face.
One did oblige by looking in our direction, one was lying flat, like a log, and the other looked exactly in the opposite direction.
Spending some time here, hoping to get a more closer look, which we didn’t, we headed ahead.
This time, towards the Tshokwane Picnic site.
The whole landscape setup and these animals in front of the gorgeous mountain backdrop was STUNNING, to say the least.
We had two kids under four, who couldn’t care less, but us adults were going ga-ga over watching them games.
We weren’t staying at the camps inside the park, so we had to exit the park by 6 PM. Which meant even though we drove past two groups of cars waiting, saying they spotted cheetah and leopard, we couldn’t wait for long, lest be stuck inside and pay fines and risk safety after it got dark.
It was a beautiful day. And though we spotted four of the big five, the heart wanted more. I would’ve been happier getting to see a handsome lion with chunky manes!
But, another time. Until then, I’ll have that picture of the two rhinoceros and elephants etched in my memories. Vividly!