Another key highlight of my trip to South Africa was the time spent at Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa. At Kruger – over 19,000 sq km of land – you have the opportunity to explore (either on your own or on an arranged tour) to hopefully catch sight of a variety of animals. Although there are hundreds of mammal species, birds, reptiles, fish and other wildlife, most admittedly go to see the Big Five. This consists of: Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Buffalo and Rhinoceros.
As we drove into Kruger we were already spotting game, so we were BEYOND excited to spend the next couple of days driving around. I purchased a guide book that included a brief history of Kruger, details on all the wildlife and plants and also maps. It also doubles as a great keepsake!
You can visit for the day or stay a night or 2 at one of their various camp options. We of course went for the latter and spent 3 nights at the Pretorioskop camp.
The hut we had opted for had 2 single beds, a mini fridge and air conditioning – score! Housekeeping came around each morning; but we didn’t take advantage of it since we didn’t see the need to change towels for a 2 day stay.
There was a communal kitchen area as well as bathrooms. For someone who had never done any sort of camping, this was the closest I’d gotten and enjoyed every minute. The camps close at 6pm sharp, and the only option for food was a Wimpy’s restaurant where you could also get a decent WiFi connection.
Off we went the following morning. The thing is that you could drive for a while without seeing a SINGLE animal – which was our fate. The most excitement we saw in the first hour was a turtle crossing the road! We drove, and drove and drove and drove. Thankfully the view was still beautiful and nothing could take away from the fact that we were in South Africa, but WHERE WERE THE ANIMALS?
And then we decided to turn down a dirt road and just like that… we spotted a lone elephant in the distance sauntering towards us. Since it zig-zagged in its path as it grazed, we waited with no idea how long it would take. There were no complaints, however.
Several minutes had passed and another vehicle had pulled up from the opposite direction. By this time the elephant had gotten close enough to determine that our car was in its path and stood directly in front of us. All we could do was hold our breaths as it stared directly at us (with beautiful brown eyes), sniffed the car and decided that we were no sort of threat and carried on into the vegetation. It was such a surreal experience!
This encounter certainly set the pace for the remainder of the Kruger experience and we saw SO many elephants!
There was mostly driving around willing the animals to appear with super ESP, which oddly enough never worked. On the odd occasion we’d see cars pulled over and people snapping shots, and it wasn’t until we’d gotten close enough to see that it was one of the Big Five. Hello rhinos! What majestic creatures that I’d never want to upset. They could do some serious damage!
We were also lucky enough to share the road with a zebra and catch sight of giraffes in the distance:
Okay, you may have to squint…. but there are giraffes in these shots. I promise.
There is a sighting board at the camp that visitors could mark with colour-coded tabs if they saw game in a particular area. Some saw lions and we tried going to those areas the next day with no luck. Sigh. We literally spent an entire afternoon driving around looking for some sort of feline activity and came up dry. Not one lion or leopard! We sang, we called and we waited. Nada.
Regardless of that fact, I still had a wonderful time at Kruger. It seemed only fitting to visit some kind of safari while we were on the continent and Kruger definitely measured up. I guess I’d have to return to see if the luck changes with the felines.