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Kruger National Park

I am not an early morning person but I was more than willing to be up and out of My comfy bed at 5am to start the day's safari

Be sure to check out our previous post about Cape Town.

The trip to Kruger was covered in our first post here and took the better part a day.  Upon arrival at the Proteia Kruger Gate Hotel (literally at the front gate of the Park), we unpacked and headed to the bar area.  This overlooks the park and we promptly saw a herd of elephants in distance. Little did we know how many elephants we were about to see in the coming days.

Both safari days followed the same routine. We were up at 5 am to pick up a bagged breakfast and some coffee or tea (and to sign any PXL_20230508_071940534required indemnification forms). We were generally loaded in the jeeps by 5:30 am.  These have tiered seating, are covered though have no windows.  The mornings were pretty cool and a little wet when we were there so we were glad we brought rain coats and some sweaters.   Generally, the jeeps (technically Toyotas) drive through the roads searching for animals.  Each driver is in communication with other drivers and they all cooperate in directing each other to the best views.  It’s hard to go more than a mile or two within the park and not see animals, though there several times we’d drive for long stretches in search of animals.  Some roads were paved, most were not.  



After a while it became clear that certain animals favored certain spots.PXL_20230509_042928054.MP
For example, there was a hyena family that lived near a swale at the intersection of two roads. 



A family of hippos hung out near the main gate in a river crossing.  By mid morning, we’d stop at an outpost (bathrooms, cafeteria, and lots of outdoor seating) to eat our breakfasts.   We were generally back at the hotel by noon.  And the next safari would start at 2 pm and go to say 5:30 or 6 pm. Each time we went int a different direction.  On the second day, some people didn’t bother to go back to the hotel for lunch, but rather went deeper into the park.

PXL_20230508_091952371To say the experience was spectacular would be an understatement.  The animals are totally unafraid of humans in general. They don’t seem to mind the vehicles or people, as long as we were generally quiet and not moving.  So we could get really close and they didn’t seem to care about us being there.  Our first spotting of Impalas was exciting, but we quickly realized just how many impalas there are –so the excitement of a siting became muted. Still, every time we say “impala”, we saw hundreds over the course of the next few days.  Pictures provide the way to describe what we saw, but all I can say is, that there’s something very special about seeing them in natural habitat,– sometimes they were eating, other times walking, sometimes jumping over barriers or just doing their thing.  

Overall the we saw  a huge variety of animals. The list includes: elephants, giraffes, baboons, monkeys, hyenas, warthogs, hippos, a few lions and leopards,  kudus, antelope, waterbucks, hippos,PXL_20230509_053150289 (1) a bazillion other birds. Some people saw rhinos, though we did not.  There’s a certain grace in watching elephants or giraffes slowly lumber across the plane which really can’t be described without seeing it.  We were able to get very close to a pair of lions who were simply sunning themselves by the side of a road.  There’s a thrill that comes with seeing just how large the paws of the female are – when there’s absolutely no barriers between you and she.  There’s a wonder when watching colorful, effervescent birds fly by that can’t be captured in a picture.  There’s playfulness at seeing warthogs prance by and trying to decide if they are really ugly or just so ugly they’re cute.  

PXL_20230509_122806193~2At every part of the park we visited, there were animals but each time is different environments. Sometimes around water. Sometimes in dense trees  and shrubs. Other times in the open grasslands or even on the roads.  But every time it was a thrill.  It was usually fun to try to make eye contact with them, though not so much with the hyenas. Looking into the eyes of hyena you feel nothing but evil – they are just creepy to see face to face as they look up at the vehicle from 2 feet away (we were up high, luckily).  



Africa Blog Post Links

Overview of our Trip to Africa

Cape Town

Kruger National Park


Chobe River Cruise

There’s no better way to describe the experience though than with pictures. So we’ll close with lots:






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