Like a very silly tradition of watching Dinner for One on New Year’s Eve every year, I have been going to the Kruger National Park every single year — sometimes twice a year — for the past 15 years. And like that guy who takes every girl he meets to the same restaurant for a first date and orders the same meal, and sometimes helps the girl on which meal to order, I still get very excited with each trip I get to make to the Park.
I have been to the park with everyone in my circle; from my dearest Grandmother to friends (and ex friends) and colleagues. All who are close to me have had a chance to share in the magnificence of the park.
One would think with my million trips to the park I would have seen The Big Five, are on first name basis with the Kruger National Park’s staff and even know the sleeping and grazing patterns of each and every animal in the park.
Kruger National Park is massive; you can never understand how HUGE it is until you get there and realise there are gates you cannot get to if you have used a different one to get into the park. The vastness of the park adds to its beauty.
Since I have seen all but one member of the Big Five I have opted to view things, and I believe this is the park’s way of keeping me coming back.
The African Leopard is ever elusive. In June 2018 I was at the park, and there were cars parked around looking into the trees at the “leopard”. I stuck around trying to get a peek at it, moved the car in every possible way to no avail.
Seeing giraffes and zebras never gets old, I have a gazillion pictures of them. I have been to the park so many times that at times I only admire the animals and do not even care to take pictures. The peacefulness of the animals grazing is unmatched, seeing Zebras next to the Springboks is always cute and interesting.
I am a bush baby; just not the sleeping in tents kind of bush baby. Talk about glamping and you’re speaking my language. I truly am in love with exploring the bush and being in the bush, someone even referred my trips to the park as me going to Mecca. These trips are my absolute comfort; the Park lulls me.
The Kruger National Park is an experience like no other; I have used all but two gates to enter into the park. I have loved every single one of them and that is why I keep going back. When you get into the park you will be welcomed by springboks, they are everywhere. They are lovely to look at, but after a while I get tired of them. Once in a while when I come across them after driving around they still make me smile.
My absolute favourite animal to ‘find’ is the Elephant; coming across a large herd of Elephants is a thing of beauty. They take my breath away; I am a seasoned Kruger traveler (and I have common sense) so I give them space to maneuver around me. I am petrified of being trampled so I keep my distance and watch them eat and drink.
One thing is certain, viewing elephants refreshes my soul. It makes me deliriously happy and gives me peace. There is nothing like driving for hours that allows you to be in your thoughts and to converse with the people in the car. I have not used the guided safari vehicles into the park, because I do not mind driving around and it is very easy to spot the animals. You just have to make peace with the fact that you will not see all the animals in a day; after all, it is not a Zoo.
Animals in the wild are something else, very often I tell friends who go to the Kruger on their own that I have never left the park without seeing Elephants, and they will come back saying they did not see them; well they do not stay in one area, so hey it happens.
The beauty about being in the park is the varied animal species and vegetation; I go for the animals, not yet a big fan of the birds and plants; so that is another thing to explore when I go back.
I have found myself driving around and I will get to the river and find a large herd of buffaloes having their morning or afternoon dip, it is a remarkable sight. The cluster of animals is truly beautiful. Even baboons in the wild are a marvel; there is just something about seeing them bounce from treetop to treetop like excited children in a playground that is great to behold.
When you drive around the park, you will spot cars that have stopped to view wild life and, of course once in a while, you will stop only to find the occupants viewing birds. I do not get used to this. I honestly, need to get into bird viewing to fit in with the cool crowd.
The roads inside the park are great for driving in all kinds of cars, you do not need a 4 x 4 vehicle to experience the park, just average navigation skills, binoculars, a cooler-box with plenty of soft drinks (no alcohol allowed for day visitors), snacks, a camera and great company and you are good to go. Kruger National park is an absolute must at least once in a lifetime. Not sure, you can go once and never go back though.
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