Kruger and more…

June 16, 2010

Yawn! Kruger National Park - Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

It’s been hard to put into words what a life-changing experience South Africa has provided thus far. I haven’t had the chance to sit down and write since we have been going non-stop, plus I needed to get my bearings on where to start and how to explain in words the last week and a half here.

We arrived in Johannesburg on June 6th and the next morning took off to Kruger National Park (first night uneventful – food & sleep as flight was early). We flew into Nelspruit airport, a small one terminal airport in the beautiful countryside of  Eastern South Africa. We jumped in the rental and had to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the car and road as back home. A funny experience the first time but adjusted pretty quickly! Our drive up to Kruger was beautiful, the weather perfect and the landscape incredibly green and lush – not what I expected at all. Many more hills and trees and bushes than I ever expected when you think of safaris and the Big Five.

We entered Kruger through the Numbi Gate and stopped in Pretoriouskop Restcamp for a few bottles of water and crisps (we call them chips back in the States), and we headed on our excursion through the Southern part of Kruger. Promptly I noted that I thought we would see a giraffe first, Dave guessed the rhino. I won! Sure enough, we come down a dirt road and there towering in the trees is an giraffe, roughly 18ft tall. It’s a surreal experience. As we continued our day and saw zebra, elephant, giraffe, kudu, impala, warthog, baboon, hippo and more, it never became less exciting or less strange that we are here, driving through this wild, open area of land where these animals call home.

Mother and baby - before mother told baby to charge our car!

Vervet Monkey - love them!

Hello Gorgeous

Neither of us had ever seen these animals outside the zoo, and to be  honest, it’s hard to wrap your head around that they are real and in their natural environment! Just as we were heading down the road to our restcamp, we came upon a lion pride. Eight lions walking down the road right at us and coming withing ten feet of the car. Talk about adrenaline rush – we were fumbling with our cameras and video to capture the moment.

Great shot captured by Dave of the lions in the road...

Lions in the road...

Hippo Family

We stayed two nights in Lower Sabie Restcamp, toward the Southern end of Kruger. The camp was great, with a large deck out back where you could grab a glass of wine and watch the elepants and hipppos bathe in the river. We did a sunset drive and morning walk with guides – but the rest of the time we drove ourselves and spotted animals, trading sightings with other passerby cars and quickly becoming excited when we came upon parked cars. The last night we stayed in Satara, located closer to the center of the park. Close to Satara is the S100, a road that bears East. We were blown away with all of the animals encountered here!

Up close and personal

Zebra checking us out

Rhino in the grass

One of many beautiful sunsets

Ok, signing off for now. More to come soon!!