Our Long Day at Kruger, South Africa’s Largest Game Reserve!
Date: July 22-24, 2016
After spending 2 days in Balule Private Game Reserve near Kruger, it was time to move on closer into the Greater Kruger area. AND change accommodations. We arrived at Marc’s on the evening of July 22nd and settled in our treehouse!
Only thing was, I’m not scared to rough it a little, but I have become a bit lazy and comfortable over the years. I wanted a bathroom inside my cabin and not have to walk down a ladder and into the bush to use the restroom with others, so we didn’t get an actual treehouse IN a tree. Instead, we booked a wooden cabin that was attached to the trees. That was rugged enough. We loved it!
After we arrived at Marc’s Treehouse, we were given instructions for the next 2 days. And then we ate around a large bonfire with a group of around 20 people of all ages. We had a very nice evening, but were so exhausted, that we went back to our cabins around 9pm.
Chill of the African Winter Night Air
Boy am I glad I brought my beanie. In the middle of the night, I woke up and was absolutely freezing. The wooden cabins were holey and there was no heat. Good thing we had each other to cuddle up next too, but yeah, my beanie was a MUST HAVE in that cabin. But only that first night!
Off to Kruger Before the Crack of Dawn
The following morning, we went down to breakfast, ate and then got in the jeep. It was still fairly dark outside and it was still very chilly. The jeep was WIDE open. Only the driver and another passenger rode an hour to Kruger in luxury. The rest of us were in the back being blown away. But we thought, okay, no adventure, no fun, right?
Lots of Buffalo
Not 2 minutes after arriving via the Orpen Gate, we saw a ton of buffalo, one of the Big 5. On both sides of the road too. Just hundreds of them grazing and enjoying the morning sun.
Observing Wildlife in their Natural Habitat
We drove all day long. Either on the main path or off the beaten path to get a more intimate view. Looking back on that day, I think the most entertaining sighting was watching a group of elephants at a water hole. First, 1 young elephant came, then his 2 buddies followed. They drank and left and then a family with 2 even younger babies came. There is nothing more adorable than watching a baby elephant roll around in the mud.
We Didn’t Have the Best Luck that Day
Of the Big 5, we only saw 3. And only one lioness. Poor girl, she was hunting, but because she was all alone, her charge into a group of impalas was unsuccessful. Our guide asked other drivers if they’ve seen any more lions, but no luck. We saw plenty of other animals though, no doubt.
We didn’t see any rhinos that day either. I was a little disappointed, but I had luck right before our flight back home… And no leopards, although they are a very rare sighting indeed.
Self-Driving in Kruger on a Saturday
I think one problem was that it was a Saturday and there were a ton of people there. It was a beautiful sunny, winter day, so not too hot. It was a perfect day to spend with the family at Kruger, which means there were many local self-drivers too. Many were mindful, but I did notice that not all self-drivers respected the animals. They either got too close or positioned themselves right in the way of the animals’ paths.
Our guide was very entertaining and considerate btw. He made sure we got enough photos, but didn’t disturb the animals.
Personally, I think Kruger should reconsider allowing self-drivers and only allow qualified, respectful guides drive in the park.
Watch this video below of this one self-driver and 2 elephant males. The driver refused to move and that was very sad. We are there to watch these beautiful animals in their natural habitats, not disturb them. Kruger has a code of ethics on a sign at every entrance for all to see. One important rule: All animals have the right of way! Stay far away from them and do not get in their way. This guy didn’t, so watch how the elephants reacted.
Animals have the Right of Way, Always!
The Close Encounters
There were times when we were able to get close enough, but not too close to disturb them. With my super duper camera zoom that weighed a ton, I got a lot of good head shots, I can’t put them all in this blog post, but come on over to Instagram or Facebook to view many, many more.
Just in Time for the Best Sunset Ever
As we were heading out of the park, the sun was falling and since South Africa is fairly close to the equator, it doesn’t take long before it’s gone, so we stopped and I took about 1,000 pictures. It was amazing! Take a look below. I didn’t even have to photoshop this one. Just pure natural beauty.
And then we drove out of the park and stopped shortly thereafter so that our guide could put up the wind protection cloth on the jeep. WHAT? You mean we didn’t have to freeze for an hour driving to Kruger that morning? hhmm… Next time, I know better and will kindly ask for him to put it up in the morning too! Live and learn.
Good Night’s Sleep
When we got back to the camp, we ate another scrumptious meal at the bonfire and again, went to bed early. We were exhausted and this time, it was warm enough that night! The next morning, we were picked up by our trusty personal driver and taken across the border to Botswana, where a new adventure begins! So stay tuned for my next blog post about our Okavango Delta Tour experience.
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