on July 12, 2010
WHERE IS KRUGER NATIONAL PARK?Kruger is in the north eastern area of South Africa to the west is Limpopo and to the south is Mpumalanga two South African provinces. In the north is Zimbabwe, and if you travel east you will come to MozambiqueWHAT WILL I SEE IN THE PARK?If you really look hard and know what you are looking for you could see 147 different species of mammal in the park however all the Big Five game animals (lions, elephants, rhinoceros, buffalos and leopards)are found at Kruger National Park There are more species of mammals in this park than any other African Game Reserve . Just in case you think this is a private game park with imported animals this park only has wild animals that are native to the area. All the animals are wild and dangerous so naturally getting out of your car is prohibited unless in the few demarcated areas. These are the few hides which normally overlook waterholes. You sit quietly within the fenced and secure hide and watch; we saw a few crocodiles at one hide.WHERE SHOULD I STAY?You can do day trips into the park from outside but I would seriously suggest staying within the park. I would also suggest staying at a couple of rest camps in different parts of the park so that you get a chance to see a variety of animals and eco systems. We stayed at Lower Sabie and Skukuza which are quite a way apart and very different areas. The park has 21 official rest camps which offer all types of accommodation options from camping through to luxury options and have differing facilities - some are more basic whereas others have communal swimming pools and other facilities. I suggest you look at the official website: http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ and here you can select the camps that suit as well as the accommodation type and also pay the entrance fee prior to going which is what we did. OKAY NOW TO THE ACTUAL ANIMAL SAFARISSadly for those who like to lie around on holiday the animals in Kruger are early risers so the best time to see animals is early morning ( getting up while it is still dark at about 4.30) and late afternoon from about 4 o’ clock onwards, although good sightings can be made any time of the day. I have read that some people say that Kruger has become crowded and there are traffic jams when an animals is spotted. Well from my experience this is far from the truth. We passed the occasional car and sometimes there were two or three cars in the same spot but in realty we had many areas to ourselves so I think that is an exaggeration. As Kruger is the largest game reserves and has such a wide variety of vegetation you would be very unlucky to miss seeing a variety of animals. You do have to drive slowly and it is better if there are a few of you looking around as the animals can be quite hard to see. There were four of us looking and we saw all the 'Big Five' animals (lions, elephants, rhinoceros, African buffalo, and leopards) as well as hippos, cheetahs, hyenas, and a number of different antelope from the sweet faced impala through to larger kudu and so many more. A lot of people having see the ‘Lion King’ expect little vegetation and crowds of animals but Kruger has quite thick vegetation and we tended to see animals as they crossed the road or if they were at the side of the road as if they went into the scrubby bush they disappeared really quickly as they are so well camouflaged. You would think a giraffe would stick out like a sore thumb but they don’t, you have to keep your eyes open and look for a movement or a change in shadows in order to spot the animals. Having said that we did come across a male lion lying in the road and his other three mates were lying or walking very close to the roadside which at this spot was quite grassy. He lay there for quite a while and by the time he stretched and got up there were about five cars on either side of him waiting for him to move. Animals always have the right of way so you just wait.We saw herds of elephants splashing in the river not so far from us on a few occasions. Up close one very large herd crossing the road and one male looked straight at us, my husband had the car in reverse ready to move in case he didn’t like us. Just close to the restaurant at Lower Sabie one large elephant was grazing just below us.Hippos we saw in the hippo pool just outside Sabie rest camp. You only really saw their heads coming up and down as they walk around in the pool. Sometimes their huge mouths open as they yawn. Another day there were a large number wallowing in the river beside Lower Sabie restaurant which we watched while enjoying our lunch.Leopards are very tricky to spot , sorry about the word play, but once again we were so lucky as a mother with her cubs crossed the road in front of us. Cheetahs are very rare to see as there are only about 200 in the whole of Kruger and we were not lucky enough to see any.Zebras are herd animals and tend to like the grassier areas and we did see a number of these. They are so lovely and look so amazingly clean and healthy with chubby hind quarters.Warthogs like Pumba, in the Lion King are hilarious as they stick their tails up as they run off and we did see quite few in various parts of the park.Secretary birds again looking just like the cartoon version, strutting around in the grass.Buffalo, we got in the middle of a huge herd with youngsters this was a little worrying at times but they just looked at us as we drove very slowly between them to get out.Giraffes we saw quite a few of at different times around the park. They are so beautiful and look at you with such a superior air as they calmly wander across the road just in front of your car.Baboons were often seen but it was lovely to see the families with babies clinging to mother’s backs. Something you are very likely to see are antelope, mainly the lovely impala. SUMMARY:If you would like to go on safari and drive yourself then Kruger in the park to visit. We saw so many animals and we spent about four days in the park at the two different rest camps.
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