Written by Linda Kaye on 04 Oct, 2005
The Kruger National Park, named for Paul Kruger, President of the Boer Republic in the late 1800s, is home to over 150 different kinds of mammals and 500 species of bird life. It is best known for the BIG FIVE: leopard, lion, rhino,…Read More
The Kruger National Park, named for Paul Kruger, President of the Boer Republic in the late 1800s, is home to over 150 different kinds of mammals and 500 species of bird life. It is best known for the BIG FIVE: leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and African buffalo (Cape Buffalo).
Kruger occupies over 7,724 square miles in South Africa, measuring 217 miles north to south and 37 miles east to west. Although the accommodations inside the park are expensive, there is one big advantage. Park guests have a little more time for game viewing since they don’t have to get to the exit gate by a specific time. I imagine the animal sounds at night inside the park must be a thrill of a lifetime.
Early reservations are required for those wishing to stay inside Kruger Park. Choices range from huts and safari tents to cottages, bungalows and lodges. Tariffs for accommodations vary between $28 USD to $250 USD per night.
We entered the Crocodile Bridge Gate at the Southern end of the park. It was early morning, about 6:30am, and there was already a line to enter. After paying and securing our passes, we proceeded on the main road. It was a foggy morning and the sun was just starting to peak through the low clouds. We commented that we would probably not see anything right away because of all the traffic in the area. Then, all of a sudden, barely visible through the fog was a huge elephant, grazing just off the road. We name this beautiful site - the Elephant in the Mist.
Guided Safari Tours: There are guided safari tours, which I would highly recommend if you are limited on time and not on a tight budget. Riding in a safari vehicle, provides a better view of the surrounding area than a typical automobile. For a half day game drive expect to pay $46.00 per person; full day $61. This usually includes park entrance fee, light breakfast, bottled water and cool drinks, and a professional guide.
Self-Guided Tours: The advantage of the self-guided tours is that we set the schedule. If we happened on a group of animals, we had the luxury of spending time watching them, and sometime watching them watch us. The baboons were especially curious about these strangers in their world. Our best sightings were on the small side road, away from the main paved roads. It was down one of these side roads that we found a large group of zebra and wildebeest. Several of the zebra had nursing babies. We stopped our car, turned off the engine and enjoyed watching the animals graze and interact with each other.
Among our wildlife sightings were the rhino, Cape Buffalo, hippos, giraffes, zebras, elephants, warthogs, baboons vervet monkeys, impala, kudu, nyala, and wildebeest. Our favorite-feathered friend was the yellow-billed Hornbill, who appeared to enjoy posing for our cameras.
From the Crocodile Bridge Gate to Lower Sabie is only 35km, but it took us almost four hours. Lower Sabie is a Main Camp, one of many inside the park. Main Camps offers restaurant facilities, snack bar, souvenir shops, fenced picnic areas, restrooms and a chance to get out of the car and stretch. Kruger is so large that in the two days we spent there, we only covered one small corner of the park.
In November, December and January (summer months in Africa) gates open at 4:30 in the morning and close at 5:30pm. In July, opening is at 6am, closing at 4pm. Be sure to keep your receipt (travel document), as you will need to present it as you leave the park.
Daily park entrance tariff is $18 USD for foreign guests.
When our friends first told us about the Rhino Walking Safari, it really didn’t faze me. But, the more I thought about it, the more concerned I became. Being on foot in the African bush, looking for rhino sounded a little dangerous to me.…Read More
When our friends first told us about the Rhino Walking Safari, it really didn’t faze me. But, the more I thought about it, the more concerned I became. Being on foot in the African bush, looking for rhino sounded a little dangerous to me.
Our guide, Andrew, came to our chalet the evening before our tour, to introduce himself and let us know what to wear, what to take with us, and what we could expect.
He also provides wildlife tours inside Kruger Park with our clients safely into a large, well armored safari vehicle. Andrew casually mentioned that the rhino tour was twice the cost of the wildlife safari because of the danger. He quickly pointed out that the danger was to him, not us. He would be in front with a rifle and would be our first line of defense.
Okay, now I am really getting concerned. I think to myself, what happens if we come up on a rhino, something happens to Andrew, then what happens to us??? Not wanting to be the only one of our party to admit fear, I simply smiled, took a deep breath, and said nothing.
Up early the next morning, we followed his instructions regarding light colored clothing, hat, long sleeves, good walking shoes and sun block. We piled into his SUV for the 30-minute drive to the Kwa Madwala Private Game Reserve.
At the headquarters building inside the reserve, we were introduced to our driver and our tracker, and asked to sign forms regarding liability. (Oh, my goodness).
After a quick bathroom break, we piled into a safari vehicle to begin our adventure. The tracker rode on the front where he had a good view of the road and surrounding areas as we drove. Once he located rhino tracks, the vehicle was parked and we were given last minute instructions.
Okay, now I feel GREAT!
Off we went, leaving the security of our vehicle far behind us. The weather was pleasant: partly cloudy skies gave us some relief from the sun. We walked for almost two hours; saw giraffes, evidence of large animals, and lion and rhino tracks. The sheer anticipation of seeing one of these huge beast was exhilarating- like pulling the arm on a slot machine and watching the "7s" roll and one by one stop on the payline – all except that last one.
Quote for the Africa in Focus Website: The objective will be to view the animals without impacting their natural behavior, and sensitivity to the animals is top priority. This experience is exciting and exhilarating, as you will experience what it feels like to be just another animal in Africa’s wilderness.
Despite the efforts of our guide and our tracker, we found no rhino. However, we had the most excellent walk through the African bush you could imagine.