My favourite place in the world. Kruger National Park. This national park is home to roughly 1138 species including birds, trees and amphibians. Measuring 19,845 square kilometers in size, it’s only 934 kilometers smaller than the country of Wales! In March 1898 the first part of Kruger now known as the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve was proclaimed as a “Government Wildlife Park” by Paul Kruger thus beginning the creation of one of the world’s largest wildlife sanctuaries and the flagship to national parks in South Africa.
Departing from our overnight accommodation in Nelspruit we made our way towards Malelane Gate, a 54 minute drive
away. We arrived just before 11:30am and I was happily greeted by my favourite flower, the Impala Lily! Paying our entrance fee we made our way along the H3. After adventuring along a couple of dirt roads we came across a massive herd of buffaloes! We sat for a good half an hour just watching them navigate through the bush. It was a never ending stream of muscular beasts. Once they had eventually disappeared into the dense bushes we headed further down the road and found a small family of elephants grazing and playing. An older gentleman informed us that there were a few rhinos a bit further done the road.Excited and thankful to hear there were still rhino’s surviving the poaching crisis, we immediately set off in the advised direction but we eventually came to a cross roads without seeing any signs of rhino. Thinking we’d been duped, we chose a direction and found ourselves driving down into a causeway. Beautiful lush vegetation hugged the pathway with a few open spots looking out over the small stream of water. To our left, were two beautiful rhinos playing in the mud. In front of them, a fish eagle casually sitting at the water’s edge, up ahead, a few elephants crossed the road, cheekily rolling their heads with playfulness. To my right, a Pied Kingfisher perched on a thin branch keeping a watchful eye on the water below, a green blur darted to and fro over on the rocks before coming to a stop on the bush right next to my car, a White-Fronted Bee Eater. We had a hit the sighting’s jackpot!
Spending a few more hours in the park we seen some a few more elephants, thousands of impalas, kudu and warthog families as well as a Yellow-Billed Hornbill on every other tree that passed by. At about 4pm, we decided to call it a day and head out towards our accommodation before the sun went down. Saying goodbye to Malelane gate, we headed towards Marloth Park about 30 minutes away. Arriving just as the sun was setting we found our rental house in Oribi Avenue. A beautiful place called Eden Safari Country House. Given the grand tour by Johnson the house boy, I discovered I was sharing my room with the resident bush baby family. while they were cute at first, I soon realised I would be woken up at 5am when said bush babies returned after their adventures during the wee hours and proceeded to have a party among the thatched roofing directly above my bed which resulted in me getting hit with thatch debris and I was even splashed with pee at one point.. My advice, stay in the other bedroom.
Arriving mid morning at Crocodile Bridge Gate we parked up at Gezantfombi Dam for a little while and were welcomed by a family of elephants as well as crocodiles, giraffes, kudu’s and the all too curious Yellow-Billed Hornbill. As we left we
managed to catch the same elephant family crossing the road and causing a bit of a traffic jam! A little further along the H4-2 towards Lower Sabie there was a huge herd of elephants splashing and playing in the Sabie River. It was definitely a day for the ellies but we were on the hunt for leopards and lions! Thanks to the fantastic venture known as “Latest Sightings – Kruger” created by a young man called Nadav Ossendryver we were able to achieve our mission by using their Facebook and Twitter pages! Finding both a leopard asleep in a tree as well as a pride of lions within roughly five kilometers of each other was amazing albeit a little chaotic with the amount of cars and those people who hog the view a little too long. The thing with such big sightings like that, especially on a main road is that you really can’t/shouldn’t sit for a long period of time because even if you were there first, it’s common courtesy to let other people get a view of the animal particularly for those tourists from overseas who have never seen such an animal in the wild before. Get your photos and move on, its only right. If the animal is off the beaten track and there are only a few cars around, by all means stay as long as you like just don’t block the road!
Popping into Lower Sabie for a quick coffee at Mugg&Bean, a browse around their extensive gift shop and enjoying the gorgeous view over the Sabie River we decided that after the excitement of the big cats we would make our way back down towards Crocodile Bridge and ended up spotting buffaloes and rhinos along the way completing our Big 5 sightings for the day!
We enjoyed a gorgeous African sunset on the 20 minute drive back to Marloth Park while looking forward to meeting the wonderful people at Jabula Lodge who were able to accommodate us for dinner that night. A great selection of meals on the menu at fantastic prices, I’d highly recommend their steaks! Just give Dawn a call and make a booking!
Ending the evening on Eden Safari Country House’s balcony watching the bush babies leaping between trees, listening to giraffes crunching leaves in front of our house and a male lion’s chilling roar from the nearby Lionspruit Reserve within Marloth as well as marveling at the incredible night sky scattered with millions of stars. A perfect night in the African bush.
We started the day at one of the viewpoints in Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River and into Kruger Park. A few waterbuck, hippos and commorants were about but nothing too exciting! Although we’d booked a night drive for Kruger that evening, we decided to head into the park for a few hours and were greeted by a huge male rhino about two minutes in! Taking the Nhlowa dirt road we stumbled upon a rather enormous male elephant in musth. Never hang around too long or too close to an elephant in musth, they are highly aggressive and their testosterone levels are at an all time high! You’ll easily spot an elephant in musth by the secretion coming from their temporal ducts as well as the smell and dripping of urine on their back legs. They have been known to kill rhinos, humans and other elephants when in this state of mind so steer clear!
Nhlowa Road turned out to be a great road to see some bird life including a Pearl Spotted Owl perched on a dead tree in the middle of the day. Something I learned when visiting the Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre was that the myth that owls are only nocturnal, is just that, a myth. About 60% of owls are nocturnal, the rest are diurnal (active during the day) or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). You can actually tell the difference between them by looking at the colour of their eyes. If they have black eyes they’re nocturnal, if they have yellow eyes they’re diurnal and if they have orange eyes they are a crepuscular species. So as they say on the popular Discovery channel show “Myth Busters”, this myth is BUSTED!
Our night drive commenced at 8pm with the ranger taking us along the “no entry” roads that you see during the day and wonder where they lead to. Night drives are a great way to see the bush in a different light, so to speak. You’ll see some awesome nocturnal animals like we did. Starting off with a pair of Porcupines that we followed off road trying to get a better view of them but only managing to catch a glance of their bodies and menacing quills which rattled together as the scurried in between a herd of wildebeests. A herd of elephants later and we were venturing down a dirt road, noticeably near water as the temperature had dropped to a chilly degree. An eerie silence surrounded us then suddenly it was broken by a blood curdling scream from a hyena that sent chills down my spine followed by a retched smell of intestines filling the air. A kill was nearby. We shone our torches looking for any eyes peering from the bushes. Nothing. Sitting for a little too long, listening for the slightest rustle and becoming nauseated by the smell, our ranger finally decided to move on.
Hitting the tar road we startled a giraffe who became a bit disoriented in the headlights and our ranger had to turn off the engine so our giraffe friend could find his way off the road again. Taking advantage of the darkness we tilted our heads towards the sky and were lost for words at the breathtaking sight that marveled above us.
By now most of us were turning blue with the cold and were thrilled to see a beautiful Civet as the last sighting of the night. Another quirky nocturnal animal you might just come across on a night drive in the Kruger National Park..
Know Before You Go
South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):
R66 per person, per day
R33 per child , per day
SADC Nationals (with passport):
R132 per person, per day
R66 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):
R264 per adult, per day
R132 per child, per day
|Entrance Gates Open||
|Camp Gates Open||
|All Gates Close||
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