Bucket List: African Safari – Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park - South Africa

It’s coming up to a year since I was in Africa with my Dad, his wife, my sister, niece and two eldest daughters.  In many ways, I can’t believe we made it happen – it began with a casual conversations that turned into action.   Going to Africa well and truly cemented my love for travel and the desire to provide my children with these types of experiences as much as within my scope.

Africa.  If I had to describe the parts I’ve seen in a few words, I would say there’s a song. There’s a hum. The earths sings.  And it cries sometimes.   There is something in Africa that I think we may have lost a little here in Australia through our culture and the pursuit of material goods, success maybe…even happiness.  And it’s that connection with the earth and moving with its song.  There’s soul in Africa and there’s something about the earth that makes you want to pick it up and hold it in your hand.  My sister was in Lesotho in 2008, and shared some of her experience with the country here

We spend most of our time in a small mountainous country called Lesotho; if you’re interested, you can read about what led me there here: Africa – The Path that Led Me There. While we were in Lesotho, my daughters and I did an amazing Pony Trek. Then, before we came home again, our party went to Kruger National Park in South Africa for a Safari. Couldn’t leave Africa without a Safari!

Kruger National Park Safari

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometers (7,580 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometers (40 mi) from east to west. (Wikipedia)

There area a few ways to explore Kruger: you can do guided tours or grab a map and make your own way around in the car.  We did our own thing, although we did book an night tour one evening.

We had three days to explore and packed water and food of a morning and went on our way!  You do spend most of the time in the car, making strategic (and safe) stops at the designated areas.  We spent hours gazing over the landscape, through trees and past water ways for glimpses of animals in the wild. It was amazing! The days we spent driving in the park and at night, we stayed outside the park, close by at the Kruger View Backpackers Lodge which was has a great vibe, is comfortable and affordable (plus the food was fabulous!).  There is accommodation available inside Kruger too.

What to take

Camera

Note pad and pencils (a clipboard or folder would be idea to hold maps and guides)

Binoculars

Water & Food (there is food available at the cafes inside Kruger but it can be a long time between stops)

Sunscreen (even though you are in the car, the sun can get you)

Wipes (for cleaning hands)

Music

Plan

It’s best to do a general plan for each day using the maps and guides.  At the front gates, there is a map with spotting indicators if you’re looking for a particular animal.  There are no guarantees (that’s the beauty of it) but it can be a good place to start. You can’t just get out anywhere to pee (or you might be eaten by a lion – ha!) so strategic toilet/break stops are a must.  For us, who were staying outside Kruger, it was important that we reached the gates before closing time (we came close one day)!

What We Saw

I aim to make a book of our adventures so I was looking through some of the photos and want to share them here.  As you can see from some of the photographs I snapped below, we saw a huge variety of animals, and up close too!  The only real disappointment was not seeing a lion, but that’s all part of the beauty of animals in a wild environment.

Zebra

The Zebra was my favourite. They are stunning in all their stripped glory! LOVE

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Zebra

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Zebra

Elephant

We saw a lot of elephants. It’s rather surreal watching them meander across the road.

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Elephant

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Elephant

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Elephant

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Elephant

Giraffe

After the Zebra, the Giraffe is the next favourite of mine. I have a thing for pattern! To see them galloping along the plains was absolutely incredible! Beautiful, beautiful creatures!

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Giraffe

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Giraffe

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Giraffe

Antelope

We saw heaps of antelope, especially Impalas.  In fact, we saw so many Impalas (when we wanted to see a lion) that we made up a silly song.  I love the picture of the pretty Kudu hiding behind the shrubs.

 Impala

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Gazelle

 Bushbuck

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Bushbuck

Kudu

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Kudu

Blue Wildebeest

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Wilderbeast

Other Mammals

One of the fantastic things about a safari like this is the spontaneity: you just never know when you might spot something.  Out of the trees skulked a hyena, just like that walking past our car, then back into the bushes.

Warthog (or PUMBA!)

 

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Warthog

 White Rhino

Kruger National Park - South Africa - White Rhino

 Hippopotamus

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Hippo

 African Buffalo

Kruger National Park - South Africa - African Buffalo

Hyena

Kruger Nationa Park - South Africa - Safari - Hyena

 Monkeys

Ah the monkeys! We came across a troop of Vervet Monkeys and pulled over to watch them for a while. They appeared to be playful and energetic.  The baboons were flat out cheeky!

 Vervet Monkey

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Vervet Monkey

Baboon

Kruger National Park - South Africa - baboon

 Birdlife

Lion King!  It’s Zazu! At a rest stop, the girls were able to get up close to a Yellow-billed Hornbill. 

l Park - South Africa - Yellowbilled Hornbill

Yellow-billed Hornbill

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Yellowbilled Hornbill

Glossy Starling

Kruger National Park - South Africa -   Glossy Starling

Cape White-Eye

Kruger Natinoal Park - South Africa -   cape white-eye bird

Blue Waxbill

Kruger National Park - South Africa -   blue waxbill

Red-Bill Hornbill

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Red-bill Hornbill

Bird of Prey (couldn’t tell but it was huge!)

 Kruger National Park - South Africa - bird of prey

Cheetah & Leopard

We saw a Leopard in a tree across a river using binoculars. It was well camouflaged in a tree. And then, on the last day, as we were heading out, we spotted a coalition of cheetahs which was exciting. (Yes, I did look up the animal group names – ha!).

Can you spot the Cheetahs on the dirt mound?

Kruger National Park - South Africa - Cheetah

Africa was an incredible experience and I was glad to share it with my daughters. I leave you with this tree I spotted with a heart branch center. Africa: until next time our paths cross.

Love heart tree - Kruger National Park - South Africa

 Is an African Safari on your Family Bucket List?

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Comments

  1. Annette Higgins says

    I have been to Africa in about 2007 including Kruger National Park and its my favourite part of the world. I just love the animals. We have photos of elephants and a lion in our house. Love to travel back there again.

  2. says

    Wow awesome shots Kell! I’ve been fascinated by hippos since I was a kid. Africa is definitely on my bucket list…I have a beautiful djembe drum from Senegal, and I always get comments about when I play it. It would be wonderful to do some drumming with a traditional group somewhere on that continent at some point, and go on a safari :)

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