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
Note pad and pencils (a clipboard or folder would be idea to hold maps and guides)
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)
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.
The Zebra was my favourite. They are stunning in all their stripped glory! LOVE
We saw a lot of elephants. It’s rather surreal watching them meander across the road.
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!
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.
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!)
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!
Lion King! It’s Zazu! At a rest stop, the girls were able to get up close to a Yellow-billed Hornbill.
Bird of Prey (couldn’t tell but it was huge!)
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?
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.