Living on the other side of the world makes it a bit challenging when it comes to keeping in touch with your friends and family.
Even though there are many ways to communicate online today, one cannot fully explain in details the life and atmosphere in Africa, and especially in the case of such a big and diverse country like South Africa.
However, the last two months have been very busy: two groups of friends came over, and each time we spent about a week on safari in Kruger Park.
The second time I even got to practice my ranger skills as we mostly did self-drives and I have to say that it went much better than we expected: we managed to spot all animals from the Big Five (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo) in one day!
This was the first and only time I saw the Big Five in one day for more than two years of living in Africa!
Also, it’s also pretty amazing that my cute super low city car survived the whole experience without a single scratch! ( but driving an old pickup truck is the way to go really).
We mainly explored the area around Crocodile Bridge Gate, and this is also the area with the highest density of animals in the park. My friends got a bit confused after we saw the Big Five in their first safari ever and then it got a bit more difficult in the next few days – but each day was very different, and we had many amazing close encounters with different animals.
For a self-drive, the most popular morning safari route is Crocodile Bridge Gate to Lower Sabie – I definitely recommend it because it’s always easy to spot the animals and there is a high likelihood that you would see a whole herd of 30-40-50 elephants as you get to Sabie River, especially around noon.
The cats typically start hunting in the evening, eat until sunrise and then usually go to sleep.
Lions are relatively easy to find as many of them move in prides but leopards are really, really difficult to spot.
Elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and sometimes rhinos like to stay close to the road, and you can even see them walking on the main roads – so it’s very important that you stick to the speed limits. The picture below shows a herd of elephants crossing the road on their way for a mud bath.
Spotted hyenas are also likely to stay close to the road.
This is a very pregnant hyena sunbathing on the road. I don’t know how many puppies she’s expecting but it looks like a big litter:
Staying in a tent is another useful safari tip: there are some very basic ones, as well as really beautiful luxury tented camps, but in both cases the tents have one big advantage: they are bug-proof! Now of course I’m sure a lot of girls would appreciate that, especially since it also keeps the mosquitoes away – pretty important as there are some malaria cases in Kruger Park.
Hearing the animals walking around your tent at night is also pretty exciting , as it is seeing a bunch of monkeys fighting on the roof of the tent. Or simply waking up from the roars of a lion.
The picture below shows a warthog mom looking for her babies. They’re not in my tent lady!