Safari Girls on the Go!

Trip Start Aug 15, 2011
Trip End Sep 02, 2011

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This update finds our adventure girls headed even deeper into the African bush -- this time at Kruger National Park in northern South Africa.  Kruger is simply phenomenal -- one of the biggest and best safari parks in all of Africa.  It is massive -- about the size of Wales or Israel -- and stretches from Swaziland up to the Mozambique border.  The vast expanses of rolling bushland and acacia trees along with its five rivers are the perfect habitat for its many inhabitants, both of the botanical and animal kind.  At last count, Kruger had 300 species of trees, 114 species of reptile, 507 species of bird and 147 species of mammal,  While the wildlife varies depending on the season, at any given time there are around 8000 elephants, 1500 lions, 1900 white rhinos, 220 black rhinos, 15000 Cape buffalo, 25000 types of antelope (including Impala, Kudu, Nyala and Springbok) and about 900 leopards.  Not to mention baboons, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles and hippos!  Needless to say the wildlife viewing opportunities are phenomenal and we were in the park every moment we could be between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the park was open. 

Our first day was a full day safari starting at 10:30 a.m. when we entered the southernmost gate of the park to board our safari vehicle.  Right out of the lot we had our first sighting -- a herd of elephants crossing the road!  This was a large herd of about 20 and we were within 10 feet of them as they thundered across the road with feet pounding and trunks flying.  Our vehicle shook with the force of their collective weight and it was an awesome sight to see them so close up!  About 260 animals (not counting Impala) and 7 hours later, we ended up at our lodge at the Kruger Gate of the park feeling very satisfied with our tally of animals for the day!

The Protea Kruger Gate hotel is like something out of a movie set -- it looks like the treehouse from Swiss Family Robinson the movie!  Open air structure of wood beams with thatched roofs and wood walkways from place to place with lots of trees, flowers and other plants around to make ti seem as though you are sleeping and living in a tree house!  We especially loved the animal viewing area where you could see herds of animals go by while reading a book, sipping a drink or just enjoying the beauty of it all.

Our top safari moments included spotting a leopard in a tree with a fresh kill he had made during our sunrise drive on the second day in Kruger.  While it is a bit gory, this is extremely rare to see and was like watching National Geographic happen right in front of us!  He was very high up in a tree with a full size antelope carcass which was could see him raising and lowering as he ate his breakfast.  Really quite incredible to watch although a bit graphic first thing in the morning!

We also happened upon a mother lion alongside the river which was also rare as usually the lions are not active during the day.  She came within 5 feet of our vehicle and it was incredible to see her that close up!  We also loved the multiple herds of animals who halted our jeep as they crossed the road -- giraffes, zebra, elephants, wildebeests, Cape Buffalo and baboons were all animals who came within 10 feet or less of us as groups of anywhere from 5 to 50 of them crossed the road.  It brings a whole new meaning to braking for animals!

We are becoming experts on safari protocol now and even are beginning to recognize the footprints of the animals and their dung (not that this is something to become expert in!  To give you a feel for our days during safari here is how a typical day unfolds:

5:00 a.m.    Wake up disoriented and stumble out of bed then into adventure wear

5:35 a.m.    Get much needed coffee or hot tea along with a biscuit before hopping in Jeep

6:00 a.m.    Enter park and ooh/ahh over sunrise

6:20 a.m.    Spot first animal of day with great enthusiasm (Stop!  There is an ......!)

7:00 a.m.    Try to distinguish between bushes, trees and actual animals in early morning light -- often the exclamation of look there is an elephant is really just a large bush!  Use binoculars to search for game and adjust safari hat to keep ears warm.

7:30 a.m.    No longer care about stopping for impala or other common animals, begin to dream about hot beverages and bed until a rhino or leopard is usually spotted which brings you back to reality.

7:45 a.m.    Begin to lose feeling in fingers from cold

8:00 a.m.    Wonder if camera card will hold the 18000 picture that you cannot stop yourself from taking as you encounter the umpteenth picturesque animal doing something photo worthy

8:45 a.m.    Spot herd of elephants at a water hole with baby elephants in foreground and forget about cold and number of pictures as you go crazy trying to get the perfect shot

9:45 a.m.    Head back to lodge for breakfast cold, fingers calloused from photo snapping and covered in dust from the roads, but very happy!

Having trouble uploading pictures given intermittent internet, but will try to get up as soon as possible!  In the meantime, hope you enjoyed the written image and will try again at the next stop!  Your safari loving, game tracking, photo happy travel correspondent
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Mary Ann on

Simply amazing your descriptions just bring it to life.

Sandra B on

OMG - 5:00 AM - and this is called "vacation". I am sorry, but can't the animals wait until a decent hour! I love, love, love the hourly log.

Mitsi on

Love it all! Keep the photos coming...I cannot WAIT to see the full album. The elephants casually crossing the road, was just the best!

Heidi on

Sounds so spectacular -- an object lesson in why the safari ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom doesn't really measure up. You make me want to run out an book my trip right now.

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