On July 18, we arrived at Kruger National Park, which is a stop we've been looking forward to since we started planning the trip, over a year ago. It is a protected game viewing park, roughly the size of Massachusetts. I cannot tell you of all of our adventures in the park, and, even if I tried to share everything in any combination of words and pictures, there is no way I could adequately capture the awesomeness of this place. Driving through Kruger is like driving through a dream: It is a fantastical place, where the landscape is continually changing, and you never know what kind of strange and exotic creature you will encounter next. People who visit talk about seeing or trying to see "The Big Five," which includes elephants, water buffaloes, rhinoceroses, lions, and leopards. Within four hours of entering the park, we had checked three of those--elephant, leopard and water buffalo--off our list. Within 48 hours, we had seen them all. And, by the time we left, on July 23, we had seen them all several times over, which seems to be a pretty rare feat, even for seasoned visitors, so we felt extremely fortunate. But, besides that, we also got to see a wide variety of other African animals and birds, and we absolutely had the best time. We stayed at three different thatch-roofed, self-catering cabins, at camps inside the park, over the course of five nights, and saw approximately two thirds of the entire park, working our way from north to south. Camp gates open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m., so we were up before dawn every morning and didn't get back until the sun was going down. And, we planned our routes to try to maximize the area we could cover. They were full days, but they were fantastic. It doesn't matter how many giraffes or elephants or zebras you've seen, every time it's the best kind of surprise. There is just something truly special and almost magical about observing wild animals in their natural habitats, with as little interference from humans as possible. It is one of the most amazing places I have ever been! Unfortunately, I can't share all of my pictures, because there are hundreds (maybe thousands!). But, I have picked out a few of the highlights to hopefully give you an idea of what makes Kruger the kind of amazing place that gets into a person's soul.
|The Big Five|
Mopani Rest Camp, Talamati Bush Camp, Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
African fish eagle, Yellow-fronted canary, Tawny Eagle,
Secretarybird, Lilac-breasted roller, Black-bellied Bustard,
Crested Barbet, Natal Fancolin, Collared Sunbird
Baboon (or "Baboom," as Clay calls them), Hippo
Rhino, Hyena, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Bush Buck
Euphorbia Cactus, Impala Lily,
Baobab Tree, Sausage Tree,
Coral Tree, Lebombo Aloe
|Unique Traffic Problems|
Wildebeests, Hyena, Impala, Giraffes,
Rhino, Baboons, Zebra, Warthogs,
Elephants, Water Buck, Water Buffaloes, Lion
|This is our only family picture from inside the park, |
taken while we were having lunch at the Lower Sabie Camp.
If you look closely, you can see hippos between Jeff and Weston.
We had so much fun listening to their hearty "laugh" while we dined.
*You can click on each collage for a larger view of the pictures.