Kruger National Park

A trip to South Africa can never be complete without a trip to Kruger National Park. After a much needed rest from the 2 wk drive through the Garden Route, I rented a car and set off to Kruger. I booked my stay in the reserve at the kiosk in Nelspruit’s Airport , as I was a complete novice to safaris and was booking last minute, the help was very much appreciated.

It took me about 3 hrs drive to get to Phalaborwa, and find the gate of entry. The arrival procedure was effortless, and I had arrived with enough time to get my late afternoon gaming on. It took only about 5 mins before I saw my first sighting. I was so excited, I almost wanted to jump out the car, it was an elephant. Up until that time, the elephant had been a favourite of mine.

 

Kruger National Park First Sighting

Kruger National Park
First Sighting

That first sighting was actually below a bridge, but about 1 km away, I passed a herd. Of course, I dead stop, camera out and I was clicking away, then I realised one had left the herd, and was walking directly towards the car, very focus, he was not charging, but it got me uncomfortable, and I quickly got myself away. Looking back in the mirror I saw him turn back towards the herd. Apparently, when there are babies in the group, they don’t like you getting too close. Elephants are no longer my faves, and I avoided them for the next couple of days.

Kruger National Park Crazy Elephant

Kruger National Park
Crazy Elephant

Accommodation at Kruger National Park

One question, I am constantly asked about my visit to Kruger is, ” Where did you stay?”.  I have been told that some persons opt to stay outside the park, and commute on a daily basis, as they found that to be cheaper. As I was booking a few days before my visit to the park, (not very wise to do so, most persons who visit the park usually do so months in advance), I didn’t have many options with regards to accommodation in the park. For me I didn’t consider the commute on a daily basis, as that would take more time, and you really need to be up early to get that early morning game on. Plus, I was only spending 3 nights, and wanted to maximise my time. If you are staying for a longer period, or you are a part of bigger group that may work.

Anyhow, I basically took the advise of the rep at the kiosk when I was booking. She had suggested I start at one of the further camps in the park, and make my way down, spending each night in a different camp. That way, I would get the experience of the various accommodations, and I would be able to cover more of the park, bare in mind Kruger is 7,523 sq miles, my country is 166 sq miles. In a nutshell, Kruger is huge. That advise worked out for me.

The first evening, I made sure I gave myself ample time to find the camp. The regulations of the park states what time you need to be in the camp. As it was in the Spring months, that time was 6:00pm. In other words, the gate for the camp closes at that time, and if you are not in, something will probably eat you during the night, as you are basically in the wild with the animals. The main camps are equipped with all the amenities, such as restaurants, convenient stores, gas stations and the likes.  That evening, my accommodation was a 5 person bungalow, as there were no smaller ones available on those dates. It came equipped with a full bathroom, AC units, and a full kitchen, albeit on the outside. As I was driving in, I had stopped in the camp centre, to have a mill around, I saw campers firing up the grills, or as they say in SA, having a braai. (sn. SA braai is the bomb.). The night went uneventful even though I was initially jittery. You sometimes hear sounds, it can be the animals on the outside of the fence, or sometime the smaller ones actually get into the camps, and rummage through the garbage.

Kruger National Park Camp Accommodation I

 Kruger National Park
Camp Accommodation I
Kruger National Park Inside - the roof is so beautiful
Kruger National Park
Inside – the roof is so beautiful

The next evening accommodation was certainly not for the faint-hearted. Firstly, I did not arrive in the camp very early, I had gone exploring a little too far that day, and had left myself with barely enough time to make it into camp. About 5km outside of the camp, I encountered a traffic jam, yes, in Kruger, with a little peering, I discovered a pride of lions decided that they were going to sit in the middle of the main road, and look pretty. Now, had I been close enough for viewing I probably wouldn’t have mind, as I was yet to get a good look of the lion in the park, but I was stuck a few cars behind, and now panicking as closing time was near.

Kruger National Park Lion Pride
Kruger National Park
Lion Pride

Finally, they decided to head off to start their night time hunt, and we all raced to meet closing time. It was only when I got to the main camp, that I then remembered I was not staying in a main camp that night, but in a bushveld camp, just outside the main camp. I had to actually check in at the main camp and then head over there. Needless to say, by the time I got there, I was flustered, it was dark, and I was certainly not in the mood for what greeted me. I struggled to find my tent as it was so dark and the only lightning was from tent where other persons had already checked into. I ended up on the wrong path, but was guided by the campers 2 tents away. There were no nice amenities as the previous night, the bathroom was shared and it at the other end of the camp. I decided I was only making that journey once, to shower and off to bed, hoping morning would come quickly. I am not one who usually is afraid of the dark, or being home alone etc, but this accommodation did rattle my cage a bit, I made a McGuyver security system that night, not sure what it was going to do, it certainly didn’t stop me from hearing the howls in the jungle all night.

Kruger National Park Accommodation II (taken the next morning)
Kruger National Park
Accommodation II
(taken the next morning)

You can imagine I was up bright and early the next morning, determined to be one of the first through the gate. A little wiser than the night before, I drove to the baths rather than walk that morning, and was out by the crack of dawn.

That evening, I was hoping that my accommodation was not going to be a replay of the previous night. As I was going to be once again in a main camp, I had high hopes. It was better, but still nothing like the first night.  That night accommodation was a traditional hut, I liked the uniqueness of it and the site was an extension of a main camp, so it wasn’t too bad. This camp was also home to monkeys and the steenbok, who helped themselves to any leftovers they found, and weren’t shy about making friends with humans.

Kruger National Park Accommodation III
Kruger National Park
Accommodation III
Kruger National Park Steenbok and Monkey
Kruger National Park
Steenbok and Monkey

My Kruger experience was phenomenal, and as a novice to gaming , I thought I handled it well, accommodation and all. Next time, I will be certain to book more in advance to give myself options. (yea right, I never book anything early, that’s all part of the excitement).

 

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