Let me begin by saying that there simply is no way I can share everything in this one blog post. Let me also say that the experience I had in Kruger National Park is one I will never forget. I will try to do the last five days justice, however, I am not sure that is possible.
We began the trip by flying from Cape Town to Johannesburg. There we rented a car and drove to our first rest camp. Laurie had done a lot of research on the best route and I truly believe she chose the best one. The drive was a long one, but definitely worth it.
Although I have not included any of the travel and landscape pics in the slideshow for this post, let me just say that the South African landscape is diverse, expansive, lush and overall, breathtaking. We drove through what I call "parallel forests", citrus plantations, grasslands, shanty towns (townships), and big cities.
Our flight left Cape Town at 6:00 and we finally arrived at Orpen Gate in the Kruger National Park at 17:00. Although the drive was only a 6 hour drive, as you can see, we took our own sweet time. It was imparative, however, that we make it to the gate before it closed. For obvious reasons, the gates close and open at very specific times, without exception. Luckily, we made it in time. It seemed as if Kruger sent out a welcoming committee because within less than five minutes we were greeted by a herd of impala. After being surprised by the impala, we came within ten feet of feeding elephants. We also viewed a mongoose, kudu, water buck, and eland as we drove to our tent in Tamboti rest camp. Once settled in, we were visited by a honey badger and a genet and heard the hyena crying all night. The welcome was incredible. We couldn't wait for our sunrise game drive.
Our game viewing experience was incredible within 24 hours we were able to view all of the big five - elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and buffalo. We had an excellent guide named Patrick for both our drives in Tamboti. He was very knowledgeable and shared more than just facts about the animals. He shared his culture and history with us as well. Other animals we viewed in Tamboti were blue wildebeest, hyena, zebra, giraffe, white-bearded vulture, daika, bushbok, steinbok and warthog. We were visited by the honeybadger each night and were victims of the baboon and vervet monkey thievery. Actually, those were some of my favorite moments. The vervet monkeys stole our spices and the baboons stole our bread. They didn't ransak our lodgings for these prized possessions, they simply took them right off the table while we were eating and preparing our meals. It was crazy!
We spent our last two nights at the Lower Sabie rest camp. Lower Sabie was a complete shift in accomodations and landscape. Where Tamboti had been nestled in the bush, Lower Sabie sat on the river bank. We stayed in a safari tent in Tamboti and our accomodation at Lower Sabie was a hut with more of a community feel. We had storage and all the ammenities needed to be self-sufficient. There was a restaurant and gift shop and even a swimming pool at Lower Sabie. Not only were the accomodations different so were the game drives. Although we saw many lions the rest of the drive was underwhelming. The thrill of viewing many of these animals had worn off as our time went on. We hoped to see a cheetah and many were sighted while we were there, however, we were not that lucky. The game viewing was much different than I had expected. I thought that we would spend five days looking for animals and see a lion, an elephant, a buffalo, not herds of them. It was amazing!
Like I said, I cannot begin to share even a portion of the experience in Kruger National Park and do it justice. I can simply say that without a doubt this experience is one that I will always remember.