Kruger National Park. WOW!!!!
Trip Start Nov 21, 2007
16Trip End Ongoing
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After two days in Jo'burg, doing, err, nothing, we flew into Nelspruit near Kruger National Park, rented a jeep so we could be high off the ground to spot stuff, and drove to our first Campground, Skukuza.
Entering the park, about 50m inside the gate, I thought I saw something and pulled to the side of the road. "Its a bloody Leopard" I said, after all my wishes of seeing one (they are shy and the hardest of all the cats to spot) I couldnt believe I had seen one within 2 mins of being in the park. Unfortunately, when I looked thru the binoculars it was a rock (we would later spot a lot of leopard rocks on the trip) but to the dozens of cars that stopped to watch I saved face and swore blind there was a leopard in there, before sneaking back on the road!
On the road that evening we spotted Impala (we would later see we reckon all 130000 of them) but the first one was pretty cool!
And when we came across a load of stopped cars Grainne nearly empty her bladder in excitement- thru some dense bush was a gorgeous lioness. It was getting late and that stage so we couldnt really explore, so we checked in to our Campground and got fairly excited bout all the cool stuff we might see tmw.
Day 1: Wow, what a day!!
We got on the road to look for some wildlife about 7am (which was late - we would later start at 4.30am!).
10 minutes in we detoured onto a dirt road and spotted something in the distance on the side of the road. We went as slow as we could so not to disturb them - a mother hyena and two tiny cubs feeding from her!! I was the most amazing experience, we were both very humbled and grateful to the mother for letting us stop right beside them and just watch the cubs play. For something that seems so scary on television, it would become my fave animal in the park - Gra always loved the lions the best though, more about them soon!
After 10 mins or so with the Hyenas we got back on the road, and came across the oddest and funniest chaps of the day, two giddy warthogs! They were happy out running down the road, so we just had to follow slowly, it was like they accepted us into their pack (maybe they saw the size of the jeep and were hoping we would take on those damn lions for them - hey meet out friend they would say!).
After that, we had a close encounter (Gra would say a bit too close!) with a herd of elephants, one big fella mock charging us back down the road. Needless to say i was happy to reverse!!
Gra had her dream for this trip come true, and it wasnt even lunch time yet!
A pride of lions, within touching distance (literally, they all walked right by the car door as i prayed the window would come up in time!!
They were very obliging to walk along the road for a bit and rest on the roadside posing for some pictures - show offs! They were pretty amazing- its hard to describe the difference seeing them in the wild without a fence or cage, very surreal experience.
Excuse the language on the video (sorry!) but bloody hell they were close!
Next day was as cool, on the morning drive we spotted a leopard - not the rock variety this time - the real thing!! Very gracious, kind enough to walk right the truck and have a nose at us before disappearing into the bush.
She was beautiful, very graceful and everyone on the tour jeep was in amazed. Unfortunately I didnt get the greatest shot of her, I was too busy just staring! But we were lucky to be at the back seat of the jeep with a birdseye view of where she was,
After that, we went off on our own and spotted our first live kill ( it would be our only one tho!) Not quite the kill we bloodthirstys were after, but the croc jumping out of the water to take out a heron was pretty impressive!
That night as we were settling for an early night (before the 430 start!) we heard this weird reverberating noise. Realising it was a lions roar, we ran outside with our torch to see if we could track him down (from inside the fence of course). It got so loud though (and bonechilling) that Grainne was sure it must be inside the fence, and damn did she clench my arm. Of course its not in the fence I told her, inside thinking hold god if it is we are easy pickings! It was supposedly 2km away enjoying its kill, but the noise was so deep it felt like it was beside us in the dark. Definitely the most scary noise in the world!!
Ok, we could go on and on with all the animals we saw but you get the idea, 6 days of seeing some cool stuff up close and personal - we will let the rest of the pictures do the talking!!
Next stop Cape Town, talk soon, C&G
Where I stayed