Experiencing safari activities in Kruger National Park on The South of Africa Tour.
Kruger is one of the most popular safari destinations and with good reason. This park started in 1898 hold a huge variety of animals including the highly sought after Big Five. Having recently visited the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania and Maasai Mara in Kenya, I was curious to compare this safari experience.
After Cape Town, I joined our group in the park for a couple of days of safari with a flight to Nelspruit via Johannesburg. From the airport it was easy to rent a car and drive directly into the park and to the campsite. No SUV needed (though it would be preferable with the roads and elevated height for better viewing).
Here were some of the highlights.
We stayed in a riverside bungalow at Skukuza. The accommodations were surprisingly comfortable and well equipped with a bathroom, television, air-conditioning and room service. One of the largest camps in the park, it also offers many activities, aa full service restaurant with breakfast buffet and even shops.
The popular night safari was our first activity which started shortly after we checked in. For this activity, participants load up into a safari bus and roam the roads which are off limits to the public at night. This tour leaves after sunset and provides an opportunity to see some of the nocturnal creatures as well as spotlight on some very sleepy animals. We had a few sightings, but as with all drives the experience is hit or miss depending on your luck.
The evening of our second night, we partook in a private Bush Braai which is a dinner in the bush after an evening drive. This was a fun experience because it combines an evening drive which is possibly one of the best times to go out and ends with a fire lit dinner with a group of chefs barbecuing fresh game meat among other dishes. As you dine, you can listen to the night activity of the nearby animals.
Our last activity was a morning walk with a couple of armed rangers. This excursion has an early start and from the camp you drive to a randomly selected area where you disembark and set off single file into the wild. The rangers both have high caliber rifles only used in emergencies. This was exciting possibly due to the potential danger of being completely exposed to wild animals. Unfortunately besides some birds and small critters, we did not see any large game. We did however track their footprints and learned about the different habits of the animals from the knowledgeable guides.
Self Drive Safari
The start and end of our Kruger experience was a self drive through the park. This is necessary to arrive at the camp in the park, but also extremely fun. Being in control of your own vehicle allows you to stop and spend as much time as you require at each sighting. You can move at your own pace. The one disadvantage is not knowing exactly where the animals are or how to locate them. Guides will know the popular resting places and habits of animals to have a better chance of spotting them out. But even without a guide, you will for sure see plenty of animals, especially if you use the handy map of recent sightings located at the camp office.
Kruger is a great park and a perfect addition to a South African tour. In comparison to the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, the park is smaller, more condensed with animals, and easy to reach and tour without a guide. But with its convenience, comes a lack of feeling completely isolated in the wild and away from any civilization.
What was your favorite Kruger experience?