Driving around a park full of very wild animals in a land rover with no sides or roof may sound a little risky but our three days there were the most thrilling I have ever had. The animals were totally unfazed no matter how close we got to them. And we got very close! We saw the Big 5 at least twice: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, plus a cheetah that was positively comatose in its distain for the tourists gawping from 30 feet away. A real find!
Driving in the African bush
A wild drive! Our driver guide was a fantastic bush navigator. For the big cats they are allowed to drive off road so off he went into the scrubby hollows and riverbeds to actually follow a hunting leopard stalking an antelope. The leopard eventually gave up but what an experience.
One of the most amusing was the sight of three hyenas dozing under a tree containing a leopard kill in the upper branches, waiting for the big cat the return and feed so that they could scavenge the falling leftovers! We were 20 feet away in our tiered elevated seats, with the perfect view. We spent a lot of time off-road, visiting the animals’ favourite haunts and following the instructions of other guides who were always finding something interesting to see.
Animals in the Kruger
There were animals galore. We found a wonderful pride of six lionesses, resting together in a leafy glade, affectionately pawing and licking one another in what appeared to be a typical after dinner family chill. They were enormous, with rippling muscles and lustrous coats. All the animals looked really healthy and the skins of a large herd of buffalo close by glistened in the sunshine.
We parked next to amazing, peaceful animals all day: 20 feet from a giant rhino, 20 metres from a troop of elephants plodding past with their young, 50 metres from groups of beautiful antelopes. There is no hunting here and the wildlife knows no fear of humans and their large green vehicles.
The driver guide was assisted by his Spotter. He rode precariously on an open chair fitted over the nearside front mudguard, totally open to the wild world around us. His eyesight and perception were extraordinary. Time and again he stopped or directed us to wildlife that we did not even know was there.
The perfect end to a perfect day...We had some long days because we had to rise early to catch the action before the heat drove everything to cover and we went home for breakfast. There were up to four excursions a day but it was worth the effort just to recall the day when we parked in the evening for our sundowners. We relaxed and chatted, awestruck at the African sunsets, before driving back in the dark, spotting the nightlife.
Each day concluded with dinner in the open air at the lodge with our guide for company. We chatted about the day’s adventures and plumbed his vast knowledge and experience. He was a lovely guy and a native of the area who had been guiding for most of his life, so we were in very good hands. He never went anywhere without his rifle and saw us individually back to our rooms at bedtime.
For exciting safaris and example itineraries visit our South Africa – Kruger Safaris section. Also see When to go to Kruger National Park for advice on the best months to visit.
If you’d rather pick up the phone and talk with one of our South Africa safari specialists, please do ring us on 01582 766122 during office hours or use our contact form. We’d love to hear from you.