Kruger National Park - is approximately 500 km in length (length of Vancouver island) and its area is the size if Israel or Wales. The north end of the park is 94km from Mozambique The Kruger National Park is undoubtedly one of the world's greatest game parks. It has been praised for its endeavors in nature conservation, professional management of wildlife and safeguarding of African cultural heritage. Over the last few years, fences that separated the park from neighboring reserves have been removed allowing the wildlife greater access to natural resources as well as increasing the game viewing opportunities for tourists. The park boosts of approximately 147 mammal species, more than 507 bird species, 114 reptile species, over 49 fish species, 34 amphibian species, 227 butterfly species and 336 tree species.
Kruger National Park is about 5 hours north of Johannesburg and our accommodation was another hour inside the park. My safari companions are Greg (tour guide and driver), Mag (woman I met in Ireland), Jenny (Marianne's sister), Graham, Al and Laz (Greg, Jenny, Graham, Al and Laz are all from Australia - all but Laz work for qantas). We had a comfortable journey in an 8 passenger van stopping lots for road work along the way. Pollution does not seem to be of any concern here as it bellows out from the numerous factories and sits on the morning haze, the pollution smell is quite prevalent.
Lots of oranges, sugar cane and pineapples grown in the rich red soil - not sure how the pollution affects the farming.
Our accommodation was in the Skukuza camp (there are 14 different camps located throughout the park) -Skukuza (meaning he who sweeps things clean) is the biggest camp and located on the Sabie River. Our accommodation was one building with a large kitchen, eating area, loft and bathroom. Then off to the the side another building that contained 4 bedroom units each with their own bathroom. There was an area for outside dining and a fire pit for barbecuing overlooking the Sabie River - with no wind everything is so still. Over the six days this was a great place to relax with a beer, wine or cider and enjoy the magnificent sunsets or listen to the hippos or spot a water buffalo. Not to mention the fabulous barbecues and jovial conversation - most of which cannot be repeated but needless to say it was a week long adventure full of laughs with a great group of people who got along well.
Train bridge use to be the railway system that would bring people from Johannesburg to Kruger - sad but it is no longer in use.
The park area opens each day at 6:30am and you must be back in your camp area by 5:30pm (times vary depending on the month of the year). The first few mornings we were up by 5:45 am and after a light breakfast out of the camp by 6:30 am. We would either stop for a late breakfast or lunch unless we were close to our camp where we could go back and take a couple hour break in mid day and then off again for animal spotting until 5:30pm. The terrain is woodland in parts of the park and savannah in other parts. There are hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of roads all over the park. Some paved, some not but you are constantly on the lookout of animal sightings - some animals are easier to sight than others and after a day on safari your eyes are quite tired.
Outside eating area
Not only are there animal sightings but there is also some breathtaking scenery in the park - like looking at a National Geographic Magazine.
Next blog there will be lots of animal shots - I was amazed how close we were able to get to the animals and my new canon 20x zoom camera was very helpful.