Our afternoon game drive started brilliantly with two white rhino standing beside the road on the way out of Moholoholo. It was then on to the Paul Kruger gate into the Kruger National Park for the serious animal watching to begin. Signs of the recent floods and cyclones were evident along the rivers, which were strewn with debris. Bridge railings were bent and broken, cast aside by the power of the water and fallen trees. Baboons bounced around in amongst this debris, impala enjoyed the cleared grazing areas and a large bull elephant walked down the road rather than forge his way through the thick undergrowth. We made our way into Skukuza (a South African National Parks Camp) and set up our tents before heading out on a night drive with the Kruger rangers. Highlights of this drive included a lioness, leopard and giraffe along with some of the more active night species such as a bush baby, spotted owls and mongooses. Then it was back to camp for dinner and an early night after a great first day in the wilds of Africa.

Map of Kruger National Park, Skukuza is in the South East Section

An early morning wake up call and off the group went again for a full day on open sided game viewing vehicles, and what a day it was! Herds of elephants with babies protected by their giant mothers, a hunting party of 3 lioness, a leopard slowly strolling down the road alongside and stopping to take a close look at the enraptured faces in the vehicle. Buffalo, hippo, wildebeest, kudu, nyala and much much more filled the morning. After lunch, a pack of 17 wild dogs lay in the road sunning themselves and in no hurry to move aside to allow traffic to pass. Monkeys and baboons screeched amongst the trees and a bachelor herd of giraffe grazed through the higher branches of acacia trees. Rhino walked along riverbanks, swerving to avoid crocodiles. The rare ground hornbill was seen protecting her youngsters, nestled in the hollow of an old tree. The action was not restricted to the ground with Brown Snake Eagles, Fish Eagles and a multitude of vultures, storks and buzzards leading the way to recent kills. Kingfishers, rollers and starlings brought colour to the vivid blue cloudless sky and entertaining insects swept in from time to time to keep us all on our toes.

A couple of lazy white rhino lolling on the side of a waterhole

After such an incredible day it was a happy party that arrived at Lower Sabi for a dip in the pool and a cold beer on the riverside deck. Buffalo, elephants and hippos enjoyed the late afternoon break in the heat almost as much as we did with our ice cold beers! A classic South African braai filled hungry stomachs and glasses of wine and beers were enjoyed late into the night whilst the group tried to come back to earth from such an incredible day.

This spectacular leopard surprised us by taking a leisurely stroll past our vehicle

An early start and the long mission up to Mozambique began. The drive through Kruger to our exit gate was expected to be uneventful and the group settled in for a morning nap. Not 5 minutes into the trip the announcement came from up front. “Elephant on the left”, and then “zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and impala on the right”, “buffalo on the road”….and so it went on. And then as the most memorable of curtain falls for the grand Kruger National Park, two mighty male lions stretched out on the warm tar road and turned their bright eyes towards us. There they remained until they saw fit to slowly stand and stretch and make their way out into the African bush, leaving behind an aghast and smiling group.

This mighty male lion turns his yellow eyes on us as we leave Kruger National Park

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