Month Visited: December
Special tips and warnings about this trip: A trip to South Africa may require special vaccinations, and you should discuss this with your doctor to make sure each family member has all of the needed shots for travel to this area of the world. Serious crime can be a problem in this country, and it is important to take any needed precautions to keep your family safe while you are in South Africa and to stay vigilant about your surroundings and people nearby. The rate of HIV infection is high among South Africans, and this virus can be transmitted through body fluids so care should be taken.
Description: Kruger National Park offers a wildlife and nature experience that can not be beat. Visitors can explore the incredible diversity of the landscape and the animals that are viewed and interacted with. Different areas of the park are home to various animals that call the area home, from lions and elephants to zebras and other popular species. In addition there are many historical sites and artifacts that include rock paintings created by Bushmen and archeological sites which allow the modern world to find out about the past. This national park was first started in 1898 with the goal of protecting the wildlife and plant species in the area, and visitors have the opportunity to view life on the Lowveld in a natural setting. Watch herds of elephants make their way to a favorite watering hole, or view prides of lions as they hunt or relax. Visitors will find 147 species of mammals, 507 species of birds, 49 types of fish, 114 types of reptile species, and much more to watch and enjoy.
Our Experiences: In order to get to Kruger National Park we took a light charter aircraft to the airstrip in the park, and we did this the day before we were scheduled to spend time in the park so that we would be well rested the next morning. There is no such thing as a typical safari, each experience is different and unique and you never know what animals or other interesting sights you may see. A standard schedule is followed in order to optimize the experience for visitors but there is no guarantee of seeing specific animals. Instead you are taken out onto the veld during periods when the animals are usually moving, and this can increase the chances of seeing a large number of animals on each trip. The early morning and early evening until after dark are usually the best times to go out because this is when the most animals will be on the move and more visible. During the middle of the day fewer animals are active.
We were up at 5 am and ready to go, and we met our guides for a cup of tea or coffee before heading out. We saw many animals while we were on the veld, catching a herd of impala by surprise and getting a glimpse of elephants as they moved to the watering hole. Some visitors saw lions and different species though, it is just a matter of chance. By 9:30 we were back in camp for a well needed breakfast, and it was sumptuous.
Around 11 am we went for a bush walk, accompanied by an armed tracker who was experienced in the dangers and risks in the park. We had the opportunity to see birds and insects up close, and our guide had plenty of stories to tell about the area and the inhabitants that we saw. They explained about the native plant species that we came across, describing the properties and uses for each one. Upon returning to our camp we took the chance to unwind and go for a swim to cool off.
At 1pm we had an excellent lunch, and after this we relaxed some more and enjoyed the beauty of the area until the sun began to sink in the sky. At 4pm it was time to meet up with our guides again for afternoon tea, and then it was time for another safari out on the veld. The exquisite African sunset makes the perfect backdrop for your trip out onto the veld, and the level of animal activity starts to pick up again around this time.
Our tracker stayed in the front of the vehicle, looking for animal tracks in order to determine where to go, while the ranger was driving the vehicle. We stopped around 6pm in order to have some refreshments and enjoy the view of the incredible sunset, and started searching for animals again after roughly half an hour. Once darkness fell a spotlight was used so that we could see the animals better, and this was the perfect time to spot the animals which hunt at night like lions and leopards. We were back in camp around 7:30 pm for dinner, but this can vary depending on the animals that are spotted and the level of activity you find while you are on safari. If your team comes across hunting lions or other activity that is ideal then dinner may be held off for a little while.