On Saturday morning we departed Cape town on “Mango Air”. The small orange plane took us to Johannesburg which is the capital of South Africa. Once settled in our futuristic hotel, we headed to an area called Mandela’s Square. This was a large, high end shopping mall attached to a court yard lined with restaurants. The court yard has a HUGE bronze statue of Nelson Mandela which is a popular place for photo opportunities.
Our evening was very chill. We were tired from the travel, and wanted to be rested for our journey to Kruger National Park in the morning. The night was spent sitting on the deck of the hotel and sipping drinks as talked about our experiences so far.
In the morning we packed up the van and headed north towards Kruger National Park. On the drive north the scenery began to change from the city views of Jo’Burg, to country side, and eventually began to look more like the terrain from Lion King.
Kruger National Park is a large area in the north of South Africa. It borders Mozambique, and is about the size of the whole of Whales. The entire park is protected. The animals that reside there are in their natural habitat and are totally wild! The park has many black top roads that visitors can drive their personal car’s through on a self led safari. Scattered through out the park are visitor camps. These camps are large enclosed areas where visitors can stay the night. The area is surrounded by a large gate and is guarded by officials with guns. It appears that these precautions are to keep us safe, but I think that it might be there to keep us in rather than keep animals out.
The camps had a gas station, a restaurant, a convenience store, and small huts where we stayed the night.
The huts were made of brick with a thatched roof. In the mornings, curious little monkeys would jump around on our roofs. We also saw warthogs in our camp, and of course many unique birds and plants.
We spent two nights in the park, and three days on safari to get from one area to the next. On the first night we took a open air jeep safari night ride. Our guide taught us how to spot certain animals by the colors their eyes shine at night. We had a couple large spot lights that we shone into the brush looking for animals. Sometime the animals are more active at night due to the weather and hunting patterns of their predators. We were able to see quite a few animals during our night ride, but as you can imagine, the photos in the dark were not so good.
The group took a vote and most of us decided to get up early and go for a early drive to look for more animals and watch the sunrise. I know I have mentioned it before, but the sun in Africa is SO BEAUTIFUL. Sunrises and sunsets just trump those in Missouri!
The impala were our most common animal, we seemed to see them everywhere. Impala are medium sized antelope. We also so other deer-like animals like the kudu, and springbok. (Fun fact, springbok means jumping goat).
We saw many elephants on our morning ride. Just like in the movies, we almost always saw them in groups, and when they moved, they would walk in a single file line.
After our early morning ride, we headed back to camp to eat breakfast, and grab our gear and the rest of the group so we could head off towards the next camp. Walking back from breakfast, Gabby and I came across a cute little monkey, we stopped to take a few pictures. I looked up from my screen, and realized that we were getting surrounded by a ton curious little monkeys. I felt like Jane in the scene in Tarzan, when we drew the picture of the cute little money, the ended up being surrounded and chased down by a ton of vicious monkeys. And “Daddy, they took my boot!”.
We didn’t get chased, but they sure were very curious, as they followed us back to our hut. It was cool to see them swinging in the trees above our heads, and landing on our roof.
Stay tuned for the best of Kruger Park still to come!