Monday, April 2, 2012

A Promise Realized - Our South African Safari

Zebras were the first African mammal
we saw upon entering the park.
It was very exciting!!  
About 3 years ago we let Chloe in on our plan of taking a trip around the world. Being 7 or 8 at the time, she had very little concept of what that really meant. Somehow though, she had heard of the idea of going on a safari in Africa. When asked if there was anything she'd really like to do on our year away that is what she chose. So Africa was put on the route!
I loved the giraffes. 
Besides having a general route, saving money and booking a couple of flights to get us on our way, we did not book much for this trip before we left. We wanted to be flexible, make plans according to what we heard from other travelers or read on blogs or travel forums. It's turned out pretty well for us so far. We generally plan the next country about a month or sometimes 2 months in advance. Once India was planned we really started thinking about how we were going to arrange this long standing promise of a safari in Africa.
lilac breasted roller
Our first stop was the Internet where we looked into 7-9 day safari's in tanzania or Kenya. They looked amazing but we felt that it was more than our budget could handle.

Then we met a guy in Bangkok who had done a 60 day overland safari in various countries in Africa and loved it. We looked into it and although some looked intriguing, we weren't sure if we'd really enjoy 21 or more days in a big truck with 18-20 other people driving from place to place and not having the freedom to stop or take a left just because we felt like it. We met 2 women at coffee bay who were on a 9 month overland safari and were really enjoying it (although when we met them they were on a short hiatus from the group and were enjoying that too- 9 months, 24/7 is a long time to spend with the same group of people! Oops- does that count as my outside voice if it's written?) If I were on my own I would likely have signed up for an overland safari but it just didn't feel right for the 3 of us.

Impalas were everywhere!! 
Finally we started looking a little more into Kruger park, got some advice from a friend (thanks again Karen) and realized that we could rent a car, enjoy a scenic drive from Cape Town to Kruger and do a "self-drive" safari in the Park. Check out Paul's post to find out more about the drive between Cape Town and Drakensburg but read on to find out about our time in Kruger National Park.
Hippos kill the most number of people in Africa, mostly in
rural area where people are near the river collecting wood,
fishing etc.  Don't get between a hippo and the water!!
We LOVED it! It's a huge park (20 000 square kilometres) that was formally established in 1926 when the Swingitsi Game Reserve(1903) and the Sabi Game Reserve (the original park opened in 1898 by Paul Kruger) were amalgamated. There are now 11gates through which to enter, 12 main rest camps to sleep at and several other bush camps and lodges spread throughout the park.
This is not the hyena that Chloe referred to in her post.
He was moving much too fast to capture in a photo.
Our adventure started in the south at Malelane Gate. That first day we drove up to Skukuza camp where we spent 2 nights in a safari tent. We drove south to Lower Sabie, north through Satara and then spent the next 2 nights in a hut at Olifants. The last night was spent at Letaba with a drive as far north as Mopani. We recorded all of the animals we saw each and every day. Our final count has not been tabulated yet (Chloe's homework), but following is a brief overview of our first morning.
Malelane Gate
The first morning we left Skukuza in the dark, having woken up at 5:00am to be amongst the first out of the gate (we were the 3rd car). By 8:30 am we had seen 1 leopard, 1 hyena, 6 elephants, 3 lions, 6 white rhinos, 2 giraffes, 8 zebras, 3 buffalo, 9 blue wildebeest, 7 warthogs, about 200 impala, 5 vervet monkeys, 22 hippos, 5 crocodiles and 12 chacma baboons plus a variety of birds. It was amazing!!!
Chloe posting our leopard siting on the board.
Pressure is now off! We all enjoyed an amazing 5 day safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa. More adventures still to come!


  1. I am going to be getting all kinds of advise from you about Uganda , Zambia. , India, and central and south America... Not to worry ! So glad you are enjoying some of our favorite haunts and what a fantastic self drive safari you have had-lucky! If you are worried about things happening in threes to Paul, you can only hope he has a minor mishap before July 12! Safe travels to all of you.

  2. It's amazing how many animals you saw in such a short period of time. I feel a little out done since all I saw today was a woodpecker!