Kruger, the Big Daddy of game parks…. We spent four days in the southern part of the park. We had some fantastic sightings, but as you’d expect, also a couple of long spells where we didn’t see much at all.
Overview: 4 days, 405 km
Kruger National Park is absolutely enormous – 220 miles long and 40 miles wide, covering an area of 7523 square miles:
The most southerly part of the park is where most of the wildlife is concentrated, but it’s also where the majority of the visitors are to be found. Having said that, we haven’t found the place overcrowded at all – though I guess that all changes during the South African holiday season…..
I’ve included some notes in italics on the route we took each day, just so we can always go back and mentally retrace our steps with the aid of the Kruger map. Do feel free to just skip over the route info and get straight to the photos….
Tuesday 05 February (afternoon)
We entered the park at lunchtime via the Malelane Gate.
Route: S25 to from Malelane Gate to Crocodile Bridge.
We were amazed at how much we saw. Within ten minutes of entering the park we’d had (admittedly poor) sightings of African wild dogs and a leopard:
Before we go any further, I should point out that we did see lots and lots of other really cool stuff that afternoon. As an example, here’s a saddle-billed stork:
The big cats were always going to win the day, though, in terms of the photo highlights. Here’s our second leopard of the afternoon:
And then, a bit further down the road, a beautiful (and very big) lioness:
We spent the night at Crocodile Bridge. This one is a small camp with some accommodation and a camp site, but no restaurant. It does have a shop, where we got a map/guide book, and the camp site has a chemical disposal point (which by no means all camp sites in South Africa have). We really liked Crocodile Bridge….
Wednesday 06 February
Route: S28 north from Crocodile Bridge towards Lower Sabie, then left onto the S137, left again onto the S130, right onto the H4-2 tarred road, then left onto the S82 to Lower Sabie camp for lunch. A short loop from Lower Sabie in the afternoon – north on the H10 then the S29 back to Lower Sabie with a stop at Mlondozi.
A day of many birds….
Lilac-breasted roller and European roller:
Goliath heron (big!) and green-backed heron eating a fish:
Malachite kingfisher, pied kingfisher, and giant kingfisher (which was absolutely humungous; Mark couldn’t quite believe his eyes):
A day just isn’t complete without some ellie fun:
Overnight at Lower Sabie. We saw lots of wildlife at the Sunset dam just outside the camp. Inside the camp, there’s a very swish new-looking building containing the reception desk, shop, restaurant, and a deck overlooking the Sabie River. The camp site facilities, in contrast, were noticeably tired……
Thursday 07 February
Route: North from Lower Sabie on the S128, turning left onto the S30 towards Skukuza, left onto the tarred H12 then left again onto the tarred H4-1 back towards Lower Sabie. Right onto the S21 to Renosterkoppies (lions at the junction!). North a short distance on the S114 then left onto the S22 for lunch at the memorial. Continuing on to complete the loop back to Renosterkoppies then up the S114 and tarred H1-1 to Skukuza camp.
Another great day of wildlife viewing! African fish eagles:
Martial eagle with water monitor:
A plague of locusts?!?
Things went a bit quiet at lunchtime, so we expected to be in camp slightly earlier than usual and thought we might book a night drive that evening. It didn’t happen…. Lions intervened. This is a snoozing lion, honestly, not a bloke in a comedy lion suit:
Eventually the lion woke up:
There were three male lions in the same grassy area near a water hole. It was interesting to see what happened when a large elephant marched straight towards them with a sense of purpose about her (she was leading a small group of elephants to the water hole) – the lions immediately leapt up and swiftly moved away together:
We spent most of the afternoon watching the lions… We only left when we needed to in order to get to our next camp in good time for the gates closing at 6.30pm. Our wildlife sightings weren’t quite finished for the day though….
Overnight at Skukuza. Skukuza is the biggest camp in Kruger. Some people do say it’s just too busy there, but at this time of year, the camp site was pretty much deserted. We never did make it to look at the camp shop, restaurant etc – they were quite a way away beyond a range of other accommodation, and we had shower, cooking, laundry etc to keep us busy…..
Friday 08 February
Route: South from Skukuza on the H1-1 then S114. Left onto the H5, right onto the S102 past Mpondo, then right onto the S26. Left onto the S114 again, right onto the H2-2 then right onto the tarred H3 and Afsaal Trader’s Rest for lunch. Then the H2-2 to Pretoriuskop.
Friday was a very quiet day for us sightings-wise…. We saw all the usual stuff – zebra, impala, wildebeest, a few elephants etc, but not much out of the ordinary….
A brown snake eagle:
When there’s not much else going on, you find yourself photographing the insects:
We made it to our next camp in time to book onto the night drive (you can’t drive round the park yourself after 6.30pm when all the gates close). Again, we saw the usual things – some owls, elephants, impala, wildebeest, and an absolutely huge herd of buffalo:
Overnight Pretoriuskop. The camp here was fine; it didn’t have any particular character but it did the job….
Saturday 09 February (morning)
Route: S10 from Pretoriuskop, then the S7, right onto the S3, and left onto the tarred S1 to Phabeni Gate
Another day of slim pickings! I even started taking photos of impala (which are everywhere):
From here, we’re leaving the park for a couple of days to have a look at the Panorama Route, after which we’ll be reentering the park a bit further north.