A South African Safari: One of the Best Days of My Life
Updated: Apr 5
These last few weeks, well month, has been all about traveling. Mark and I spent over 40 hours in either an airport or in the air going from South Africa to North Carolina to (finally) Puerto Rico. While in North Carolina, after settling in, I had a bad case of writer's block. I was so excited to be reunited with my family and friends that I barely had time to sit down and put my heart into an article. This article means so much to me because it was my favorite week in South Africa (and probably my life).
Visiting the Kruger National Park is a once in lifetime experience, unless you are South African...then to you it's like going just down the road for a vacation. For me, I've dreamt about going on a safari since I was a little girl, mainly to see the Big Five and especially this big guy munching on brush for lunch above!
The Kruger National Park is 7,500 square miles, making it one of the biggest game reserves in Africa. Over 100 years old, Kruger is the oldest national park in South Africa. This park is extremely diverse, holding thousands of plant and bird species, and of course the Big Five. The Big Five refers to Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Leopard, and Buffalo. Now if you are a huge Planet Earth/Discovery Channel fan like me, driving through the park seems like you're living in one of the episodes.
We drove over 150 miles from Letaba camp to Berg-en-dal camp which means we had dozens of sightings. Instead of listing them all, I'll name my top 5:
1. Elephant: We were driving along an empty road and all of the sudden a herd of elephants were just there. You would think one of the largest mammals in the Animal Kingdom would be seen from miles away but you are soo wrong! An elephant is notorious for sneaking up on you out of the blue. Picture 1 shows just how big these massive creatures are. We saw a total of 50 elephants (an estimate) on our road trip.
2. Leopard: Known to be unseen, we were lucky enough to see a total of 3 in all. Our first sighting was quite far away but our second sighting was one for the books! A female leopard dragged her kill, an impala, up a tree for a snack. We saw her relaxing below in the shade with her belly full and the carcass hanging off a limb.
3. Rhino: Luckily enough we sighted a pair of rhino in the last twenty minutes of our trip. Due to heavy poaching, we thought we wouldn't be able to spot one. Seen in Picture 2, we completed our sighting of the big five during a sunset drive, ending with a beautiful pair of rhino grazing before night time.
4. Giraffe: These creatures are amazing and love to hang around the roads. We spotted dozens along the trip, reaching to the tops of the branches for some of the best leaves. Picture 3 turned out to be one of my favorites of the entire trip.
5. Monkeys: I loved watching the monkey troops play with their young. Picture 5 was truly a Jungle Book moment.
Other animals we saw included: hippos, wild dog, hyena, crocodile, multiple species of deer, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, ostrich, and massive vultures.