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Elephants, Lions, Giraffes, and more

Kruger National Park is all about the animals.  Lots of them!  The park is 1½ times the size of Vermont and we seldom went more than 15 minutes without seeing something, usually impala or an elephant but we certainly saw a lot more than that. 

 

Staying within some of the campgrounds gave us access to game drives in large open-air vehicles, the advantages being you were guided by rangers who knew where animals might hang out and you were above the cars, so it was easier to see over the brush and tall grasses.  We went before sunrise, just before sunset and even at 8pm.  

Our first morning leaving the gate we were greeted by a crash of 3 rhinos literally crashing through the bush to avoid the light and the noise of the truck.  Sunrise brought one of those spectacular orange-red African skies.  Until that morning, I thought those colors in photos couldn’t be real! On a night drive, our guide pointed out 3 little lion cubs hiding in the bush.  Mom had left them there hidden and protected while she went off to hunt.  Mark dropped a pin on google maps and we went back the next morning to see if they were still there.  Sure enough! 

 

On a guided walk with 5 others and 2 armed rangers, we set off for 3 hours to see what we could find.  We were very lucky to find ourselves in the middle of a herd of elephants.  Very careful to keep our distance, we could see one occasionally and hear them breaking branches for breakfast and calling to others.

It is very true ‘the more you look, the more you will see’.  We spent many hours driving slowly through the park on paved as well as dirt roads.  We were rewarded many times over.  At one point, we followed 3 lionesses and 8 cubs down the road for about 20 minutes.  They were meandering and we had the front row seat. Elephants and giraffes would pause traffic by crossing or just stopping in the road.  It’s not an easy thing to pass an elephant!

 

Another time we were nearly run into by a few kudu that crashed through the bush in a hurry to get somewhere.  We went to a bird blind near sunset one evening expecting to see a variety of birds but they had already gone to roost.  Instead, we were serenaded by 18 hippos bobbing up and down, spouting and snorting as the light faded – a hungry hippo chorus, no doubt waiting until dark to forage in the grass.