Our drive to Kruger was lovely, very different from the garden route, but as good as....
It was a fairly long 4 hour drive because we did get confused between GPS and Google Maps and finally landed up at the wrong entrance to the park. We were then redirected through another path within the park, and this one forced us to rely on the Camp's signboards.
For about 7 minutes, we simply followed the well-driven path with our windows and doors locked. We saw a lot of impalas, ostriches but we did not see any sign board, and I was starting to get worried. And when I asked my husband, what we would do if we saw a lone male elephant on the road right in front of us, he said, let's find out, look who's there up ahead..... Scary but beautiful... Our first view of Kruger.
Thankfully we saw the jeep from our camp on the other side of the elephant, and we knew we were on the right track. We were checked-in 10 minutes from then into the best one ever - Honeyguide Tented Safari Camp, and this time our older child, the 10 year old was sick. So we took the day easy, and were ready for the next morning's safari.
Kruger gave us the best setting of the lot, we were right in the middle of the park where animals roamed around freely and there was NO fence. Animals could walk up your path from and to the tent at anytime during the day. We were given clear instructions, 'Do not run, just calmly walk up to any tent next to you, and let the animal pass by'. We were talking about small herbivores, monkeys, elephants, and hold your breath, lions. We were told that a big pride of 11 lions came to drink water from the small swimming pool behind the lobby just a few hours before we had dinner. We did see some fresh paw prints too.
All our meals were with our ranger, and other guests from our jeep. The food, the service and the care taken by the staff of this lodge was far far better than all the others we had been to. We didn't miss any of the safaris over the next few days, but we did go out on a 45 minute drive to Hoedspruit, to see the doctor.We desperately wanted to see the leopard, hyena and cheetah, but we did not see any through our 4 day stay. But we saw tons of animals, and many many different birds. Our ranger was very sharp and spotted so many of them for us, and patiently gave us information about each, and also waited for us to take pictures.
Every night, after our safari and dinner, the ranger would take a bright flashlight and lead our way to our tents since the path wasn't lit and we could encouter any animal enroute. It was so exciting.
During the night and all through the day, our tents were closed and locked with the help of thick zippers and string to tie them together, because if we didn't this naughty monkey sitting just outside would have pushed through the smallest gap and entered. They were so many running up and down the roof of the tent. We heard animals, calling out, rustling of the grass just at the side of the tent all night too. We saw fresh elephant dung very close by in the morning. Only wish there was a way we could actually see them, would have been so exciting.
On the last day of the safari, our ranger told us that a lion pride had killed a buffalo a couple of days ago. Since all the buffaloes in Kruger national park have tuberculosis, they were vaccinating two lions at a time. We were taken to the spot on our way back from the evening safari, and we could see the efficient medical staff doing their jobs. The kids were so excited to see this.
There was a morning when the older kid was quite badly off and so we skipped our safari, but there was a walking safari of 45 minutes, and my husband went with our ranger who carried a gun, into the bush. He did not see any animals, but he got to see some unusual things like the hyena's poop (white because they eat only the bones), and the beginning of a water hole, and a wart hog's burrow that could well be occupied by a leopard (hence the shot from the side and not from front).
The next morning, we woke up early and after a quick shower and a good breakfast, left the camp. It was the best 3 weeks ever, completely satisfying, brilliantly ended, quite eager to go back home (unlike our usual one or two week ones). But our appetite for bush hasn't been satisfied.
We had very long drive (5 hours) to the Johannesburg airport, and a 9 hour flight back home to Dubai. We will come back Africa, we loved you!!