Kruger National Park, South Africa
Ohhhh Kruger National Park, what a place.
Both yesterday and today, I woke at 5 for a 5:30am start – climbed in the open safari vehicle and both mornings made it to the gates for opening time and was welcomed by a breathtakingly beautiful African sunrise, brilliant red/orange, African trees silhouetted against it, pretty similar to what my imagination had conjured (aided by films like Power of One and Lion King). That sunset is Africa, isn’t it. Magic.
Kruger is amazing and one of my travel highlights to date, I must say. I saw the big five (rhino, lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard) (and then some!). Seeing these animals in their natural environment, sleeping, eating, wandering around, interacting with each other is surreal. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for giraffes, so it was quite exciting to see a bunch of them in the wild. There was a pair who were fighting, neck on neck you might say. Their necks were entwined and you could see there was some sort of struggle taking place. There was another couple with their necks entwined, except in this case, it appeared to be affection; these guys were just standing there together watching a herd of zebras walk past, and our guide explained that these two were a male and female and it was common behavior before mating.
Speaking of interspecies mingling, there was a bunch of hippos just chilling by a waterhole and a crocodile with his jaws wide open right next to them. Apparently the croc wouldn’t even bother with the hippos because they could just chomp him in half. The most dangerous animal in Africa you ask? The hippo! Don’t know how, but they can reach speeds of 40-50km/hr out of water and even faster in water.
We also saw lions licking their chops after a decent feed and then kicking back and napping, legs in the air. Later on, on our way out of the park, there was a small traffic jam caused by a whole pride of lions who were meandering across the road. We watched as a female walked past, who was then followed by two or three little lions and then finally a male lion brought up the rear. He stopped to check out the cars for a bit, then continued on to follow his family. Knew it was a special sight when our guide was taping the whole thing!!
So yes, I felt Kruger was worth my while. I do like Taronga, but I think it will pale somewhat for me from today.