The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, South Africa is the largest game reserve in Africa. To put its size in perspective, it is practically the size of the whole of Wales in the UK, is about the same size as the whole of Israel and is slightly smaller than Belgium.
On day two of our visit to Mpumalanga, I dragged all the boys [my husband included] out of bed at 6.30am. Today we were going to the Kruger National Park and the younger boys were very excited about it. They were very anxious about the risk of malaria though, particularly Gregory, who is a great one for worrying about his health. I sprayed them from top to bottom with a very potent insect repellent. I think I inhaled quite a bit and this nearly resulted in my lungs being coughed right out of my body, but at least the boys would be safe from “fever ‘n ague”. I suspect it is my fault that they are so scared of contracting malaria as I had recently read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder to them. In this particular book the family becomes very ill from fever ‘n ague which we now know to be malaria. The whole family comes very close to dying.
In record time everyone was watered and fed and we were in the car on the way to the entrance gate of the park. It was a bit of a procedure to get into the park as you have to register your car and provide your driver’s licenses and cell phone numbers (both of us). I believe that this is a security measure so that they can make sure that the cars that go in come back out again timeously. There have been the odd instances of cars getting stuck in mud in the park and people needing to be rescued.
We didn’t see much game during the morning and our eyes got a bit achy from straining them trying to see movement in the thick bush. We did see a troop of baboons walking down the road. Tee hee, these four baboons made me think of me and my three sisters on a shopping expedition, but don’t tell them.
We went down to a watering hole and we were lucky enough to see some hippos as well as kudu and impala. I didn’t get any good photographs here, unfortunately. We didn’t see much else of interest during the morning which was a bit disappointing. We stopped at Skukuza rest camp for lunch. We had a scrumptious meal at The Cattle Baron. The three males all had fillet steaks and chips and I had prawns and chips. I absolutely love prawns which is rather unfortunate as they are on the orange list for being at risk [but not endangered, which is the red list]. Gregory always tells me off when I order prawns but they are so delectable. I decided to order them anyway that day and I was not disappointed. I huge pile of medium sized prawns arrived, cooked to perfection.
After lunch, we set off again in the filthy dirty car in the hope that we would see a few more animals during the afternoon. We were in luck. A couple of kilometres from Skukuza we came across a simply enormous giraffe in the road. I love giraffe, they are my favourite wild animal and I was completely enthralled. The giraffe was feeding on the leaves from the trees alongside the road.
You must admit, there is something truly amazing about seeing these magnificent animals in their natural setting.
When the giraffe had wandered off and was no longer in sight, we set off again and soon came around a large herd of impala right next to the road.
These animals have beautiful soft eyes and lovely looking smooth coats. Each herd comprises of one male and all the rest are females. The other males wander around, either singularly or occasionally in pairs, until such time as the fight for leadership of the herd takes place. We were lucky enough to see a pair of young bucks play fighting with their still-growing horns.
We gradually passed the herd and carried on along the dusty road. We came across a buffalo which was very interesting. The photographs were not very good, sadly, as the buffalo was a bit too far from the road. We travelled down an embankment and crossed a dried up river. Walking slowly along, huge ears dropping down, was an elephant. Such a fascinating creature with its beautiful ivory tusks and enormous body. A little later, on our way out of the park, we came across another elephant which was also gorgeous.
Our last amazing sighting of the day was a white rhino. There were two of them together. They were to far away for me to get a good picture.
On the whole, it was a really good day. Of the big five, we saw elephant, rhino and a buffalo. We never saw either of the big cats, namely, lions or leopards. We also saw hippos, baboons, giraffes and an interesting variety of buck and birds.
It did take longer than expected to get out of the park so we only arrived back at our chalet at 6pm. Just in time for drinks on the veranda with some really lovely tourists from Texas, USA.
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series