I’m sitting watching hippos sparring in the Crocodile river overlooking the Kruger National Park and reminiscing about the past four days in ‘the best place on earth’…
Ticking off the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant) sightings is a mere spinoff of much greater delights that these past four days have yielded as I continued to be awed by the wonder and natural beauty of this immense and wild savannah bushveld ….
It’s also the beauty of the trees, bushes, different grasses and rock formations, the changing landscapes and breathtaking views, the smallest creatures like the dwarf mongoose to the blue tailed skink to the cute dung beetle, not to mention the myriad of colorful birds – I saw 68 different varieties in 4 days – (not to mention a territorial aerial fight between two Black-shouldered Kites) that make a trip to the KNP unforgettable.
Adventure is also on offer – we witnessed lions mating every 15 minutes a stone’s throw from our vehicle, two rhinos fighting with a small baby rhino caught in the middle, we were chased off a bridge full of drinking ellies by a charging belligerent and loudly trumpeting elephant, got between a group of cross ellies trying to break up fighting male impala (it was rutting season) and stood a mere five metres from a chomping rhino (with a thin fence between us), all in a few days. Not to mention following two great male lions and a stalking leopard along the open road at night in an open vehicle!
I love the visceral sounds and fresh smells of the park – the earthy smell of the potato bush late in the afternoon to the dawn bird chorus in the morning. The tranquility of the bush is like a magnet to my soul and draws me to this place over and over to enjoy Mother Natures’s rich bounty.
Spectacular sunsets framed hot clear days spent with my ‘bush eyes’ on, spotting game as we ambled slowly down dirt road detours and main roads from one camp to the next. I stayed at Satara, Skakuza and Berg en Dal and was surprised at how nice and well equipped they were, each camp with its resident wildlife wandering through the camp unfazed by human visitors.
Some highlights include watching maternal baboons protecting their playful babies from the vehicles on the road, watching baby ellies mock charge us, seeing baby hippos, lion cubs, baby rhino, cute baby impala and zebra and giraffe.
I love the heart shaped noses of female water buck, the glossy coats of impala, the giant ears of kudu, the yellow socks of nyala, the long eyelashes of giraffe, the boss horn of male buffalo and the agile trunks of elephants, as well as the startlingly vibrant colours of a lilac breasted roller perched high on dead tree branches.
Mostly I love the stories of bush and animal folklore, the tidbits of information about rhino midden, sexing giraffe by their horns, impala rutting season and their large harems, hippos taking a dump as a mating ritual and vultures defecating on their legs as sunscreen ! All of this and so much more keep me coming back to this addictive haven of joy and peace that rejuvenates my soul – known as the best place on earth.