With my traveling companion, Phyllis, I arrived in South Africa four days ago. We flew from Zimbabwe to the town of Nelspruit, a small town outside of Kruger National Park. And our adventure continues.
Thabo picked us up at the small and nice airport in the early evening hours. He drove us the half hour drive to our lodging, Zebrina Guest House. Our first impression of this guest house was shoot, we should have stayed longer.
Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga, lies in the fertile valley of the Crocodile River and has been called the gateway to Mpumalanga and is the jumping off spot for Kruger National Park.
As I learned more about the town I think it might be of interest to stay there for a few days. Phyllis and I have time so that can be a decision to make at a future time.
The best part of Nelspruit was our driver Thabo. He picked us up at the airport. The next morning he helped us run a few errands and then dropped us at the airport to pick up our car. In the time we spent with him he made the decision to become our big brother. He gave us rules for driving in south Africa. Do not stop for anyone, no hitch hikers, no one in an official uniform unless we see the official car of the local police or the national police. Keep your doors locked and everything in the car out of site. Then he asked if he could call us during the trip to check on us. That is kindness at its best. Of course we said yes.
I have spent two days in Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species. There are paved and unpaved roads to travel on. The terrain is mostly flat with large washes, which I am sure fill with water during their rainy season. Currently it is dry and pleasant, with warm days and cool evenings.
I have seen animals, many animals and birds. As we were driving into Satara Rest Camp, where we spent the nights, we were stopped by a lioness walking down the middle of the road. She proceeded to lay down and traffic could not go around her. We barely made it into camp before they locked the gate for the evening.
The camp is surround by a fence, keeping us in and most of the animals out. The ones who don’t pay attention to the fence are the honey badger, baboons and vervet monkeys. From what I was told the badgers have been the largest issue as of late. Our cottage was safe and secure and comfortable. The kitchen was outside on the porch. After viewing animals all day it was pleasant to sit on the porch and enjoy dinner as the sun sank and the temperature cooled.
The density of animals in the section of the Kruger I was in was amazing. Here is the list so far.
Lions (females and cubs), Cheetah, Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Baboons, Hyena, Impala, Kudu, Waterbuck, Steenbok, Zebras, Warthogs, Buffalo, Crocodile, Wildebeest, Mongoose and more that I am not currently remembering. These are just the animals.The bird sightings were numerous. Even the more common birds seen around camp were beautiful.
After two days in the park we left and drove north to a private reserve, nThambo Tree Camp. Currently I am sitting on the front porch of our cottage watching baboons and birds at a nearby watering hole. Each evening we go on a driving safari to see what we can find. Elephants are prevalent here. They are everywhere. This morning we went on a hike with Issac and his gun through the preserve. In 3 miles we saw elephants and giraffes and impalas. It was pretty quiet out there this morning. Oh wait a minute did I say we saw Elephants and giraffes?
What I have learned:
- The people have been very kind and helpful. It makes traveling and driving easier and more relaxed.
- I have to remind myself I am no longer in the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park. These animals are out and wandering as they please. I am in their home. It is the wild.
- After getting over my fear of driving on the other side of the road, it is easy. I just remind myself to be attentive. The rule of thumb I repeat to myself is “keep left, always keep left”.
- The roads are well kept up.
- I like it here. It is dry, maybe even drier than San Diego.
- If you light elephant dung and then blow it out and inhale the smoke it will take care of headaches.
- If you light elephant dung in your room it will keep mosquitos away.
- Elephant dung has little odor. Thank goodness.
- There is a tree out here that if you touch the white sap and then touch your eye you will become blind. If you ingest it, it will make you intestinally sick. Stay away from this tree.
- Hyena poop is white because of all the calcium they ingest by eating bones.
- If giraffes are low on calcium they will pick up an animal bone and suck on it so they ingest more calcium. They spit it out when they are done.
After a late lunch we will be off on Safari again this afternoon. I am still waiting to see a jaguar in a tree eating an impala. Isn’t that the classic pic everyone sees in their mind when they think of being on Safari in Africa?
DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN CLICK ON ANY OF THE PHOTOS AND IT WILL ENLARGE THEM?