We, two European's in their fifties, went to SA for the first time three years ago. We went there to celebrate our 30st wedding anniversary, and we said to each other when boarding the plane: this will be a once-in-a-liftime experience, let's enjoy every minute of it!.
What a mistake
: we underestimated the addictive nature of South Africa in general and its national parks in particular. As a consequence, three-and-a-half weeks later, we took off for Europe, loaded with impressions and memories, photo's and a promise to each that we would return once, God willing.
Time passed by and the company I (Papadoc) work for decided to reorganise. Luckily I kept my job, but we had no possibility to take our regular holyday (June/July)
. As the first and best option was to take leave in September/October it took not too much time to decide to plan a remake of our first trip.
Rather short before our first visit to SA I discovered the forums of Sanparks, and I enjoied quite a lot the travel hints and reports, but it was too short before leaving to take advantage (as a matter of fact I only discovered the TR's in the preparation of our second trip.
Obviously in planning the second trip we took full advantage of all tips hints and examples given on the site, and as a consequence I felt I should try to make a TR myself when we returned home as a tribute to all those forumites I enjoied reading their experiences. But ..... taking home widely over 2.500 photo's it takes some time to sort these out, throw away a lot, process quite a lot with the popular digital photo handlers (I won't give names, this is not an advert for software
, how powerfull it may be).
Well that job is done, Mamadoc has started to prepare her own Trip Report in most likely two huge photobooks
, and I will start along with her with this TR.
So, off we go!
Some words on the preparation: we did part of the planning ourselves, part was done be a travelagency here in Europe, which is run be a couple, which lived for long in SA, but returned for reasons of their own. Stuffed with information of the forum I asked them for some specific destinations, some of which even they did not know. Thanks for the info forumites!
We planned the trip along this route: start (again) in Jo'burg, then to KNP, Golden Gate National Park (the magnificent Mountain Retreat), then to Mokala NP (a recently openend NP south of Calgary) and then to Augrabies NP and Kgalagadi NP. From there a short detour through Namibia (Fishriver Canyon), and then all the way down (along the West Coast) to Capetown.
Well, end of September we boarded our plane in rather mild and dry weather and landed after a long flight in a moderate and even slightly wet Jo'burg (quite different compared to our previous trip when it rained cats and dogs and it stormed heavily when we set off for a warm/hot and sunny SA).
After some days in Pretoria (where we met some friends and familiarised ourselves with the SA environment and our rented car) we set off for the Kruger area. We took the N 4, made the northern detour near Waterval Boven, and then drove over regional roads in the direction of Hoedspruit. We were impressed by the endless forestries, and the beautifull sights we had. As we took 3 years ago the full Panaroma Route we now skipped that one and went directly to a private lodge in the Kruger area for two days. I won't elaborate on names, but we were back in the KNP game area, and we enjoied every minute of it.
During a night drive in this KNP area we came across a male lion strolling his way, not the least impressed by the humans in there trucks:
During a morning drive we encountered this cute rhino with his/her family:
Lastly we visited a centre where endangered species were hosted and prepared for returning to unprotected regions. There we saw these guys, the Alpha couple, which we want to show you:
Well, off for the real thing: two days in KNP. The first day we entered at Phalaborwa gate, and set off for Letaba for lunch. Enroute we came across some Groundhornbills:
Obviously these two guys knew that we were heading for the camp they had given their name to, for our first night in KNP, and showed us some "teenager wrestling".
Along the road we saw this hippo, it was along shot, so no magnificent photo, but still worth looking at (I feel).
After having installed in our cottage in Olifants we boarded our (only) night drive (in KNP). Though I must say we were not fully impressed by the ranger (seemed to be afraid of the -admitted- rather big truck we had at our disposal), still we were heading for some impressing sightings. When we left the camp we took a long off road track to a place where lions took down a giraffe. We took some photo's in full dark so not of excellent quality, but we want to share one with you, just because of the thrilling experience we had:
(left, the carcass of the giraffe, in the centre of the photo one of the lions)
Alongside the road we saw some hyena, but because we encoutered the same group the other day on our morning drive I save a beautifull photo for that day.
When returning to the camp the ranger showed us this beautifull creature:
A next time we will continue with some thrilling and cute sightings we had the seond day in KNP.
Papadoc (message approved by Mamadoc)