Last year my mother in law invited me to join her when she went on her annual trip to Kruger. How excited was I as I’d never been before.
I was like a 5 year old all the way in the car and couldn’t wait to get to go into the park the next day. Even with a torn ligament in my knee and my crutches being my only means of moving around, nothing could stop me I had a mission to see all 5 of the big 5 on my trip.
My husband and father in law had tried to prepare me for the worse but telling me that sometimes you just don’t see all of the big 5 in one trip. I was told how they had on numerous occasions been to the park and sometimes hardly seen anything at all. But this did not discourage me at all, I had a mission and I would stay in the park all day and all night if that’s what it took.
The 5 year old excitement in me could not be contained the following morning and I woke up at 03:00 ready to see my big 5. Needless to say I had a long wait until 05:00 when we left to go to the park.
When we entered the gates as they opened I was instantly hooked, I was in awe at how beautiful and amazing nature was around me. “WOW, look it’s an Impala” Boy was I so excited that for the next 2 hours even the Impala were amazing, that however didn’t last long after seeing my 1 000 Impala.
Then it happened all of a sudden we heard a noise in the trees, snapping, crunching and breaking, My eyes went big. “What is it?.... What, What, What?” and then the trees parted. My first real life and in the wild elephant walked across the road in front of us. I couldn’t speak he was massive and he was right there in front of me. What an incredible site.
1 down and 4 to go my mission was on a roll. Within a few minutes we were surrounded by a herd of buffalo, my mother in law had to remind me that I couldn’t jump out of the car I was sooooo excited. Things were going well not even lunch time and I’m 2 down with only 3 to go.
Gee how quickly do things slow down, for the next 3 hours all I saw were Impala, Impala and more Impala. It was starting to get late and I knew that time was running out to see my last 3 big 5. “We are going to drive down the loop and then start making our way home” My mother in law said around 15:00. I was not happy but soon the excitement started again, in front of us I saw a number of vehicles parked and all the people looking out of the windows. We stopped just a few meters away and look across to the other side of the river. There in all her glory was the most beautiful female lion stretched out on the rocks. We happened to have stopped in the perfect place as she was right in front of us. The other people were all looking at a large male lion a short distance ahead. He started to walk down towards the female and lay down in front of her. We were right opposite them. I sat there and just watched them for more than half an hour and didn’t want to move even though it was getting late.
As we started to make our way toward the gates of the park I was sad that I had only seen 3 out of 5 but still could not contain myself as I was still in a state of over excitement with all that I had seen. As I started to calm down while we were driving to the gate my sister in law shouted out. “look, Look, It’s a Rhino.” Can you believe that within the last kilometre before the gate a huge Rhino was standing by the side of the road. He was so close that I could even see all the flies sitting on his back.
4 down as we left the park but what an amazing day even my husband was amazed to hear how much I’d seen in just one day.
The following day was pretty much the same seeing once again 4 of the big 5, However with a twist this time as I was lucky enough to see two female lions trying to catch a baby buffalo. The herd was very big so they finally gave up.
Day 3 in the park was only a half day drive in the afternoon but for some strange reason there seemed to be no animals around. After driving around for 2 hours all we had seen was the usual Impala and some other buck but none of the big 5 at all. I was very down as the elusive leopard was still on my list to see but seemed to be avoiding me. We stopped when we saw a number of cars had stopped at a tree and saw a leopards kill up in the tree but the leopard itself was nowhere to be seen.
After driving over the sand river bridge something inside of me said we should turn around and drive over it again. My Aunt was driving and she said that we would go around the loop and back over the bridge again. Oh greatness was that the best idea ever, As we drove slowly slowly over the bridge I saw him, Sitting quietly in the reeds, staring out at me. I couldn’t speak I looked at my aunt with big eyes and started to shout all I could say was “Leopard, Leopard, Leopard” She says that I had the biggest eyes she had ever seen. We reversed back little by little and there he was not moving just looking up at us from the reeds. He was so close that if I’d stuck my hand out I could have touched him but thought better of it even in all of my excitement. My heart pounding and the adrenaline pumping I sat with my jaw on the floor as he looked straight into my eyes. Eventually he became unhappy with us so close and got up and quietly disappeared into the reeds.
My very first trip into Kruger, 5 out if 5, GOTCHA