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 Post subject: moggiedog-KNP - My first visit
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:34 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 9:12 am
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Location: Benoni
My first visit to KNP.

Dredging down into the archives of my filing system I recalled my first ever trip to KNP. Sketchy memories and moments that are etched permanently into my memory banks.

1980 and heavily pregnant with my first child, we set off to Kruger. A small, temperamental camera, no binocs and no money but plenty of enthusiasm and expectations

The trip was a nightmare – motion sickness replaced the morning sickness that had stopped many months previously – but this did not daunt either one of us. Least of all hubby!
Driving through the gates I was smitten. The smell of the African bush, the friendliness of the staff and the sense of well being cloaked me with an intense feeling of warmth and freedom. Although hubby had been to the park in his single life, he felt the aura of welcome as much as I did.

The first animals we saw were wild dog. Being a novice at the time – We had no idea just how special it was to encounter these animals. Like most newcomers – all we were interested in was the big five.

Not far from the gates we encountered the first of the five – a buffalo. Diligently ticking it off my list we headed to camp. The impala herds were bigger than expected. They seemed to stretch into forever.
Arriving at camp we soon unpacked our meager positions and relaxed with a beer in hubbie’s hands and a glass of coke in mine.
The smell of a wood fire wafted across the camp reminding us we needed to eat. It wasn’t long before red hot coals were brought from the central fire to our braai area, by a very friendly parks employee. He pointed towards the huge kettles hanging over the main fire and told us to help ourselves to boiling water.
We watched as he delivered his gift of coals, delicately balanced on his spade – like eggs in an egg and spoon race - to the other visitors, without dropping a single ember.

Bright and early the next morning we were on the road. Birds were birds – we did not stop. We were hunting for the rest of the big five.

Stopping at the crocodile pools we were escorted by an armed ranger to within a few meters of a huge crocodile. He warned us about the dangers of leopard and other big cats.
Stressing the importance of not getting out the car and keeping our windows closed.

Spending time with this man was a privilege. Sadly I cannot remember his name – but he entertained us with tales of his close encounters with wild animals.

Leaving the croc pools we soon encountered our first elephant. Staring in awe at this magnificent creature neither of us noticed we had been surrounded.
A huge breeding herd was on the march……….

_________________
A Conundrum before Tankwa

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER !


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 Post subject: Re: KNP - My first visit
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:46 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 9:12 am
Posts: 524
Location: Benoni
We were trapped. Nervously looking around for an escape route we had no choice but to turn off the engine and wait it out.
A hairy baby, battling to control his trunk, strolled passed the window with mommy keeping a watchful eye on us. Barely daring to breath we sat in stunned silence. I have no idea how long it took for the herd to move on but by the time they left the Sun had turned the car into an oven.
Parched and adrenalin pumping, we slowly drove off in our endless search for the cats of the big five.
We stopped at Skukuza for lunch. Genuine home baked impala pie, chips and gravy went a long way in calming our shattered nerves. It was a huge treat to be able to eat in a restaurant. Counting our pennies we even managed to afford a cup of coffee!
Heading back the way we came, eyes peeled for cats of any sort we slowly headed back to camp.
Every log and termite heap was seen as some animal. We stopped and peered short sightedly through the long grass. Debating whether “it” had moved or not. Trees were carefully examined for tails hanging down. I was convinced I would find leopard in trees!
Each car that passed gave us a cheerful wave and a huge smile. It was another world – where everybody was friends – even if only for a moment.
The shadows were lengthening and soon the gates would be closing. We arrived back at camp, reporting our safe return – as was the norm.
Once again our coals were delivered to the doorstep. After a hearty meal, a chin wag round the fire we were more than ready for bed.
The paraffin lamps had been cleaned and lit. A warm glow of contentment followed me into dreamland.
Sunrise the next morning we packed our goods and started our final drive. This was to be my first encounter with a Kruger Bull – in musth…..Camera ready we decided he was close enough to get a picture that would show more than a spec of dust hidden in the grass. Ignorance is bliss!!! I still have that picture – taken by accident – huge ears flapping and pounding feet – we decided discretion was the better part of valour! With a roar of the engine hubby accelerated away causing my finger to press down on the shutter button!

Thirty years on and my cravings and addiction has not waned.

It took four long years before I could feed my addiction and another 21 before I lived my dream of traversing KNP from north to south, from east to west in a single trip

I have fed my craving as often as possible over the years – not only at KNP but at as many of the parks as possible. Birds are no longer “just” birds. The big five is no longer the be all and end all of visiting game reserves.
I now go loaded down with a library of reference books, cameras and binocs.
I have seen electricity replace paraffin and candles; I have seen small restaurants replaced by big. I have watched camps grow from 2 small chalets to miniature towns. Instant hot water has replaced fires and kettles. I have seen gas replace wood at picnic spots. I have watched as more and more roads have been tarred to cater for the burgeoning tourists – have these changes cured my addiction? No – I still experience that warm glow of contentment and anticipation when I walk through the gates of a game park...

_________________
A Conundrum before Tankwa

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER !


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 Post subject: Re: KNP - My first visit
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:17 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 9:12 am
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Location: Benoni
thanks all for taking the time to read.

I woke up this morning feeling drained.My batteries hadn't re-charged overnight which got me thinking back to my first Kruger visit. A sure sign I need a trip away to recharge - nothing else will do it!
Thankfully we are going away the week of the 16th June - which is not long at all.

Although this post was my first trip to KNP - as a child we visited Addo - I was fortunate enough to meet Hapoor before he was shot. The days of huge wooden pole elephant fences..........How things have changed in all the parks.....

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A Conundrum before Tankwa

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER !


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 Post subject: Re: KNP - My first visit
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:31 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 9:12 am
Posts: 524
Location: Benoni
:redface:
I forgot all about this post - thanks for the replies and reading.

As far as I know the restrictions still applied in 1980 - I know I wanted to go up to Pafuri - but it was not open to tourists.

I often wonder how it would feel if things reverted back to those times - so many changes and upgrades - knowing what we know today - Would we be happy without the modern conveniences offered - now that we are used to them?

_________________
A Conundrum before Tankwa

SAY NO TO HOTEL DEVELOPMENT IN KRUGER !


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