My whole life I've been terrified of elephants. Since I've been a kid, one too many elephants chased us, I had nightmares about elephants crushing our car, so I always kept my distance.
But the weird thing is, somehow they are also my favorite mammals. I have paintings, wooden sculptures and books of ellies everywhere. I can watch hours of documentaries on the wildlife channels about elephants and one of my favorite books are the Elephant whisperer.
In the past few years I've been kind of a headache when we found them in kruger. My So loves to spend time with them, watching them up close. But I normally nag him to continue and put some distance between us and the elephants as quickly as possible. And it just got worse when our kids were born and joined us in kruger.
My husband thought it would be a good idea to help me get over my fear of elephants and booked us a trip to the elephant sanctuary in Hazyview, the morning before we enter kruger. Being up close and personal with an elephant might just help.
We arrived at the sanctuary at 7:15 for the 'Elephant Brush Down'. I was terrified at first, just watching SO and the kids brushing the ellies. And then it was my turn. I walked towards the Elephant, looked into his eyes, I started to relax. It's amazing. Wow, what an experience to brush down, walk and feed the elephants.
They were tame and well trained to let people touch and brush them. I will never forget the feeling being so close to them and it made me love them even more.
My whole view on elephants changed and I learned more about their body language, when you can approach them safely and when to keep your distance. I know this is not part of Kruger, but because these 2 ellies were saved as babies and came from kruger, I wanted to share it with you.
We arrived at Phabeni gate 9:45 and exactly 10:00 we drove thru the gates. We felt so blessed being in Kruger again. It was about 20˚C and with clear blue skies. Everyone was exited to find the first animal. We were surprised to see giraffes crossing the road a few hundred meters from the gate. They are such magnificent animals.
We decided to take the sabie river road and found this guinefowls playing in elephant dung. This was the first time I saw guinefowls do this.
On this road we saw elephants but they were a bid far from the road for a good picture. We saw this beautiful purple-crested Turaco. Also a first for us.
Almost at the end of the gravel road someone pulled us over and told us to look out for the cheetah. Our hearts started pumping adrenaline. We drove only 2 kilometers when we saw 2 cars parked. We saw the cheetah for a few seconds on the side of the road, then before crossing it, he rolled around on the gravel before disappearing into the bushes. We saw him only for about a minute or 2. It just shows you. It’s all about timing… and some luck.
We continued towards Skukuza and wanted to stop at lake panic. But when we got there, there already 12 cars parked. So we mad a u-turn and went to Skukuza for lunch. It seems like Skukuza is getting busier and busier every year. There were lots of school buses and touring cars, and the shop and restaurant were overcrowded. So we decided to sit on the ground, next to the river/fence and make some sandwiches. We enjoyed our lunch the old fashion way.
We took the H4-1 towards Lower Sabie, our first overnight rest camp. On our way we saw this little naughty baboon and Fork-tailed Drongo at Nkulu picnic spot.
We arrived at LS just after 3:00 and I was happy to see Martie at the reception. We chatted a bid and then we got the keys to our bungalow. It was a river view, number 8. He was located a bid close to the restaurant and we could hear the day visitors, but it didn’t bother us. We were glad to be there and we enjoyed every bid of it.
Our first braai was delicious and the night sounds FANTASTIC. We heard roaring lion's, hyenas patrolled the fence a few times and the hippo’s serenaded for us as we sat outside by the fire. A perfect ending of our first day in kruger.