Our rituals start about 3 months (on average) before the trip when we start planning menus (there are some things we always must have while in the Kruger), and drawing up wishlists: birdies and animals that we wish to see on this trip (one bird that has been on the top of my wishlist for the past 10 years, but which I have yet to see = pygmy kingfisher!)
I must admit, I've never stopped to smell the thatch in the toilets
- for me the smell of the Kruger is that fresh but sour bushveld tang on the air that you get the moment when you turn of the aircon and open the windows with the gate (usually Phalaborwa gate) beckoning from a few hundred meters before you in the road
1. On the road, depending on what route we take:
a. Having a pancake at Harrie's in Dullstroom.
b. Stopping for handmade sweets and other delicacies at Millie's on the N4.
c. Opening the windows and breathing in the fresh air of Magoebaskloof.
d. Stopping and buying fruit at the fruitsellers just outside Nelspruit.
2. Having a Savanna each night while braaiing
3. Making "braaibroodjies" (white bread with tomato, onion, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and Mrs. Balls' chutney) toasted on the fire to have for breakfast the next morning.
4. Filling up thermos travelling mugs with Nescafé cuppachino and getting the hot water for it from the campsite's kitchenettes even when we stay in bungalows - and having this as the first cup of coffee of the morning.
5. Having abovementioned cuppachinos along with "braaibroodjies" at the first nice "pigeonhole" that we get to. (A "pigeonhole" is any nice, preferably secluded, spot where we can pull off the road, listen to the birds, smell the bush, and wait for birds and animals to pass by. Our first ever "pigeonhole", where this custom was born, is a nice spot on the Nwanetsi road near Satara, where there are large wild fig trees across the stream, and where the green pigeons are always active).
6. Playing "battleship" or "boggle" while waiting for the fire to burn down sufficiently to start the braai.
7. Checking the sightings board first thing when we arrive back at camp.
8. Always arriving at camp seconds before gate closing time!
9. Checking for leopards at every bridge and ditch.
10. Checking for hyenas at every storm water pipe.
11. To drive extra slowly when another car comes from behind to force them to pass as soon as possible - can't concentrate on game and bird watching when there is someone behind me
12. To stop and pretend to read the map when abovementioned car doesn't pass no matter how slowly I drive
13. Eating at the restaurant at least once at every camp.
14. Stopping at, spend time observing, and taking photo's of impala's at least once during the trip - usually on the first and/or last day.