Hi all fellow forum addicts
After much sweat, the ocasional tear and a sleepless night, herewith my mother's "memories" as promised. Thank you DinkyBird for all your trouble and a big forum hug from me. All your help is highly appreciated. Your patience definitly exceeds the boarders of Kruger. So here it is.
“We visited Kruger Park for the first time on the 1st May 1950. My eldest daughter was 1 year old. We stayed at Pretoriuskop. It was still very primitive but oh so peaceful. We enjoyed it so much that we made it a yearly occasion in the winter. Yes, I remember the “old Kruger”. The communal ablutions, the big bon fires in the evening for the “braais”. The big black kettle always filled with boiling water. All so neat and clean.
Picture taken in Pretoriuskop
Of course the “padkos” provisions for the journey, was also a big issue. Hard boiled eggs, boerewors or frikkadelle, cheese and tomato sandwiches and in the thermos flask coffee made with condense milk. We use to leave at 1 o’clock in the morning to be at the gate opening time. The only stop on the way would be to fill up with petrol and feast on the “padkos”. My husband and my brother were great friends and we often visited Kruger together. The photo herewith is of his car. It was taken from our car. I don’t know what it is with elephants and black cars, but my brothers black car got chased quite frequently!!
If I remember correctly there was an entrance gate at Rabelais. Anybody remember it? And the steam train running through the Park? We one day drove along the Salitjie Road where we encountered a lioness carrying her new born cubs one-by-one across the road to another hiding place. That night around the campfire my husband told the others about our good fortune. Later that evening in the ablutions he over heard a man telling his friend that he doesn’t believe “daardie ou se storie” that man’s story, because lions don’t have their cubs this time of year. Unfortunately this is the only photo left of our encounter, as my husband send them to Custos that published them all.
Another morning just outside Satara gate we noticed something furry lying in the road. My husband stopped next to the object and picked it up. It was the tail of a jackal, but oh the smell was terrible, and very soon it landed outside the car again. One day a baboon stole a bar of soap from a tent. The owner said “I suppose he will be blowing bubbles today”. My small girl wanted to know “now how is he going to do that”?
When we visited Kruger, Skukuza was a definite stop. We even had our “reserved” camping spot, and would meet up again with friends made from previous years. In the evenings the children would finish their cores quickly not to miss the film, always wrapped in their blankets. Even when me and my husband went on pension and had to exchange the caravan for a bungalow, we used to walk past our old camping spot. Of course it no longer looks the same, the big old tree had to make way for improvements.
Our Ford Fairmont and Jurgens caravan ( Singwedzi? -not sure)
Lower Sabie? (not sure)
Our regular spot in Skukuza with the “service road” at the back
The old restaurant at Skukuza
As our children grew up and had children of their own, we also had the privilege of taking them to Kruger before they had to go to school. Such precious memories.
During June 2001 we were again visiting when my husband took ill and we had to return four days sooner. My daughter and son in law came to meet us at Phalaborwa gate as my husband was too weak to drive, and accompanied us back to Pretoria. At the gate my son in law took my husband to the ablution, and as he got back into the car, he looked back at the bush and with tears in this eyes waved good bye. He passed away a week later.
December of the same year (2001) my youngest daughter took me back to Kruger. We stayed at Orpen. One morning we took the S36 and a distance away from the road we saw two helicopters and some vehicles in the veld. At that stage we were the only car on the road. As we stopped, one of the officials beckoned us to come closer and explained that they were darting the buffaloes to take samples for TB. He invited us to stay and watch the process. The helicopters soon took off. All the buffaloes recovered quickly after their ordeal, but one was not so fortunate. According to the vet, the buffalo’s stomach contents pushed up into his throat as he was trying to get up, and he immediately dropped dead. The research group then again invited us to watch whilst they cut him open. I have never seen such a big and sharp knife in my entire life. The vet showed us the different organs and then took parts of the organs back for further tests. When they left we remained at the carcass. It didn’t take long for the vultures to discover it. We could see them floating down out of the sky landing next to the dead buffalo, and then they began devouring the meat. There were too many to count. I’d say it took them about an hour to strip the bones. They were so gorged by that time, some of them just flopped down on the ground, while some could hardly reach a nearby tree. I could identify Cape vultures, White back vultures, Lapped faced vultures and White headed vultures. A lonesome hyena came past, but soon left, I suppose he wasn’t interested in bare bones. We later went to Muzandzeni for a drink as it was extremely hot in the car by then. On our way back to the carcass we saw a leopard walking in the same direction and two jackals a distance from the carcass. But unfortunately we had to leave and head back for camp. We went back the next day but not a single bone was left. Something must have had a “bone feast” that night. Some vultures were in the trees, still to full to fly away.
I have so many happy memories that I can’t put it in writing. I remember the lovely trees, the water streams, the bush as a whole is unforgettable. I do not have a special place in Kruger. The whole Park is outstanding, but Pafuri Picnic Spot, Afsaal and Mooiplaas give me an extra special feeling. And of course the lovely people you meet, the friendly service we enjoyed over the years.
I am 85 years old and it is still as if I feel the urgent need to go there. These days my children, who has inherited the same passion for Kruger Park, are so kind as to take me with them whenever they go. I will accompany my eldest and youngest daughters from 13 to 25 June this year.
As the words from Galway Bay, this is also my sincere wish
“If ever there is going to be a life hereafter
And somehow I’m sure there’s going to be
I ask my Lord to make my heaven
In that dear land across the African bush”
Another Kruger devotee”
Some more “old pictures” taken in Kruger
A “young” me
Me with all five our children and my husbands eldest brother and wife
Satara? (not sure)
Skukuza near the Museum
This kill was about 3km from Skukuza camp right next to the main road
In the end dragged to the opposite side of the road
And this is what it looked like after a week.