Kruger National Park In Winter – A Short Adventure
Back to the Kruger Part 2
Kruger National Park in Winter: It’s currently 1 am in the morning and we are making the last stop at Alzu and I’m standing with a triple shot Mugg and Bean cappuccino, and I’m tired, dead tired! It’s been a week, one of those where you have no time to even think, because I’ve tried to get all my work done in time to get ready for my second trip (Here is the first) to the most incredible place on the Earth, the Kruger national Park. So I’ve walked outside and taken a hot sip of strong Joe and a deep inhale of freezing cold Mpumalanga air and all I can do is smile because I truly feel alive. No screens, no deadlines, no family pressures, and no fussy clients. Just myself my best friend and the excitement of seeing and spending time in nature.
This trip wasn’t planned that in advance as usually is the case (We wrote an article about it though), it was an impromptu split second decision and tickets bought, car filled and road hit. We decided to hit the road at midnight so we could get to the Malelane gate just before it opened. The logic behind this is we had a very short trip and we were trying to eek out as much time as we could to get as much content as we could get in our 3 days. The drive turned out to be super quick without any incident, although we did have one hair raising moment when we drove past a serious serious accident on the highway, which is always chastening indeed. But for the rest of the drive it was peaceful and filled with talks of content plans and what we both hoped we got to see on this trip. I think if you haven’t spent time with your friend in a while just take a midnight drive to the Kruger National Park with them, it’s a great time to catchup on everything that’s been happening in your lives and just have a great laugh. I one hundred percent recommend it,
It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, the drive does get quite hairy in some points because out there, the lighting is barely existent and even at that time of the morning people still drive like lunatics so if you do decide to go the night drive down just keep your wits about you and make sure you have enough caffeine in your blood to revive the dead. At some point on your journey you will pass a few electricity plants and if I’m not mistaken are paper factories which all as always really fill you with a sense of sadness as it’s such a blemish on otherwise perfect natural trip. And let’s not forget to mention the smell, oh my word the smell, what ever you do don’t open the windows near the factory sections because you will be sick.
Kruger National Park in Winter – Reaching the Malelane Gate
I did slightly dose of in the last 20 minutes of our drive, can you blame me on no hours sleep, even though I never do for safety reasons. But it wasn’t long till the Stories Of The Kruger jeep came to a stop and I was as wide a wake as could be. Because we’d made such good time we were a lot earlier then expected and there wasn’t a soul to be seen just the sounds of the Park filling the slowly lightening morning sky. As always the air was freezing and fresh as life itself and all around the beautiful choir of bird sounds increase in volume minute by minute. After walking around shaking out the stiffness and freezing my bottom off I hopped back in the car and settled down waiting for the day to break and the gates to finally open.
Kruger National Park in Winter – The gates to heaven finally open
For what felt like forever the time finally came when the gates opened and we were off to sign in and pay for our conservation fees and get on our way.
I’d finally convinced my partner in crime that for this trip we were going to tell everyone our personal story and get in front of the camera for a change and really share the Kruger on a personal level as we had intended all along. Not the fancy over edited or Photoshopped, super professional which for me always felt elite and disingenuous. We wanted to give you guys the real persons experience of the Kruger and from a novices, that’s my point of view. Because although I’ve helped with this for a while, I’d only experienced the Kruger once before, so it was and is still so fresh and new for me. And that’s why getting in front of the camera was the best way to express what the experience of the Kruger feels like.
And so the newest chapter of Stories of the Kruger Began.
Kruger National Park in Winter – First stop from the Malelane Gate
Our first stop was at the Afsaal picnic spot this is basically your first stop to get out stretch your legs and get a hot cuppa joe. The coffee was decent not the best in the park but very welcome at that point in the morning. Prior to getting there it was quiet in terms of spots but we had spotted a few Birds of prey in the far off sky which is always so exciting for me, as Raptors are definitely up there as my favourite birds, also saw a variety of birds including the ever popular but still beautiful, Lilac breasted roller.
Unfortunately this was the only picture I was able to take as she was moving on at that point. But as they say proof is proof and the fact I was I felt so privileged and blessed to even get a glimpse at such a magnificent animal. So we had to move on with that dissatisfaction in our bellies but gratitude in my heart. Read about The Big 5 here….
Kruger National Park in Winter – Skukuza Rest Camp
Our second stop was at the ever popular Skukuza rest camp. Thankfully this time around at this time of year it was very quite and I really got the chance to take the camp all in and enjoy the beauty of the Sabie river and it’s surrounds. So many birds and butterflies; which is what I love to see.
We also got a nice bite to eat for lunch at the cafeteria. Which honestly has the best burgers I’ve ate out.
Kruger National Park in Winter – Impala, Impala everywhere!
This is just a shout out to these cute little guys who you see in such abundance in the Kruger that one often just dismisses them as “oh it’s just an Impala”. But they are still so cute and so docile as to let you take amazing pictures of them as they attentively graze a mere 5 meters from the car or frolic across the road as they cross.
Kruger National Park in Winter – So many highlights so little words!
As the first morning and day rushed by these are the major sightings highlights of day one…
- We saw the ever-incredible White Rhino
- Sooooo many Warthog
- Brief Lion encounter
- The beautiful Bushbuck
- Plenty of Zebra which I had more time to see how beautifully designed they actually are
- We had a very hairy encounter with a bull Elephant but we navigated the situation without incident
- I was so stoked to get to see the Fish Eagle up close after hearing him the whole day
- Finally saw a few Giraffe who always make me laugh the goofy guys
Kruger National Park in Winter – The magic of Lake Panic!
My bird enthusiasm found me later in life so going to Lake Panic was something I looked forward to with bated breath. And this year it didn’t fail to disappoint.
Honestly I wish I could’ve sat there alone and just listened to the birds and the hippos and all the chirps and Kruger sounds the whole day.
List of Lake Panic sightings
- Grey Heron
- Goliath Heron
- Burchell’s Coucal
- Spotted-backed Weaver
- Egyptian Goose
- Malachite Kingfisher
- African Fish Eagle
- African Jacana
- Water Thick-knee
Kruger National Park in Winter – Very magical Hyena encounter
On my previous visit to the Kruger I didn’t get the chance to see these beautiful animals and so when we stumbled upon a den with a momma and her cubs I was absolutely mesmerised.
As you can tell from my voice, I was truly excited that I got to see them and it is in my top 3 moments of my time at the Kruger.
Kruger National Park in Winter – Malelane Satellite Camp
Our home for this trip was the gorgeous Malelane Satellite Camp. I had visited briefly on my first trip but we camped and I spent most of the time sleeping in a car, which is never fun haha. This time I was fortunate enough to have the full experience of living it up in the Chalets. I’ll be honest I’d heard a lot about covid really taking it’s toll on the standards of accommodation in the Kruger so I was pleasantly surprised by what was on show and what we were given for the night.
As we settled down in our chairs with the braai roaring in the Kruger nights sky we enjoyed a deserved cold one a catch up and filmed a bit of a re-cap for our Stories Of The Kruger followers.
The day hit me in a rush and the sounds of hippo and owls disappeared quickly as I passed out in a second, hoping I’d be ok for our early start on day 2.
Kruger National Park in Winter – Rise and shine it’s Lions time!
I’m not going to lie the 5am start was tough as nails and I felt rather broken and dazed as I made my wake up juice (coffee) on the communal stove. But as they say the early photographer snaps the Lion, ok I’m sure someone has said that at some point. So we were on the road and determined to spot some rare birds and create fantastic video content for our followers.
Not ten minutes down the road and our hopes came true we happened upon truly such a beautiful sight, not enough words could describe how amazing it was so I’ll let the actual footage do the talking.
I think you can agree that that was an incredible encounter and one I’ll hold dear to me for all my days.
But as always with the Kruger everything keeps moving and we were on to the next sighting in a flash.
Kruger National Park in Winter – Close encounters of the Rhino kind!
On one of the roads we took we drove over a ridge and as we passed a thicket to my left as the passenger there were 2 White Rhino in the grass right on the edge of the road. We all got a little fright, we hit the breaks and they did a little shuffle and then calmed down. It was the closest Id ever come to these incredible animals and it was just one of those one in a lifetime kismet moments. Yes another one lol there are many when you visit the Kruger.
We also missed another 2 Leopard sightings which was a shame but at that point I was starting to think the big cat wasn’t going to be ours to see this time around.
Day 2 Highlights
- We saw so many rare and interesting birds
- We got to see the gorgeous Fish eagle again as well as the Martial eagle up close
- The beautiful waterbuck and many wildebeest
- More Zebra and nosey Giraffe
Kruger National Park in Winter – Sunset Dam the land of Hippos, wading birds and many, many Crocs
When you come to the Kruger you have to visit this incredible stop. Sunset dam has everything. Make sure you have a fantastic lens on your camera and binoculars.
The incredible bouncing bush baby!
On the last night I was treated to something that I was the most special thing. We were visited by 2 of the cutest most tame Bushbabies and they are way more cute than you could ever imagine.
For the rest of the night I made it my goal to catch these beautiful little couple on camera, and finally late into the night finally got some footage. Not the best quality but still wonderful. They move incredibly quick and bounce so quickly and easily.
It was freezing and I was tired but this night will always be with me forever!
Leaving The Beautiful Kruger!
I don’t like to talk about the final day of a trip because it’s always so sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful place, but I guess it should be done.
The day started a bit calmer without such intensity, we did the fun thing of packing up and saying our goodbyes and hit the road. We drove to Berg-en-dal rest camp which is quite popular and does also have beautiful views and lots of birds and other fauna and I’m sure the next time I’ll get more time to explore and take more pictures. Here’s a video of the camp.
From there we made our way home, here’s the last bit of our drive in the Kruger.
Can’t wait to go back and spot some more birds and have more unique Kruger encounters. Until my next story, keep tweeting!
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