In June 2014, John and I went to the Mpumalanga province of South Africa to explore The Panorama Route and Kruger Park.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometers in northeastern South Africa.
We stayed at Ashbourne Country Escape, a beautiful home away from home in Hazyview.
There are 9 gates into Kruger Park.
The Phabeni Gate is a short 20 minute drive from the Ashbourne Guesthouse.
We arrived just as the sun was starting to rise.
Arriving at sunrise allows you to watch the park come alive.
There are several safari tours offered at Kruger, but we chose to drive ourselves.
Both options are great, but I prefer the self-drive so we can move along at our own pace.
It is also somewhat rewarding when you spot the animals on your own.
One of the first things we saw that morning was a family of hyenas.
Adult hyenas have evil grins and look exactly how they are portrayed in cartoons.
But the cubs are adorable!
Rhinos are pretty easy to spot thanks to their size.
I think they are one of those “so ugly they’re cute” animals.
Lake Panic is one of eleven bird/game-viewing areas.
Sometimes there are hippos hanging out there, but they were hiding.
We finally found them a little further up the river.
There are well over 12,000 elephants in Kruger and we had the opportunity to see several herds.
Up close and personal.
This guy walked right up to our car and looked in the back window:
That was very cool!
You can tell the depth of the water they crawl out of by the waterline across their bodies.
Except the cute little baby:
He was the depth of the water!
We saw several species of primates during the day:
As well as Antelope:
Or “buck”, as the locals call them.
There are twenty different kinds to spot.
This buck was extremely skittish:
Something spooked him and he ran off into the bushes.
We decided to wait and see if the other animal would show up.
A couple of minutes later, a lioness and her three cubs came out of the bush.
Our jaws dropped . . . literally.
Momma Lion barely took her eyes off of us.
We were so close we could hear her panting and lapping the water.
One of her cubs was an adorable scaredy–cat.
He’d take a drink and then run back to the bushes.
Can you see him “hiding” in the bushes?
We sat and watched them as they watched us for quite awhile.
They were fascinating.
As the lioness walked towards us, the cubs followed:
Even skeptical little scaredy–cat.
They eventually disappeared into the bushes behind our car.
What an amazing treat!
That’s a good example of why you should scope-out the watering holes.
Many animals like to hang out at them during the heat of the day.
At this particular watering hole, hippos and crocodiles were enjoying a midday nap together.
I adore this hippo’s pink belly and the way he is cuddled-up.
The gates were going to close at 5:30 p.m. and we were still about an hour away.
Just as we decided to head towards the gate, we came across another herd of elephants:
So we had to pull over and watch them for a little while.
And then we drove by a herd of buffalo:
So of course we had to pull over and watch them for a few minutes.
Especially because there was a baby buffalo!
We checked the clock again and realized that time was quickly running out and we needed to head for the gate.
There is a late arrival fee if you don’t make it back by closing, so be sure to check the gate times HERE.
We had a great day at Kruger Park and saw so many cool animals including Four of the Big Five: Buffalo, Elephant, Lion and Rhino.
Leopards, the other of the Big Five, are nocturnal and tough to spot between sunrise and sundown.
The only other animal I wanted to see was a giraffe.
I really wanted to see one in the wild.
Oh well. Next time.
And then all of a sudden . . .
But I didn’t yell “giraffe”, it sounded more like, “ba-ya-yi-ah-da-ya-yiyia!”
The garbled words that came out of my mouth asking John to stop the car were incoherent.
But it worked, he stopped, and I didn’t care about being late to the gate anymore:
There was a wild giraffe snacking on a tree right in front of me!
Okay, now we can head to the gate — for real this time.
John and I had such a wonderful day exploring Kruger Park.
We drove the park from sunup to sundown and loved every second of it.
If you’re planning a trip to Kruger Park and are looking for a place to stay outside of the park, look no further than Ashbourne Country Escape in Hazyview. For more information, click HERE.
In 2011 we went to Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. You can read all about that HERE.
For more on Africa, click HERE.