I want to share one very very special story…It happened to Ray and I a few days ago in the Kruger and blew our minds away. I hope you like it
On our second afternoon, around about 4pm, once it had cooled down a little, we decided to go for a little drive in the vicinity of our campsite -Crocodile Bridge- on a sand road that seemed somewhat promising.
We saw elephants, rhinos, buffaloes which was already an amazing start. Next, I spot a lioness to the left, walking through the tall grass. And straight ahead, walking slowly towards us, another one joining her. I was beside myself from excitement. Especially after they both climbed up a tree. Seeing lions active is a treat as they spend so much time sleeping and can be really boring.
A few minutes later, in a more woody area, we pass a very thick, knotted tree. I look up and see spots: A massive male leopard was lying across a few branches, quietly devouring a prey. The cat was so close to our car it was hard for me to take pictures. Definitely my best leopard sighting ever. We could not believe our luck. We stayed there, alone, watching him eat for a while and then drove off, still stunned at the fact that we had seen the big 5 in a mere half hour!
But the story doesn’t end there. Roughly 500 meters later, a white 4×4 opposite us flashes its lights. We slow down. Maybe 30 wild dogs were running around our car! So close we could have touched them. Wild dogs are so rare and I have a soft spot for them. Our hearts were racing and we kept on laughing because how stupidly lucky must you be to see the big 5 and wild dogs in a single drive? The dogs stayed around for a couple of minutes tops and left. We looked in the review mirror and they had vanished. Had we watched the leopard for longer we would not have seen them.
Any person who has been to the Kruger will tell you that it is all a matter of luck. Where will you be, at what time, will you decide to turn left or right at the T-junction? It can change everything.
One evening, Ray asked me what it had felt like when I came to the Kruger for the first time in 2008. I said to him that I fell in love with this place right away because of its innocence and its unpretentious grandeur. There is something else about this park and I’m going to try and explain it as best as I can: As a human being, you go there, you don’t have to do much: By that I mean you don’t put in any effort. You drive, you camp. It is easy. No hard work. Yet the Kruger itself gives you back to an extent that you cannot measure or express. It bursts with this rough, raw beauty and paints your world in colors that you didn’t even know could exist. Every minute this wilderness gives you precious moments. All.the.time: When the sun rises, when you hear the fish eagle call, when you stare at an elephant’s eyes, when you witness all those tiny baby animals ready to take over the kingdom. It is generous and selfless and that’s what I love the most.
(The top photo is of the Punda Maria campsite in 1954 (our favourite campsite))