wildlife, Kruger National Park
Unfortunately, too many people are only interested in seeing the "Big 5" that they miss the opportunity to see some of the other great animals that call Africa home. I say this because many of the passengers on my safari where interested in the Elephants, Rhinos and Lion and Leopards that many missed some of the great animals that I was so happy to see.
Spotting giraffes, zebras, warthogs, kudus, wildebeest, wild dogs, and a variety of antelope, water birds and birds of prey is quite exciting....these animals are just as interesting and unique in their own way and watching them in their natural habitat going about their daily lives is a wonderful experience.
Some of the experiences that I enjoyed seeing included watching an old male lion eat his freshly caught prey, watching the baboons run around and seeing male impalas butting heads.
To help you spot more animals try looking for what should NOT be there. For example, is that solitary dark tuft of grass in the distance really a tuft of grass or a lion lying low? Is that grey object in the distance a boulder or a rhino?
So scan the area and try to see what stands out as odd or unusual, look through your binoculars and you may be surprised.
Sometimes the slightest hint could be the big find. If you look on this picture carefully - this is how I discovered a leopard - just by its tale hanging from the tree. Other cars looked at it and drove on - just to miss a spectacular sighting of a leopard feeding of an impala in the tree - given a few minutes later when the animal came fully into sight.
So if in doubt - stop and watch for a few moments - you never know what might appear!!!
Some people dislike Kruger because vehicles are required to stay on roads -- not permitted to chase and stalk the animals across the fields.
I admire Kruger for that reason. Elsewhere in South Africa -- and in Kenya and Tanzania -- the animals are pursued by jeeps and vans; and if the driver spots a cluster of vehicles or a flight of vultures, you soon join tens or scores of other tourists surrounding a kill or a group of creatures.
In Kruger you don't; but that doesn't mean you miss the action. In two weeks in Kenya I did not see a single lion kill; in three days in Kruger I saw two. It seems lions have learned that gasoline fumes mask their scent; roadside is therefore a good place to lay in wait for prey.
Overall, I saw more game -- from elephants to baboons -- in Kruger than in East Africa.
Favorite thing: the speed limit must be adhere to they even have speed traps on the roads in the park most often just before closing time of the gate then the people are scared that they dont make it in time and get caught with a hefty fine .......................
What I loved about Kruger National Park was that everywhere you look there is something beautiful! Whether it wildlife, the landscape or the wildflowers. It was hard to take a bad photograph there!
Fondest memory: My fondest memory is of just driving along with my new husband, not knowing what's around the corner, but knowing that it would be incredible!
I loved the fact that we were seeing animals in the wild! But remember that the park is huge and it is definitely not a zoo, so you will have to be patient and explore to find the animals you want to see.
At every campsite, there will be a map posting where other people have last seen certain animals. This will help you start in the right direction. Also, be sure to post at the camp when you see some of the harder to find animals. And don't be disappointed if you don't see certain animals. You will see many, but probably not all the ones found in the park. We didn't see any rhinos or cheetahs, but saw lions, elephants, hippos, warthogs, monkeys, hyenas, and numerous other animals ... lots in the deer family.
Plan to spend as much time in the park as possible... we were there 2 days and probably saw less than half of the park. Also, be sure you have a camera with a good zoom lens. My zoom wasn't great on my camera, but was good on my video camera, so I was able to get some close-ups on video that I didn't get to take pictures of.
Fondest memory: I think my fondest memory is of the very first giraffe I saw... we were driving along looking for animals and scanning the trees and all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of a giraffe pretty close to the road, but kind of hidden in the trees. I think I got a bit excited and made my friend back up while I took a picture and video-ed for awhile. I'm sure he was amused because he had been there before and later we saw lots of giraffes. The zebras liked to hang out with the giraffes because the giraffes rarely get attacked by lions. Lions would only attempt to attack a giraffe while it is kneeled down drinking water, as that is when it is vulnerable because it takes it awhile to get back up to a standing position. Here is a zebra that was standing right next to the road posing for me. :)
Favorite thing: On our final morning in Kruger, we had left Mopani Camp by 7 AM as we had a relatively long drive to the south, hoping to reach the Nelspruit area before dark. About a half-hour later, we noticed vultures circling and decided to slow down a bit just in case some action had taken place overnight. Three minutes later, we spotted some White-Backed Vultures in a tree so we figured that we might be onto something. Less than a minute later, we came to a stop as we spotted a lioness sitting at the side of the road. After observing us for a while, she walked out onto the highway, then paused to look at us, before she continued across the highway as you see in the photo. It took her a full minute to make the crossing from when we first spotted her. No trouble telling who was in charge! Notice that I am correctly on the LEFT side of the road as the rules dictate!
You really need a 300mm zoom lens to capture some great pictures! I took a 120mm handheld, but the zoom was'nt good enough to get the great shots I wanted. Luckily Neil 'The Bearded Heron' let me use his 300mm SLR camera and I got great pics like the one attached! Bring a quicker film speed for low light experiences, ie at dusk/dawn!
Bring binoculrs too for birds and animals deep in the bush! Again my guide Neil had all thses at hand!
If you stay in the park at night you get the real wild feeling. The sounds of the animals in the dark is just awesome.
Fondest memory: The hyena sniffling around the garbage can at night, while we were sitting near the campfire with a cold beer watching him.
Not all the wildlife is big and famous. If you are camping look to the ground when you are eating. Birds tend to pick up the leftovers. There are some colourfull birds in the park.
Fondest memory: This Frankolin with its young was picking up the Ouma biskuit we spilled.
Try to recognise the signs and you will find the animals easier. Are there many trees broken, or pulled out of the ground? There must be elephant in the neighbourhood.
Sometimes you will find a lot of menure along the road. Rhinos do their thing on the same spot every day. So lots of menure can mean you are in rhino territory.
I was lucky to see a leopard right next to the road in the tree with its kill ...........
Fondest memory: Its an awsome sight to see the animals in there own habitat............
you very seldomsee them in groups if your lucky 3 or 4 .................
Fondest memory: You get up close to the animals ................
The buffalo roam in huge groups ................
Fondest memory: You could drive around the corner and the animals would be right there ........