picnic areas, Kruger National Park
Pack some food and head on to one of the many scenic spots near your camp. It is a sure way to have some fun. The Afsaals trading rest house between Berg en Dal and Skukuza is one such place to stop by with family. You can cook a barbecue meal there or carry your cooked food or buy some food there. There are many other places which are even more scenic. You can find them in a map which you can buy from your camp.
One of the lesser known but probably nicest picnic sites in the Kruger is Nkuhlu, Tsonga for “Natal Mahogany" given that there are so many of the Natal Mahogany trees in the area. Situated on the Sabi River the site offers great views and many sightings of crocs and hippos. There is plenty of shade to relax in and it is a particularly good spot for bird watching. There is a shop selling the usual cooldrinks and snack food and you can rent a skottel to cook your breakfast on.
On the opposite bank of the river is one of the 3 enclosure areas in the Kruger. The main purpose of these exclosures is to determine the effect of different combinations of fire, elephants and other herbivores on the vegetation. The exclosures are to be maintained and managed as such for the next 20-25 years during which close monitoring of changes will be done. The set-up also provides ideal opportunities for other research, such as soil – plant relationships, soil nutrient and population dynamic studies.
Picnic Spots – The park maps clearly point out where you can exit your vehicle and have lunch / sundowners / braai (BBQ). These spots are usually at scenic points overlooking a river or open savannah. At each designated picnic spots, you leave your vehicle at your own risk.
More often than not, braai’s (BBQ’s) are provided as are ablutions. Some picnic spots even have small cafes from which you can buy everything from toasted sandwhiches to tea and scones.
A word of warning however, there tend to be a vast amount of bees hanging around such places due to the sugary drinks, sweet food and jam left or spilt on the outdoor tables. Take care not to be stung.
While I enjoy getting out of the car and stretching my legs after a few hours of game viewing, I must admit that the designated picnic sites are usually hugely populated with fellow tourists and so our lunch/refreshment breaks don't usually involve sitting in the peace and quiet of the park, listening to the sounds of nature!
More often than not, rather than the warble of birds and scuffles of beasts, your ears resound with the buzz of bees, interesting dialects, foreign tongues and the laughter of kiddies! Not a bad way to spend a rest break, but if you are hoping for peace and quiet, these might not be the best places to pause...eat your lunch and then head to a waterhole or hide for your P&Q in nature's playground!
Sundowners – One of my favourite pastimes in a game park is to pack a cooler bag with a gin and tonic, a lemon, a packet of lightly salted crisps and a bag of pistachios, climb into the car and head out for a late afternoon drive.
We usually plan our route to include a pit stop at a picnic site – preferably one that overlooks a river or water hole. Tucking into our nibbles we scan the horizon with our binoculars taking in all the African afternoon has to offer. You will be amazed at how much you see if you just sit still and wait. Patience is the greatest virtue while on safari!
Pay special attention to the far side of the river bank as you sip your tipple, often game can be spotted grazing in the distance...look out for moving logs: crocs! Bird life is usually prolific around river banks so if you are a bird lover, this is definitely for you!
All through the park, you'll find 'picnic areas'. These make for a great break from driving. Grab a shady table under a tree, rent a gas 'skottel' (essentially a wok'), and cook up some breakfast/lunch.