Kruger National Park, South Africa

After breakfast we fly from Johannesburg to Nelspruit (Mbombela) and transfer to our camp in Kruger National Park.

Kruger is the largest of South Africa’s parks with a total area of 7,500 square miles and is also one of the largest parks in the world. Bordered by the Limpopo and Crocodile rivers, the land spreads a stunning 200 miles at its widest point. Late this afternoon, we will get our first taste of this vast natural canvas in a game-viewing drive.  The park is  home to 147 species of land mammals, the highest number in Africa including the “big five” lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros, most of which we saw in the Delta with the exception of the rhinoceros.

As we drive into the private reserve where our lodge was located a tire flew off the trailer carrying our luggage so there was a short delay as all the luggage was loaded into the van and the trailer pushed to the side of the road to be dealt with later.  The Mjejane Lodge sits on the Crocodile River with a large open terrace that looks across a grassy area to the pool and the river, lovely.  Each afternoon wart hogs a.k.a. “African lawn mowers” would appear, kneel down and get busy trimming the grass, they are eating machines and hysterical to watch.  Vervet monkeys also made appearances and we were warned that they  have learned to open the doors so if we didn’t lock them we might see them parading around the grounds trailing our belongings behind them.  We heeded the warning.

At breakfast on our first morning we saw a mother and very young baby hippo right in front of the lodge.

Mamma and baby

Mamma and baby

It was a long drive to the park from Mjejane River Lodge so we spent one long day in the park picnicking at the visitor center.  We finally saw the White Rhinoceros the last of the “big five” to add to our list.  This park is very popular and very crowded, unlike the Delta where didn’t see another soul until the last day at the airstrip.  Kruger is more like our National Parks in terms of numbers of visitors and my least favorite because of that fact.  I will say, however, it is the only place that we saw rhinos and was the favorite of some folks; everyone is different.

We learned that the white rhino is actually no different in color from the black rhino but they are grazers along the ground and have a white mouth but I couldn’t get a good photo of that nor did I actually see it clearly.  The black rhinos can raise their heads to eat from the bushes, we only saw white rhino here.

White Rhinoceros

We spent most days roaming through the private reserve on the edges of Kruger and were rewarded with more amazing animals.  I’ll let the photos tell that story.

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Impala

Impala

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Tssebe

Waterbuck

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You never know what is around the next corner . . . drivers beware!

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Hyena

Hyena

To add a little variety our guide, William, took us on a bush walk one morning and talked about the flora and how the plants are used in everyday life in the bush.  The toothbrush bush branches can be chewed and used as a toothbrush, the root is used as lipstick and the leaves hold moisture and can be used to beat down flames.  The tassel berry tree is used to make beer, there is a soap plant that is used by the women for doing laundry.  Many of the trees are desirable for nesting birds including the knobby thorn tree.  Survival in the bush sometimes depends on knowledge of what grows nearby.

Let’s not forget Sundowners, each evening just before sunset the guides would find a place to stop and open the bar while we waited for sunset, a time to stretch our legs and take in the beautiful landscapes while enjoying a glass of wine or other beverage of your choice.

Tea Time

Jubilation, William and Thompson . . . the bar is open.

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Mjejane River Lodge

http://www.mjejaneriverlodge.co.za

https://goo.gl/maps/bEpnk

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Johannesburg, South Africa

After our last game viewing in the Okavango Delta we fly by private aircraft back to Maun, Botswana and then on to Johannesburg to meet the rest of our group and prepare for the next morning’s departure and start of the main trip.

 

Lift Off

Lift Off

Okavango Delta at the end of the rainy season

Okavango Delta at the end of the rainy season

 

Johannesburg

A 10-hour flight, arriving at night, the traverse through the airport was pretty easy with the assistance of a security guard who walked us to the shuttle stop; the hotel was thankfully very close.  Excited, Exhausted, Good Night!

O.R. Tambo International Airport

O.R. Tambo International Airport

We will spend the day relaxing at the hotel and tomorrow meet 3 other travelers who will be joining us on the Okavango Delta portion of our trip.

Protea O. R. Tambo Hotel

Protea O. R. Tambo Hotel