Location: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Date: May 2019
After 4 years since I first started to map out activities, we finally made our way to South Africa!! The highlight of this trip was definitely the safari game drive.
Here were all the plans stuck on an old Google MyMaps (you can tell from the icons, haha):
We stayed at the Grand Kruger Lodge in Marmoth Park, south of Kruger (30 min drive to the bottom of Kruger). We actually really wanted to stay closer to (or even in) Kruger, but the prices were over our budget.
The resort experience was amazing:
- It was low season
- We were practically the only guests
- The GKL staff (Rose, Cesar) were top notch ✨
Thank you, off season 😘. I highly recommend traveling during this time period to save on costs and human congestion.
Our game drive started at 5 AM, so we were on the road by 5:15 AM. Our tour guide, Louis, said that was late and he needed to drive faster to get to the entrance on time. Speeding without real windows = windy. So glad Louis handed us plush blankets for the ride. (We saw other tour groups and they did not have blankets.)
We bypassed the regular entrance lane because we went on a tour. Tours get priority entrance before a certain time (~5:45 AM) before the Kruger National Park opens to all visitors at 6 AM. The line outside was already 5-6 cars deep. If we missed priority entrance, we would've been stuck for at least an hour behind the non-tour vehicles 😱
The tour guides have a system which helps everyone. They have a WhatsApp group and share the route they are taking and if they spotted certain animals. How cool is that 😁? It reminded me of our Costa Rica Dec 2017 trip in the rainforest and how the guides tell each other of their sightings.
After 2 hours, we had breakfast. I wasn't expecting an actual restaurant in the park and thought the breakfast included was a brown bag lunch (sandwich & juice). What a hearty meal:
Time to get back on the drive with 4 more hours and Louis was determined to find the cats 🦁🐆 for us. He drove more north since another guide spotted them there but by the time we made it there, the cats were gone. Seeing wild animals are not guaranteed but we were hoping to spot them.
We did get up close to elephants 🐘🐘! Two elephants wanted to cross the rock-covered road and signaled it by flapping his ears. There was a non-tour car behind us that didn't understand what was going on but finally figured out he needed to back up after the elephant flapped his ears again. On the other side of the road was at least 6 other elephants and 2 sleeping on the ground. I was able to watch the elephants grab plants with their trunks and curl it to their mouth 😮
Guess what else we spotted??
- Elephants video (link to be shared)
We also spotted rhinos 🦏 and giraffe🦒! They weren't as up close as the elephants but still very cool.
Near the end we tried to chase some lions that were spotted by another group. We didn't catch them in time but did spot a group of buffalo 🐃. When there is a group of buffalo, it means there are no lions since the buffalo herd chased the lions away.
If we stayed another day in Kruger, we would've signed up for another game drive. Every day is a different experience 😁