Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kruger National Park - African Safari

Our travel from Graskop to Kruger National Park continued after spending a night at Graskop. We left at 6.30 a.m. and proceeded towards Orpen gate in Kruger. There was so much excitement in me as African Safari is a life time experience for those who love nature. Kruger National Park is one such place where you will get memorable experience. After reaching Orpen gate at 8.15 a.m. we reported at the reception as we booked our accommodation and entry ticket over the internet.

 Just near the gate we spotted an elephant, the herd was little inside which we could not see. We were very happy to start the safari with Lord Ganesha’s blessings. After breakfast we entered the real wilderness. The Kruger national park has lot of entrances. Our plan was to enter through orpen gate and reach Skukuza gate before 4.30 p.m. as we had booked for sunset safari at 5 p.m.

We spotted lot of warthogs, Blue wild beasts, Kudu, Giraffes, common reed buck and Steenboks. A drive of another 45 minutes took us to the most gifted sight.
 A zebra family gave excellent pose to the camera. The parents crossed the road before we reached near them. Foal was on the other side of the mud road. On looking at our car the mother and father zebras with all anxiety called the foal to cross the road to reach them. They were shaking their head forward and backward calling the baby. It was a fantastic scene. Once the foal reached them they showed happiness and were licking the baby. They developed confidence in us as we eagerly took photographs and stood at a comfortable distance.

Then we were lucky to spot a white rhino near a water hole. The wild ostrich unlike the ones in farm was gorgeous. We also spotted lot of elephants and their dung all over Kruger national park. It is said elephants eat most of the time and rest only an hour or so in a day.
Another spectacular scene was lionesses trying to hunt baby elephants. The parent elephants were scaring the lionesses away. The parent elephants stood protecting the young ones and it was a very moving scene for everyone looking at it. We could not wait for long as the safari time was fast approaching.

In the above picture please look at the elephant raising the trunk scaring away the lioness. The last bigger picture indicates the position of one of the lionesses present there. I have circled it in black. The colour of the grass and the skin of lioness was almost same. Because it was moving towards the elephant at the time we crossed the place we were able to spot and take picture.

We reached Skukuza camp at 3.50 p.m. just in time for the safari confirmation reporting time at 4 p.m. We reached the guest house and downloaded our luggage and proceeded for the safari leaving my son with his grandparents. The safari started at 5 p.m.

 As we were just out of the gate there was a hunting going on. The place became crowded. I had a glimpse of a cheetah carrying a baby impala and running into bushes. The mom was looking at it and the scene was too pathetic. I had to convince myself stating this is what is called life cycle is. As we moved further in at a far off distance on a rock was sleeping lioness. It did not wake up for long time. Hence the safari moved further away to spot cape buffalos. Around 8 o’clock the guide stopped the vehicle. To all our surprise we saw a leopard just crossing the road and entering bushes. The fellow passengers in total surprise shouted only to make the leopard hide into the bushes. After that we only saw giraffes and elephants. The safari vehicle took a turn and started proceeding towards the camp. Few minutes later the safari vehicle which was going ahead of us was coming in the opposite direction. There was another bumper surprise.

A lion was coming towards our vehicle. We waited until it crossed our vehicle. If you think that would have been the most nervous moment in my life you are wrong. The lion was walking along with our vehicle for 10 minutes. Then it reached a spot. Scratched the mud on the road with legs and settled thereitself giving pose for photographs. We were sitting on the last row on the window side. We had good view and were bit nervous being close to the lion. Every one was very happy and satisfied .

As we proceeded towards the camp after a satisfying lion walk along experience the guide spotted a young elephant. It was single. As the guide stopped near the elephant it became aggressive and it started moving towards our vehicle. I lost my nerves and started shivering. The guide was unmoved by the approaching elephant. The vehicle was at an angle in which the approaching elephant was few yards away from the seat I was sitting. I sat down inside the vehicle to avoid looking the elephant. Finally the guide made the elephant submissive and it started moving away from us. I stood finally to bid good bye to that elephant. With that dramatic scene Sunset safari came to an end. We reached the guest house and had called it a day. The next day morning my parents-in-law went for sunrise safari and they have spotted few lions sleeping on the road and hyenas along with other animals.

After they came back we proceeded towards Crocodile bridge gate. Towards Lower Sabie from Skukuza another surprise was waiting for us. A leopard was chasing a monkey on a tree. We had a good sight of leopard climbing up and down and jumping from a tree. There were lots of resting areas with toilets inside the jungle. One such resting area with a small restaurant had information about the kind of animals spotted at all the camps.

We did not see any big group of cape buffalos. We could not capture leopard as it was moving fast from the eyesight . While making collage for this post I accidentally stumbled on zooming the place where we noticed the lion I spotted the lioness. This gives me the feeling that I should have taken the fast moving leopard too. If any of you happen to spot such ones please do click. You can later use tools to zoom and have a clear picture.

The journey towards Johannesburg started at 3.15 p.m. from crocodile bridge gate and ended at 8.15 p.m. When we were out of the gate where we thought we would not find animals to our surprise was an elephant. We came back with happiness as Ganesha blessed us first when we entered the park and at last wishing a safe journey.
Dinner : Lot of offers were pouring in from friends to have PIL for dinner. Though I was extremely sleepy and preferred sleeping to eating , a small fresh up at home refreshed me and kindled my appetite. We had delicious food at Shruthi & Venky's house

After a week we came to know that a leopard was shot at in Skukuza camp where we stayed. Yes! it has intruded into the camp chasing a monkey in the very same guest house camp ! As it is unsafe for people inside the camp the authorities have shot not with tranquilizer but with gun. Leopards are territorial. So even if it was dropped elsewhere it would revisit the camp. Also other leopards will not allow this one in their territory. Therefore they had no choice but to kill the animal. It was pathetic to hear the news. You can read about this story in

The next posts in this series is "Destination Cape Town!"