Retro- blogging: First trip to Kruger.
So back when Brian was still here, he and I headed off for an extended weekend at Kruger, my second safari, I think his 3rd. Suffice to say we had fairly high expectations after such a great time at Medikwe.
Kruger is about a 4-5 hour drive from Pretoria, basically straight east - its situated right on the border with Mozambique. I had my first getting-pulled-over-for-speeding-and-bribing-the-cop experience. Its kind of an essential part of any trip to Kruger, I would come to find out last month when I took my parents back there.
Anyway, we rolled into the park and had a little trouble finding our way to the resort we were staying at, but in the midst of being lost, I did see my first rhino (white), albeit a bit far off. We saw all the usual stuff as well - kudu, springbok, warthog, gnu, zebra, ox, giraffe. Eventually we got to the main lodge, Camp Shawu. Its the bigger one and its situated closer to the river, but we were actually staying up in Camp Shonga, which is tucked up in this little valley between two hills, and only accessible by their Landrovers, so after a welcome beer we loaded our stuff up for the quick drive to where we were staying.
I have to say that staying in the middle of the park is a pretty awesome way to go on safari. The whole camp is basically on raised platforms - the main dining area / lounge, the pool, the walk-way to the individual villas. It was pretty much the same incredible high-level of comfort that Medikwe had offered, complete with the outdoor shower that I so very much
The really great thing about Shonga is that there's only 5 villas, so at the very most, you're going to have 10 people there at any given time (which, conveniently, still fits in one Landrover for the game drives). We shared our first evening drive with an older "couple" that seemed to be on some kind of vacation fling thing. They had been there all week, and it was their last drive, so they very selfishly insisted that it not be a game drive. Right. I mean, why would you come all the way to Kruger park to drive around and see the animals? So we went speeding past everything, including a family of rhino, up close, so that we could get to this stupid rock outcropping on the side of a riverbed where supposedly there were 2000 year old paintings from the tribesmen. Well, turns out there was only half of one little sketch of a tiny dude left there, and it was barely visible to the naked eye. The river had long since washed everything else away. Awesome.
That evening, though, when we got back to camp, our guide did show us how to find the Southern Cross, which was another pretty cool first for me.
The days drives we didn't see a lot that we hadn't before, but we did get up close with 3 cheetah - and these guys were lazy, let me tell you what. They must not have been very hungry. During the afternoon down at the pool, we had a family of elephant wander right up to us - about 20 feet away, so that was pretty cool. The baby seemed pretty curious to head over closer to us, but the mom wasn't having any of that, she positioned herself between us and him, and that was the end of that. On the evening drive, I saw my first crocodile, and a pool full of hippo across the way as well.
After one more morning drive on Sunday, it was back off to Joburg. I was headed to evening church there so I hung out at Brian's for a bit and then went to the service over at the university. The end.