Kruger National Park
Journal Entry for May 22nd
On our way to Kruger:
We left bright and early this morning at 7am and began our long drive to Kruger Park. Along the way, we stopped to practice our bargaining skills at a flea market by the side of the road for handcrafted animals, bowls, masks, and such. We were unexpectedly swarmed by a group of African students (children) who were excited to see our bus and wanted their pictures taken. Views from the road were beautiful and included breathtaking landscapes of mountains, waterfalls, and a variety of residential areas.
We arrived in Swadini late afternoon, pleasantly surprised by our adorable chalets at Forever Resorts and a number of monkeys and impala who greeted us at the gates. We then relaxed in the pool and hot springs and enjoyed a traditional meal cooked by Llewellyn, Rena’s son, and friend Norman. We were excited to sit and relax by the fire but also tired from the long week and travel, so we retired early. Tomorrow we’ll travel the final leg to Kruger Park and begin our safari adventure. Can’t wait!
Journal Entry for May 23rd
This morning, we woke up and had breakfast in the restaurant at Swadeni and then got onto the bus and headed to Kruger Park. The bus ride to Kruger was about an hour, then we had another hour drive to the place we were staying. Once we had gone through the Orphen gate of the park, we started to see animals. It was so exciting every time saw animals, we would stop the bus and take pictures. We saw elephants, giraffes, impala, wildebeest, water buffalo, zebras and baboons. All of the animals were amazing, but the giraffes and elephants were the most impressive because they were so large and close to the bus. The landscape was so breathtaking. The grassland and trees stretches for miles and miles.
After sighting for a few hours, we made it to our camp. We stayed in chalets that looked like small huts with grass roofs. Two people slept in each hut, Once everyone had settled in, some people went on an afternoon safari. They were lucky enough to see a rhino! The people who stayed behind relaxed by the pool and looked around in the gift shop while Rena’s son made dinner. For dinner we had an appetizer of snails, which Llewellyn described as erasers with garlic sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce and green salad. For desert, we had s’mores with marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate. It was delicious. Most people went to bed early because we have to get up early tomorrow to go on an all day safari. It was a wonderful day!
Journal Entry for May 24th
This morning we woke up 5:30 and ate a breakfast consisting of rusks, yogurt and cereal. We then got onto the bus and went out on an eleven-hour gaming/sighting trip around Kruger National Park. Most of the students and adults went out on the large bus while a small group joined Rena’s son on the kombi, a smaller van. We were lucky enough to see the sunrise from the bus and take great pictures. In the morning we then saw a variety of animals including elephants, kudu, zebra, baboon, buffalo, impala, giraffe, hyena, hippopotamus, crocodile, and ostrich. We took a side road and were able to get out to see a baobab tree and take pictures. Around noon we arrived at the largest camp in Kruger and ate lunch at a Golf Club.
After lunch a few left with Llewellyn in the kombi while the rest of us continued on the bus. Of the Big Five, most of us were only able to see the elephant and the buffalo. Those who went on the Kombi however, saw a rhino and three lions! We have all been very anxious to see the cats and fortunately, a few had the opportunity. During the trip play dead immediately. We also learned a useful survival tip: although hyenas are very dangerous animals, you can scare them off by staring straight into their eyes and making noise. It was very exciting to go on the night safari as we were told that the wild is a different world at night. Our guide spotted two chameleons. They are easily spotted at night because they only change color in the sunlight. For two hours we anxiously searched for the roar of a lion and the mysterious eyes of the cheetah, but unfortunately there was neither. We came back to our huts and had some of Llewellyn’s delicious food, which never disappoints us: steak, pop with sheba sauce and salad, and for desert, banana bread with a brandy custard sauce. It was an exciting day in the wild.
Journal Entry for May 25th
We woke up and ate breakfast in Kruger at 8:00 AM. Breakfast consisted of various leftovers from dinner the night before such as steak and vegetables. We also had granola, rusks, and yogurt. We left Kruger around 9:00 and headed back to Edendale. On our way out of the park we saw more giraffes, monkeys, and other small animals. We stopped for lunch at the Wheelbarrow Café, which had a small shop in the front with specialty teas, fruits, vegetables, candy and Mopani worms (some of us ate these at Lesedi) for sale. We did purchase lots of avocados for the upcoming week and yes, a few of us, purchased those Mopani worms to take back to friends and family in the States. The sandwiches and salads were delicious when they arrived. With 29 of us in the group traveling, we need to be patient in restaurants while food is being prepared, but this did give us time to view the beautiful gardens and pottery in the café, as well. A shovel turned into a chair was purchased for Rina as a gift for all her hard work planning our journey. We got back to Edendale around 8:00 PM and ate a small dinner at Mahulong with the children at the hostel.