It’s a question every traveller, adventurer or photographer might ask themselves. How will you react when the creature you’re searching for, looks to meet your wide-eyed gaze back?
It’s hard to forget your first African safari. The incredible burnt orange sunsets; the countless wildlife encounters; friendly locals with big smiles and hearts; and spectacular scenery that only Africa can supply.
An African safari was always top of my bucket-list, and when a close friend decided to marry in Kruger National Park, we jumped at the perfect opportunity to visit this incredible continent.
The wildlife encounters will stay with you forever. On passing through the National Park’s entrance gates, we were soon met with buffalo, rhinoceros, impala and elephant; essentially making the transfer from the airport our first official safari and ticking off three, of the ‘Big 5’ list.
The excitement on the bus was contagious. The sound of cameras snapping pictures through the windows almost deafening, with our patient bus driver more than obliging to our ‘stop the bus’ requests at every movement from the surrounding bushland.
Tour operators in Africa
What is the ‘Big 5’?
The ‘Big 5’ on an African safari are lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. Lucky for us, we were able to spot all five during our three-night Kruger safari.
Even the elusive leopard, which can be hard to find, was spotted while we were on our first safari. We also discovered leopard tracks early one morning in front of our hut.
How to get to Kruger National Park
From Australia, Qantas fly non-stop Sydney to Johannesburg Airport with onward connections to Nelspruit Airport with South African Airways.
South African Airways fly non-stop from Perth to Johannesburg Airport with same-day onward connections to Nelspruit Airport. Codeshare flights with Virgin Australia will get you to Perth.
Arrival into Nelspruit Airport
The air gateway to Kruger National Park is Nelspruit Airport; approximately a one-and-half hour drive to the entrance gates of Kruger National Park.
One of the great Dames of the jungle is the African Elephant. Such gentle and trusting creatures, they walk past your safari Landrover just as curious of us, as we are of them. While no aggression is normally displayed, they are fiercely protective of their young and when distance is required.
High on my must-see wildlife list was the giant of the jungle, the giraffe. While not as trusting as the elephant, they are certainly easy to spot among the tree top canopy. We were lucky to spot on a couple of occasions, this adorable mother and her two not so little calfs.
Just sitting in the river, this yawning baby hippo had us all captivated. Although considered Africa’s most dangerous animal, they are simply adorable with their baby fat rolls and intriguing looks on their face.
We thought the zebra had escaped our cameras until the very last safari, when we spotted four zebras grazing on the side of the road.
It was literally our last safari ride before we saw these beauties. And thank goodness we did! Like a human finger print, the zebra stripe is unique to each individual. Predators find it hard to single out a zebra when they travel in herds as their stripes blend together giving the zebra the upper hand in times of danger.
Ever elusive, they do say leopard sightings are low when on safari. Fortunately for us, within ten minutes of our first safari, we spotted this beautiful female with a kill by her side.
These creatures are mesmerising and completely adorable with their long eyelashes and deer like qualities. Travelling in large numbers for protection, the impala can be spotted in large numbers on every game drive.
With poor eyesight, the rhino is very timid and shy. Staying upwind makes it easier to get closer, but we were all happy to view from a distance. The baby rhino may be one of the cutest creatures on earth.
Active after dark, lions generally sleep or rest through the heat of the day. We spotted this small pride waking late in the afternoon, ready for the evenings hunt.
With horns that look like a party hat, the buffalo has an ugly cuteness about them. With luck, a buffalo stampede through the parkland in search of water is an impressive sight.
The People of South Africa
Warm, welcoming and full of spirit, the people of South Africa sing from the heart. Play the video below for the energised welcome we received at the wedding reception.
Well, these just speak for themselves. One of my happy places.
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YOUR AFRICA ADVENTURE STARTS HERE