Kruger National Park
Malelane Travel Blog› entry 12 of 14 › view all entries
This game park is probably the most accessible in the world. It's basically a gigantic outdoor zoo with roads. I got up early and waited by the Southern entrance until 5, when they opened the park. I wanted to see the big cats and they are best spotted in the early hours. Within only about 10 minutes, I turned a corner and right before my disbelieving eyes was a pride of three older male lions walking down the center of the road. I slowed down to follow them. Eventually, they sauntered over to one side allowing me to pass, but then decided to lay down by the roadside, and I also stopped the car to observe them. My heart was beating fast as I rolled the window down a few inches to hear their deep throaty growls.
Although that encounter was the highlight of the day, I also saw many herds of gazelle, dik dik, elephants, girraffe, buffalo, and even a leopard in a tree. Once, I stopped the car when I saw a bright green chameleon walk across the road in that herky-jerky way they move. I got out of the car to hold it and promptly got chewed out by a park ranger passing by with a van full of tourists. Getting out of the car in the park is strictly forbidden! Most of the roads in the park were gravel but they were well maintained and I could drive fast on them - a little too fast actually. I rounded a bend and almost slammed into a herd of gazelle crossing the road. I swerved and missed them, but did slightly clip a younger one as I passed. I felt so bad - it was limping along to keep up with the others and in the wild that could be a death sentence.
By noon, I had to leave the park, albeit reluctantly, because I had a plane to catch that evening in J'Burg. The drive back was anything but pleasant. I underestimated both the amount of slower traffic and the winding mountainous nature of the drive between the West gate of the park and J'Burg and I had to drive very aggresssively and well over a safe (and legal) speed on technically difficult roads to make my flight. I was totally frazzled when I pulled into the airport just at final check-in. I barely made the plane!