Kruger National Game Park

Punda Maria Travel Blog

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Me at Kruger
Today is Kruger National Game Park Day ( http://www.krugerpark.co.za/ ) ..... left Thohoyandou early in the morning. Was about a 2 hour drive to get to the park, which in the scheme of things was really not too bad considering all the driving done on previous days.

Arrived at the park with plenty of time to spare for a drive through the north part.  I didnt stop at Punda Maria because I figured I had plenty of time to drive around and get back to the camp before the gates closed. So I headed south down the main road to the Shinqwedzi Restcamp. This was about 65K from the enterence but at 50 kph (and because you are looking for animals you drive much slower).  The drive was incredible... Elephant, Zebra, Vulture, African Eagle, Yellow Hornbill, Africa Eagle Owl, Nyala Antelope, Kudu, Impala, Meerkat, etc.
Kudo
  Took a quick break when I was an Shinqwedzi and then started the drive back to Punda Maria.  I "love" my 70-400MM lens for my Nikon D80.....  though the lens is very heavy and using a tripod in the car is impossible... I did manage to get some great shots.

Leaving Shingwedzi, I followed the dry Shingwedzi River Bed back to the main road. Along the river bed there were elephant everywhere! Oh my, just lazily walking up the river bed, stopping to grab a bite to eat and moving one some more.  It is hard to believe that this sandy area is a thriving, rushing river during the rainy season. I bet it is beautiful when full of water!

But, I had to head back to Punda Maria because it was getting late and the gate to the camp closes at 6:00 PM. 

The name of the rest camp was given in 1919 by the first ranger to be posted to the area, Captain JJ Coetser.
Elephant family
He mistakenly named his post Punda Maria in the belief that this was the Swahili name for Zebra, the first big game he saw on arrival. The correct Swahili name is actually 'punda milia' (meaning Striped Donkey).   When the error was pointed out to him, he chose to retain the name, in honour of his wife, Maria, who bore him 12 children. Many years later, Park officials corrected the name, and for a while the rest camp was known as Punda Milia, but in 1981 it was changed back to the original 'Punda Maria'.


Anyway... enough of the history lesson. Once I arrived back at Punda Maria Restcamp it was time to check in and get to my room.  I had a surprise coming to me... I wasnt getting a room... I was getting a tent! It was one of seven luxurious safari tents, equipped with every creature comfort.
"Flying Banana" African Hornbill
All the tents have a beautiful rooms, a bathroom with an open air shower and a combined kitchen and braai area. Ah yes.... I would put to use the skills I learned the other night... starting a proper fire, getting the coals right.. and cooking over it.... Would I survive!!! Well, obviously I did because I am still here and still writing.

The night was brisk and the fire outside for cooking was nice to have.  There was no heat in the tent but the blankets did a wonderful job of keeping me warm. This day was an incredible day... full of adventure, surprises and fun.  One definitely for the memory books.

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Me at Kruger
Me at Kruger
Kudo
Kudo
Elephant family
Elephant family
Flying Banana African Hornbill
"Flying Banana" African Hornbill
Zebra mom and baby
Zebra mom and baby
Elephant
Elephant
This was my home in Kruger Park.. …
This was my home in Kruger Park..…
Punda Maria
photo by: ride4jesus