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Kruger Park: Numbi Gate to Phabeni

A lomo safari to remember, with some Belgian tourist friends (in South Africa for a warm festive season) packed in the car, my sister and some snacks, we set out for a big five adventure!

This was the first time I had driven to the Kruger National Park myself. When three Belgian students came to do research for their thesis subjects here in Jozi, I asked them what else they would like to do and of course, Kruger was big on the list!

We drove three hours to Waterval Boven, where we had a rest and spent the night. The next morning, we got up early and drove the next 2-and-a-half hours to Kruger. We decided to go into Numbi Gate, which is the mid west part of the park. We started out a little slow, seeing nothing – barely even a bird crossed our path.

Eventually however, we were greeted by the most popular game of the park – the ever-friendly impala – they travel in big herds and have huge eyes that make them appear to be the gentlest creatures around.

The next spotting was of a rhino, how my sister saw this is a mystery to me! The only reason we could see that it was not a rock was that there was an ear pointing to the sky that kept moving. We carried on for a while and went down to some watering holes where we saw lots of water buck and Kudu. Then we struck our first bit of gold and some giraffes and zebra graced us with their presence, we got luckier from there as we drove to an open plane that had a mud bath and sure enough, three elephants and a cub were having a play date in the mud! We watched them for about half an hour until they decided to move on. Along our drive, we saw lots more impala and kudu, as well as loads of hornbills! We stopped for a snack at a picnicking spot in the park and as soon as we had recharged, got back in the car for the rest of the drive.

We once again got lucky and got to see a family of rhinos (a mom, dad, and baby) up close. They were about 3m away from the car, it was amazing! We saw more elephants and some buffalo and wildebeest but unfortunately, no cats. We raced to Phabeni Gate to exit at 6 as that is when the park closes and stayed in the nearby town of Hazyview.

The next morning, the Belgian tourists were up at 5:30am to go on a half-day safari – me and my sister however, decided we would sleep in. They were lucky enough to see more zebras and giraffes and more importantly, they got to see a pride of lions that included some cubs!

Once they got back, we decided to take the long drive back to Johannesburg – we even spotted some buffaloes and rhinos along the highway about two-and-half hours out of the city.

So if you are ever on this side of the world, come take a chance to see our Big 5 and beautiful park!

written by nicx

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