Day 1 - 3
Every vacation should start with a warm welcome. But it’s hard to guess who will say hello first as you fly into Kruger National Park. A good bet will be on a slumbering greeting from a few rhinos; this park has so many that you’ll quickly lose count of how many you’ve seen. Perhaps an elegant zebra herd will be your first safari sighting? Maybe it will be an elephant emerging from the woodland? It could be a lion pride lounging in the middle of the path, content in the sun as you are transferred to the remote Sabi Sands. Settle into your luxury lodge and gaze out of the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows. You probably came to Africa to see the Big Five. Over three days, there’s a good chance that you’ll see all five and more from the comfort of your bed.
Kruger National Park stretches for over two-million hectares, but the wildlife roams even further, wandering into a handful of private concessions that share unfenced boundaries. In an untouched animal kingdom of this scale you’re not going to be restricted to a few glimpses. This is complete submersion. Jump in with two feet and shake your head at the baffling abundance that surrounds you. Elephants prefer the forest, thumping away at trees as you slowly drive past. Hippos are magnetically attracted to the swamps, fighting over mating rights as they plow into the water. Out on the savannah and grasslands you’ll find dozens of antelope species, each bringing something new to the landscape. When it rains they’re spread far and wide, ferociously grazing on nature’s banquet. Arrive in dry season and they congregate around water, easily found by you and easily picked upon by Kruger’s predators.
Each day usually includes two long game drives. Wake early and explore the park at its most active. As a layer of mist still hangs in the distant valley the ungulates are on full alert. This is prime hunting time and it doesn’t take long before you spot a cat on the prowl. A leopard is advancing in the insipid light, dipping its neck and coldly moving through the grass. The impala seem to be a safe enough distance away, but one youngster has strayed a little far from the herd. It all happens in a flash, the leopard’s stealth perfectly complimented by its powerful jaws. It's just one example of the drama that welcomes early risers. During the hottest part of the day you relax at the lodge, soaking up the Kruger landscape from the pool, your room, or a raised wooden balcony.
Two rivers make game viewing around here remarkably easy. Sabi Sands becomes a haven for thirsty wanderers, and it’s easy to spend a few hours watching the procession pass by. Rhinos never seem to be far away when you’re in Kruger and they’re usually down at the river. Less than 20,000 wild rhinos remain in the world. Over half can be found here. Swap the wheels for hiking boots and go on walking safari through the riverine forest, armed game trackers ensuring that you’re safe amidst this world of rhinos and big cats. Smaller wildlife like bushbuck and springbok provide a charming alternative to the raw power elsewhere, while graceful kudu and hartebeest are best admired from this new angle. Over these three days you’re guaranteed to see a lot. And it’s all going to be experienced from a breathtaking proximity.
Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast
Day 4 - 6
Day 7 - 8
Day 10 - 11