With a 5am pick up, we roll out of bed with blankets in hand (safari trucks are freezing and without that African sun it really does feel like winter). It is a 40 minute drive to the park from our camp grounds where our guide tells us the plan for the day. “Don’t get your hopes up, this park is huge and finding cats is going to be hard. We are going to take the day as it comes”. Feeling a bit deflated we drive in.
We are THE luckiest and see all big 5 before 10am. The Big 5 is what every single person will ask you about when you say you are on an African safari.
The Big 5 includes; elephants, leopards, lions, rhino and buffalo.
There is also the ugly 5; vultures, wildebeest, pumba, hyena, and some bird we never saw.
Mbombella tours was the company Acacia contracted through and our guide was amazing. He could tell us about each animal, their habits and even feel when they would come towards us to cross the road. I really appreciated his expertise and willingness to wait so we could watch herds cross in front of us.
Kruger Park is a basically a commercialized zoo. Anyone can pay a fee and drive in their own car. Because of this people are just driving around aimlessly frightening the animals away from the road. It was the reason why a heard of 30 elephants decided not to head our way. Not bitter or anything.
We ended the day with a night safari. If you are not as lucky as we are this is normally your last chance to see any cats since they hunt only when the sun isn’t out. Besides being cold there isn’t much to report. We saw about 5 owls and a ton of African bunnies. I don’t regret doing it but kind of a sad way to end the trip considering how the morning started.
Regardless, after seeing what a wild park is like you will decide seeing any animal at a zoo is like eating at Olive Garden. Sure the food is technically Italian but even you know this doesn’t count.
Bonus animals: giraffe, zebra, impala, crocodiles with 3 lions in the background, and too many baboons.