Days 10, 11, 12, & 13 – Kruger National Park

We landed in the very small airport in Skukuza around lunch time. We decided to rent a car, rather than take the free shuttle so that we would not be limited to the lodge. We spent 3 nights at the Rhino Post Safari Lodge. I love this lodge. I would go back. Our guide, Charles, was delightful, but I am getting ahead of myself.

When you first arrive at the lodge, the operation is explained to you. Everyday, there are 2 game drives. Those drives promptly start at 6AM and 4PM. That means, you get a wake up call at 5:30 AM and you walk down to the bar area for coffee, cookies, and fruit. Each game drive lasts about 4 hours and half way through (about 8AM) you stop along the side of the road for coffee or tea, and a light snack. When you return to the lodge around 10 AM, there is a large hot brunch waiting for you with made to order omelets and lots of delicious food.

You now have until 3:30 PM. There are times we would nap, and 2 separate days we took the car out to drive around the park. It’s a really nice way to just relax. At 3:30, high tea is served, which includes a number of hearty hors d’oeuvre. On my first day, I got a cup of tea, even though the heat was intolerable. These 2 funny german guys filled me in on the fact that most people just buy a drink, so high tea, quickly became happy hour for most of us.

The evening game drive starts at 4, and like the morning you stop about halfway through the drive. The stop tends to coincide with sunset, so it makes for a particularly lovely affair. The guide puts out a nice white table cloth, and serves you your drink (I was normally on rose) and a few heavy appetizers. I loved having the barbeque chicken wings, which became a joke, because I tried to feign indifference to look dignified on day 1, but succumbed to the wings quickly.

When you get back to the lodge, you are served a proper 3 course meal and then most folks retire to the bar to chat, and discuss what everyone saw that day. That is how each day operates, and it is a lot of fun.

I thought Rhino Post was really nice, but I am told it is an average lodge. I guess there are some really decadent ones, and some that are basically tents. I thought it was perfect and every staff person was wonderful.

Now let’s get to the animals.

91d50-16585512_341132459620298_7777873911185670144_nI was impressed by the animals every day. When we drove to the lodge and saw elephants I was in awe, when I saw a another herd of elephants on our first drive, I was in awe again.  I
never stopped being in awe. They were amazing. We saw a pride of lions that had 17 in it. None were full grown males, and we never saw a full grown male lion while we were there. Nor, did we see a hippo out of the water, a leopard, or a cheetah, though other people in our lodge saw a leopard one day.

 

 

231bd-16789432_1289136791139427_1469962774783197184_nWe got close to one rhinoceros and they way it which it pranced away was hysterical. They are really light on their feet and that was a nice surprise.  We saw 2 Cape buffalo on our first day that were not with the rest of their herd.  We saw lots of giraffes, impala, antelopes, zebras, and birds.   I never thought of myself as someone who is into birds, but one of the other guests on our drive was a birder.   She got Holly and myself into spotting them from the vehicle.  By the end of the trip I was starting to get into spotting and identifying birds.

At the end of our second day it started to rain. The area had not seen significant rain in a long time, so it was desperately needed. I never found the rain to be miserable and there is something quite extraordinary to see a herd of elephants walking through it completely unphased. The rain disrupted 2 things during our time on safari. We were no longer allowed to use the private dirt roads. These are the roads we had some of the best animal siting. Also, we had scheduled to stay in a tree house on our last night.   We could not stay in it during the rain, so we missed this part of our adventure.  Even though the rain got in the way, it did serve a purpose on a personal matter.

I loved going on safari.  I think a safari is a great way to end a long trip, because it is easy and a lot of fun.  At times you feel a bit sedentary, but I used the time to decompress and reflect on my time in South Africa.

And here is my conclusion.

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