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Kruger Park - Why for me, it will always be the best place on earth


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#1 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 11:01 PM

Im not a very experienced traveler by any means. In fact I haven't really been many places at all. But it doesn't matter where I end up going in the future, Kruger will always be, for me, the best place on earth and where I have buried my soul. Our photo album, Kruger Park 2011 is a very happy collection of our first trip back to KNP after a near 5 year absence. We spent 24 days driving from North to South stopping in loads of camps along the way. We were so sick of packing and unpacking by the end, but it was such a memorable trip. The best we have had by far. Ever.

Trying to condense the immense amount of photographs into an album that folks would hopefully not get bored with was a difficult task. As a team of photographers we, and many others, are always so intent at getting that PERFECT shot that I think sometimes we forget to just seriously let go and have a bit of fun. We had to show people out there, us, and who we are. Of course we spent major amounts of time trying for those special shots that every aspiring photographer dreams of. But, all the moments not spent waiting and watching at sightings were spent having the best, funniest, most interesting holiday of our lives.

It was the first BIG trip with our 1988 Landy, affectionately named the Armour-dillo. Anyone who has ever owned a Landrover will attest to the fact that things go wrong with them. Sometimes the "things" are huge disasters, and other times its stupid silly stuff, like a rusted fuse terminal. The aforementioned electrical failure, if you could call it that, kept us confused for about two solid days a few weeks after we bought the car. It kept simply dying and nothing worked after that. Turned out it was an old fuse board. It still had that ancient little glass system! It was rusted, so a couple of rand's later, a new blade fuse system box thingy was installed quite competently by my husband. Fixed! We had spent long hours sweating in the sun constructing and fitting water tanks, covers, speaker mounts, we even rubberised the interior ourselves. It was the biggest DIY project we had ever undertaken! We did it though. We were ready in time for our epic trip and we could not wait to get into our Armour-dillo and begin the adventure.

We tried new camps too and spent time in a part of the park we had never ventured to, for any length of time, bar the occasional lunch or drive through on the way to the next camp. The central Mopani area. If you actually take the time to stay more than one night, and explore the region, you will find the most spectacular watering holes flanked by huge flat open plains teeming with wildlife as well as large amounts of Kori Bustard! The tar road from Phalaborwa gate is a real hidden gem! Come to think of it, we drove the strangest roads seldom traveled by many. Nyala drive in the Pafuri area is an awfully short in and out "loop" that takes you through scenery I know exits, but that I have never seen before. Huge trees and large shady areas surrounded by sand. Red sand.Everywhere. Barren below but teeming with life higher up. The bird life is staggering and the feel of the place is ancient. We made a comment which I thought appropriate, "Dinosaurs walked here" If you are ever up that side of the park, don't miss this drive.
We also spent a night at a Bird Hide overlooking a magical place that will forever be etched into my soul. Sable Dam. Situated 8km inside of Phalaborwa gate. It features often in our album because it was a surreal experience. I cant explain it. Just book a night...and go, you wont regret it! No words can describe that sunset! I saw Thick-Tailed Bush Baby for the first time, and saw Civet for more than roughly 3 seconds at Punda Maria camp. We had an evening of intense excitement when two young male lions were trotting alongside the fence, roaring and seemingly picking their next meal from the buffet of enthralled campers watching them. It always amazes me that humans think a thin strand of wire fencing can protect them. We are seriously a strange species. So clever in some ways and then completely ignorant and arrogant in in other ways.
We spent a lazy afternoon in the company of 4 Elephant bulls, 3 Kudu bulls and a very brave baby crocodile at Mooiplaas picnic spot situated right next to Tzendze rustic camping grounds. I forgot my watch, that my husband bought me in the wash up area of that camp. Sigh. That was a bit deflating.
We sat in awe as over 1000 buffalo came to drink right in front of a bird hide that we happened to be at, which was situated alongside a river. Its not far from Mopani camp. Shipandani Hide. We later on that year, spent Christmas night in that very same hide, serenaded by crocodiles and woken by barbel reaching out of the water to try and catch low flying birds! That was an amazing thing to witness. They never got it right and they had many opportunities, so why do they even bother to try if they are so unsuccessful in this method of hunting?Must be a case of "Thomas the Tank syndrome" Pretty admirable for a fish!
Wild Dog is my husbands favorite animal and we spent an unexpected morning with 11 dogs sleeping,playing,sniffing and generally doing real doggy things all around us just outside of Maroela camp. We encountered Elephant gatherings of more than 120 individuals at a single water source, all simultaneously swimming and enjoying the most fun filled mud wrestling sessions. Some individuals swam for over 20 minutes at a time, sometimes playing with other Elephants and other times having a private roly - poly session.There were lions, 22 of them on one specific day! This was on the famous S100 by Satatra camp.Of the 22 lions, 11 were cubs. That was a special memory, so many cubs together. We also met an new friend on that day. This friend led us to new, new friends. We drank milkshakes, at dusk on a hot, day. Strange sun downer I know, but I guess its one of those "had to be there" moments. It was, until our Christmas Kruger trip later that year, the hottest I have ever felt in all my not so many years of life. Beers or whatever one may choose for a sun downer was in no way appealing at all. So we chatted over an ice cold chocolate shake..on the rocks!

We had pancakes for lunch at Afsaal picnic spot, and were harassed by Hornbills, who were so naughty but so endearing at the same time. I don't know anyone who dislikes these sly and mischievous little winged creatures. Afsaal, incidentally, provided emergency sheltering for a very wet and bedraggled Hyena over the January 2012 floods. The picture, located somewhere in the SanParks forum pages is a good representation of the sheer amount of rain that was falling.

To top this whole adventure off, we saw, for the first time in our lives, a Black Rhino. It was very obscured by trees, but it was unmistakably a Black Rhino. I'm sure the lady who stopped next to me to ask what we were looking at was very curious as to why I had tears running down my face. You see to me, in my mind, there are certain species of animals I have always resigned myself to never seeing in my lifetime. The Black Rhino being one of them. I know there are many reserves who stock Black Rhino, but Black Rhino in the Kruger National Park? That is a privilege enjoyed by few and a moment I will never forget for as long as I live.

On our way home, beaming with pride that our Armour-dillo got us all the way around the Kruger National Park without any major hiccups for 24 days, we reflected on our holiday. This totally uplifting journey we had made. We couldn't help but admit to ourselves, that no matter where the wind blows us in the future, there can be no place on earth like the Kruger National Park. Could there be another place for us that could hold these kind of memories? Could there be another place that could feed our soul like this. Perhaps. There are surely many places more wild, less fenced, with way less cars, boasting all kinds of exclusivity and privacy. But there are not many places out there that can offer all of that PLUS a haven for folks like us, who enjoy rustic tenting among the easy going atmosphere that has always been and still is present in the camping community of the Kruger National Park. There are not many places that can offer on top of all of that, the most amazing wild places and once in a lifetime experiences. All that and a camera and lens at our side. Priceless!

We even got married in the Kruger Park, a week from today, nine years ago 2 February 2003, in Skukuza camp surrounded by 14 or so people who love us! We promised to share this journey of life with each other that day. A life we have chosen for ourselves. A life we have dreamed of since childhood.We promised all of this to each other, in the best place on earth, the Kruger National Park.

Marcelle Robbins
Photo Album
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#2 Atravelynn

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 11:47 PM

Your story is uplifting to others as well. How nice your favorite place could serve as the spot you got married. What is the story behind Jock the dog? Nice photos. Especially liked the huge buffalo herd drinking.
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#3 Bugs

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:02 AM

Kruger is beautiful thanks for the report. Are you planning any more trips with Armour-dillo?

There's none so blind as those who will not see.


#4 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:16 AM

Your story is uplifting to others as well. How nice your favorite place could serve as the spot you got married. What is the story behind Jock the dog? Nice photos. Especially liked the huge buffalo herd drinking.

Thanks :) Its my first attempt at a article/blog, very nervous about it. Jock is a legendary dog that traversed the bush veld region in the late 1800's with his owner Sir Percy Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick wrote a book detailing their adventures and especially the bravery that Jock displayed. Here is a link for some more info, its really well worth the read Jock of the Bushveld

#5 Sangeeta

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:19 AM

Your emotions come through very clearly and there is something very genuine in your writing. I enjoyed the photos, but must confess I liked your writing even better :)

Zindagi na milegi dobara... Chalo Africa
You only live once...Go To Africa

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#6 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:42 AM

Kruger is beautiful thanks for the report. Are you planning any more trips with Armour-dillo?

Oh yes Dik Dik, besides hopefully one or two whirlwind trips during the year, we are planning a long one for later in the year back to KNP. Besides KNP we have yet to visit certain parks, such as Mapungubwe and the Armour-dillo will be hosting us all the way! Just getting around on our holiday and trips is an adventure of its own with the Landy. Love it!

#7 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:45 AM

Your emotions come through very clearly and there is something very genuine in your writing. I enjoyed the photos, but must confess I liked your writing even better :)


I cant finding a little blushing face to put on here. Thanks so much for the feedback. Maybe I can write another at some stage. Lets hope it all comes pouring out as easily as it did last night!! :D

#8 ice

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:50 AM

I won't be as emotional as you are - but in my own experience Kruger always delivers...during my past two visits I saw, over a span of 10 / 8 days, 50+ / 50+ different lions, many of them multiple times, 50 + / 20 different hyenas, 7 / 6 different leopards, 1 / 2 cheetah (a truely rare sighting in Kruger, with all the other predators) and 6 / 0 wild dogs, along with all the general game, lots of snakes, plus nocturnal creatures like bush babies, civets, genets, porcupines, servals, wild cats...in my opinion within this community Kruger is perhaps the most underrated park of all...yes, it's not as wild as Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the places most people here seem to favour, yes, it has tar roads and yes, you may have to share your sightings with other cars - but boy, Kruger always delivers and that for a fraction of the price you pay at other destinations

Edited by ice, 27 January 2012 - 06:18 AM.


#9 Bugs

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:04 AM

Kruger is beautiful thanks for the report. Are you planning any more trips with Armour-dillo?

Oh yes Dik Dik, besides hopefully one or two whirlwind trips during the year, we are planning a long one for later in the year back to KNP. Besides KNP we have yet to visit certain parks, such as Mapungubwe and the Armour-dillo will be hosting us all the way! Just getting around on our holiday and trips is an adventure of its own with the Landy. Love it!


I have heard awesome things about Mapungubwe. - you may just find your new favourite place there!!

Read about Mapungubwe here

Edited by dikdik, 27 January 2012 - 06:34 AM.

There's none so blind as those who will not see.


#10 Kavey

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 08:32 AM

Lovely, touching!
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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"I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees."
Alfred Tennyson

#11 Atravelynn

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 04:53 PM

Your story is uplifting to others as well. How nice your favorite place could serve as the spot you got married. What is the story behind Jock the dog? Nice photos. Especially liked the huge buffalo herd drinking.

Thanks :) Its my first attempt at a article/blog, very nervous about it. Jock is a legendary dog that traversed the bush veld region in the late 1800's with his owner Sir Percy Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick wrote a book detailing their adventures and especially the bravery that Jock displayed. Here is a link for some more info, its really well worth the read Jock of the Bushveld


I'm inspired to read Jock of the Bushveld and then book a Kruger trip!
When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#12 wildernessman

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:02 AM

You should also read "African Eden" by James Stevenson Hamilton , 1st warden of the Kruger National Park , it details his experiences from when the original Sabie G R was proclaimed in the early 1900's (1903?) when its wildlife had been all but totally plundred up till his retirement in 1948 .

Another good read is "Memories of a Game Ranger" by Harry Wolhuter detailing his experiences in the same era .

I have walked more than 1000km in the "big 5" wilderness .

#13 SwagatKPL

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 04:31 AM

Thank you so much for sharing your story.
The two pieces of your story that resonated with me are:
* the part where you talk about Kruger feeding your soul -- I talk about this all the time and it is so true. When I drive through those gates, my shoulders relax and I get transported to heaven on earth.
* We, too, got married in Kruger in July 2000 (almost 12 years to the date)-- at Mopani Camp with about 50 people. We took over the dining room and the outside eating area. I can't say enough about the wonderful staff there. We recall fondly that after our reception, I realized we had 30 minutes before the camp closed. My wife and I rushed to the car in our wedding outfits, picked up our closest friend who officiated as he was walking to his bungalow and took off. We passed the sunset drive vehicle looking at zebra and as we made a bend 500 meters later, there was the most gorgeous leopard staring at us in full view. Pure silence as I stopped the car and we watched. As if it were there to wish us well, the leopard acknowledged our presence and gracefully slid into the bush. Seconds after, the sunset vehicle comes by but no leapard to be seen. It was our first leopard sighting in the Kruger and we know it was a blessing from the wilds. I still get shivers down my spine when I think of that moment.
So, thank you for sharing your story which allowed me to invoke our story.
Cheers,
Heeten
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#14 kittykat23uk

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:40 AM

Maybe some of us should all do a Kruger self drive camping trip together at some point! I certainly had some good sightings on both my Kruger trips.




If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
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#15 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:02 PM

Thank you so much for sharing your story.
The two pieces of your story that resonated with me are:
* the part where you talk about Kruger feeding your soul -- I talk about this all the time and it is so true. When I drive through those gates, my shoulders relax and I get transported to heaven on earth.
* We, too, got married in Kruger in July 2000 (almost 12 years to the date)-- at Mopani Camp with about 50 people. We took over the dining room and the outside eating area. I can't say enough about the wonderful staff there. We recall fondly that after our reception, I realized we had 30 minutes before the camp closed. My wife and I rushed to the car in our wedding outfits, picked up our closest friend who officiated as he was walking to his bungalow and took off. We passed the sunset drive vehicle looking at zebra and as we made a bend 500 meters later, there was the most gorgeous leopard staring at us in full view. Pure silence as I stopped the car and we watched. As if it were there to wish us well, the leopard acknowledged our presence and gracefully slid into the bush. Seconds after, the sunset vehicle comes by but no leapard to be seen. It was our first leopard sighting in the Kruger and we know it was a blessing from the wilds. I still get shivers down my spine when I think of that moment.
So, thank you for sharing your story which allowed me to invoke our story.
Cheers,
Heeten



I got chills reading your story before i got to the part about you having chills :) What a wonderful experience. We celebrate our 10 year weddding anniversary next year in Feb and have planned an epic trip back to Kruger. I so wish I could spend my life within its boundaries. You guys must be a happy couple...only a special kind of person would have their special kind of day in the most inspiring place in South Africa.

#16 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:03 PM

Maybe some of us should all do a Kruger self drive camping trip together at some point! I certainly had some good sightings on both my Kruger trips.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kittykat23uk/sets/72157627853053873/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kittykat23uk/sets/72157625461202634/


We were pondering doing a self drive photography course through KNP...wonder how that would work out!

#17 SwagatKPL

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:53 PM

Thanks for you lovely note about my message. I think about Kruger everyday and my Kruger map sits next to my desk. We realized our dream by buying a place next to Kruger -- although we still live in Boston. We are planning on spending 3-4 weeks there next year July/August. Can't wait. We talk about Kruger almost every night before going to sleep -- so, we are a happy couple indeed. We may consider a 15 year wedding reunion in Kruger in 2015.

A self-drive photgraphy course through Kruger would be awesome. I know someone who is a fabtastic photographer who posts amazing Kruger photos. He is considering doing photo guides through Kruger if you are interested. Let me know if you're interested.

Cheers.

#18 Game Warden

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:02 PM

I know someone who is a fabtastic photographer who posts amazing Kruger photos.


Invite them onto Safaritalk SwagatKPL...

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#19 SwagatKPL

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:15 PM

I invited him to join and I believe he has. His work is amazing and has thousands of FB followers.

#20 OurLifeInSlowMotion

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:28 PM

Thanks for you lovely note about my message. I think about Kruger everyday and my Kruger map sits next to my desk. We realized our dream by buying a place next to Kruger -- although we still live in Boston. We are planning on spending 3-4 weeks there next year July/August. Can't wait. We talk about Kruger almost every night before going to sleep -- so, we are a happy couple indeed. We may consider a 15 year wedding reunion in Kruger in 2015.

A self-drive photgraphy course through Kruger would be awesome. I know someone who is a fabtastic photographer who posts amazing Kruger photos. He is considering doing photo guides through Kruger if you are interested. Let me know if you're interested.

Cheers.


I would be interested...but as a photographer :) Would love to conduct a course in our capacity as photographers. Dont know why it isnt done yet.
Where is your place near Kruger? My husband and I run two private residences in West Limpopo, Waterberg region of South Africa and use the time available to us to try and further our photography careers. We worked near the Kruger for a while. Such an amazing area of our country. Beauty beyond imagination.





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