Our next stop in Africa was South Africa....Kruger National Park to be specific. We flew into Johannesburg and hopped a bus with Absolute Africa. We booked a 4 day tour to include a game drive in Kruger National Park but it also included a few nights at Balula Private Reserve.
We were unable to spot the elusive rhino while in Kenya so it is funny that the first animal we spot in South Africa. Oddly enough we were not in a park. We were at a gas station along side the freeway. If you notice there is a feeder that the buffalo are eating from. So the question is does this count as an actual wild animal sighting? These animals are clearly "pets." This is also our only encounter with the rhino throughout the month we spent in Africa. Part of me wants to count it to make the big five. Part of me knows it is cheating.
Our first stop was Balula Private Reserve. We checked in and then headed out on an evening game drive with dinner out in the bush. Our driver Eva and her tracker Shannon were amazing! Shannon rode in the seat up on the hood and was our animal tracker. Seems pretty cool...until we had our first animal sighting.
We drove up to a few elephants hanging out along the side of the dirt road. We parked the jeep and just watched. Before too long we were surrounded by elephants. Like they were on all four corners of the jeep. Shannon said she was the closest she has even been to the elephant in the tracker seat. Scary if you ask me. We also had a moment where Eva started the car up and slowly started to back up as one of the elephants started to get just a wee bit angry. Scarier if you ask me.
After the excitement and as darkness hit we were delivered to the middle of no where a dinner was ready and waiting for us. We had some traditional dishes. The most amazing sausages as well as a corn mash. After our dinner we hopped back into the jeep and took the long way back to camp. Along the way Shannon sat in the tracker chair passing a flashlight in the bush. It took a high minute but before too long a chameleon was spotted in the trees. How anyone can spot these guys day or night is beyond me.
We were also called to a lion spotting. We raced over to find two lions just walking along the dirt road. We followed them for sometime as they casually walked along. It was like we weren't even there.
The next day we had an early morning bush walk. We walked along as gazelles ran past. We did some animal tracks and poo lessons. Tim even smoked some elephant dung. They claim its good for sinus issues. Ummm sounds like poo to me.
We also walked along the river were we spotted a few hippos enjoying the early morning. One of them might of been a little too excited we were there.
We ended our time at Bulula with an afternoon game drive. It was a little bit slower but we did get to enjoy watching a momma giraffe and her baby hanging out. We even followed them around as they walked down the dirt road.
The next day we had full day planned a Kruger National Park. We took a much bigger open air jeep/truck that held a dozen of us. This safari was a bit different then the others we have been on. At Kruger we were on a paved road where the driver did not venture off the road. All the other safaris we were able to snake through the bush and really “hunt” for the animals. We also didn’t use a CB radio to find out where the animals were hanging out. We just drove around and hoped for the best. With that being said the animals were did see were usually much farther away. However, we still had some cool sightings.
The big one being a pair of lions enjoying the kill they made a few days prior. They dragged it to the shade and spent a few days eating up.
We also saw a bunch of herds of elephants. At one point we counted 14 elephants of all sizes. They were everywhere.
We also saw a bunch of zebra, a few giraffe, and a few more buffalo.
Our last stop on our drive back to Johannesburg was Blade River Cannon. It was a bit misty and rainy but still a gorgeous view. We walked around the few trails and saw these views.