After spending four great days enjoying everything about Cape Town we were off to Kruger National Park to go on safari! After a short flight from Cape Town to Kruger we arrived at Imbali Safari Lodge just in time for a late afternoon game drive. After a quick freshen up we jumped in the safari vehicle and off we went into Kruger National Park. This is where we will play for the next two days! http://imbali.com/
Kruger National Park is one of the world’s great national parks. It is home to an unparalleled diversity of wildlife and is maintained by one of the world’s most sophisticated management systems. Five rivers cross the park from west to east. Kruger is home to frequent browsers and grazers such as giraffe, kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo. elephant and black and white rhino are also common. Predators include lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, jackal and wild dog.
Within the park are private consessions such as Imbali, where the lodge rangers care for hectors of land for the national park. In these concessions the rangers work 18 hour days caring for and patrolling the land for poachers, tracking animals, ensuring guest safety and managing the wildlife. They are also the guides and drivers for the guests at the lodge. Its hard work, but very rewarding and these rangers are true conservationists. They live, breath and love all aspects of conserving the species they care for.
Jon was our ranger at Imbali and he showed us some amazing things during our time there.
Imbali was a beautiful lodge. A small private lodge, each “room” had a deck with a jacuzzi. I can’t even describe what its like to sit on your own private deck and watch the elephant right across the way – mere feet away – foraging in the brush! Whole herds of elephants – babies and all – going back and forth from the watering hole across from the lodge. See my pics below to check out my elephant guests! Those pics – that’s how close they were!
We saw SO much wildlife while in Kruger. Its really amazing! Herds of giraffe, so many African hoofstock, and the elephants. Oh my! But by far the coolest thing Jon showed us was the four male lions hanging around a recent kill of a cape buffalo. We tracked these young brothers guarding their territory several times throughout our stay first visiting them during the day. What gorgeous boys! And how proud they were of what they had accomplished!
Later that night Jon took me and two of my travel companions back out after dark to place a night vision camera by the boys and their dinner. While there we sat and observed them in their natural state at night – And WOW! To sit so close to a male lion in the complete still of the night in the bush in the dark with only the stars is like nothing I can describe. And when he looked up at us my heart stopped. He was a mere couple of feet away and his caramel colored eyes were piercing. Jon tapped my shoulder and said don’t move an inch and I sat perfectly still for what seemed like eternity (and for those who know me really well sitting still is HARD!)
On the way back Jon spotted a gecko (in the dark mind you) and pulled over and let us out of the vehicle while he grabbed up the gecko and brought it to us to observe. Standing in the middle of the bush around midnight in the dark with no lights – totally takes your breath away. At one point I asked Jon who or what was all watching us and he was like you can’t even imagine!!
On our game drive the next afternoon we stopped for a sundowner in the bush. A sundowner is where the lodge sets up appetizers and cocktails in the bush and you stop to relax and have a drink before proceeding on. Well we had two guests near our sundowner – two black rhino – and Jon took us out a foot to get a closer look. They definitely were interested is us – but we were far more fascinated with them! They are critically endangered and the most poached species in Kruger and to stand so close to two black rhino – THAT IS RARE! They moved on – but our guide Jon kept close eyes on them.
At one of the watering holes in Kruger we stopped to watch hippo in the water. Well we are there we discovered a pride of about 12 lions. A patriarch, three females, a couple of youngster males and several cubs!! They were perfectly lined up at the watering hole getting a drink when a nearby cape buffalo caught their attention. Off to find dinner!
In between game drives we hung at the lodge watching the watering hole. Herds of elephants, giraffe, and impala all hanging around. Elephants rule though and while they are at the hole they own the place. Everything else – including predators – must wait.
And on our last night there who visited the pool? One of the male lions! Hanging just below the ledge he wanted a drink from the infinity pool. Nothing like looking over to see who is looking at you. No wonder they walk you to your room at night. Wouldn’t want to run into him hanging out – but it would be pretty cool!
LOVED Kruger! Will definitely go back again and spend more time there. Didn’t get to see my wild dogs….or a leopard this time so I MUST go back right!