March 7, 2008, Category: Family

Kruger National Park

Image4 7,332 square miles of protected African bush cushion the border between South Africa and Mozambique. Known as the Kruger National Park, it is the largest game reserve in South Africa and my favorite place in the world. I spent six or so days in 1989, two weeks in 1993, but haven’t been back since (unless you count a recurring dream).

Roads wind through the park, connecting the small village-like areas where you can eat lunch, rent a rondavel, and get out of your car (it’s against the rules to even open your car door outside the gates, for obvious reasons). These camps keep you safe from, among other things, the “Big 5” (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo). All visitors must be in one of these camps or out of the park by sundown, or face serious fines.

There are drawbacks to driving your own car through the African wild, as compared to an open land rover on a private game reserve (which I have also done). Being restricted to roads means you can’t get as close to the action and you don’t have a personal guide with a radio streaming the location of wandering creatures. But for me, being able to drive my own car, at my own pace, never knowing what I will find around the next corner dwarfs those benefits.

leopardI’ve seen a mother cheetah with her cubs devouring an impala. I saw a leopard carry a warthog up a tree. I stared a lion in the eyes that had walked up next to my car and put it’s face right up to my window. I sat in the veranda of my rondavel looking down into the valley as a heard of elephants crossed the river below. Crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, babboons, hippos, giraffe, zebra…thousands and thousands of animals. Is it any wonder that it’s my favorite place in the world?

So you can probably understand when I tell you I got a bit teary eyed when I pressed submit on two tickets to Johannesburg, departing October 18, 2008. My son and I are going to spend two weeks exploring and photographing the African bush. We have excellent gear, my skills are much improved, and we both share a passion for the outdoors, wildlife, and photography. It is going to be incredible.

africaImage311The highlight of the trip with Curtis will be a wilderness trek; 4 days, 3 nights out  in the middle of Kruger (not inside the safe camp areas) with six others, a cook, and two trackers armed with guns powerful enough to drop a charging elephant. We’ll hike 50 miles through lion country, sleep in meager open aired huts, and listen to the lions and hyenas as we fall asleep. It’s comforting to know nobody has ever been killed on one of these trips, but I have heard stories of charging lions and elephants. I sure hope we see lions while on foot, what a thrill!

It’s still eight months away, but come November you can bet you’ll see some great blogs and pictures telling about our experience. I added a new gallery to my photography section containing pictures from my 1993 trip. They are scanned from slides and a bit grainy, but you can still get an idea of how exciting it was.

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9 thoughts on “Kruger National Park

  • By Warren - Reply

    I might add, I’m lucky to have such a supportive wife. Sandi and I are cashing in my frequent flyer miles for a trip to New York at the end of the summer for our own time together. And the girls will get their turn…I decided to take each kid alone on an international vacation during their teenage years. I am excited to spend the time with them individually and think it will be something they remember with fondness their entire lives. Aubree wants Europe where we can share our passion for art, museums, and confusing languages. Mikayla is talking about Costa Rica, where we can hang out on the beaches and visit the rain forests (and yes, photography).

  • By Kim N - Reply

    That is awesome! I am so happy that you get to go and I will be looking forward to seeing your blogs and pictures when you return!

  • By Sandi - Reply

    I am so excited for you and Curtis! It’s going to be an amazing father and son experience. I will miss you both like crazy those two weeks, but I’ll also be crazy excited to see all the pictures and hear all the stories 🙂

  • By Edna - Reply

    It will be nice when you can visit it again next winter with Curtis. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of pictures and neat experiences.

  • By Curtis - Reply

    I am so excited to go to South Africa, it will be such an amazing experiance. Cant wait!

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  • By Donna Christopher - Reply

    Warren, thanks for sharing your Web site. I bookmarked it at home, so I can spend time looking through your pictures and learning more about you.

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