Fun and “Game”: Exploring Kruger National Park and the South African Countryside (Part II)

Visiting Johannesburg was awesome and a great way to start our South African adventure!

After spending three exciting days there, we traveled by bus from Johannesburg to Hazeyview in preparation for a game drive in Kruger National Park.  During the four-hour journey we stopped at Blyde River Canyon and had the honor of viewing the immense South African Countryside.

Blyde  River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world!  It was truly breathtaking.

Blyde Canyon

Blyde Canyon


After visiting Blyde Canyon it was on to Kruger National Park.  Kruger National ParkWe arrived at the park before the sun came up.  Lions and leopards are nocturnal hunters and rest during the day, so getting there before dawn is ideal.  As our open air vehicle cut through the cold morning air we were warmed with the excitement of seeing animals in their natural habitat.  Almost immediately after entering the park, we spotted a heard of antelope grazing and zebras in the distance. However, DSC_0413we traveled for nearly and hour without seeing anything more than antelope and as the sun came up, we feared we had missed our opportunity to see any  “big cats”.

Well, after making an abrupt left turn on a dusty trail, we spotted a pride of lions resting under a tree…..we were excited, nervous, and totally humbled in their presence.

Pride of Lions : Kruger National Park

 

Kruger National Park

Our anxiety calmed when our guide explained that lions have no “depth of sight” which means that as long as we were not wearing bright colors and we didn’t exit the vehicle, the lions saw our vehicle and everything in it as one large object too large to attack.  Now if anyone decided to stick a hand out or exit the vehicle ( which is illegal) well they may have become lunch!

We enjoyed the lions without incident and after we admired them for a while and took a few hundred pictures, we caught our breath a drove deeper into the park.

From that point on, we saw water buffalo, majestic elephants, a lone hyena who appeared to be injured in battle, mischievous baboons, gorgeous birds, rhinoceros, turtles and much more.DSC02985Leopard Turtle :Kruger National ParkHyena: Kruger National Park

DSC_0523Elephant: Kruger National Park
Being in Kruger National Park during the day was exciting, but venturing into the park at night is totally exhilarating.

 

Kruger National ParkKruger National ParkGuided only by two manual search lights and the vehicle’s headlights, in the pitch black darkness, we combed every tree top with our eyes for a glimpse of the allusive leopard.  Despite being told that seeing a leopard is rare, we searched for two hours anyway.   A few people in our group spotted a leopard that morning but it was much too quick for all of us to get a good look.

That night we never had the pleasure of encountering one.

Despite only seeing four of the famed “Big 5” ( lion, leopard, elephant, water buffalo, rhino)   it was quite an adventure visiting Kruger National Park and experiencing its compelling beauty.

Stay tuned for (Part III) The Perfect City :Cape Town, South Africa !

Check out the following post for great tips to help you plan your South African safari :

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/wildlife/south-african-safaris-for-first-timers-eight-tips/

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