We entered Kruger National Park through Orpen Gate which is around about the middle of the park and drove straight to our lodge thinking we’d quickly drop our bags off then just head out again. But as soon as we started driving through Kruger Park we lost all focus. It seemed that around every bend there was an animal! I knew that you could self-drive in Kruger, but I figured most of the tarmac roads would have little wildlife to offer – how wrong I was. Just on our way in we saw zebra, buffalo, a Lot of antelope and we almost reversed the car into an elephant who appeared out of nowhere on its way to the water hole!
After two hours of sights and a ton of photos we eventually arrived at our chosen lodge called Imbali (which means flower in Zulu) which was situated on a private reserve within the park. We received a very warm welcome and were immediately taken out onto the decking for lunch, with an infinity pool overlooking a dried up river bed. Across the way was a cleverly placed water spot so even whilst we were eating the safari continued as baboons and antelope wondered past!
After lunch we were shown to our room which was actually more of a thatched cottage. It was beautifully done with our on plunge pool and terrace overlooking the river bed. One day an elephant walked right past us – only about 3 metres away!
What I was not quite ready for was the early morning starts for the drives. Who gets up at 5am on holiday? It was well worth it though. We had a friendly ranger who took us all over and during our stay we were lucky enough to see a leopard, hyenas, an African Wild cat and many beautiful birds and mammals.
Sadly due to the time of year we were not allowed to go walking in the bush. We were there in winter (despite it being around 30°C!) when the grass is tall and not ideal for avoiding lions in the bush so all our travel was by vehicle, but it didn’t dampen my experience.
After three nights we had seen four of the Big Five – elephants, buffalo, rhino, leopard – we only lacked lion. So all that meant was that I’ll have to go back again to search for them! I will certainly be doing that, it was a magical experience I’d love to repeat sometime. And not as expensive as you might imagine – if you do your research and book things yourself (not through agents, a safari does not have to break the bank).