I am not sure where my kids heard that little Lion/Cheetah song, but I often find it running through my head. Today as we drove through Kruger Park it was going through my head more often than usual, but I’ll get to that later.
Monday: We left our house just after 9, which was right on schedule. Squeezing 6 people and luggage into our 5 seater car was not as difficult as we thought. We stopped at a gas station for a picnic lunch. The gas station had a lot behind it with rhino, buffalo, eland, emus and ostriches. It was a nice little bonus. Grandma Karen started up a conversation with another American and it turns out that she and her husband live in Pretoria and have been going to the same church that volunteers with Mama Cathrine. It is such a small world!
We drove up to Sabaan Lodge, near Hazyview, yesterday afternoon. We are surrounded by a banana plantation, which is kind of a nice extra. There is a big play area and pool for the kids and our cottage is clean and plenty big for the 6 of us. We got a 4th night free with our booking, which makes Sabaan even more desirable : ) Yesterday the grownups unpacked while the kids found loads of mud to play in. That was not so fun to clean up and after strict warnings we hope to not have to deal with that mess again! We had an early night as we planned to get a super early start on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday: We woke up at 5 and amazingly none of us were super sleepy, including the kids. We quickly got ready and ate some breakfast and then hit the road before 6. We made it to the Phabeni Gate by 6:15 and after waiting in line, we entered Kruger Park around 6:30. We had heard from several people that we had to get in early to see lots of animals. We did not find this to be the case. We drove in and saw some impala. We did see elephants quite early on as well, which were truly amazing, but then it was like the animals just disappeared. We would drive and drive and drive and see a few more impala and then drive some more and see more impala. We did see elephants a couple times as well, but no zebra, no wildebeest, no warthog, no ostrich, no giraffe, and no cats. Just trees, poop, and impala. Darin, Karen and I were ok with this, but the kids were definitely getting restless.
Eventually, we saw one rhino. Then we saw a few more impala and elephants. We saw some vervet monkeys playing in a tree, a couple kudu, and a group of dwarf mongoose. It was just after 10 and we had been driving around for over 3 hours. We went to Skukuzu camp to stretch our legs and decided to just have an early lunch or boerwors and hamburgers. There were a lot of monkeys around and the kids were very entertained by all their antics. After filling up our bellies we were ready to go again. We decided to let the kids play with the iPods and DS and that made them happy and quiet, which made the adults happy as well.
We hadn’t been driving long when we saw some cars stopped. At first we couldn’t tell what they were looking at, but then we saw several giraffe eating off the trees. There were also some zebra nearby, which were nice to see as we hadn’t seen any up to this point. We stayed and watched the giraffe for a while then headed off again. We saw more elephants and a dead chameleon, which was a highlight for the kids.
Then we saw a car stopped through some trees on a side road and decided to go check out what they were seeing. As soon as we got near the car, Darin said “It’s lions”, which was very exciting, but then he said “No, it’s cheetahs”, which was even MORE exciting as we have never seen cheetahs in the wild. There were two cheetahs just sitting under a small tree. They sat so straight and tall and we took lots of pictures. Then they lay down in the grass and if we hadn’t seen them sitting we would not have even known they were there. Another car pulled onto the side road and we waved them over to see what we were enjoying. We sat for a bit longer, then decided to drive a bit further down the road. We hadn’t gone far when Karen said “They’re walking towards the road” so we swung the car back around and saw the two cheetahs walking across the dirt road. They both stopped in the middle of the road, then walked off into the tall grass. It was just an amazing thing to see.
The cheetah sighting invigorated us all and we were excited to be driving again. We saw a giraffe with a strange growth on its knee, a family of three kudu, more impala and elephant. We stopped off for some ice cream and were told that some lions and buffalo had just been spotted on the road we were planning to be driving on next. We did not have to go long and we came upon a group of 8 lions lounging under a tree. They were so close to the road, which made it easy to see them. There were a lot of other cars stopped as well, so after taking a lot of pictures, we headed off in search of the buffalo. We kept our eyes peeled, but we never did see them. We did come across one last group on elephants, which included a baby, and we saw the horns of a buffalo laying on the ground, but other than some more impala, that was it.
We got back to our cottage around 4 and the kids ran off to swim and play. Darin made us pizza burgers for dinner and then we watched an episode of Minute to Win It. We plan to head back into Kruger on Thursday, but will be driving farther North. We hope to make it to the southernmost Baobab tree. If we do, we’ll be sure to post a picture!