A Kruger Park Day Trip

A Kruger Park Day Trip

A family long weekend away in Mpumalanga made way for a sneaky Kruger Park day trip as part of it. What a wonderful way to spend a day.

My happy place! I have a few and add to my list each time I find myself submerged in a beautiful, wild and wondrous environment. But The Kruger National Park will always have a soft and squishy place in my wildlife-loving heart. It is one of my happy places, largely because we got married under its trees at our special Kruger bush wedding, but it was a love of ours long before that too. It is a wild escape that grabs hold of me as I enter its gates, wide eyed, grinning and I feel that all-encompassing excitement as it makes me part of it instantly. It’s a good feeling. A feeling like “coming home.”

elephant Kruger park

An elephant, in its perfect Kruger home

malachite kingfisher Kruger

Malachite Kingfisher at Lake Panic near Skukuza- what a gorgeous little guy

A family holiday turns wild

My family and I were recently on a long weekend getaway at Pinelakes Resort in Mpumalanga, relaxing together along the lakeside, eating, drinking good wine and being merry together. On a drive out to the shops (probably for more wine) we saw a sign that made me jolt with giddiness. It was a sign for Kruger’s Numbi Gate, just a few kilometres from where we were. We hadn’t realised we were so close to it. The temptation was too much to resist. We planned for a day trip into Kruger the very next day, as part of our holiday.

guinea fowl Kruger park

A guinea fowl family cross the road in the early morning drizzle.

A Kruger day is a good day

A day spent in Kruger is a happy day. No matter what you see or which roads call to you from the rocky signposts or that trusty Kruger guide map you get at the gate. We arrived early enough and spent most of the cool and pleasant Sunday driving leisurely through that southern part of Kruger we accessed.

kingfisher Kruger

Woodlands kingfishers were all around, calling from the trees and just being generally gorgeous

All things wild and wonderful

We stopped to squint at birds through binoculars and veered off onto dirt roads just to see what was around that bend. We drank in the green and varied bushveld which changed continuously as we edged along the roads from the rocky koppies and sourveld of Pretoriouskop to the marula bushveld which the ellies and giraffes were delighting in, to the mixed woodlands nearer Skukuza.

elephants in Kruger

Breakfast with the ellies

We stopped for a picnic lunch at Skukuza camp where we took in the views of the Sabie River from our table under the enormous trees. We spotted kingfishers, bee-eaters, buffalo and hippo all while we nibbled and toasted our luck with a beer.

Skukuza picnic lunch Kruger

Skukuza camp lunchtime, with a river view

We stopped for leopard tortoises crossing the roads, but unfortunately not for leopards this time.  We also made way for an enormous black mamba snake as it meandered to the other side of the tar too. We watched elephants going about their munching business close to the roadside while my sister hid herself from their view and urged us to move on quickly.

tortoise Kruger

A tortoise crossing.

elephants in Kruger

All day is meal time for the elephants.

We also shared the most memorable moments with a clan of hyena pups at their den along the road. Hyenas are possibly my favourite animals- fascinating, curious and these little ones were very sweet. It was a special visit with them.

hyena Kruger

This inquisitive youngster was so relaxed with us looking on nearby

We also hopped out the car a couple of times at designated spots during the day to stretch the legs and take in some variety too. We appreciated the panoramic views from the rock top at a look out point (one we were allowed to get out at- don’t worry). We also spent some quiet time at the Lake Panic bird hide- a favourite amongst Kruger regulars, twitchers and birding photography enthusiasts. I do love some quality time at a hide. It offers such a different perspective from a hidden vantage point and the chance to be close to nature without bothering it.

A lookout point where we could hop out and enjoy the views

A lookout point where we could hop out and enjoy the views

Lake Panic Hide

Quietly watching as nature goes about its day at the Lake Panic hide

Farewell Kruger, till next time

On our way out the park that afternoon we ooohed and aaahed at the sheer skyscraper height of the giraffe that passed our car as we contorted our own necks like owls to look up at them.  They were so close by and giant beauties. We also bid farewell to the zebra, birds, kudu, impala and other antelope that we encountered from our car window view point.

giraffe at Kruger

The tallest of the tall- the magnificent giraffe.

kudu Kruger

Handsome kudu male, giving us a good look at him.

zebra Kruger

The distinct and lovely zebras, saying hello.

It’s always with a tinge of sadness that I leave Kruger, whether we’ve enjoyed a long stay visit or just a sneaky day trip inside. The time spent within its territory among its wild things and the memories made and shared with loved ones are treasured. It’s that Kruger magic that keeps us coming back for more.

crocodile at Kruger

crocs and Egyptian geese, side by side at Lake Panic

All the Kruger info you’ll need is on the SANParks website.