Kruger National Park and Mala Mala Camp
26.06.2010 - 26.06.2010 70 °F
This morning, we got up early, checked out of our hotel and headed into the Kruger National Park. In a word, WOW! We were not 5K into the park before we saw an elephant standing next to the road. A bit further up, impalas. Next, giraffes and a group of three elephants. Later, zebras. And so on! In the 40K from the gate to the Skakuza main reception where we met our guide, we saw all of the above plus monkey and the butt of rhino. At one point, the three elephants were so close to our car that you could reach out an touch one with a ten foot pole! Needless to say, we were pretty awestruck!
After dumping the rental car at Skakuza, we were picked up by a ranger from the Mala Mala Camp (http://www.malamala.com/malacamp.htm) who drove us to the camp in an open top safari vehicle. The road was all dirt and the trip took approximately 45 minutes. Along the way, we saw more giraffe and some warthogs.
Once at the camp, we quickly dropped our bags, had a quick lunch outside on the deck, and headed right out to meet our guide, Lucky, who was already out in the bush with a couple other clients. As soon as we got there, he said "Let's go see if we can find some lions!". So, we headed out along the dirt roads until we came to the area where he thought they were. The area had very tall grass and Lucky was driving extremely slowly. We discovered why when we nearly ran over one of the lions! They were very tired from a kill the day before and were lying prone in the grass. Their coloring makes them very, very difficult to see and they were not moving very much. Once, we saw the first, we were able to find 3 males and 1 female within about 20 yards of each other. We were extremely close, but for the most part, all the lions did was pick their heads up, take a look an go back to sleep. It is almost like we did not exist to them. We were very, very close!
After leaving the lions, we stayed out until about 7:00pm and it got really dark and chilly. Since it is winter here, it gets dark early. We saw the most amazing full moon rise over the bush and were able to see the Southern Cross constellation for the first time ever.
When we got back, we had a short time to wash up quickly, and then, we had dinner in an outdoor boma, which is a large, round area with a big open fire in the middle. After dinner, the staff came out and sang happy birthday to Kellie, brought her a cake and sang two more songs. It was really fun!
After dinner, Wil got on Facebook with friends, Kellie got the photos onto the computer, and I watch the US lose to Ghana.
All in all, a pretty amazing first drive and evening!
One very cool thing about this camp is that there are no fences. So, animals may walk by or up to the camp at any time. Therefore, at night, we have to be escorted to our rooms because occasionally, a lion, leopard or elephant wanders into the middle of the camp.
A quick word on our room. It is spectacular! It has an incredible thatched roof and a view out onto the dried up river outside the camp. They even have a special little nook for Wil and he gets his own bathroom.
We will post some pictures in the next day or so when we get them uploaded.