Visiting the Southern Part of Kruger National Park, South Africa
Come with us on a summer visit to the Southern Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Four nights in the Berg-en-dal Camp in the southern part of the Kruger National Park reinforced our view and belief in the amazing quality of the famous game reserve. Situated on the N/E border of South Africa, it stretches some 200km from south to north and averages about 60km from east to west. Because of its size it covers several different vegetation zones. In the south semi-tropical mountains and forests are found and in the north there is the tropical riverine forest. In between is savannah grassland.
In the most mountainous area of the reserve is the camp called Berg-en-dal, which means “mountain and valley” where we spent four nights. This is a well wooded camp with a great swimming pool and a large selection of self-catering bungalows and camp sites. It is in the camp area that we pitched our tent on one of the so called perimeter sites that allow for a view of the park through the fence in front of our tent. The camp area has a kitchen area and clean ablution facilities that are well serviced and convenient. Electricity points are provided at every camp site which makes light and personal cooking available. Most campers however prefer to start a fire in the evening to “braai” their evening meal. An excellent shop and restaurant is also available in the camp.
The weather in early autumn was cool, but at the same time warm enough to spend time every day in the big swimming pool that drew many people cool off and to stretch their legs after several hours in their motor cars, searching for the Big Five or perhaps other bushveld delights. We are keen birders and so during our stay we managed, with help from my brother Paul and his wife Jenny, to record a list of over 100 species in the four days. Many of the birds were regular visitors to our camp site, while others were recorded in the daily drives that we undertook. There are several options in viewing game. The Park offers morning and evening drives in a game viewing vehicle. There are also daily walks in the bush under the supervision of a couple of game rangers. Most people however simply drive through the reserve in their own cars looking for the game, birds and other wild life that attracts them.
To see the Big Five during a visit is considered to be a special achievement and we were lucky enough to see all five on one day as we drove from Berg-en-dal to Skukuza, which is about 75 km to the north, and back again. One of the experienced Park Guides once told us that his favourite road to see the Big Five is the one between the sothern entrance to the Game Reserve at Malelane and the Berg-en-dal camp. On our visit we also saw Cheetah and Hyena; making it a particularly productive visit. At the same time we enjoy seeing the many small animals, rare birds and even vegetation and flowers that all add up to a great visit. On this trip we saw a huge snake (a Black Mamba), several tortoises and several of the Small Five. A small spotted genet visited our camp site in the evenings as we sat around our camp fire, keeping a safe distance while waiting to perhaps find a food scrap which has been carelessly thrown away. Feeding of animals is strictly forbidden.
During the night while in our tent, we could sometimes hear Hyena laughing nearby, while in the distance Lions and Elephants could be heard as the African veld never really seemed to sleep. One morning we were excited to find three Rhino sleeping next to the fence, only about thirty meters away. These huge animals had moved in during the night without a sound. It is often the quiet of the environment that offers a silence and peace that we miss in the urban environment where we live. The bright stars and the dramatic silence of the wilderness, as we sit on our camp chair thinking about the adventures of the day, seems to bring restoration to our souls.
At this time of the year the summer rains have brought green growth to the veld and while this does not make finding game really easy, it does add to the beauty of the area. Many young animals are moving about under the protective eye of their mothers and we saw baby Elephants, Impala and Baboons to mention a few. Always a delight to see that new life is being produced in the great Game Reserve that is definitely worth a visit. We hope to return some time in the future to spend some time in God’s beautiful creation.