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Kruger Game Reserve-Francois and the Giraffe
Francois and the Giraffe
The Kruger National Park in the N/E corner of South Africa is one of the great Game Reserves in the world. About 200km from North to South and 50-60km from East to West it borders with Mozambique to the East and Zimbabwe to the North. Being far away from where we live in East London on the S/W coast of South Africa (it is about 1500 km to the North) we seldom get there for a visit. We more often go to the Addo Elephant National Park that is only about 350 km away. But every couple of year we manage to get to Kruger and always find that it is an amazing experience.
We tent camp, partly because of financial restraints, but also because I really prefer to be out under the stars in the wilderness where I can hear the sounds of the bush veldt and experience meeting other campers in the communal kitchens and bathrooms. Sitting next to my open fire in the evening I can see other fires burning merrily nearby and hear other visitors chatting about the days adventures. The sound of a pride of Lions roaring in the distance or a Black-backed Jackal calling its plaintive cry always thrills. There is a magic about tent camping that is difficult to explain but somehow resonates with my soul.
Every trip also brings its special moments of delight and on out recent visit to Kruger National Park we decided to spend a night at Satara, one of the few camps we have not stayed at before, and it proved to be a good choice. The camp ground was large and quite full and as we chose our site and began to pitch our tent a couple of people gathered nearby to look into a tree. After investigating what they were looking at we found that a Scops Owl was roosting in a small tree right outside our tent and at eye height, showing no fear of the cameras, both with and without flashes, focused on it.
But it was meeting young François that proved to be a real treat. As Audrey and I wandered down to the ablution block about 50 m away I greeted two men preparing their evening braai with a friendly, "Good evening!" when a tiny tot of about thee or four echoed the reply of the adults, "Good evening Uncle!" On my question as to his name he told me it was François. "What did you see today?" was my next question and when he claimed to have seen Lion his Dad replied that he was lying, but who knows what he saw in his imagination.
The next morning early, as I again wandered down to the bathrooms, the same two gentlemen were sitting outside their tent with a cup of coffee in their hands. "Good morning" was my greeting and again as they replied a small voice from one of their tents echoed their reply, "good morning Uncle!" It was my new found friend whose eyes only peeped out of his sleeping bag on the camp bed in his tent. On my question, "what do you want to see today Francois?" the little boy replied; "n' Kameelperd Oom!" (a Giraffe Uncle) I hope his wish was fulfilled and every time we saw a Giraffe that day we hoped that Francois and his Dad and Grandpa also travelled the same way as we did and he saw his Giraffe. It is often little experiences like that that I remember fondly. A chat to a guide of a tour party as we cook supper in the kitchen, or a discussion with a couple from Germany about their trip to South Africa and what they saw today as they travelled through the park.
Visiting one of the National Parks in South Africa is much more than just seeing the Big Five, it is a life experience that needs to be embraced fully. To do so try camping under the African Sky and meet the people.