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#KrugerNationalPark: 4 Game Drives for Superb Sightings

Updated on June 30, 2016
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Esmé has visited the Kruger National Park many, many times. It is one of the loves of my life. On my way to go again!!

Sightings in the #krugernationalpark beautiful #trees

Playful Young Lions Resting under a Tree

About the Kruger National Park and how it came to be

  • The Kruger National Park is located in the northern part of South Africa and is the largest of the National Parks in South Africa. It came into existence at the turn of the 20th century when President Paul Kruger, the then president of the country, realized the importance of conservation. He understood that wildlife and habitat should be preserved for future generations.
  • It turned out to be an excellent decision on his part. Not only was it a good thing for the country and its people, but the park also became popular on a global scale. Many first world countries have exhausted their abundance of game and although this was done in order to provide food for themselves at the time, it robbed those who followed of what went before.
  • Kruger is a diverse place in many respects. Not only is it home to a variety of game, insects, reptiles, birds and plants but it also scores top marks as a nature destination. The Park is an important tourist destination for world travelers and locals and tourists alike go to Kruger for the bush experience.

Male Lions with a Buffalo Carcass some time after the kill

1. Kruger National Park: Early morning Game Drives

  • Many of the bigger camps in Kruger offer game drives. The smaller camps do not have the staff and facilities to take visitors out, so there you are on your own.
  • Camps such as Skukuza, Lower Sabie, and Letaba have game drives because they have the number of visitors to warrant such an offering. These camps have self-catering chalets and caravan parks and as these are mostly fully booked, there are always more than enough guests who are keen on drives.
  • Early morning drives start early; that means you will go out of the camp gates before the rest of the campers. Camp gates open at different times during the year, it all depends on the season but is normally around 5.30 am or 6 am. Going out earlier, means that you will see action that other visitors are not privileged to see. Furthermore, predators may still be active at that time and you might just be lucky to sight a kill.
  • Game drive vehicles are open vehicles and drives can be cold in winter. Blankets are provided but taking along warm clothing is a sensible option.
  • If you have small children in your group, it might be necessary to seriously consider whether to take them along on a drive. They might get scared (even adults get scared in the presence of predators in an open vehicle) and they are bound to cry out. Lions are clever beasts and they might consider this "weak animal" as prey and then attack.

Elephant drinking water from a dam

Desperate times call for desperate measures - drought drinking
Desperate times call for desperate measures - drought drinking

Morning, day or night drives?

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Game Drive Sunsets in all its splendour


2. Kruger National Park: Day-time Game Drives

  • The early bird catches the worm, well, mostly. Day drives are for the lazy folk; those who cannot rise early, for the honeymooners and dead-beat workers who need to rest and recharge batteries.
  • But all is not lost. The exquisite sighting is often one of pure luck. Luck brought 2 honey badgers across our path as well as a caracal, and these are not often seen animals. Another interesting occurrence is the activity of dung beetles.
  • Caracal, the solitary ranger. Although loners, caracals also appear in pairs. They do not need to drink water as often as other animals as they get their fluid from the animals they kill. An interesting fact about caracals is that they can leap as high as 2 meters into the air in an attempt to catch a bird.
  • Honey badgers, tough as nails. Honey badgers are similar to weasels as far as their anatomy is concerned and they have few natural enemies because of their thick skins and their defensive abilities. They definitely like honey as their name indicates but they also eat all kinds of insects, snakes and birds. They do no shy away from a lion kill and will try and chase the lions away so that they can feed.
  • Dung beetles. They are not known for their beauty but for their role in the food chain. Feces or dung provide their food and by burying the dung they re-distribute nutrients and improve soil structure. An interesting fact about dung beetles is that they use the Milky Way to orient themselves; they also use it as a navigation tool - never again will we look down upon the lowly dung beetle.

The beauty of a solitary Caracal

The solitary caracal. The tufts of hair on the top of their ears are distinctive. The word caracal comes from the Turkish "kara kulak"  for black ear.
The solitary caracal. The tufts of hair on the top of their ears are distinctive. The word caracal comes from the Turkish "kara kulak" for black ear. | Source

3. Kruger National Park: Night Game Drives

  • This must be the ultimate in game drives. Few people experience the bush quite like this. Often leaving the camp at about 9 pm, this is the time to watch for and listen to animals hunting or foraging. Listen for the call of a jackal or zebra, and the cry of a hyena.
  • There is every chance that you will come across a kill. Since this is the prime hunting time of lions and other predators, the opportunity exists that you will witness a hunt or stumble upon a kill that has already taken place.
  • You might spot the odd Rhinos or two as well as the ever-present and opportunistic hyenas. Owls are active and the haunting call of a night owl will lift your soul.

Hyenas vs. Wild Dogs

4. Other Game Drives

  • Game lodges outside of the Park borders also have game drives available to their guests. Unfortunately for them, they can only visit the Park during normal opening times, so these drives will be day drives. However, guides are in contact with radios and cellphones and they let one another know if they happen on a good and interesting sighting.
  • A variety of five star game lodges can be found right at the many entrance gates to the Park. The private game reserves adjacent to the Park, reserves such as Sabi Sabi, also have four and five star lodges to attract world-class travellers. Game wander freely over the terrain as there are no fences between Kruger and the reserves.

Zebras and Blou Wildebeest on the plain

Zebras are normally found in herds - safety in numbers!
Zebras are normally found in herds - safety in numbers! | Source

Location: Kruger National Park

Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park:
Letaba Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, Lethaba-Shingwedzi Road, Kruger National Park, 1350, South A

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Kruger National Park:
Kruger National Park, Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Malelane, South Africa

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