All About Animals

April 9, 2016

The magnificent Kruger National Park is one of the most recognized safari destinations in the world.  It is renowned for its size, large wildlife population and diversity, and affordability.  Unlike many parks that restrict your visit to expensive guided ranger-safaris, you can self-drive through the park, and camp or sleep in a range of accommodations to fit varying budgets. Seeing African animals in the wild was the number one experience that we wanted to share with our children.  Dan and I had spent a week on safari in Tanzania on our honeymoon, and our trip had exceeded our expectations, cementing our desire to return to Africa.

Since we were just beginning our travels through South Africa and had the intention of visiting many National Parks within the coming month, we decided to invest in a family Wild Card.  This is a special pass which allows free entry, within one years validity, to any of the parks operated by the government.  It is an investment at ZAR3590 (about USD$240), but we more than recouped our expenses within a couple of weeks of travel.

We spent 4 nights (5 days) in the Southern part of the park, dividing our nights between the Skukuza, Satara, and Lower Sabie camps.  Our days were spent either waking for sunrise to start our visual hunt for the “big 5”, or focusing on sunset drives.  We would drive for 5-6 hours each day, stopping for meals or an afternoon swim in the sheltered camps.  During our long drives, we engaged our children’s interests by getting them a scavenger-like checklist of the animals in the park, studying the traits of the various mammals, and identifying birds, with the help of a detailed bird guide for Southern Africa. Dan got a break from driving one evening as we opted to go on a guided safari trip in a large covered vehicle, but other than that expenditure, our daily costs were surprisingly low.  We ate amazing steak dinners with wine for about $10 a person, and paid about $60 a night for a self-catering rondavel (round, thatched-roof accommodation) with air conditioning.

Amazing animals aside, pausing to admire glorious African sunsets and majestic vistas, filled me with awe and appreciation.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude, as I pinched myself and exclaimed, “We are in Africa!  We are in Africa!”.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Portia April 9, 2016 at 7:45 am

    WOW you guys!!!!!!!! I have just caught up with your past few months!!!! Oh, Happy Happy Biiiiirthday Stella!!!!!!! You look so gorgeous and taller!!!! We miss you all!!!!!!! Love!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply Lisa April 9, 2016 at 9:31 am

    The giraffe drinking the water = my favorite.

  • Reply Abuelo April 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

    The Dung beetle is pretty cool also, not to mention the baboons, and strange snake crossing the road. As usual, your photographs are wonderful and informative. Can you image what it would be if in the center of the USA we had huge parks with these kind of large, wild animals in it?…There is plenty of space for sure, but the fauna would not sufice. That is why we used to have herds of bison, wild horses, and mammoths feeding on the grasslands. Too bad they are almost completely gone. We humans desecrate nature. You, on the other side, are worshiping this planet with the reverence it deserves; and thanks for our young grandchildren learning about it first hand from thoughtful parents.
    With much love,
    Abuelo

  • Reply Britt April 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Mark and I are looking at this photos with our mouths agape. What the heck?! Nobody gets to see ALL of the African mammals on one trip, and with such apparent ease and multiplicity! Lounging Leopards? The elusive, infamous, and wondrous wild dogs? Baby warthogs and hyenas?! You were feeding them, weren’t you? Did you go to a zoo and crop out the cage bars from your photos?? Dubious Dan and Sinister Sarah are at it again. 🙂 Such amazing pictures, we are so envious and so so thrilled for all of you. The Magic of the Gamber Family continues to amaze. I cannot imagine a better way to educate Stella and Gabe.

  • Reply Janet Storton April 10, 2016 at 8:43 am

    I just returned from my 20th trip and I still say each time I am there, “I am in Africa, I am in Africa.” My favorite pastime in the whole world is to be on Safari and watching the magnificent Mango sunsets! So glad your children have had this experience.

  • Reply Julie j April 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Amazing!

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