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Kruger National Park Safari Day 2

South Africa (Kruger National Park) . 2017 . May 12


This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here
Have you been chased by a wild bull elephant on foot?  Well, we have been, in the early hours of the second day at Kruger National Park where we were doing a bush walk. And what an adventure that was!
Doing a bush walk with an armed ranger is actually a service provided by the various rest camps in Kruger, and in this case, the Skukuza Rest Camp.  You will just need to indicate your interest with Skukuza Camp and pay a nominal fee for the bush walk.   In our case, our game ranger from Wild Wings did all the arrangements for us, and all we needed to do was to turn up for the walk.


Our armed ranger from Skukuza Camp, giving us safety instructions before starting the walk.  The bush walk took place at a location about a 10-min drive from the Skukuza Rest Camp, in a small group of around 15.  We gathered at about 5:30am, because the early morning hours were the best to see animals.


In all honesty, do not expect to see much when you are doing a bush walk with a group.  That’s because wild animals are very perceptive to sounds and smells, and a group of us walking in the bushes can hardly be called a silent approach.  Most animals would have detected our presence and scampered off before we even get to see them!


A group of impala runs off in fright as it sees our approach.


Seeing the African plains on foot feels so much different from seeing it from the view of the open vehicle.  There’s a sense of danger and a sense of thrill when you are on foot, and you never know if a predator such as a lion is lurking in the bushes.  The fact is, they see us, and yet we don’t see them.  But our ranger tells us there’s nothing to fear - in all his years of conducting bush walks, he never had to use his rifle once.  That’s very reassuring.


The sun has started to rise as we venture deeper and deeper, away from the main road.  By now, we’ve walked so far and so deep into the forest, we can’t even tell the direction that we came from.  Imagine if you were lost alone in this wilderness!



Even though we didn’t see any animals during the walk so far, the animal tracks are still very much visible to us.  This was supposedly the droppings of the white rhinoceros, still very fresh, we were told, which meant that the animal was near, but had left quickly when it sensed our presence.


Impala and elephant footprints below.


Very soon, our ranger led us to follow a group of bull elephants from their tracks.  As we got nearer, the elephants kept moving further away from us in a bid to avoid any contact with us, but we could soon hear the sound of breaking branches and the trumpet of the elephants.


Elephants do not like to be provoked, and once this particular bull elephant’s attention was focused on us, he came charging towards us in an attempt to chase us away.


It is intensely thrilling yet terrifying to have an angry wild bull elephant that close to us, but once it it had achieved its intention of chasing us away, it pretty much stopped the chase.   These are the best pictures taken during our bush walk.



Our guide leading us to safety away from the elephant.


We came across some fresh lion droppings towards the end of the bush walk.   Part of me wanted to see the lion rather than its droppings, while the other part of me was not so sure whether I really want to meet the lion face to face on foot.


Its back to the camp after the bush walk, a quick breakfast at the nearby golf club and then we began our second game drive with Wild Wings.


When you see vehicles clustered like this, it usually means there’s something interesting happening in the bushes.


Turns out there were African wild dogs.


An entire pack of African wild dogs resting in the bushes.


Our guide Neil told us that earlier in the morning, lions were spotted by the river while we were at the bush walk, their roars could be heard as far as the Skukuza camp.  They were however long gone by the time we arrived at the river.  This was the exact spot where the lions were spotted.


We were at least rewarded with the sight of a family of elephants in the valley.


It was a hot and blazing day and our guide brought us to the transport dam watering hole in the hopes of witnessing some animals taking a drink.


This was also where the famous video ‘Battle at Kruger’ was filmed by a fellow wildlife guide.  The video was so popular that it has since gathered millions of views in Youtube.


At the watering hole, we caught sight of the third Big 5 animal - the white rhinoceros!  It was heading towards the water bank for a drink.



The rhinoceros is the second largest terrestrial mammal on earth after the elephants.  Other mammals like to stay close to the rhinoceros, probably because predators dare not approach in the presence of such a formidable opponent. Impalas, waterbucks and wildebeests try their best to stay near to the rhinoceros.


The rhinoceros is one of the most poached animals in Africa because of the price that its horn can fetch.  Even in a protected area such as Kruger National Park, illegal poaching activities continue to take place, causing their population to continuously decline.  It was indeed fortunate that we could catch sight of a rhino in view of their small population.


We were told Mr Rhino can weigh up to 3600 kg.  He’s very impressive indeed!


More wildlife at the watering hole.


As we continued on with the game drive, our guide received information on the sighting of an injured leopard.   This marked the fourth Big 5 animal sighting for us - the leopard!  Its also the second Big 5 sighting for us in a single day.  Mr Leopard was said to have been lying in this position since the morning and it was fortunate that we were still able to catch him here in the afternoon.


Close up shots reveal a bloody patch on his neck which could be the result of a fight.



That’s how far the leopard (somewhere in the middle left of the picture) was from us, which is why a good pair of binoculars and a long range camera is necessary if you want to see anything at all.


Glad that Mr Leopard could at least lift his head up, and a moment later, he was well enough to have a look around his surroundings.


That’s the number of vehicles waiting around to have a peek at the leopard.  Causing bit of a congestion, really.


Continued on with the game drive and we saw some really fascinating landscapes around Skukuza camp.   The top of these cliffs looked like a place where lions would like to roam and roar, but no such sightings for us.  In fact, other than the sighting of a lioness on the first game drive, we saw no other traces of the big cats for the rest of the drives.  Not even at Satara camp which is known as the big cats territory.


I still love seeing these impalas, no matter how often I see them.


This concludes Day 2 of our 5-day safari drive.  Join us next as we continue on with the rest of the game drives.

This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here


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