Spotting the big five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo) is the main goal for most people that are on safari. Personally I think other animals are just as pretty or maybe even prettier. What about the African Wild Dog or the elusive cheetah?
Nevertheless we couldn’t complain when we saw the complete big five in one day, and in what way!
Waking up at 4.30am
Like everyday in Kruger the alarm went off at 4.30am. This gave us just enough time to pack up the tent, ‘fold up’ the tent and hit the road before the sun was about to rise. We followed this routine last week at the 24th of January 2018 as well. With a cream cracker dipped into peanut butter we drove into another beautiful African summer day.
While we were making a short video for our Instagram story (Instagram.com/gowandertheworld) a giraffe decided to walk between the sun and our car, what a wonderful way to start the day.
From Lower Sabie to Crocodile Bridge
Because we slept in Lower Sabie we can either go south to Crocodile Bridge or head up north towards Satara. Satara is our go to camp for tonight but we decide to take a ‘small’ detour (>50km) to Crocodile Bridge. Because we use our Kruger Self Drive: Routes, Roads & Ratings book (written by a guy called Van den Berg; can’t be a coincidence) we are on the S29 road before we know it.
Elephants in the bush, lions on the rocks
After a couple of kilometers we see the first ‘gentle giants’: the elephants. The first sun rays warm these elephants up and they are a pleasure to photograph. Just like us they’re having breakfast, grasping whatever grass or bush they can get their trunks on.
Since it’s a proper summer day it’s getting warmer by the minute. This means that a lot of animals are finding their spot in the shade for the day. We’re quite lucky since there are lions on the rocks further down the road. They are still enjoying the sun for now. Four of them are in plain sight and are part of the Vurhami pride. While we’re burning away in our car the lions also decide that it’s time for some shade.
The first ‘kill’ of the day
We decide to leave the lions for now and to continue towards Crocodile Bridge. This plan is being interrupted by a couple of vultures sitting in a tree. Once we’re a bit closer it starts to smell funny. Then we find out why: there’s a kill (dead animal) underneath a tree.
A jackal was finishing the remaining pieces of meat that once belonged to an impala (antelope). Of course we wanted to capture this impressive scene on camera. With a bean bag and a camera on top we were clicking away happily. After a while something yellow-ish popped up in front of my lens, blocking my view of the jackal. When I looked up I noticed it wasn’t another vehicle but a lioness within 2 meters! I then decided to pull back my camera and just enjoy what was happening around us.
Time to relax, or not
Then we would really go to Crocodile Bridge for a cup of coffee. However, before we arrived we stumbled upon two white rhinos. They were chilling out in the shade near the road while five others were fighting for the last bit of shade of one of the few trees in the background.
Coffee (finally) and lunch
After a wonderful cup of coffee (still a bit strange to see a luxurious espresso machine in the middle of the bush) we hit the road. At the place where we just saw some lions, elephants had taken over and were drinking near the river. It was 11.00am by now and thus time for a lunch. Once we arrived at Lower Sabie (another camp) we were welcomed by a couple of buffalos that were hanging out on the riverside. With this beautiful view we had some pancakes and a burger (healthy!).
Satara here we come
With all these lovely animals that we had seen today we thought it couldn’t get any better. But it did… about 50 kilometer before Satara there was a car on the side of the road with this big lens hanging out. While we approached the car we saw it immediately, a leopard in front of a small bush. Amazing! After a while the leopard got tired of the cars and left her spot. While everyone was leaving we decided to stay and were rewarded. She came back and it turned out that she had a kill hidden behind a bush. A small bushbuck wouldn’t live another day since it was dinner time for the leopard. She didn’t mind that we were watching her while she was eating. This was so astonishing to experience!
What a day.