African Safari – My Kruger National Park Trip
Very few things can compare to an African safari. Seeing the Big Five (lions, cape buffaloes, African elephants, black rhinoceros, and leopards) up close is on many travellers’ bucket lists, but even the animals that have not been ranked as the deadliest animals to hunt on foot are a joy to see in their natural habitat.
In April 2010 I took a day trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa for a safari. Within the first few minutes my group was spotted a hippopotamus cooling off in a pond a couple hundred yards from the road. Our tour guide told us he was surprised we were able to see a hippopotamus at all, since they usually spent their time further from the roads and were difficult to spot until you were too close to be safe. This stroke of luck set the tone for the rest of the safari. We saw lions lounging after a meal, giraffes feeding on the leaves of trees on the savannah, a herd of zebras mingling with springboks and impalas, and a myriad of beautifully coloured birds.
The most remarkable moment came when the path we were driving on passed right by a white rhinoceros rolling in a patch of mud in an attempt to keep cool. White rhinoceros’ are much less aggressive than black rhinoceros so we were able to slowly slide up next to it, less than twenty feet away. I was impressed with its size and obvious strength: I had never been so close to something so wild without the customary moat or thick layer of glass between us.
When I grew tired of watching the different animals, I would take in the gorgeous views surrounding us as we drove along. The enormous hills covered in rich browns and greens fenced us into the valley with predators, but I couldn’t help but admire their beauty. The hot sun reflected off the still waters where hippos and crocodiles were cooling themselves, like a giant mirror.
I fell asleep that night listening to lions calling to one another like rolling thunder, thinking of my day and of the close relationship between beauty and danger in Africa.
Written by Charlene