And there it is. A giraffe right in front of us blocking the street. We turn down the engine and wait. What else can we do than gaze at the beautiful animal in front of us?
We start our drive at 6 am. The ladies at the reception are kind and let us check out that early and even prepare a lunch package for our long morning in Kruger National Park. We are driving around 40 minutes from White River and start our Kruger National Park self-drive adventure at Numbi Gate. After paying the day visitor fee of 385 Rand per person, we are free to drive around. At the Pretoriuskop Camp we buy a map of the park including some descriptions and pictures of animals, which comes in handy.
Public driving – fewer animals? No!
Shortly after the gate, we see the first elephant, who was not too keen on the cars driving past him, so we leave him alone after we see his warning – he is wiggling his ears and head.
Just a couple of minutes later, we see two giraffes comfortably nibbling on the trees’ branches. A herd of zebras is crossing our way and they are not at all shy! Sometimes zebras immediately turn around when they see a car, in the public part of the Kruger National Park they seem to be used to them and stay. It even seems as they pose for the camera!
We see a Kudu couple chewing their food and some impalas, the common antelopes in the park. That’s it for a long time.
The wonder continues
Our eyes have accustomed themselves to the park’s environment and we learned how to spot the animals even if they are hidden well. This is why we can find the rhino that is hiding behind the bushes and quickly find three others next to each other at the water hole.
A giant buffalo herd is surrounding us from all sides – we close the windows and try to get through safely. A single elephant is looking at us while walking along the street. Waterbucks are looking at us with curiosity and some eagles sit in the trees.
Just right before we get out of the park at the Melalane Gate after about 3 hours, we meet a group of zebras again. They are so close to the car that I am tempted to let the windows down and put my hand out. But of course – I am the intruder in their living room and I let them be. And another buffalo herd is coming towards us and we quickly drive out of the park.
Some other kind of experience
Driving through the public part of Kruger National Park is easy. Just pay the entrance fee at one of the many gates and you can drive your car around the provided streets. You are not allowed to leave the streets and definitely not to get out of the car. There are certain picnic areas you can get out, have your picnic and use the restrooms. They also offer tours with a guide.
Is it as relaxed as in the private game reserves with a driver? No. Is it less beautiful? Definitely not. Even by driving yourself you can see so many animals, and your eyes will get used to the movements in tune with nature. You will definitely see as many animals as you would with a private tour in the private game reserves. However, since you have to drive yourself, you focus on the driving (and you should, as you don’t want to crash into something in there!). It demands more energy and more concentration. The lazy version is definitely the one with the guide and the tracker 🙂 However, I can recommend both variations – you will not regret it!