Sunrise in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Fall asleep under the stars, lulled into a dreamlike state with the sound of lions sleepily roaring just past your consciousness. Wake up to the brilliance of a rising sun, with stately elephants dustily silhouetted against the horizon.
Relax to the haunting melody of panpipes and drums echoing your heartbeats...the experiences you will have, your encounters with humans and animals and the sheer diversity of the continent, will draw you back time and time again to the pulsating spirit of Africa.
It is not a place for the fainthearted, or for one who is accustomed to the climate-controlled, orderly and clean destinations of Western Europe. It is a hot, crowded, at times desolate place, but the sheer magnitude of Africa, its music, the laughter and resilience of its inhabitants make for a colorful and often magical experience.
South Africa, with its hippos in the Limpopo River, penguins at the Cape, the vast Kalahari desert with its imposing sand dunes stretching mile after desolate mile, and the incredible fields of wildflowers at Namakwa in shades of pink, purple and brilliant yellows is a destination worth visiting.
The view from the top of the iconic Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town has been described as one of the most epic views in Africa and is one of the majors that our "worldwide destinations series" agrees should be seen.
A visit to Kruger National Park is a must if you are a wildlife enthusiast. There are tarred roads leading to the nine entrances to the park, namely Pafuri, Punda Maria, Phalaborwa, Orpen, Paul Kruger, Phabeni, Numbi, Malelane and Crocodile Bridge. The park itself is huge...about 2 million hectares!
You will see lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalos and black rhinos rubbing shoulders with cheetahs, giraffes, and a host of smaller animals. You will also see evidence of early human life in this region - from 130 recorded bushman rock painting sites to majestic archaeological sites like Mosorini and Thulamela.
These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park, set up in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld.
To get there, fly into the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) from Johannesburg and drive down through the most amazing countryside to reach the national park. You have the nine entrances mentioned above and within the park there is a network of sealed roads that take you to the best vantage points to view the animals.
Stay in one of the camps or guesthouses if you prefer to be put up in some comfort. (Above is a photo taken at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp)
To learn more about elephants, you can visit the Elephant Hall Museum, where there are mounted tusks of the big bulls that have died in the park, as well as information on poaching, the illegal ivory trade and several other topics related to elephants.
There are wildlife safaris and a host of different trails for hiking within the park to take you through the various species of vegetation and animal habitats. Giraffes tower majestically in the region.
For birdwatchers, there are hidden spots one can visit...the best places being the northern end of Kruger National Park and close to 600 species have been identified there, most of them regular visitors to the park. Or, pause along the river and see the zebras quenching their thirst.
Kruger is an exciting park, and the sheer size and varied topography of the place keeps it from being monotonous. From the undulating savannah to ravines and rivers, the bush setting and wilderness experience seeps into your very bloodstream.
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By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2014. International Travel Writers.com All rights reserved images and text