Kruger national park has been number one on my bucket list since before I can remember. One of the many good things about studying an animal related course is that you get to meet like minded people who have similar interests and passions as you. This is how I met my friend Kendra. We both have a special love for Africa and decided that we wanted go visit Kruger National park together. I won’t lie, visiting Kruger if you go through a company can be very expensive but honestly, it was worth every single penny.
As the trip cost quite a lot we wanted to make sure that we went with a reliable company and we would get as much as possible for the money that we were spending. In the end, after extensive research we decided to go with a company called “Outlook Safaris”. I exchanged a few emails with them and decided this was the company I definitely wanted to go with. The booking process was very easy and as soon as we paid we were sent through an itinerary. This included pick up and drop of at the location of our choice and then driven to the camp we would be staying at. It also included 4 days of safari drives with professional FGASA registered guides, 3 nights in the safari lodge accommodation, 3 course meals twice a day and all entry fees to the park covered.
The drive from the airport to our camp, Berg en Dal only took about an hour and as soon as we entered Kruger we were treated to a taste of the beautiful wildlife to come in the following days. We saw Hippos, Giraffes, Crocodiles, Baboons and Impala. When we arrived at Berg en Dal rest camp we were taken to the Outlook safari tents and we were greeted by our guides. The guides were all very friendly and made us feel very welcome. After the introductions we were driven to our lodges to settle in and freshen up before we joined a sunset drive later that day. Before we arrived we did not really know what to expect, we paid a lot less than other people I know who have been to Kruger so our expectations of accommodation and food were not too high, we thought we might be living off sandwiches and crisps the whole time but we were so wrong!
The accommodation was a little lodge, ours had 3 single beds, big bathroom with walk in shower, kitchen with fridge, hobs, microwave, toaster and kettle. We also had a little patio and braai (barbeque), but you had to check before you sat outside because the Baboons also liked to claim the patio as their own. Once we settled in and unpacked we got picked up by one of our guides, Benji. He was our main field guide during our stay at Berg en Dal. The sunset drive was not with the Outlook guides, it was with Sanparks. It was a nice drive and we saw some incredible wildlife but the safari truck we were in seated around 20 people, I much preferred the smaller safari trucks, they feel more comfortable and you can actually ask questions and speak to the guides about the animals, whereas the big truck felt a bit over whelming.
After the sunset drive our guide picked us back up and drove us to the tent for food. Now, me and Kendra were not expecting anything special and I’m a really fussy eater so I was slightly nervous. Once we sat down the chef, Ishmael came out to introduce himself and what we would be eating that evening. The starter was a beautiful chicken salad, followed by steak and veg for the main and a delicious moose for desert. It was incredible, I don’t think we have ever eaten so well in all our lives and every other meal we had during our stay was just as delicious!
We had an incredible first day and it only got better from there. On our second day Benji picked us up in the safari truck at 5:20am, which we were not overly looking forward to as me and Kendra are not really morning people but the thought of seeing the sunrise and animals definitely made it less painful! We got dropped off at the tent again were we had time wake up slightly and had a cup of tea with a muffin, then set off out for our first safari drive of the day. The drive lasted around 3 to 4 hours and then once the drive was over we got dropped back off at the tent for breakfast. The breakfast was amazing and made the morning complete. After we had eaten we all got dropped off at our rooms around 10 am and we had time to relax and chill as our next drive was not until 2:30pm. During our breaks we either went to the shop, slept or relaxed around the lodge.
Our lodge was right at the bottom by the fence so we could sit outside and see the animals walking past. One night we were sat outside waiting to be picked up for dinner and we heard a noise, it sounded like an animal grazing so we ignored it and presumed it was the bush buck we seen earlier that evening, but the noise really loud. To loud to be such a little animal so we went to check out where the noise was coming from, as we got to the fence we shined our lights over and low and behold it was a rhino. A huge rhino was standing about 5 meters away from us with just a little fence in-between us. He was so relaxed around us though and carried on eating so we stayed with him and followed him quietly for about half an hour. It was such an Incredible experience to see this huge gentle giant feeding under all the stars, it was quite emotional.
After our midday break our guide Benji picked us all back up and took us out for our afternoon drive. Benji was a great guide, he was very knowledgeable about not only all the animals we would come across but also the trees and plants. He even got us tasting some of the plants and smelling burning dung (it actually did not smell to bad)! His passion for his job and for the animals shone though and definitely made us enjoy the safari drives even more, half of the time the guides were more excited the see the animals then the guests! After the evening drive we got dropped off for Dinner and once again it was exquisite and the conversation and company was just as lovely. This was pretty much the routine for every day we were there, we also had access to shops, a restaurant, outdoor theatre and a swimming pool but it was slightly to cold to use.
We were very lucky on our drives to see some truly amazing animals such as a Leopard, five Cheetahs (even the guides were shocked by this), Giraffes, Rhinos, Baboons, Zebra, Hyenas, Vultures, Owls and so many Elephants. We basically saw every animal possible apart from Lions. It’s no surprise that we did not see any Lions as they tend to sleep from anything from 18 to 22 hours a day! Everything about our time at Kruger National park was beyond perfection and myself and Kendra are so happy that we decided to go with Outlook safaris because I honest could not imagine having a better time than what we had here. If you have not been to Kruger or your undecided if you want to visit I 100% recommend it and I am already planning my return!