Deciding where to go on our first safari was a tough choice. We decided a good “first Safari” would be at Kruger National Park. We were right.
We stayed at Fitzpatrick Lodge at the Jock Safari Lodge. It was wonderful. Since we were not at the main lodge, we were able to get to know everyone fairly well as there are only three rooms at Fitzpatrick.
Our Ranger Pete was fabulous. He was beyond knowledgeable about everything you could ever dream up to ask about an animal. We even spotted all of the big five on one game drive because of the “sixth sense” he has for finding animals. His passion for being a Ranger at Kruger was amazing to see.
It was a lot of fun driving around in the safari vehicle in search of many amazing animals. It did get cold at times with the wind hitting you as game drives were early in the morning or were “sun-downer” drives.
When we first arrived we had just gotten into our room when Ranger Pete called and said to get out to the safari vehicle FAST. We quickly grabbed the camera and were out the door. We hopped in the safari vehicle and made our way as fast as we could to the dried up riverbed where there were HUNDREDS of buffalo hanging around. It was an incredible sight to see. We were in such a rush we didn’t grab our second camera that we have a wide-angle lens for, which was a bit of a disappointment. Seeing so many African Buffalo was an incredible moment to witness.
When we first entered Kruger Park, we were driving to the Lodge. We came across three Rhinos in the middle of the road. Common sense told us to give them space. When they started to move to the side of the road, we slowly started inching forward to go wide around them. One of the Rhinos was clearly agitated and every time we tried to inch up it would stop, back up two or three steps and turn its head to look at us with eyes that clearly said “don’t you dare move”. We backed up a bit and a moment later slowly tried to go wide around them again. The same “don’t you dare” moment happened several times before the Rhino decided we were too boring and they took off. It was a pretty freaky experience!
We loved that Ranger Pete got out of the Safari vehicle when he spotted cool insects or small reptiles. Each were brought into the vehicle as he spoke about them. He even got out of the vehicle to move a snake that was “on his way out” to the side of the road so it could at least die in peace instead of being run over. It was also great that each insect or reptile was placed back where it was found (or as close as possible to it, if it needed to be out of a dangerous spot).
This lion (above) sure knew how to show us what it thought of us watching him. We were very lucky that we weren’t down-wind of the smell.
What you see here is the diggings of where Rhinos do their business. The hole is where the dominant Rhino does his, and breaks it all up with his feet to also then track his sent around the area. Non-dominant Rhinos dare not defecate in the hole — they must do this in the surrounding area around it.
When water is needed, elephants will dig below the surface to find fresh water. Once the hole is dug other animals will upkeep it as they use the hole as a water source as well.
These Lion cubs were completely adorable. It was amazing to watch them play and roll around in their natural habitat.
It is not often that you see a hippo out of water, but it sure is interesting to watch them waddle around and clearly see how powerful of an animal they are. Towards the end of our sighting, the hippo sure looked agitated and annoyed!
The elusive leopard. This was our second leopard sighting – our first leopard sighting was at night when getting a photo is rather difficult. They are gorgeous animals that emerge from ‘hiding’ to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.
We were able to have our sun-downer snacks and drinks as the sun went down and while watching the lions and lion cubs hanging out, finishing off a kill that was hidden out of sight in the bush. They did not seem to mind our presence so we sat and watched for probably half an hour — it was incredible.
A lazy lion laying right in the middle of the road.
This hyena was hurting bad. He was slowly limping as he walked — he probably did not have much longer to live until he became an animals next meal as he would be easy to pursue successfully.
Kruger National Park was a fabulous choice to have our first safari adventure. We saw a TON of different animals and have only featured some of our favorite photos above.
September was also a great time to visit Kruger as the malaria risk was low since mosquito activity was still low before the weather really started to heat up!
Kruger was such a phenomenal experience that it has now opened our eyes to a whole bunch of new experiences we would love to try around Africa.
What is an African experience you have always wanted to have?