Last Updated on January 31, 2021
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 made some incredible safari moments in Kruger, and it was this safari that renewed our desire to explore more of the world. We truly felt the magic and thrill of a safari within Kruger National Park.
Jock Safari Lodge
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.
Hundreds Of Buffalo
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 safari moment to witness.
The Rhino Encounter
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 heart-stopping experience!
We also learned a lot about Rhino’s behaviors. For instance, the dominant Rhino makes a hole where he does his business, breaks it all up with his feet, and 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.
Beauty In The Small Things
We loved that Ranger Pete got out of the Safari vehicle when he spotted cool insects or small reptiles. Each was 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).
Related Story – 10 African Safari Photography Tips
Spotting Wild Dogs
Spotting Wild Dogs in Kruger is a big deal as there are only around 450-500 in all of Kruger Park, making them hard to find. They are also often on the move when they are seen. Wild Dogs also shy away from areas that are dominated by lions and hyenas.
Wild dogs can roam over a large distance, up to 250 square kilometers, and 50km in a day when on the hunt for food. If you spot a wild dog in Kruger, you are very lucky!
Lion And Cub Encounters
We were very fortunate with the number of lion encounters we had in Kruger National Park. We saw many lions lazing in the grass soaking up the sunshine, sat and watched a family of lions as the cubs happily played. We even found a lion lazing in the middle of the road, with no intention of moving out of the way until it was bored of us watching him and he wandered off. A lion we were watching as he relaxed even decided to show us what he thought of our attention, as he got up and proceeded to show us him taking a poop. We were sure lucky that we were not downwind of the smell!
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.
One common sight in Kruger is the Impala. Found everywhere in Kruger National Park, they are the most common animal and therefore known as the “McDonalds of Kruger”. They are so common, that you are bound to come across them several times. They were also one of the first animals we saw on safari.
Zebra Babies And Injuries
With its characteristic black and white stripes (or white and black?), the zebra is one of the easiest animals to identify in Kruger National Park. We enjoyed seeing all the Zebra babies. We even saw a Zebra that was likely injured in an attack but had survived. The Zebra had a huge gash down its backside.
We Were Mesmerized By The Elephants
Elephants are magnificent creatures. A symbol of power, intelligence, and peace, we were in awe at every sighting, especially when there were cute calves around. Elephants are the world’s largest land mama that weigh up to 7 tonnes and reach heights of up to 2.2m at the shoulder; they are huge!
We also learned that 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.
Related Story – 19 Incredible Safari Moments
A Hippo Out Of Water
Staying out of the water for too long can lead a hippo to dehydration, so it is not common often that you see a hippo out of water. It sure is interesting to watch them waddle around. You can clearly see how powerful of an animal they are. Towards the end of our sighting, the hippo sure looked agitated and annoyed!
Did you know that the hippopotamus is responsible for the most human deaths by a mammal on the African continent?
The Elusive Leopard
The elusive leopard. The photo below was our second leopard sighting. Our first leopard sighting was at night when getting a photo is rather difficult at a distance. They are gorgeous animals that emerge from ‘hiding’ to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.
Other Animal Sightings
We saw so many incredible animals during our safari in Kruger National Park. We were absolutely thrilled with the entire experience that we are still very much speechless when we try to describe the magic of a safari.
We Loved Kruger National Park
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 not as active 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?