A tongue-in-cheek look at the Kruger

Let’s go to the reserve to rekindle our souls, get back to nature, relax and escape the concrete jungle! The trappings of all the mod cons have made this statement “ancient history” – well at least 15 years out of date! Going to most reserves now-a-days will not rekindle your soul or even get you into relaxed mode, quite the opposite I’d expect.

On a recent trip to the Kruger I was asked, in all seriousness, “what do you do to find wildlife – how do you find it?” My normal salubrious, un-sarcastic answer was “look for a traffic jam and bingo – you’ve found something good”. Not always good mind you, as sometimes people stop for the oddest things such as impala and kudu, but normally these are represented by smaller traffic jams.
If you really want to infuriate the other Park visitors, stop for a bird. The length of time you spend at a bird sighting can be calculated by the number of burned tyre stripes on the road as they roar off leaving you in a cloud of unadulterated smoke muttering something about ‘bleery birders’.


If you do, in-fact need to relax, ensure that you leave at least two hours earlier than the books tell you when moving from one camp to another because if you do encounter a ‘wow-sighting-traffic-jam’ you will need years of Kruger Park traffic jam experience to get through. There is an unwritten rule in the Park, which I haven’t yet been privy to, that states that you may park wherever you get the best views irrespective of whether you block another persons’ viewing ability or not! (This actually happened to me a few trips back when I parked on the side of the road watching elephants and an old, no, ancient Afrikaans lady and her friend – couldn’t be her sister as surely two siblings can’t live to that age, stopped right next to us with a caravan that totally blocked any views that we may have had! Even screaming, shouting and blowing the hooter had NO effect – they simply ignored me). Probably another rule that I haven’t yet been privy to – ignore them and they’ll go away, which is exactly what I did! Relaxed – no.

Another gem of a warning: There are two extremely dangerous times to be venturing onto the roads in the Park – when the gates first open in the morning and as they are about to shut in the evening. In the morning people roar out of camp, presumably to get the full benefit of burning the most fuel possible in a single game drive, (you know the carbon foot print etc), to get an early start on the alcoholic beverages, or maybe even to try to view the nocturnal animals before they recluse themselves for the day? Not being a social anthropologist I cannot give you the answer.

The other dangerous period is when approaching gate closing times. Some of the larger camps have no compassion when issuing you with a late-arrival-fine! So, in-order to avoid these fines people tend to be a little bit heavy footed, especially after a day’s consumption of their favourite beverage. But be warned as I was chatting to one of the traffic cops and he was saying that he caught someone doing 131 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone. The driver lavished in a cell for the weekend as a guest of the Skukuza Police Services. Yes folks, the South African Police Services do have a Police Station and jail in the park.

The final matter that does my soul no good is to take a walk around the camping/caravan site. These people, away from the material trappings of home, have more satellite dishes, microwaves, TV’s, lounge furniture, toys and computers than I have at home! Some of the things they cook on, I presume that’s what they are for, look like they come out of a catalog that only millionaires and above are privileged enough to view. I, being of sound body and mind, wouldn’t be brave enough to go anywhere near them.

Having painted a some-what murky picture of the Park, it’s not ALL bad as we still take groups, and in-fact I still like to take my family there on holidays whenever I can. If you want to avoid traffic jams simply stick to the dirt roads as people tend to shun these roads in their fancy 4 x 4’s – God forbid they may get dirty.

Nigel Anderson
Guide at African Insight
HYPERLINK “mailto:nigel@africaninsight.co.za”

About Andrew Anderson

Managing Director: African Insight - Travel Experiences That Make A Difference African Insight - Explorations Tourism Concessionaire - Somkhanda Game Reserve
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