South Africa

Not Just a Walk in the Park

South Africa's Kruger National ParkOne of the best safari destinations in the world, without question, South Africa's Kruger National Park offers some of the most exciting opportunities to experience a world of bio diversity and wildlife. As soon as I got the urge to visit this amazing park and its unique culture, I made my way to South Africa for a three week trip. The park, whose abundance of wildlife has turned it into a huge tourist industry, is quite possibly the best place to view game and birds in the world. Visitors all over the world come to visit the fascinating wild animals that reside in the park. The animals aren’t the only populations that have lived in Kruger: a vast number of different cultures and civilizations have settled here over time, with archaeological findings showing human populations existing here as far back as 1.5 million years ago.

One of the best ways to see the park is to drive through it, though it can turn out to be a very time consuming adventure. The park is roughly about 19,000 square kilometers in size and the speed limit is low to downright slow, due to the free roaming animals. Despite what seems like a lengthy and tedious drive, you can rest assured knowing that it is well worth it. There are many campsites available for lodging along the way, for a bit of added spice for your adventure. Not many foreigners go 'old style camping' with tents and mattresses while visiting Kruger, but it's definitely something that should be considered. A number of South Africans often enjoy camping and driving through Kruger, as it is the perfect opportunity to take in all the natural beauty on offer. Some of the main camp sites are quite populated and can include souvenir shops, restaurants and other types of amenities geared toward tourist services. The main campsites even offer game drives or bush walks, which are available for a reasonable price. There is nothing like walking through the bushes of Kruger National Park and spotting wild animals that are less than ten feet away.

If you are looking for the less populated, more rustic type campgrounds, you will find those throughout Kruger as well. One of the most exciting things about the park is that you never know when the wild animals will come out. During my time in the country, I was able to ride through about half of Kruger and on the way saw zebras, elephants, giraffes, lions, monkeys, wildebeests, kudus, tsessebes, waterbuck, crocodiles, a jackal and hyenas, to name a few. One of the best animal sites we came upon included a group of about seven giraffes and some zebras. Apparently it's rather unusual to see that many giraffe in one place, and they don't usually hang out with zebras. It is simply amazing to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, especially when you get to see something as remarkable as that.They don't usually hang out together...

Another option while visiting Kruger, one often overlooked by travellers, requires a visit to some of South Africa’s neighboring countries. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park crosses borders between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Wildlife can freely roam between Kruger and the Great Limpopo (no passports required!), and the two work together to promote conservation and biodiversity, as well as to increase the animal population. While visiting the park, I had the opportunity to cross the border into Mozambique. While the game viewing is severely diminished compared to Kruger - thanks in part to nearly two decades of civil war from which the country is still recovering - the trip into Mozambique is a fantastic experience. There is a campsite called Albufiera, where tourists can either camp or stay in marvelous African chalets. Boat rides on the Massinger Lake, which lies just outside Albufiera, offer exquisite views of the surrounding area. Visitors can even take it one step further and stay in a houseboat on the lake for a few days for perfect exposure to its sparkling blue waters an unspoiled beauty.

Trips into the local villages nearby also create the perfect atmosphere to experience and enjoy some genuine African culture. While the tourist industry has yet to expand in this area, there are a few local markets that offer some relatively inexpensive souvenirs. While shopping for trinkets and gifts can be rather pricey in Kruger due to the increasing numbers of tourists that trek through the park each year, the local markets in Mozambique are a nice change and offer the opportunity to spread the wealth a bit. It is sometimes difficult to navigate through the borders and applying for new visas but, much like the whole Kruger experience, is not something to be missed.


About the Author
Amanda Fedewa grew up in Lansing, Michigan and currently lives in Grand Rapids. After teaching English in Thailand, she decided to go back to school and is now studying International Relations at Grand Valley State University. She will graduate in 2012. Her program has seen her complete two study abroad trips to China and India, and is about to finish up a third in South Africa.


Related Articles:



Add comment


Security code
Refresh

profileback2

 Full name: Republic of South Africa

 Population: 48.8 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Pretoria (administrative capital)

 Largest city: Johannesburg

 Area: 1.22 million sq.km. (470,693.3 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: IsiZulu, IsiXhosa,  Afrikaans, Sepedi, English, Setswana,  Sesotho, Xitsonga, siSwati, Tshivenda,  isiNdebele, Other

 Major religions: Protestant, Catholic,  Muslim, Other

 Monetary unit: Rand

 GDP per capita: US $11,000

 Internet domain: .za

 International dialling code: +27

 Source: CIA World Factbook