South Africa > Kruger National Park
13-15 May 2013
We enter Kruger National Park via the Timbavati Gate at its western perimeter, and we soon spot our first game by the roadside — a handsome male giraffe. Matt, the ranger who collects us, promptly stops the van for a photo opportunity, while the gent obliges.
I make full use of my Sony NEX-6 camera, with the kit 18-200mm lens. With a bit of cropping, I can get very ‘close’ to this beautiful animal. We also spot a cape buffalo sitting alone in a river, and baboons by the roadside, but I can’t get a good shot from inside the van, unfortunately.
The van soon gets off the road and enters a dirt track to a shed where we change for the second time — now a ride on the tough, all-terrain safari jeep! This should be fun. With everybody on-board (two of us plus a couple from Vancouver) and our baggage secured in the last row seats, Matt drives off to our safari lodge.
Now this is true safari country, free-ranging wild animals are everywhere here, and Matt keeps his eyes and ears open while driving.
We spot something in the bush — a female kudu!
Every nook and cranny of this countryside can bring a surprise, so everybody is on the look-out, but we are not really sure what to expect.
We bump into another Africa on Foot man with a Land Rover Defender – we later learn this is Enoch, a superb tracker.
Our lodge finally, and wa-hey I’ve managed to locate it on Google Map! — please click http://goo.gl/maps/ZdXOv.
Ah well, I just need to admire this mean machine. I’ve seen it on safari documentaries on telly many times, and I just can’t wait to try it out myself.
This is the ‘clubhouse’ of the lodge, where we have our meals and socialise.
Another view of the clubhouse — the reading area and the pub. This lodge has an open compound — no security fencing or barrier, and wild animals can just stroll in.
After check-in formality is done, we are shown our home for the next two nights — that chalet or hut on the left.
Next to our chalet, just the open bush where wild animals freely roam.
Our home, Tjankbos. Nicely thatched roof.
No lock, just a latch for the front door.
At the back the shower area, open-air. Note the hot water piping. Water is bored from the ground (tastes a bit salty) and is heated with gas in a cylinder.
And behind our chalet — open safari country where any animal can just appear!
Nevertheless the interior is immaculate. I haven’t used a mosquito net since a kid, so I’m quite excited.
Spartan but practical furnishing. Electricity is generated via solar panels, and that oil lamp is to supplement the rather dim LED lighting used at night. It’s virtually winter now, so we don’t need the fan at all.
At the foot of the bed some minimal furnishing and more windows, complete with shades and insect barriers. This chalet looks small on the outside, but surprisingly quiet spacious inside. Note the red airhorn on the table — that’s for emergency use, such as when a snake is spotted under the bed, say, especially at night when the curfew is on (yes, we do have a curfew after dinner due to the risk of wild animals wandering into the lodge’s compound at night). 🙂
All in all, quite a comfy proposition, this hut. We love it!
The back area has en-suite toilet, with a door to the open-air shower. The hot water is handy since it’s now almost winter and temperatures have been low.
Can you imagine a giraffe suddenly peering into your shower? Can easily happen.
This is my view when showering. The hot water works, problem is when there is a breeze — it can get pretty chilly, esp. in the evening! But then evening showers are unique with all the sparkling stars (and the Milky Way) in the sky staring at you.
Back to the clubhouse, with thatched roof, …
… just like our chalet at extreme left, and other buildings.
Interesting indigenous plant behind the clubhouse, and there’s the dish for the only TV for the guests.
Also behind the clubhouse, the office, with these life-saving communication antennae atop it. Well, one is for wireless internet access, which is reliable and fast … not to mention free.
We always have our meals together — guests and guides Matt and Enoch. To the left there’s the kitchen, and the cooks would deliver the freshly-prepared meals. We have enjoyable breakfasts, lunches and dinners here.
The food is pretty good, and as we specified prior to coming of our dietary preference, they do their best to cater for us.
After the evening drives, we gather at this open-air corner of the clubhouse, light a bonfire and start telling tales — the taller the better, as we wait for dinner to be ready. Great stuff, especially when the sky is full of stars!
The reading area of the clubhouse, with protective tarpaulins drawn to protect from animal invasion during the night.
Dinner time, with LED lamps to conserve energy.
The other end of the clubhouse is the pub.
Not many patrons for the night, but a cosy spot nevertheless.
Breakfast time, taken after the long morning walks, and this area is a very pleasant spot to hang around.
As mentioned, the friendly guides are always with us during meal times, helping us out. Indeed a great place to stay on a Kruger safari.
Finally a bit of history on ‘Africa on Foot’ — to learn more please visit their website: http://www.africaonfoot.com
> THE END