After the bizarre adventure of the day before, it was time to do something that I have always wanted to do, and many people have as a bucket list item, and that is to go on a safari! One of the challenges I ran into with finding a safari during my planning for this trip back home is that many of the private safaris would charge you for a minimum of two people, which didn’t really make sense to do since I was going solo. The private safaris were also much more expensive in general. Thinking about my tour company and how we offer tours to multiple parties, I began to look into companies that offered group safaris where someone who was traveling on their own could join others so as to not have to go the private route, and that was when I discovered Intrepid Travels.
Intrepid Travels works with many different partners to help organize a variety of adventure tours all over the world, and they offered a ton of options for Africa. As I searched their options, I found the 3-day Kruger National Park Safari, and found that it would be the perfect length for me to be able to do the other things I wanted to on this trip, while also likely getting more out of it thanks to having a guide to help show the way around.
For the first day, I, along with several other people, were picked up from the Rosebank Holiday Inn, and then we made one more stop to pick up two more passengers, then it was on to Kruger! On this ride, there were seven Australians, two from France, and two from somewhere in Europe (maybe Germany or Switzerland? I forgot). I was the lone American on board.
The drive took about six to seven hours to get to our lodge with two breaks along the way for restrooms and food. While some may see such a long drive as boring, it certainly helps when meeting new people as you could have some great conversations, plus it also did not hurt that the scenery along the way was quite enjoyable out in the South African countryside. Flat plains, rolling hills, large mountains, deep valleys, there was a little bit of everything to see along the way!
Before we knew it, we were pulling off of the paved road and onto a dirt road that would lead to our lodge which was located within the Moditlo Game Reserve. Once we pulled into the reserve, it wasn’t long before we saw the first few impalas and a giraffe! We hadn’t even actually begun the game drives yet, and we were already seeing animals.
The lodge we stayed at was the Thornhill Safari Lodge. It was a quiet and quaint little place with a friendly and welcoming staff. Each of the buildings for guests had two rooms, and the beds were actually quite comfortable. There was also a common area where we had lunch before our first drive, which offered a bar as well. Intrepid did offer a cheaper version of the same tour where you would camp instead of staying at the lodge, but for the sake of this trip, I did enjoy the slightly more modern accommodations. Not to mention that we were warned to keep doors and windows closed at all times so as to minimize the risk of monkeys coming into the room and going through your personal items.
After we had a chance to get settled into our rooms and finish lunch, it was time to head out for our first game drive! We were transported over to another lodge called Timbavati, where we met with our guides for the evening game drive. We were taken on this drive aboard safari trucks that could fit nine passengers each, and that gave us an elevated view of the areas we would drive through.
As we made our way to the Manyeleti Game Reserve, we passed by where cattle were roaming across the road to graze on its side. We also passed by a few water buffalo as well. But it wouldn’t be long before we were heading into the gate of Manyeleti.
Once in the park, we had to drive a bit inside before we would see the first animal of the drive through the reserve, and that was an impala! It was a bit interesting as it was by itself, and I seem to recall that these animals tend to stay in herds, so I thought that perhaps this one had just wondered off. Even still, it was great to see animals fairly early on in the drive.
Further ahead, we would also see a couple of black rhinos, one which was a younger one, perhaps the baby with its mother. We did keep our distance, but it was really cool to see one of the big five pretty early into the safari!
As we went further in, we would see a lone giraffe that would take a stroll right across the path we were about to take. It certainly wasn’t in a hurry, which was cool with me as it was very photogenic, especially with the setting sun!
Later on we would see more impalas, as well as kudus and wildebeests. Here we started to see more herds, although they seemed to be a bit smaller in number than I had expected.
As the sun was beginning to set, our drivers pulled the trucks over and set up a table for snacks and beverages which included a choice of soft drinks, beer or wine. This made for an excellent moment as we were able to enjoy the sunset while in the middle of an open field with a chance that we may encounter wild animals.
And that was exactly what would happen! In a really cool moment, we were standing near a large puddle of water, and a lone wildebeest came over toward our direction. We were told to stay back, move slowly and keep quiet, and it kept coming closer until it was able to get a drink of water.
After our drinks in the middle of an African Game Reserve, our drive continued through the first hours of darkness as we headed back to the gate, and while there were a few animals that could be seen very briefly, it was difficult to get pictures of them, but one of the ones we saw was a mongoose! Once we arrived back to our lodge, we had our first dinner with a South African style cook out with our tables set around a firepit.
And with dinner, it was time to head back to the room and relax a bit before bed as the next day would be a full day of riding through the heart of Kruger National Park!
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home