With an evening of animal spotting under our belts, it was time to start early in the morning for our full day safari, which would take us into the heart of Kruger National Park through the Orpen Gate. This game ride was done with another group, the Bundu Safari Company, with a similar set up for the truck we rode the day before.
Upon initial entrance the the Orpen Gate area, we didn’t go far before we were greeted by the first animal of the day, which would be another giraffe. This one happened to be a bit closer than the one we saw the day before, and so it was a great way to start the day.
We made a pit stop just before going deep into the park, which made for a great opportunity to see the first big herd of animals, as there were impalas and zebras!
Hanging out on some of the buildings at our stop were some Southern Red Billed Hornbills, definitely not like anything that we have back home in the Seattle area.
Once we went through the official gate, it was time to look for the animals. Sometimes they would even be walking right across the road ahead of you.
While we did see a lot of them, and our group was able to get a ton of great pictures, one thing that is probably quite common for safaris is the amount of dead time between animal spottings. Anyone who goes into a safari in the wild of Africa and expects it to be like the Kilimanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom in Disney World will be disappointed, but if your patient and understand that these are wild animals that do what they will, you can still enjoy an excellent time getting to see some amazing animals. Not to mention that there is an extra level of excitement when you do find them.
So as we began, we would find a herd of Wildebeests with some zebras mixed in with them, similar to earlier when some of them where with the impalas. We could see that a few of the wildebeests were younger too.
Further down, we ran into another large herd of impalas that were found within the bushes and trees.
We came across another giraffe, and this one happened to have a few friends on him which were oxpeckers, who help out giraffes by eating the ticks and other bugs off of the giraffes. This poor guy though had a wounded leg, and according to the guide, it was likely the result of an attack by a lion.
We would also find another water buffalo and a herd of Kudus.
A little bit before we had a breakfast break, we would see the first elephant of the day! He was walking away from us, and that seemed to be the theme with the first couple times we saw elephants as they appeared to be walking away from us most of the time, so it didn’t make getting clearer or closer shots as easy. Still really cool to be able to see a wild elephant!
After the first elephant spotting, we made our to a picnic area in the park where people could stop their cars and enjoy a meal. Here you could see animals if they came by, as some in our group did see an elephant in the distance, who was also walking away.
Every so often, we would feel small acorn like objects land on our heads or hear them hit the tables because of the birds eating in the trees above us. It was neat to have them join us for breakfast!
When we got to our drive, we would eventually find some less camera-shy elephants. It is incredible to think of how large these animals can get!
There came a point where there was a lot of repeating with the animals as the impalas, zebras, wildebeests and giraffes seemed to be the most common animals in the area. So there were plenty of opportunities to get more of them on this day.
Then came a point where we started to see baboons. They were a little tricky to spot at first as the first few were further away, but then we did eventually see others that we closer.
As the day went on, our driver tried to lead us to an area where we could see lions, as for the most part we had not seen any predators on this day, and with seeing the elephants, that left only the lion and leopard for the big five to see. Unfortunately, we never did see any leopards, and for some time it seemed like we wouldn’t see any lions either, until finally we saw a group of cars and safari vehicles that were all sitting around looking at something in the trees. It just so happened to be a lioness, resting in the shade.
Not far from where she was were a herd of elephants, all gathered together in the shade as well. From what the other part of our group told us as they came up after us to the area, the lioness had a few companions with her, and they ended up stalking to elephants, which happened after we left, so apparently we just missed out on it.
It was after this that we would see one of the most stinking adorable things! There was a mother baboon who was watching her baby up in the tree, and then the baby came down closer to mama.
Somewhere in this time, we were given a lunch break at a lodge in the park with a few different restaurant options, and when we got back on board, we would continue on, and we found a large watering hole that had hippos! While they never came very far out of the water, you could easily tell they were.
Along the drive, we saw a large variety of birds along with the ones we had seen earlier, including vultures!
But the real treat of the whole day came near the end. We were driving along, and at one point we see a nearby elephant on one side of the road, and it was almost like a misdirection, because maybe a hundred meters or so further down the road, there was another one that was RIGHT THERE! He couldn’t have been much further than maybe 40 feet away from us, it was incredible!
After a bit more circling around, we made our way back out of the park and to our lodge for a relaxed evening before the final day at Kruger. One of the best features about the lodge that I didn’t check out until this day was a viewing deck that made for a great spot to watch a sunset!
And after dinner near the fire pit like the night before, it was off to bed after a great day of seeing wild animals on safari! The next morning, we would get one more awesome experience in from this three day safari!
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