Demi Droog is the social media and marketing intern for Ashanti Travel Online. After spending months reading about other people’s safari experiences she finally decided it was time for her to go on an adventure of her own. Below is her account of her trip including the best and the worst of it.
Together with three friends I went to Kruger National Park last weekend. When you ask me to describe this experience in one word all I can say: Amazing! The knowledge that there is still real wildlife existing in their natural habitat is so special for a European girl like me.
The trip started with an early flight from Cape Town to Joburg. When we arrived in Joburg we picked up our rental car from the airport. From there we had planned to drive along the Panorama route on our way to Kruger. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as planned. We were driving a Volkswagen Jetta and the roads around the Panorama route are not in the best of conditions. In the afternoon we got a flat tyre. That can happen! Just bad luck. We drove the car to the side of the road as safe as possible and the first truckdriver who passed us helped us to replace the spare tyre. After 20 minutes we were on the road again.
We drove along the panorama route with its incredibly beautiful scenery and breath taking and endless views. After living in Cape Town for 3 months I am still impressed by the views every day, but the Panorama route is on a whole other level. We’ve seen lots of nice things in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve with God’s Window as our favourite viewpoint.
After the Panorama route we decided to drive to our first accommodation in Hazyview. It was getting dark and we still had 40 kilometres to drive. While driving we were making fun of the experience with the flat tyre that had occurred earlier. But then we hit a pothole on another poorly maintained road. We drove very carefully and slowly but another flat tyre was unavoidable. A large 4×4 was would definitely have been the better option. It was already dark and we were located 20 kilometres away from the closest town and not safe on the side of a meandering road.
Luckily a friendly passer by stopped and helped us. After a little panic we had to make a decision because it was not safe for us to stay there and the emergency number of the car rental company was not being answered. We decided to leave the car behind and the man and his family were willing to drop us of at our accommodation. We drove with 8 people in a Volkswagen polo to our accommodation. This Is Africa! The next morning, we finally had contact with the car rental company and they fixed the problem and gave us a new car so we could continue our trip to the Kruger National Park.
We passed through Phabeni Gate, enthusiastic for our own self-drive safari to start. We drove the first 4 hours that day and spotted a lot of the more common animals immediately such as hippos, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, impalas, zebras, monkeys and plenty others. After a delicious lunch at one of the rest camps with a lovely view over the dam we drove the next 3 hours to spot as much wildlife as possible. We were secretly hoping to spot a lion that day but unfortunately, we did not. That’s why we decided to book a guided early morning safari the second day. A tour guide can tell you way more about the park than you will ever know or see by yourself. On the guided safari we spotted lion and the very rare Wilddog! That was very exciting. After that we spotted 4 of the big 5. The safari jeep allowed us to get much closer to the animals via the gravel roads and the extensive knowledge of the guide.
If you are planning a self-drive to Kruger, I highly recommend to rent a 4 x 4 car. You don’t want to go be stuck on the side of the road in the wilderness in the middle of the night.
Another option is to book a complete budget safari trip including accommodation and transfers. We have expert knowledge in African Budget Safaris and are happy to help you find the perfect trip. This way all you have to worry about is enjoying the amazing Kruger experience without worries.