After a quick visit to my village and a massive roadtrip that ended in a terrifyingly potholed road at night with semi trucks, we rolled in Lydenburg exhausted and found our guest house relatively easily, the Aqua Terra Guest House. We grabbed dinner at Spur, which cracked Dad up with its Native American themed décor, then fell asleep in our very comfortable beds. The next morning we took a walk by the “river”, had a delicious breakfast at the guest house, then headed off along the Panoramic Route to Hoedspruit.
Along the way I learned how to drive a manual in the mountains by driving through the Long Tom Pass, and we stopped for a bit at Pilgrim’s Rest and the Mac Mac Pools. Pilgrim’s Rest is a town that is probably like Williamsburg in the States. We found lots of traditional craft shops alongside the stores and museum related to the Afrikaner pilgrims who usesd to live there. The Mac Mac pools was a small waterfall with a few pretty pools set in a plateau in the mountains. Lots of people were there, including some families who came to swim. However, it wasn’t overly tourist, and when we set off along the walking trail, we saw absolutely nobody, which was peaceful.
We managed not to get horribly lost, despite the confusing signs which sparsely dot the mountainside. We had wanted to see Jessica the Hippo that night, but arrived too late. We stayed at the Loerie Guest House in Hoedspruit, which had nice rooms but not much else going for it. I arranged with the owner to be let out very early the next morning for our safari in Kruger…
…to no avail. The next morning, we stood at the gate at 5am and were stuck for almost half an hour behind the locked gate. We finally got out and had about a 45 minute drive to the Orpen Gate at Kruger. We arrived soon after 6am and began our safari!
Now, Kruger is HUGE. I mean, it’s bigger than some states. One day in Kruger really isn’t enough, and it’s certainly impossible to see the whole park in one day. Heck, I think it’s impossible to see it in a week. We were in the park essentially from opening to closing, and only drove through a few roads. But we had a blast and saw many animals.
I had previously been on a safari in Pilanesburg, so I had seen most of the animals before, but I also saw some new things. We saw wildebeests/gnu, a hyena, guinea fowl aplenty, giraffes, zebras, impalas, massive spiders, warthogs, monkeys, snakes, kudu, waterbucks, hippos, tortoises, a chameleon, buffalos, vultures, elephants, rhinos, vervet monkeys, bush babies, termites, and even a creepy cricket that flew in my window and hit me in the face. We didn’t see any cats, but the herd of 20+ elephants was amazing. And we even got terrifyingly close to a few different elephants.
By the end of the day, we were absolutely exhausted and stopped at a roadside bar and grill for burgers. We basically strolled into Hoedspruit after dark and went to bed. It was a full and amazing day of safari!
I’ll post photos later on, promise.