No matter how many great experiences are packed into your tour, every trip seems to have that one magical day that tops all the rest. Here, travelers, Jillian and Sarah share theirs.
The Kruger National Park game drive was the one part of the tour that we were anticipating the most. We started talking about it as soon as we knew we were going to South Africa, and we didn’t stop talking about it until that morning.
The night, before we had our safari outfits all laid out and our bags packed for the day. We were like kids the night before Christmas—and we were so excited we were wide awake well before our 4am wake-up call. When our group gathered in the open-air hotel lobby for coffee, tea and biscuits, you could sense the anticipation in the air.
When we got to Kruger National Park we boarded our nine-passenger safari vehicles. The drivers gave us a very warm welcome to the park and provided us with blankets since the early morning air was cool. As we drove away out of the parking lot and into the park you could feel the excitement. Everyone was getting their cameras ready.
By the time we stopped for breakfast around 9am, we had seen four of the Big Five, all but the elusive leopard. Then, while we were sitting in a park near a river having breakfast, a leopard appeared. Everyone dropped their breakfast and got their cameras out as soon as we realized he was there. Seeing a leopard is so rare that even the drivers and our Tour Director were really excited. As the day went on, we ended up seeing even more leopards—four in total!
We also saw black rhinos, white rhinos and a group of sleeping lions. When we were parked looking at a river full of hippos, we saw a herd of over 20 elephants walk over the hill on the other side. There was even a baby elephant that our driver said was only a few weeks old!
We saw the oldest elephant that anyone had ever seen. You can tell an elephant’s age by how long the tusks are, and his were touching the ground.
At the end of the day, our Tour Director and drivers agreed that it was the best game drive they’d ever had. For us, it was a perfect adventure—the dusty roads, the atmosphere, having everyone experience this for the first time together.
When we got back to the hotel, we rested up before gathering in the rustic hotel bar for a pre-dinner drink. We just couldn’t stop talking about how incredible the day was!
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