Kruger National Park

It was two years ago, but I still cringe a little bit when I remember that within a few days of starting my new job, I asked my boss for a day off. For the following week. Yep. I took a day off in my second week of work in a new job. Not ideal new employee behavior, I know. But the minute my uncle asked me if I wanted to join him and his family to a trip to Kruger National Park, I knew I couldn’t say no.

If I didn’t go with my uncle’s family, my only other option if I wanted to go and see Kruger was to go and do it alone. Given that it’s a 6-7 hour drive (or a very expensive flight) from Johannesburg, and that I wouldn’t know the first thing about planning the trip and getting around the park, what else could I have done? Come on, you know you would’ve asked your boss for a day off to see one of the most renowned wild life reserves in Africa, too.

I’ve been to the smaller (and nearer) Pilanesberg Game Reserve and was lucky enough to see a lot of the animals before, but I must admit, seeing them doesn’t get old. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. Seeing animals like impala, steenbok and the blue wilderbeest does get old after a while, since there’s so many of them. But I think I will always feel a rush of excitement when it comes to the animals you go all the way to Africa for.

Like the giraffe

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And zebras

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And of course, the elephants

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and BABY (!!!!!) elephants (seriously, how cute is this teeny tiny baby one?).

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Yes, I’ve seen a giraffe and a lot of these other animals in different zoos before, but there’s something about seeing them in their natural habitat. Apart from the fact that there’s something heartbreaking about zoo animals, there’s a sense of us, the humans, being in THEIR world instead of the other way around. Yes, there are paved roads and electric fences and surveillance cameras. But when traffic stops to let a turtle cross the road

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This turtle crossed the road to drink from the puddles that form in the road because drinking from the waterholes is not the best option for them (i.e. they can get killed if they try).

or when you back your car away from a charging and overprotective elephant, you are left with no doubt that you are intruding on their turf. And there’s something fascinating and incredibly humbling in that.

Also, incredibly humbling (and terrifying)? Being in close proximity with, not one, but two lions while you are sitting in an open vehicle.

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He is only yawning in this picture and not roaring, thank goodness.

Even when there are no animals to take pictures of, there is still a lot of beautiful scenery to marvel at. As National Geographic-esque as this sounds, the varied landscape, the vegetation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in real life.

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You can’t really tell from the photo but this Baobab tree is huge.

If gigantic trees are not your thing, though (not mine, either), then there’s always this:

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Like I said, it may not have been the most professional move to ask for a day off for what is only 10th official workday of your new job (in a new country, I might add). But I don’t regret doing it one bit.

 You can go and see more of my pictures from Kruger on my Flickr album. Click here.

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