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Kruger National Park Safari Day 3

South Africa (Kruger National Park) . 2017 . May 13


This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here
Today marks the third game drive, and also the day where we moved from Skukuza Camp to Satara Camp.  We’ve seen four out of the Big 5 animals during the last 2 game drives, leaving us with only the Buffalo to look for.  

Sunrise over the African plains.  Today, we left the Skukuza Camp very early at 6:30am for an early morning game drive and breakfast.

The early mornings and evenings are the best viewing and photography times as the weather is cool and most animals are at their most active state.  It is evidenced by the copious amounts of fresh animal dung we see at the roadside.

Just outside the gates of Skukuza Camp, our first animal encounter was with a lone bull elephant.


I love those beautiful ivories.


Wild animals see vehicles and the people inside it as an entire entity, and not as single human.  They are therefore not a threat if you are inside a closed or open vehicle.  In the case of the elephants, all they usually do is to flap their ears to make themselves look bigger in a bid to intimidate the vehicle.



Here’s my favourite picture of an elephant.   It looks like he was smiling and having a great breakfast after deciding that we were of no threat to him.


At another location, we see another bull elephant.  We know its a bull elephant because only the males travel alone, being driven out of the family group once they reach sexual maturity.  What a poor lonely man.


We had been blessed with good weather for the past 2 days, but today, for the first time, it threatens to rain.


We start with early morning tea at a nice little look out area that gives us a splendid view of the African plains below.


My favourite picture of this lookout point.


Morning tea in the wilderness is a great idea and a unique experience for us.


This bird landed on the ground long enough for us to snap a good photo of it and identify him.  Its a Cape Glossy Startling, a fairly common bird at Kruger National Park.  It’s iridescent sheen is just lovely.


A pair of sharp eyes are really needed to spot wild animals, and unless you are quick, you’ll be sure to miss out on these 2 fellows resting on the rock surface.


Zooming in to have a closer look at the two of them...


An African Fish-Eagle, a rather handsome and majestic creature.


A white-backed Vulture.


This being the third day at Skukuza Camp in Kruger National Park, I was beginning to wonder when we would ever catch sight of giraffes and zebras, who seemed to have evaded us until now.


Those giraffes will be totally missed in a passing vehicle if not for sharp eyes.  See if you can spot them in this picture.


We were promised that giraffes and zebras prefer the terrain around the Satara camp as it makes it easier for them to escape from predators.  We’ll see about that when we arrive at Satara Camp this afternoon.


The cool weather today meant that the big cats would be out as they would need to lower their body temperature before a hunt.   We managed to catch a rare sight of 2 cheetahs before they leap off with their incredible speed.  See if you spot one of them in this picture!


A Kudu which is fairly common in Kruger National Park.


It was early afternoon when we checked out of Skukuza Camp and made our way to Satara Camp where we would spend the next 2 nights.  By this time, rain had started to fall and would continue so until the end of our 5-day safari.


A Leopard Tortoise by the roadside, having a sip of water from the ground.  Careful there, you don’t want to be run over by vehicles, no matter how hard that shell may be!


The drive to Satara Camp brought us to areas that we had never explored before.  There were plenty of wildlife to spot even though it was still drizzling.

A close-up of a Kudu.


A Waterbuck watched us intently as we observed him. It is best identified by the white ring around its rump.   Its horns are extremely beautiful if you could see it with a pair of binoculars.


And there, as we reached the vicinity of Satara Camp were the promised giraffes.  Its one thing to see a giraffe in a zoo, and another to see it roaming freely in the wild.  The giraffe is the world’s tallest land mammal, and that sense of awe when you see it in its full height and majestic is simply indescribable.


Wished I could reach out of the vehicle and touch him.


The patches on a giraffe tend to darken with age, especially in the males, and it is apparent from this one’s coat that he is indeed darker than the rest.


This giraffe certainly did not travel alone.  Can you spot another one camouflaged in the background?


This one is a lot more obvious.


Another elephant spotting.  Believe me, there are loads of those elephants around, and by the end of the safari, we couldn’t even be bothered to stop when we see one.


A herd of blue Wildebeests.


And finally, finally, I catch sight of my first Zebras in Kruger National Park.  Live zebras, I meant, not the zebra coats hanging in the souvenir shops.


Seeing zebras always reminds me of Marty from the cartoon Madagascar.


Our ranger made a pit stop at Tshokwane, which was less than half way from Skukuza to Satara Camp.


The best thing about these pit stops are that you’ll get to be updated on the sightings of the day, and hopefully, still get there in time to see the animals you want to see.


Beautiful souvenir shop and a cafe there at Tshokwane.


Was very very tempted to buy this cute plushy ape which would have cost me a fortune.  Things are really very expensive here in South Africa.


The zebras again!  They really do like the area away from Skukuza Camp a lot more, probably because there are better grazing grounds for them.



An entire herd of wildebeests and another lone bull elephant.



I hope he didn’t demolish that tree by himself.


Its afternoon tea time at one of the lookouts and we’re having a close monitoring session on those watering holes to spot animals.  But the weather being cool and rainy, there wasn’t much need for those animals to come by.


Did catch sight of some birds.  He looks pretty serene, doesn’t he?  He should be a Heron, if I am not wrong.


As we continued on our way, we caught sight of the last animal on the list of Big 5 animals - the Buffalo.  It took us 3 whole days to complete that list.   Although some people have claimed that they managed to spot all Big 5 animals in a day, it takes an incredible amount of luck to be able to do that.


Buffalos are known to be dangerous animals, because once they have decided that you are a threat, they will not stop attacking until they exterminate the threat.  That’s why bulls are known to be stubborn.


Perhaps, what makes a wild safari so interesting is that you get to watch animals interacting with each other in their natural habitat.  How many of you can lay claim to the fact that you’ve seen wild elephants in a fight?  Well, we sure did!


These two bull elephants obviously can’t see eye to eye with each other.   We got to observe at close proximity, the full display of their might, the use of their tusks to poke at each other, complete with full sound effects.


Never thought that I could witness this first hand.  You’ve got to be at exactly the right place at the right time to be able to see this - its a bit like striking lottery.


More zebras.  I particularly like this photo of the zebras looking at us collectively.


Our best photos for this trip all came from the games drives at Kruger National Park.   This is another one of my favourite photos.


Another common bird of the African wilderness, the Spurfowls.


I can’t identify this one since its so far away, but it sure makes a good silhouette against the darkening sky.


These are the other common kind of birds - the Guineafowl, identifiable by their blue necks.


Before nightfall, we reached Satara Camp which would be our home for the next 2 nights.


Satara Camp is much smaller than Skukuza Camp,  but it still has its own grocery store for those who need to purchase their daily necessities.



I can’t help but zoom in on these little cuddlies at Kruger National Park, but they are incredibly expensive at SGD $30 for a tiny little one.


That’s our little mushroom hut at Satara Camp.  Some say that Satara Camp is in a worse state than Skukuza Camp, but I personally felt that it was better.  The fixtures at least looked less worn out.


Time to settle in for the night in preparation for another long game drive tomorrow.


This concludes Day 3 of our 5-day safari drive.  Join us next as we continue on with the rest of the game drives.

This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here


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