The Drive To Makuleke Concession
Driving into Kruger National Park was something I had always dreamed of doing. The strangest thing was that it felt like Australian bush, it looked the same, only you knew at any second you were about to see something big.
We got to the Pafuri Gate, bought our Park Pass, and headed on in. Kirstin, who works for Wild Ark and was accompanying us on our camp in Makuleke, was in the drivers seat, and beside her in the passenger seat, was our to-be guide for the week Catherine, who ended up becoming our good friend.
Within a few kilometres I saw my first Elephant, I have seen these animals before, unfortunately in captivity as a child, and have always dreamed of seeing them this way, here in Africa. Although ive read so much about them, and seen hundreds of photos and videos, nothing compares to seeing them in real life. They are such HUGE animals, so massive, yet so elegant, and have this aura about them, you can just tell they are old wise souls, full of kindness.
We continued our drive, passing different turn offs to Gates and camp grounds. We did stop in at one in particular where there was a big herd of elephants playing in the water, which I loved!
We saw countless Giraffes and Zebras, and quite a few birds of prey, which interest me a lot. Wedge-Tailed Eagles here at home are one of my favourite animals.
About half way through our drive we came across this one massive bull elephant, who was completely covered in mud, and was now sizing up a tree that he wanted to scratch himself on. We watched him for 5-10 minutes as he pushed his whole body weight into this tree to scratch himself. It amazed me to see the force they have without any effort at all, I loved watching them plough their way through anything they wanted, after all, they are the biggest animals in Africa, so they do what they want!
As we were driving we noticed some cars bunched up on the side of the road pulled over, and when some of the cars finally moved on we were able to see why they had stopped. A Spotted Hyena was having some relax time under the tree right next to the road, I had only seen these wonderful creatures on documentaries before, or in zoo's when I was younger. Hyena's have always amazing me, how they are so unique in genetics and traits that they belong to their own family
As we got closer to the north of Kruger where Makuleke was, everything started to become a lot more lush, the trees got taller, the scrub got greener, and the elephants, they were everywhere.
Kirstin was reassuring us the whole way that we were about to have the most incredible elephant encounters in Makuleke, ( which we did - next blog post ) but every single elephant made me excited to see.
One in particular, who was also covered in mud, decided he wanted to walk on the road, which is fair enough because when you have a clear path in front of you , why not?
We finally made it to the sign which said Makuleke, we stopped at the bridge which looked out over the Levuvu River, and it was just our luck more elephants were playing in the water, throwing water around with their trunks, and crossing the river to get to the lush green forest on the other side.
I knew I was going to fall in love with whatever was next, we drove through the final stretch to get to the EcoTraining camp, and found our way to the located remotely tented camp in the bush somewhere in Makuleke Concession . . . . .
Many thanks to Mark and Sophie Hutchinson, Wild Ark, Kirstin Scholz and Eco Training for the opportunity to experience South Africa this way. Its a trip I will never forget.