#5 The Transvaal region of South Africa: Kruger and Blyde River Canyon

#5 The Transvaal region of South Africa: Kruger and Blyde River Canyon

“From 7th to 13th of December”

Kruger National Park

Awake at 5:30 am, we are motivated to go and meet the numerous animals that populate the Kruger National Park. We still have a little bit of road to go. The Kruger is one of the most famous wildlife parks, especially for its surface comparable to Belgium and its density of animals. Indeed, in less than 15 minutes we already meet 3 lions on our right who are quietly taking their nap. We stop to observe them and after about ten minutes, the rain takes them out of their sleep. They get up, stretch and move away in the bush.

We take again the roads of the park, sometimes on tar, sometimes on track. The landscapes vary as much as the species of animals that we meet.

The day continues going from wonder to wonder. From time to time, we take a longer break and cut the engine to make us forget our presence and blossom in the observation. 

At the stop, in front of 3 warthogs, we take the time to familiarize ourselves with their behavior. It’s funny to see their tail rising like an antenna when they start moving. Two other cars are also stopped on our right. Once the memory card of the camera a little more filled, we are ready to leave. It is then that a lady in the car in front of us, shows us a predator that we had missed: the famous leopard. Lurking in a bush, he silently watches his preys waiting for the right moment to attack them. He will finally be spotted by the warthogs and will leave in search of another meal.

A little later, with a sharper eye, Laurène spots 3 cheetahs on the move. In view of their lean and muscular body, there is no doubt. It is the fastest animal that can reach 110km/h.

This first day, we were spoiled to see so many different species including the famous big five: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard.

We spend 3 days in a row on the lookout for the wild inhabitants of the park. The list of encounters grows longer, and each one is unique. As we go further north in the park, the density of animals is reduced. The felines give way to jackals and hyenas.

The herds of Zebra, Impala, Kudu, Elephants, etc are smaller as well in this region.

Birds are also numerous in this park. Multi-colored eagles, vultures and other smaller species land on the trees at the end of the day at sunset.

Blyde River Canyon 

Our legs are numb from the days spent behind the wheel driving around the park. Just walking around the camp in the evening no longer feels natural. Our bodies need physical activity. We listen to it and head for Blyde River Canyon to hike again.

Near one of Kruger’s eastern exits, this majestic canyon is one of the largest in the world. Driving in Uyo, we can see its heights on the horizon. We go through a pass to descend closer to the azure blue water of the canyon.

We access a first viewpoint for a picnic after paying an entrance fee for this point in the reserve. Privately managed, Blyde River Canyon Reserve is not included in our Wild Card of the country’s national parks. Here almost every hike, waterfall, viewpoint and other point of interest is fee-based with a ticket booth at the entrance, limiting the ability to do everything for less money.

To put ourselves in appetite, we begin by a small hike of 2km to go to touch the water. We leave the full belly in direction of a beautiful hike farther with superb points of view and full of natural basins to bathe in the river. It is very hot and we drip, a little freshness will make us good!

On the road, we go along cultures of mangoes, grapefruits, oranges, litchis,… With the heat, we only dream to crunch in full teeth one of these exotic fruits. Our wish is granted a few meters further. Stands on the low side sell the excess of production. We fill up for the days to come and leave quite happy.

Rejuvenated by walking, bathing in basins and eating fruit, we find a bivouac for the night near a small stream thanks to the iOverlander app.

The next day, we go to see the famous Pot Holes of Blyde River. These are perfectly circular holes formed by erosion. When we leave, we notice that our CV joints are torn again… It’s Saturday and on Monday we wanted to cross the border to Mozambique. The time to find a garage that can help us, the weekend is well underway. We will have to come back on Monday. The appointment is taken at the opening, 7h30.

Last day in Kruger

In the meantime, we decide to spend our Sunday in the Kruger on the most populated southern roads. We arrive in the park on Saturday evening, 1 hour before closing time. Just enough time to have a look around before going to the camp.

The next day, we resume our habits. Eyes wide open, we drive along the roads in search of animals. We are very lucky because we meet a lot of lions on the roadside. They are resting in the shade to protect themselves from the strong sun. This heat is also difficult for us in our Uyo without Clim. We leave the park before it closes to find a wild camp site and have time to cook outside. The night falls quickly here and at 7 pm we do not see anything anymore.

Monday the repair takes us all day. Dismantling the CV shafts of our vehicle is not easy, especially without a lifting bridge. The garage it is always a stressful moment even if we watch carefully what they do. The hour turns and it is already 3 pm, we give up the idea to cross the border today. We are going to approach to cross it tomorrow, Tuesday.

We arrive at the border at 8am because we want to do our antigen test directly on the spot. According to our sources, this is a new process that has been in place since the day before and now avoids the PCR. Unfortunately, its installation was delayed… After 1 hour of exchanges with the customs, we understand that we have to turn back to do a PCR test in the nearest city. Despite the fact that it is still early in the morning, we will not cross the border today. We take the time to relax in a small campsite with a view of the Kruger Park and a swimming pool to get back in shape on Wednesday. Finally, we will manage to cross the border into Mozambique without too much trouble or “baksheesh”.

To follow our arrival in Mozambique, a very relaxed country.

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