Our first day was to reach Letaba Restcamp in Kruger National Park. We flew domestic from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa. From there, we drove a rented 4WD, a Hyundai Tuscon and it gave better vantage in height and better handling of the trail (ie. gravel path) roads.
After heading through the gate into the park, our first sighting was a giraffe after 2 minutes drive. Excitedly, we pulled our cameras from the boot and started shooting. It was munching in bliss and gave time to adjust the white balance, ISO and what not on our camera. Further onwards was seeing elephants drinking and even showering.
Finally we reached our accomodation which are 2 bungalows looking out to the river. There are notices not to leave food in the open as the monkeys will scavage them. The design of the bungalow is that behind and outside of the beds is the kitchen cum dining area which right outside of it is a big open space with trees. So chairs and tables are put out as blocks to the fridge, bread and other edibles are kept in the bedroom.
A plus point for staying in bungalows, they are air-conditioned which help heaps to rest during the midday. For the next day, we drove southwards and somehow took on a trail route and had good finds: zebras, impalas, kudus, elephants, birds like buzzard and hornbills.
Over the course of the next 2 days, we also took on a few game drives and a night braai which we get on a truck of sorts which which gives high vantage point. Of the big 5, we only left out seeing the leopard, we only saw it’s kill on top of a tree but the leopard was not around.
On the whole, we saw a lot of animal crossing the roads: zebra, kudu, rhinoceros, elephant, grounded hornbill. The biggest bonus was my sister spotting running cheetahs, she shouted “Leopard” and the ranger stopped the vehicle. The cats stopped too to look around before resuming their run. Another bonus was seeing 3 male lions after their meal of 2 buffalo brought down a day or two ago. We were on the game drive truck which gave excellent high view to see all three lions. There were like four or five other cars clustered together. On one tree was 5 vultures waiting, and on the far end were 2 spotted hyenas lurking nearby.
On the way to the night braai, an African style barbarcue, we used two high power torchlights to scan around for night animals. Our finds were rabbits, genets, impalas, an elephant and running hippos. Sadly no leopards were in sight. During the course of dinner, four lanterns made from candles rooted with sand in a paper bag were on fire as the wind was quite strong. There is a ranger armed and ready on the lookout for wildlife intrusion which made the dinner adventurous.
Now onto food. Big breakfasts are the typical type for morning meals. After the third day, we started to go for variety. Especially for sausages and bacon, they tend to be salty. For pepper and salt shakers placed on the tables in the restuarant, the salt is consumed more than the pepper. Sugar too is on the high consumption side. Teas, there is only one type, the local Rooibos herbal tea which comes also with decaffeinated version. For lunch and dinners, usually is some steak and fish. According to my sister, game food tastes very game so she did not recommend us to try.
Weather wise, it was hot and sunny only on our first day arriving to the camp, the rest of the days were overcast with occasional rains. Temperature wise is almost like Singapore but far dryer.
Next leg of journey is drive down to Johannesburg.