I think everyone has that one special place that they go to to get away from the craziness of life....that one place that you could visit every single year and YET love it just as much as the first time you set foot on it.
For me it's the Kruger National Park. I have the fondest of memories of our yearly family vacations there, but there is always one thing that stands out and is unmatched about it........the smell. You may think I'm crazy or I've lost my mind or you may even think that I'm talking about some rancid weird smell, but I'm not, really...unless you've been to the Kruger Park, you can't understand just what that smell is.
But anyway, enough of that let's get going, I hope you packed light, it's hot there
Kruger Park is about 4 hours from Johannesburg, so we had quite a few stops for all the kiddies to get out and use the bathroom etc. This was one of the stops just 20 minutes from the Malelane Gate which is one of the main gates to the Park.
One of the first views of the Kruger park and just how enormous it is.
There are tons of lodges along this river and some are just breathtaking....imagine if you will, waking up in the morning and stepping out on to your veranda with views like this before you.
After we made it across the bridge you could feel the anticipation building up. I for one was besides myself, I wanted to literally scream at the top of my lungs with joy, here was one of my favorite places on earth and I was but a few minutes from it.
Welcome to Malelane Gate! EEEEEEEEEEEE
Another view of the gate as you arrive
These huge skulls are displayed right outside the reception door
Once you check in to the main gate, you set off on the way to your camp. Let me just show you a map so you better understand what I mean. (click on the map for a bigger size)
You quickly become used to seeing these all over the place, quite frankly I got tired of them LOL At one point I wouldn't even bother to look anymore because there's just so many of them around.
This guy was on the side of the road RIGHT by the Malelane gate, we would have totally missed him too if my sister in law Lilian hadn't jumped in fright LOL
Fighting for female attention, or for dinner, or out of boredom? Who knows, but they were very much into it LOL
Arriving at our camp Berg-en-dal.....this camp is the closest to the Malelane Gate and we were happy to not have to drive another 2 or 3 hours to get to our camp. It's also one of the best camps there is.....
Alright, now let's head down to the reception area to check in and grab our house keys. Funny just looking at this photo I feel like I'm still there.
On the left we have the store and right in front there's these little steps where they show a nightly movie about the wild. If you continue further down you get to the Rhino Trail which overlooks a watering hole.
Here we are at the house, aren't they amazing?
Living room....see those beds built into the side of the wall? They are very handy when you have a big group of people.
Kitchen area, it's an open floor plan which is great....
The first monkey we saw I believe his name was Curt LOL
The kids all excited to be at the Kruger Park......their faces crack me up LOL
What's a family without one or two model wannabe's? Jasmine and Taryn-Lee are ALWAYS ready to pose.
So we've settled in, unpacked and now we're starving so it's time to head to the store and buy some meat for the grill.....quite a big family we have here and we all walked there instead of driving. My poor grandma tried her best but she did have a hard time on the way back, her legs were just killing her.
Lookie what we spotted on the way? Doesn't that give you warm fuzzy feelings of the UNWANTED kind? LOL I can't stand bats and this just gave me the shivers.....eeewwwww
Yes I know I'm hungry too Curt....he's looking at me with that "Woman, I'm starving hurry up" look
See how he is no longer in this next shot??? That's because he came up to me to ask what I was doing stopped in the middle of the walk with a camera in hand........he obviously has NO IDEA what it means to blog LOL
A view of the Rhino Trail and our friends....they were all over the camp
Sweet little things but quite vicious if messed with. We had to remind the kids not to go near it because as cute and fuzzy as it may seem, they are wild animals and not to be fed or played with.
Before heading to the store to pick up the food for dinner, we stopped at the local restaurant for some lunch. It was expensive and the food wasn't that great to be honest with you. I much prefer cooking my own meals back at the house.
Sandra is clearly hungry or hot or something something LOL
My poor son was still a little jet lagged, that head on the hands at the table thing became quite popular with him LOL
We finally ate, shopped for dinner and went back to the houses....after some showers and relaxing, it was time to start the grill.
Here's the essentials for a good Kruger Park trip........I labeled it for you just so you can get an idea of what you need to survive LOL
See? You don't need much LOL
Anyway, let's have some dinner and call it a night, it's been an exhausting day.
Literally dinner by candlelight with nothing but the stars above and the sound of the lions in the distance. It's an AMAZING sound, very scary but just amazing all the same.
Taryn-Lee enjoying her chicken :)
Jasmine munching on hers too....
Tiffany was definitely enjoying her chicken
I look at this photo and I want so badly to throw myself back in there again....I miss the park so much.
Grandma enjoying her dinner
Curt and I
My stepmom and dad
My poor grandma, she was cold so Curt went and got a blanket off the bed to wrap around her shoulders LOL
My oldest brother Paul and sister in law Lilian
Me and Lilian - I think the wine was getting to me LOL I don't know what that face was for LOL
Tired happy kids, if there's such a thing....or maybe it was the anticipation of getting up at 5:30 in the morning to go see the animals?
Either way it was a wonderful first day at the Kruger National Park and we had SO many more to come, so go ahead, go lay down and rest because we're getting up at the crack of dawn and riding out into the wild....it will be fun.