A few days after our first game drive we hired a car and drove into Kruger National Park ourselves. Before that day we went into Kruger once, but only as hitchhikers of some friendly American tourists that were staying at the WOTC. Although it was a really nice experience we missed, as independent WUR students, the freedom to drive on the more secluded paths or wait a little bit longer for that beautiful little bird. Hence, we were excited as two little boys entering a theme park when we arrived at the gate of Kruger NP on 6.00 AM.
Every time you enter Kruger, or any other NP in South Africa, you have to pay a fee. To do this once or twice isn't too bad an attack on my wallet, but we are planning to do this more often than that. How often do you have Kruger NP on less than 10 minutes walking distance from your “house”, right?! So we decided to buy a wild card which gives us unlimited access to every NP in South Africa for a year. By doing this we need to visit a NP for more than 5 times... Easy as pie ;-).
Although Kruger and Manjeleti aren't separated by a fence we already noticed that wildlife is far more abundant in Kruger. Being a scientist in the making I wondered why that is the case. In addition, we also noticed a higher wildlife abundance alongside the main road in comparison with the side roads of Kruger NP. Why is that? It can't really be the water holes as they are approximately as abundant everywhere. Maybe the prey species are attracted by the safety vehicles on the roads bring against predators? Or the vegetation might be different alongside major roads? I will come back to that =).
The water holes are, though, the best spots in Kruger to witness wildlife. Often you can just park your car on a nice vintage point and enjoy the show. In the late afternoon we saw two elephants emerging from the bush for a refreshing drink. It was a beautiful sight to see the mother and her calf enjoying the water. Sometimes driving in Kruger feels a little bit like Pokemon; you gotta catch them all! But I think you can only feel the real magic of the place when you just stay put and wait what will come to you.