First time in Africa and I got to go to one of the busiest cities. Johannesburg is a nice developing city with a pretty good nightlife. Sadly I was too exhausted from work to experience that aspect BUT I did go out on my free days to visit the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park.
I found out and scheduled The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve from the hotel and got picked up around 8am in the morning by a local. We drove around the park in his sedan. It was the first time he got to go too. Usually these tours would take a group but since it was just me, I think they found a guy willing to do it. Overall a good experience and got to meet and talk with a local. It was about a 1-2hr drive from the hotel. Most of the tour we went around in the car but later went out to see the walking portion of the park.
Besides running 88mph, usually they’re just lounging around in the shade.
As you can see the window-glare, my guide was really really scared when I asked if I could roll down the window so out of respect, I didn’t.
As you can see I was able to visit the Cheetah cubs (8months young) up and close. They were domesticated at birth and were always around people. Cheetahs are actually pretty friendly of the big cat family. They licked my hand and were very cat like, Heres a Video. Their tongues felt like sandpaper. They were lazy that day because it was hot and they were just chilling in the shade.
The next day I went to Kruger National Park. It was a whopping 4hr drive from my hotel. I booked a tour from Vayama and was super lucky. The guy who picked me up was super nice and entertaining. I was also the only one with him. He showed me some cool landscape around South Africa along the way and we stopped by for some fruits and nuts by street vendors.
Before getting to the park we stop by a Crocodile Bridge near Kruger.
Here’s a Video.
On the actual tour, there were 2 girls that camped at the Park for the first time, they had a pretty neat outdoor cabin lodge with showers. I think they said that their stay per night at these nice lodges was roughly $70 a night. Unfortunately I cannot find any pictures but it was very spacious and more accodomodating than most hotels. It's perfectly safe and gated too. Unlike the reserve, the Kruger park is actually IN the animal's habitat. Outside of the living/staying areas, you are out in the wild and seeing the animals as they are. These animals are not fed either, they hunt on their own and maintain their own ecosystem with very little human intervention.
Along the way I actually spotted a Lionness lounging around and keeping her.. whooha cooled. The Safari guide was pretty impressed and offered to get me a beer afterwards. Pretty proud of this spotting. This was about 15min outside of getting to the heart of our trail so the guide was pretty surprised it was far out and it was alone and seperated from The Pride.
Elephants are a matriarch herd, led by the eldest mother. It's actually pretty accurate to Dumbo. When the males are older, they get casted off the herd
We were alongside another tour guide and it's group. It's a pretty cool system they have here where they share locations of spotting and update the map with pins of where they see things. Everyone's quest is to see the Big 5: Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo and the elusively rare Leopard. Leopards are particularly hard to spot because they have great camoflague and they are solo predators. Very fortunately in the 3 hours I was there, I was able to see all 5.
Along the use of walkie talkies, they are able to update daily sightings and share them amongst rangers
If I had the chance I would definitely book a week camp at Kruger. I calculate that roundtrip airfare, transportation, camping fee and parking fee would be around $1500. They can pick you up at the airport too! You can either do the hardcore camping (with a pictch up tent, campfires by night with the safari guide) or get the lodge. Either way, there is something soothing about sleeping with animals and then excitement by going out at 3am to watch the predators hunt.
South Africa was awesome. I really enjoyed seeing and being with the animals and am forever jaded from a zoo. The people that I met were super friendly and I at least played Toto's Africa once a day (both the original and the Weezer). Definitely a cool spot to travel to. The camping experience in Kruger would be unforgettable. I would do the camp and bring my DSLR next time. Also to add USD to Rand is very very favorable.