Elephants, Lions, And Buffalos OH MY

By Kelsey Dawson

Our first day in Kruger, I realized why Africa has always been at the top of my list for places I’ve wanted to travel. We saw wildlife all day. It seemed as if there was not more than a fifteen minute span in which we didn’t see some sort of animal that captivated our interest. Although we were in the car all day—from 8 in the morning until 6 at night—we were never bored.

 As soon as we entered the gates of Kruger, we were greeted with herds of wildebeest, impala, and zebra. Next, we stopped to appreciate a Kudu with massive spiraled horns. Soon after, we came to a mostly dry river bed, with a small watering hole. There, we saw Cape buffalo and elephants! The first two of the big five! Our excitement was unbridled, and we all sat up tall looking for the next wildlife in the bush. As we proceeded down the road, we quickly came to a stop, and there were whispers of hyenas from the game drive vehicle ahead of us. We all scanned the horizon of the savannah, until Hunter pointed at two hyenas sleeping in some shade right next to the road. They blended in so well! Whoever saw them first (I suspect our guide, Thomas) deserves a round of applause. 

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As we were stopped looking at some birds, a car heading the other direction informed us that there were lions ahead, and we raced forward with excitement. We found a male lion walking across the savannah. It appeared as if he were on the hunt, managing to sneak up on some zebra and wildebeest. When they saw him, they fled. We spoke to each other quickly, giving commentary about what each of us could see as he appeared and disappeared behind trees.  Watching the scene unfold was one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed, and we pulled back onto the road full of adrenaline. 

At one watering hole, we counted six major animal species all together; giraffes, hippos, baboons, elephants, impala, and cape buffalo. The biodiversity here is incredible! The next, and last of the big five we saw that day was a leopard. The group in front of mine saw him first, and informed us that he was a massive male—one of the largest in Kruger. Those in my vehicle were crushed and upset we had missed it, and were about to continue on our journey, until we spotted him walking stealthily through the bush. It was an incredible and majestic site to see.

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Finally, we sped to camp, hoping to make it there before dark. With the wind in our faces, we watched the sunset and listened to some music, slowing down on occasion to allow elephants or Cape buffalo to pass in front of us. By the time we arrived, we were exhausted but fulfilled from an incredible day full of wildlife. 

Madison Waggoner