Mr and Mrs Phelps went on an Audley self-drive vacation to the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
"Self-drive — you must be mad!" was the reaction of many of our friends when we talked of our plan to view the wildlife in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
"ELEPHANTS, my side, very close!" The cry from the passenger seat brought our hired Hyundai SUV to a halt on a remote, rough gravel road in the midst of the Kruger National Park. With no other vehicle in sight, we sat in awed silence for almost an hour as a herd of elephant slowly emerged from the dense trees on our left and wandered our track ahead of us. Moving in almost total silence except for the sound of tearing tree branches, they finally disappeared into the trees on our right. This was just one of the many spine-tingling close encounters we experienced on our self-drive vacation in the Kruger National Park.
"Self-drive — you must be mad!" was the reaction of many of our friends when we talked of our plan to view the wildlife in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. But, round a table in The Mill, Audley’s expert staff greeted our ideas with enthusiasm and encouragement, tempered with excellent local knowledge.
As on previous vacations, Audley cleverly selected an enticing variety of accommodation in fascinating locations. Starting with the casual comfort of the Rissington Inn on the outskirts of the small town of Hazyview, surrounded by immense banana plantations and farmed forest, we explored an area of the Drakensberg Mountains and gazed in wonder into the depths of the Blyde River Canyon, the world’s third largest canyon — and yes, we did need Google to determine the world’s second largest canyon!
Awed by the vastness of the Kruger National Park (the Park covers the same area as Wales) and surprised at so few other vehicles, it was the many very close encounters with elephant, leopard, lion, rhino and a huge range of other wildlife that gave us vivid memories and many, many photographs.
Apart from the excitement of driving rough gravel roads in remote areas of the Park, never knowing what we might find, it was the complete freedom to sit and observe animals for as long as we wished that made self-driving so attractive. Accepting the basic accommodation in the Government Rest Camps within the Kruger, and the even more basic food in the camp restaurants was well worth the amazing experience and privilege of exploring at our own pace.
The final days of our vacation in this beautiful country were in the luxurious setting of Waterbuck Lodge, within the Thornybush Private Game Reserve. Here, on a Ranger guided game drive there was the immense thrill of watching a magnificent cheetah stalk prey. Finally, with daylight fading and the sun setting against a sky of unbelievable colors, we sat within feet of a large male lion and listened in awe at his deafening, reverberating roar, warning the world of his presence.
We started our vacation in Africa in 40+ degrees; our final day was 13 degrees and spectacular thunder and lightning. The moral — always, be prepared!
The Audley team had once again provided us with a superb, exciting and carefully structured vacation. How we look forward to a future visit to The Mill to plan our next adventure!
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