AG African safari: Kruger National Park

By Kylie Piper 7 November 2013
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
AG Society administrator Kylie Piper heads to Kruger National Park.

AG Society administrator Kylie Piper heads to Kruger National Park.

LEAVING THE TOWN OF Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo province behind, we continue our way north towards the Zimbabwe-Mozambique-South African border and to Kruger National Park. We head towards Parfuri gate and I am excited for the adventure ahead. I jump in the front vehicle with our guide Bertus for our entry into the northern end of the park. There is less water here than the areas to the south and I am surprised at how scrubby the bush is. It is difficult to think of anything living in such dense scrub – that is, until you see tiny impala hiding beneath an overgrown acacia or an elephant standing amid the graying stumps.

It takes all of about five minutes for us to see our first elephant.


“Kylie, don’t worry. We’ll get closer than this,” Bertus tells me as I am busy snapping away. And he is right. A few minutes later we are sitting in front of the mud-filled waterhole as two bull elephants lay playing in the mud. A third looks on, I think he is on lookout, but Bertie informs me that he is probably the youngest and has to wait for the others to finish first before he can take what looks to be a very pleasant bath.

I happily absorb every moment: the giant ears flapping, huge arteries the size of tree roots snake along behind them – an efficient cooling system in this 35 degree heat; and the prehensile trunks, sucking up water and mud, to spray over everything in sight. Then, one gently chooses some juicy shoots from next to the waterhole, a quick snack before the mud bath continues.

Then the trio begin their slow walk from the waterhole, not away from us but straight towards our row of vehicles, dwarfing the 4WD’s with their hulking frames. We’ve had warnings of what elephants do to vehicles when they are angry, but these three gents are far from unhappy. They come within 10 metres of the front of the car and I stop snapping to take in the view. All I want to do is jump from the vehicle and get closer; it seems that I could just reach out and touch them, but the surroundings put me back in my place.

These are wild animals and they are happily walking past us because we pose no threat to them. They could easily have been unimpressed by our presence and I hate to think what may have happened then. Even during our short time in the park we have seen the devastation that these animals can cause. Every second tree has been pushed over or snapped by elephants. It is a sobering thought that these animals we adore are actually pests in this place; the over abundance of elephants in the park is destroying the land on which they rely.

We drive towards camp on our first night here in Kruger, a place where I have dreamed of being my whole life and I am happy, not just because of our amazing sightings for the day, but because this country has already gotten under my skin and I know that this won’t be the last time I am here.

2011 AG Society African expedition
Africa 2011 PDF flyer

AG Society Galapagos expedition blogs