Real Kruger Park Budget Safari Experience! (Part Two)

On my recent 3-day Kruger Park Budget Safari I saw the Big Five of Africa (lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant, rhino) along with giraffes, zebras, wild dogs, hippos, duikers, impalas, kudus, warthogs and more!

Highlights on my Kruger Park game drives included two seperate big cat sightings of male leopards draped in Marula trees and a big pack of endangered African Wild Dogs lazing beside the road.

Sunset Game Drive in Kruger Park

Arriving in Kruger National Park I tucked into a late lunch at Skukuza Restcamp’s outdoor dining area, dropped my luggage off in my bungalow and took a quick dip in the pool, before embarking on my first exciting game drive.

We set off on the 3-hour sunset game drive in one of Kruger Park’s open-sided game viewing vehicles.

On our first game drive in Kruger we spotted plenty of elephants and impalas, as well as a hippo, a curious giraffe, two kudus, some warthogs and various birds.

We returned from the lush bush to find a delicious dinner waiting for us in our own intimate dining area. The scrumptious meal was served under an open lapa, in a lovely candlelit setting beside the cosy campfire. Complimentary wine and a decadent desert completed our delicious dinner - a real treat at the end of our first day on safari!

After dinner we relaxed around the campfire, sharing wild tales and some interesting facts about the bush and its creatures. Then it was off to bed for some rest, before our very early morning start, for a sunrise game drive in Kruger Park.

Sunrise Game Drive in Kruger Park

Our wake up call came bright and early at around 4h30 in the morning. We grabbed a quick coffee and some rusks in the private dining area before boarding the specially designed 4x4 safari vehicle for a game viewing drive with our own game ranger.

Our first wildlife sightings on the morning game drive in Kruger were a few healthy looking warthogs, some zebras and then the same pack of African Wild Dogs we spotted on our sunset drive.

What a refreshing change to be in the wilderness of Kruger, feeling the gentle breeze from the open safari vehicle – so quiet and peaceful compared to city life!

We were lucky enough to spot a sleepy leopard in a Marula tree on our morning game drive. The leopard was draped in a big shady tree not far from the road, which gave us ample opportunity to take a good look at this large cat.

Moving on from our rare and exciting find of the elusive leopard in a tree, we came across some zebras, more impalas, kudus and elephants. We got to watch as a mother and elephant calf took a little bath in a puddle amid the scrub, followed by a young bull that also took his turn to splash around.

We paused on our morning game drive for lunch at a leafy picnic site in Kruger. Here we watched hornbills up close, as well as getting up very close to a resident bat and owl in the rest area. Following our tasty brunch we ventured back into Kruger Park continuing our game drive.

Kruger Picnic Stop Hornbills

Driving along we saw some vultures circling in the bush and on closer inspection found some wild dogs feeding not far from the road. This wild dog encounter gave us a chance to listen to the sounds of bones crunching as these carnivores tucked into their kill.

We came close to a herd of elephants crossing the road as we made our way back to the rest camp. One of the game viewing vehicles got a little too close and quickly started backing out in a panic when the big elephant bull at the back of the herd became a bit agitated at the intrusion.

On our way back to Skukuza Camp from our picnic brunch we sighted some lions from afar. The two males were lying some distance from us in the savannah bush and could only be seen with binoculars.

On our return game drive we were also lucky enough to come across a second male leopard draped in a big Marula tree! A rare sighting - a leopard in a tree - that we enjoyed twice in Kruger! The lazing leopard seemed unperturbed by the gawking game viewers snapping away from nearby vehicles. 

Kruger Park leopard in tree

Back at Skukuza Camp we were lucky enough to see a pod of hippos swim-walking in the river flowing past the Skukuza restaurant area.

Two of the hippos paused right below us in the river to have an argument, showing off some impressive jaws and making quite a splash! The hippo below displayed typical hippopotamus toilet behaviour for us, by wagging its tail vigourously to disperse its stools.

Even though giraffes run into things by mistake and fall asleep while chewing, they're graceful and interesting herbivores! Below are two more of these oddly proportioned grazers spotted in Kruger Park.

We passed these two old bachelor buffalos chilling out in the water beside the road. When male buffalos get old they leave the herd and become grumpy loners. These are the buffalos to watch out for when you are in the bush as they can be very aggressive!

Sunset Game Drive in Kruger Park

On our second sunset game drive in Kruger Park we finally sighted rhinos not far from the road, as well as plenty of buffalos - completing the check list of Africa's Big Five animals.

Buffalo herd in Kruger Park

The sunset game drive on day two was conducted by our own game ranger in an open 4x4 safari vehicle specially designed for game viewing.

We saw an abundance of birds on our game drives, including Lilacbreasted rollers, Woodland Kingfishers, various eagles and lots of ... little brown jobs (LBJ's). Our knowledgeable and very capable game ranger and driver was able to identify the numerous birds and wildlife that we spotted on our game drives in Kruger Park.

All of the safari guides on the team were experienced and well-informed, readily sharing facts, tales and funny anecdotes about the African bush, as well as Kruger's wildlife and flora.

At Camp on Safari in Kruger

Again a delicious meal awaited us in the private dining area back at camp and the dessert did not disappoint either!

We were joined by some new safari-goers starting their Budget Kruger Park Safari experience and enjoyed an evening of story swapping and good laughs. 

On our final day in Kruger Park we departed from Skukuza camp after breakfast (luckily not at the crack of dawn this time). We transferred back to our air-conditioned mini-bus and enjoyed one last game viewing drive en route to the Kruger gate. 

Our drive back to Johannesburg took us along the scenic Panorama Route of South Africa, via Pilgrims Rest where we paused for lunch.  

Scenic Panorama Route of South Africa

This Kruger Park Budget Safari was definitely the real deal. When it comes to experiencing Africa's wildlife with experts that know what they're doing, this team does an exceptional job.

Exploring the bush on this Kruger Bungalow Safari was a truly unforgettable experience in wild Africa!

Read Part One of the Real Kruger Park Budget Safari Experience.

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