Africa,  South Africa

Kruger National Park – A Day on Safari

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A couple from the UK with a passion for exploring the world, and enjoying a drink or two while we’re at it!

We want to share our travel experiences to help you plan your next trip, and let you know the best places to enjoy a cold one when you get there!

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We have already spoken about the things you need to know if you’re planning a trip to Kruger National Park. If you haven’t read that post already, you can check it out ‘here’.

For our safari experience, we stayed at Raptor Retreat Game Lodge, a small but beautiful lodge in Greater Kruger National Park, and were taken out on our game drives by their expert guides. We loved everything about Raptor Retreat and couldn’t fault a single thing. We are hoping to do another guide purely about the resort as we have so many positive things to say, so keep an eye out for that!

This might be exactly what you’re looking for too, but Kruger has so many different options to tailor your safari experience. You might want to camp out in tents or hire a car and do a self-drive safari. There are so many possibilities and you can make your safari experience exactly what you want it to be.

A safari is an incredible experience, but very few people know what you actually do during a typical day. We certainly didn’t when we found ourselves heading out on our first game drive 10 minutes after arriving at the Lodge.

So that you are more prepared than us, here's our guide to what you should expect during a day on safari.

What does a typical day on safari look like?

5:00-5:30 AM: Wake up, First Game Drive

A day on safari will have you setting your alarms pretty early! The animals are most active early in the morning and later in the afternoon so you need to head out early for the best chances of seeing Kruger's amazing wildlife. It even gets too hot for them during the middle of the day.

We had a very lucky morning on the second day of our trip and spotted a Leopard high in a tree scouting the bush for breakfast, and then found a lioness and her cub relaxing in the morning sun just after! 

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WhatsApp Image 2020-07-20 at 7.49.19 PM

You will likely head out at around 6:00 am for your first game drive or walk of the day, and at this time before the sunrise, it will be cold! Remember to layer up, a t-shirt underneath a fleece or hoodie was generally enough to keep us warm alongside the blankets provided by the guides in our car. If you feel the cold, a hat and gloves are definitely a good idea.

Don’t worry too much though, midway through the drive you will stop off for a ‘bush coffee’, that’s coffee and Amarula 😀 or a hot chocolate.

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WhatsApp Image 2020-07-11 at 3.06.44 PM

9:00 AM: Breakfast

You will probably arrive back to the lodge at around 8:30-9:00 AM for breakfast unless you’ve booked a full day safari or a longer trip, which most lodges offer for a price on top of their standard game drives and walks.

The breakfasts we had were healthy and delicious, homemade muffins, muesli and fresh fruit followed by a cooked breakfast, smoked trout & poached eggs, crispy bacon and African game sausages, we were in our element!

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10:00 AM – 3:00 PM: Relaxing & Daytime Activities

After breakfast it will start to heat up, so it’s time to relax and unwind. For us this meant chilling with a couple of cold beers on our bungalow's private terrace by the plunge pool, the perfect way to cool off in the midday heat! Our lodge didn’t have any perimeter fencing, so occasionally during the day we would have visits from curious warthogs, impalas, zebras and giraffes.

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Most lodges do offer other daytime activities such as bush walking or spa treatments for an additional cost, so ask your accommodation what they have on offer to enhance your trip. We opted for a bush walk instead of our last morning's game drive and would definitely recommend it. Tracking the lions we had seen the previous night was seriously cool!

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3:00 PM: Lunch

In our experience lunch is generally later in the day at around 3:00pm. To keep you full during the afternoon game drives it was typically a big meal like the others, you won’t be losing any weight while on a safari trip! Pizzas, pasta dishes and salads were on the menu for us.

Eat up, it will be a while before you are back at the lodge.

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4:30 PM: Afternoon/Evening Game Drive

You will likely leave the lodge at 4.30 – 5:00 PM and be out for a few hours on the afternoon/evening game drive. Once the sun sets the temperature really drops again! So, make sure you take your warm layers back out with you.

The sunsets you will see over the game reserves are pretty special to say the least! Midway through the drive you will stop off again for sundowner drinks, crisps and spicy biltong (try the biltong!). We were lucky on our first night to share our beers with a herd of elephants.

Once the sun goes down it becomes eerily dark, and all of the noises seem to get louder. The guides will shine bright torches ahead of the car to spot anything hiding. It’s a little nerve wracking when a bright set of eyes shine back at you in the distance and you don’t know what they belong to. At one point our guide stopped the car in the dense bush and turned all of the lights and the engine off to listen out for lions in the distance. A little tense but it definitely made the adrenaline flow!

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9:00 PM: Evening Meal

The driver will usually get you back to the lodge at around 8:30 - 9:00 PM and you will have a quick half an hour to change before the evening meal is ready. Don’t worry too much about getting dressed up for dinner as it tends to be fairly casual.

This was our favourite meal of the day! Salads to start, grilled local meat, pastas, risottos & potatoes for main, and homemade cake & sweets for dessert, all paired with delicious South African wine.

After dinner we sat around the decking firepit chatting until the wine bottles were all empty, some nights we were thirstier than others… Just remember that you will need to be up early for another busy day again tomorrow, and a hangover is not the best feeling in the sweltering African sun!

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By this point you will be tired from all the driving, sunbathing, swimming, eating and drinking, so it’s time to head off to bed for the night and get some rest, because those alarms are going off early again tomorrow!

For useful hint & tips on how to get to Kruger and what to bring along with you, check out our other post 'here'.