With the 16th of September upon us, we decided to bring you a piece on an oldie but a goldie, The Kruger National Park. The year is 1926, and the Sabie & Shingwedzi Game Reserve had just merged into the Kruger National Park. Come September 16th of that year the big boys of the park met and the first talks were had of tourism as a source of revenue. Celebrating this, we take you on a journey that encompasses experiences seen through the eyes of a child. So, grab that cup of joe, sit back, relax and enjoy the read.
Now anyone can write about the Kruger National Park and its history. Here we recount the story through the eyes of a South African little girl experiencing this national wonder with her family. A quirky little tale of adventure and in a sense, discovery. We tell a tale of a family who loved everything this special place has to offer. With this, we give you insight into what wonderful experiences that awaits you when you enter one of the gates into this beautiful African landscape.
Padkos for an early drive to Kruger National Park!
With our little Anel’s mom in the kitchen, prepping for the journey from a small town in Limpopo called Giyani to Kruger’s Punda Maria Gate on the northernmost part of the park – excitement was mounting! For this would be the first time Anel and her little brother would experience this national wonder. With the Punda Maria Gate being just under a 100 km’s away from Giyani, Mom’s “padkos” consisted of South African favourites such as boiled eggs, meatballs, cheese sandwiches, boerewors rolls and of course biltong for the journey ahead.
Dawn breaks and Anel’s Dad has everyone up and ready to go. Mom packs the necessities into the family’s Toyota Cressida sedan, the epitome of 1980’s family car. “Almal in!”, Anel’s dad calls. With everyone buckled up, the beautiful scenic R81 lies ahead for a road trip to the Kruger National Park all of us would appreciate. Imagine the flatland’s of the bushveld as the sun begins to rise, truly a road trip experience anyone would appreciate.
Good Morning Punda Maria!
After a scenic drive, our adventurous family arrives at Punda Maria Gate to a bright smile at the gate. A little-known fact about the name origin of the name Punda Maria – the Swahili name for zebra is Punda milia (striped donkey). The game rangers wife’s name was Maria and apparently, she was fond of wearing striped black and white dresses. He, therefore, thought that Punda Maria would be a suitable name for the post. Be sure to check out A History of Punda Maria & Vacinity.
The adventure begins at Punda Maria Camp. While we here, let’s talk about this historic site at Kruger National Park. The Punda Maria Camp is situated 8 km’s from the gate in the Sandveld region – described as the botanical garden of the Kruger National Park. No wonder this is considered a bird lovers paradise. When you walk through the area, you will see numerous plant species that are unique to the area. Furthermore, game species such as impala, zebra, buffalo, and elephant roam about.
Kruger National Park childhood adventures…
As you all know all trips to the Kruger National Park has its own adventures sometimes more than most. As the journey from the gate starts at a snail’s pace. Meandering through “sekelbos” and thorn trees, animals are few and far between mostly “rooibok” and the occasional zebra.
On this fateful day, the family had a few more adventures than most.
Arriving at the camp they had their picnic at the lookout point little Anel was trying to get the attention of the squirrels nearby. Mostly in the hopes of taking it home. Her Mom explained to her that it’s not allowed to feed the animals nor to take them home. When the tummies were full they hit the road towards Shingwedzi. As it was still early and their was lots more to see. On a winding road next to the riverbed they encountered a Leopard basking in an overhead tree, they also saw a Mother wild dog with her pups.
As our family turns around and heads back to leave the camp the unthinkable happens… They encounter a whole herd of buffalo blocking the way. Now they cannot get to the gate as the sun starts to set in the east. Luckily, the buffalo starts to set off towards the brush. The family has a problem as the gate is now closed. Dad now needs to explain to the guard what had just happened. After a lengthy discussion and lots of debating, the gate was opened and they could head home. This was but the start of many Kruger memories to be had by Anel and her family.
What do we take from our very own Anel’s adventures?
Kruger National Park brings with it a childlike wonder. We see it as a place where families can go to explore all the wonders of nature. Ever since the first talks on September 16th, 1926 – so many people have passed through the gates at Kruger. Truly rich in history from Crooks Corner to the legendary Makahane Ruins. There is truly so much to take from the Kruger experience. Just like our little Anel’s experiences that she still carries with her today.
What’s in a Camp?
Kruger National Park spans over 19, 633 square km’s – a little country in it’s own right we’d say, and with that in mind various accommodation camps was established to cater for the ever growing tourist influx. Each with it’s own unique character influenced by the area of the park it was established in. The main camps are Berg & Dal, Crocodile Bridge, Letaba, Lower Sabie, Mopani, Olifants, Orpen, Pretoriuskop, Punda Maria, Satara, Shingwedzi & Skukuza.
Depending on the type of experience you wish to have, be sure to research the camps so that it meets your needs. We have linked each of the camps for your convenience. Accommodation at the camp’s can be expensive, that’s why some traveling folk look towards accommodation outside the park gates. We give you some insight on these below.
Accommodation close to the Kruger gates.
For the day visitor option, getting accommodation outside the park gates is a good and more frugal idea. Many stunning accommodation options are available that won’t break the bank. Majority of them situated close to the Kruger and Crocodile Bridge gates. These lead to Skukuza and Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp respectively.
Have a look at Kruger Park Lodge, Ngwenya Lodge, Burchell’s Bush Lodge, Sanbonani & Sabi River Sun. We constantly offer deals at these resorts that will leave you smiling. And to top it all off, they offer world class amenities and facilities the whole family will enjoy.
Tell us about your own personal experiences at the Kruger National Park, we’d love to hear from you! Be sure to like us on Facebook and to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @resortsetc to be the first to know about special offers and new informative blogs as they are released.
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