This morning we will meet our guide and the rest of the group. We start our journey east towards the lowveld region of Mpumalanga. Along the way we will drive through alpine regions and changing scenery. We’ll pass through the towns of Dullstroom and Lydenburg as well as the JG Strydom tunnel renowned for its scenic surroundings. Today’s drive time will be between 7 and 8hrs including stops along the way. We should arrive in time to go on an initial game drive in a nearby private reserve to get our first taste of the fantastic wildlife that inhabits the region.
This morning we go out looking for game on foot. This is a great experience as we wander through the reserve in search of kudu, waterbuck, eland, zebra and giraffe amongst others. This afternoon we visit the Moholoholo rehabilitation centre. The centre started as a game-farm in 1992 but word spread rapidly that it was a place where injured animals could be cared for and, when possible, released back into the wild; and so the rehabilitation centre was born. Today the centre cares for numerous injured, orphaned and poisoned animals from across South Africa and beyond. The animals are given any treatment they require and released back into the wild. In some cases the condition of the animals does not permit them to be released back into the wild. They are then kept at the centre, cared for and used to educate visitors about the plight of South African wildlife. The centre also operates a breeding programme and has successfully bred and released endangered Crowned eagles and servals.
Today we spend the day at the Mariepskop Complex in the nearby northern Drakensberg Escarpment. The complex covers an area of mountain ranging from scrubland-savannah to tropical mist forests. From the peak, at 1,945m, the views, on a clear day, can be stunning stretching all the way out to the Mozambiquan capitan, Maputo, and the Indian Ocean. This is an area rich in bird and plant-life and gives us a different perspective to the ecology of the Mpumalanga province and to enjoy so easy hiking.
After a leisurely breakfast we continue on our way towards the Kruger National Park. Entering the park at Orpen Gate, we game-drive en route to our camp, arriving in time for lunch. We settle into our chalets and get back into the Sprinter for an afternoon game-drive. The Kruger NP is undoubtedly one of the most famous protected areas in the World with nearly 2 million hectares of savannah, acacia trees, bushwillow, rivers and rocky bluffs. The park boasts nearly 150 species of mammals, 115 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians, 50 species of fish and over 500 species of birds. Amongst these are the Big Five (lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant and leopard), various kinds of gazelles and antelopes, hyenas, giraffes, ostriches and numerous other animals.
Day 5 - 6
The next two days are spent on morning and afternoon game drives around Kruger. For these three days we swap the Sprinter for a specially designed open game-viewing vehicle and Kruger specialist guide. During the hottest time of the day the animals tend to hide away and we have time to relax back at camp. In order to explore more of the park we will be moving camps on day 5 (day 6 ex-London) and will game-drive as we go from one camp to the next.
Our last day in South Africa. We start with a final game drive before returning to camp for breakfast and to check out. We then transfer back to Johannesburg in time for the evening flight.