BY MATHIAS RINGA
Our game viewing adventure started with a bang the moment we got into the world famous Kruger National Park in South Africa.
To our delight, some herds of zebras and impalas were just at close range, making it the perfect chance for us to capture the images of our dreams.
After all, it is every wildlife enthusiast’s wish to go on safari in the world-renowned game reserve in South Africa, which its rich history dates back to 1898.
Our morning game drive at the Kruger National Park got more fascinating when we spotted a giant bull elephant some metres away from the road.
Without batting an eyelid, the driver pulled up to give an opportunity to the group to take photos of the massive animal, which was eating grass literally unperturbed by the visitors.
In our lifetime dream safari in the Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves on the African continent, we also spotted buffaloes from a good distance, amid the spectacular lush vegetation.
It was a sight to behold when we came across another huge elephant feeding on Marula fruit.
As we drew closer, drama unfolded when suddenly the bull elephant stopped eating the Marula fruit and attempted to charge at our vehicle.
However, to our joy, the big elephant calmed down before it gracefully disappeared into the woodlands.
Our game adventure got more enthralling since along the way, we spotted more elephants, impalas, zebras, kudus, wildebeests, warthogs and birds.
From a distance, we saw several vehicle loads of wildlife lovers, and the tour guides were armed with pairs of binoculars determined to trace a wild animal.
We later learnt that a leopard had been spotted resting on an anthill, but we were unlucky as the big cat vanished without trace.
Within a few minutes, however, we were over the moon after our hawk-eyed tour guide spotted two white rhinos from a good distance feeding on grass.
Before our exciting safari in the Kruger National Park ended at 9am, we also came across hippos, as well as bird species including Lilac breasted roller, African fish eagle, a woodland kingfisher, a white fronted bee-eater, yellow billed hornbill and Egyptian goose.
The awesome safari, courtesy of South African Tourism was a dream come true as it was my first time to enjoy game viewing in the Kruger National Park.
Our group included journalists from the US, the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Kenya, Argentina and Ghana.
Kruger National Park boasts almost 2 million hectares of unrivalled biodiversity – making it one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
The vast park covers an area of 19,485 square kilometres in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres from North to South and 65 kilometres from East to West.
Areas of the park were first protected by the Government in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
To the West and South of Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, while in North is Zimbabwe, and to the East is Mozambique.
It is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park , a peace park that links Kruger National Park with Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and with Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The iconic park is home to more than 140 mammals, which include the celebrated Big Five-lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo.
Other animals found in the wildlife paradise include cheetahs, zebras, hippos, impalas, warthogs, kudus, wildebeests and giraffes.
The South African popular park is also endowed with an impressive number of species: 507 bird species, 336 tree species, 114 reptiles, 49 fish and 34 amphibian species.
As a result of its large number of wild animals including the most sought after Big Five, Kruger National Park is one of the best safari destinations in the world.
The celebrated park receives more than a million visitors annually from across the globe, playing a key role in South Africa’s tourism industry.
The vast network of tarmacked roads makes Kruger National Park one of Africa’s accessible parks compared with other safari destinations where tourists have to endure dusty roads or tour vans stuck in the mud during rainy season.
Private safari lodges and rest camps offer quality accommodation to visitors to the park for them to unwind after game adventures.
The park offers activities including guided game drives and bush walks, with tour companies offering safari packages tailored to the needs of safari seekers.
South African National Parks is charged with the responsibility of managing South Africa’s national parks.
Apart from Kruger National Park, other South African national parks include Addo Elephant National Park, Agulhas National Park, Augrabies Falls National Park, Bontebok National Park, Camdeboo National Park and Garden Route National Park.
There are also Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Karoo National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Mapungubwe National Park, Marakele National Park, Mokala National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park, Namaqua National Park among others.
Safari is one of the major tourist attractions, bringing large number of international holidaymakers to South Africa.
Last year, South Africa received more than 10 million international tourists, and currently marketing campaigns by South African Tourism are in top gear to drive up visitor numbers this year.