In a much-welcomed statement, SANParks announced yesterday that Kruger will be open for self-drive day visitors from tomorrow June 8. Which is fantastic news for residents of Mpumalanga and Limpopo! At long last, they can come and visit their beloved Kruger National Park again! But what can these day visitors expect from their self-drive through the park?
The animals in Kruger have had the whole park all to themselves for more than two months. They have re-absorbed the tourist roads into their everyday habitat. And it shows…
During my trips to the Laundromat, while we were on lock-down, I found that the animals were spending more and more time on the roads. Without the pressure of human presence, they could stay for as long as they wanted and do whatever they wanted.
I found lions at 11 am; Still fast asleep on the road without a care in the world. (Read: Big Cat Laundry Day) A little zebra foal snoozing in the middle of the tar-road while the rest of the herd was feeding not far away. I have had to wait for ages for buffalo and elephant herds to move out of the way and watched young ellies play-fight all over the road without having rows of cars and their engine noise as an audience. Even the giraffes and impalas were completely relaxed using the tar-road as animal paths. So expect some puzzled looks from Kruger’s animals. Like: “hey… these shiny noisy, colourful animals look familiar… What are they again? Where did they go for so long?”
The animals in Kruger have left lots of evidence of their time spent on the tourist roads in the last two months. There are branches and twigs lying around, left by the elephants. In some places, they have pushed over whole trees! So expect some not so easy-going parts of your journey – Especially on the dirt roads.
And there is poop everywhere. Expect lots and lots of poop! Dung middens spilling out into the road, elephant poop scattered all over, buffalo patties, giraffe and impala pellets, lion scat and the easily recognizable white hyena poop too.
It has been a very peaceful time for Kruger’s wildlife! Also Read: Kruger at Peace – Day 18 of our lock-down Diary
So when you enter Kruger through one of the entrance gates tomorrow morning, please keep in mind that the animals are not used to seeing lots of vehicles anymore. They need time to adjust to visitors again. Please respect them and give them some space!! And please watch your speed! The animals might take longer to move off the road than before the lockdown – Be patient.
If you can, please try and avoid driving over the poop. You can find beetles and other insects on fresh dung. If you drive over it, you drive over them. And keep in mind that tortoises look like an elephant or rhino bollie from a distance!
I hope that the people from Mpumalanga and Limpopo will enjoy their day-visits to the park. It is not exactly business as usual yet. But we’ll get there hopefully. Nothing is quite normal these days in this strange world we are all living in during the COVID-19 pandemic. I guess a new normal awaits.
Now that Kruger is opening for day visitors tomorrow, I will be ending my lock-down diary. I won’t stop blogging though! I will keep writing about our life here in Kruger National Park. But I will have more to write about than just my laundry day outings! Because we can now also go for game drives again under alert level 3 of the lock-down!! How exciting to have more freedom in the park!
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For more information about day visits, time-slots and pre-bookings visit www.sanparks.org
Stay safe everyone!