Kruger Christmas swim in the Nwaswitshaka

A Merry Kruger Christmas

As a ‘Dutchie’ I grew up celebrating Sinterklaas and Christmas very differently than we do here in South Africa. Sinterklaas is a concept I won’t even begin to try and explain, but I loved it and I am sometimes a bit heart sore I cannot share that part of our Dutch December tradition with my boys.


Christmas in Holland is celebrated in the cold. The days are short and people put up fairy lights and candles everywhere to brighten up the cold dark days. I even remember a few real white Christmases. Christmas in Holland as I remember it is not so much about gift-giving, we do that with Sinterklaas. But Christmas is all about family.


Steven, the boys and I usually go to Holland for Christmas to spend time with my family. But now that both Holland and South Africa are experiencing a second wave of COVID-19, I sadly don’t get to see them for Christmas this year. So we decided to just have a stay-cation at home in our beloved Kruger.


Alex and Jack are at an age where their imagination is so vivid. And ever since Father Christmas came to their little pre-school, they have been counting the sleeps till Christmas. And asking funny questions only boys growing up in Kruger can ask; like if zebras can also pull Santa’s sleigh.


Christmas Morning

The look of pure joy and excitement on their faces when they burst into our bedroom at 5 am on Christmas morning to tell us that ‘kerstvader’ had eaten the cookies and drank the milk we had put out the night before is something I will remember for many Christmases to come. They even noticed the ‘spoor’ (tracks) that Santa had left and figured out that Santa had come through the window. They might just be great trackers one day;-)


After unwrapping their presents and having pancakes for breakfast, we packed a few things and headed out to Stevens camp. He needed to make sure the camps freezers were still running and check if everything was still ok after the heavy rains of recent. After the rain we had at the beginning of October, we had a bit of a dry spell. But after the recent rains, everything is so lush and green in our area I hardly recognize it! Even the Matjulu waterhole and the adjacent wallow have so much water in it now, we don’t have to worry about ferrying water there for a while.


The rain has also brought out lots of tortoises and terrapins. Steven had to help a few make it safely across the road. They look just like elephant poop and we don’t want them to get driven over. I helped this tiny baby. Look how cute he is. Steven recons it is just about freshly hatched!

leopard tortoise hatchling
Helping a baby tortoise safely across the road

We stopped at the Stolsneck Section on our way there to wish Marius and Ronel a Merry Christmas. A Section Ranger’s work never stops. So Marius was still very busy on Christmas Day. When he told us the chopper was going to land soon to pick up a few things, we all went to the helipad to watch it land.


The yellow and green helicopter soon appeared from the south. Small at first, almost like a dung beetle, but it quickly got bigger and bigger and turned in to come and land. I held on to Alex and Jack and turned away from the rotor wash and dust as the helicopter touched down. The children from the staff village also came to watch the chopper land. Such a special sight. Even for us grown-ups;-)


Marius quickly walked over to talk to the pilot. All I could see inside were people wearing Christmas hats; Rangers on duty, but still in the spirit of Christmas in Kruger. I love it!


When Marius came back and the helicopter was getting ready to take off, I saw Marius carry something in his hands. I thought it was a piece of elephant tusk or something at first, but it turned out to be two hands-full of sweets that Marius started handing out to all the children like a real-life Santa Claus in camouflage. I promise you, Alex and Jack now think that Father Christmas not only drives a sleigh but can fly a helicopter too!


Boxing day

We had planned to meet up with one of Steven’s friends in Skukuza on Boxing Day. We packed our trusted skottle braai to have some hamburgers at a place called ’10 minutes’; a lovely spot that staff can go to on the Nwaswitshaka just outside Skukuza. The ’10 minutes’ referring to the time it takes you to drive there from Kruger’s biggest rest camp. There is a ‘5 minutes’ and a ’25 minutes’ too! But we like ’10 minutes’. There is lots of shade and sand for the kids to play on.


Much to our delight, there was water flowing in the normally dry Nwaswitshaka! Now that is too nice of an opportunity to pass up. So Steven first went down to the stream to make sure it was safe and that there were no hippos or crocodiles hiding in the deeper pools. Living in the park, we are always cautious about that around water.


Luckily all was clear so Alex, Jack, Ava, Aiden and I went to enjoy the crystal clear water while Steven and his friends were cooking up a storm on the skottel.

Kruger Christmas
Fun in the Nwaswitshaka

As we approached the water’s edge, a few impala spoor in the mud reminded me that we were not on a beach, but still very much in the wild. The water was flowing slowly and was knee-deep at some places and only ankle-deep at others. And it was surprisingly warm! The kids had an absolute blast catching little tadpoles and running after small fishies that were flowing by. It is still a mystery to me how those fish end up in a stream that only flows after heavy rains.

Steven brought me a Savannah and one of the plastic chairs we had brought from home. And while the kids were enjoying themselves in the water and on the sand, I planted my chair in the middle of the Nwaswitshaka and enjoyed my Savannah and watching them. I just wished my family could be here to enjoy this with us because I miss them terribly!


The Woodlands Kingfishers were calling all around us. Steven even heard a black cookoo! We saw a few impalas in the dense vegetation on the other side of the stream too. What a way to spend Boxing Day! And what a way to grow up… Getting Christmas sweeties delivered by helicopter and having a stream all to yourself in the middle of the Kruger National Park. Alex and Jack are two very lucky little boys!

Merry Christmas from us!














32 thoughts on “A Merry Kruger Christmas

  1. Oh Lynda, thank you so much for your delightful commentary. Merry Christmas and a wish for you and your family to take 2021 in your stridesm

  2. Merry Christmas to you all. We can all get through this pandemic and get back to a normal life, and spending time in Kruger is a fantastic way to celebrate the holiday season.

  3. Linda, dank je wel voor je leuke stukjes. Ik geniet ervan.
    Wat een fijne omgeving voor je kinderen om op te groeien.
    Koester je herinneringen aan het Sinterklaasfeest. Het is helaas niet meer zo als vroeger.
    Ik wens je en je gezin al het goede voor 2021 toe en ik hoop komend jaar wel naar mijn geliefd Zuid-Afrika te komen.
    Hartelijke groeten, Greet

    1. Dank je wel, Greet! Ja ik weet dat in Nederland Sinterklaas veel stof doet opwaaien. Zo jammer.
      Ik hoop dat de pandemie met de vaccins reizen volgend jaar weer toelaat! Xx

  4. Hey Linda! Wow, wat maken je blogs me blij (en tegelijk een beetje triest) op deze koude, donkere, Belgische dagen. Wat een droom voor jouw kinderen om ginds te kunnen opgroeien! Wij hebben zelf 3 jaar in SA (lodge in Wild Rivers/Hoedspruit) en Moz gewoond en zijn in maart jammer genoeg naar huis moeten terugkeren. Bij het lezen van je blogs staan al m’n zintuigen op scherp. Ik hoor, ruik en voel Afrika en kan me je verhalen zo levendig inbeelden! Verdorie wat missen we dat continent! Het zit in elke vezel van ons lijf. Ik denk zelfs dat we Afrika ademen en dat het door onze aders stroomt ? We hopen 17 januari enkele weken terug te kunnen gaan om onze persoonlijke spullen te gaan halen, maar het ziet er niet goed uit. Een aantal airlines stopten al met vluchten op SA en NL heeft blijkbaar al een inreisverbod voor mensen die uit SA komen ? Dus België zal wel snel volgen. We missen Afrika, de wildlife, de rust, de sterrenhemels, de geur, de mensen, kortom ALLES elke dag en hopen met iedereen op betere dagen.
    Als je in januari in Kruger een witte “Uthando On The Road” Defender ziet rijden, dan zijn wij het! ? Zou super zijn je eens te kunnen ontmoeten!
    Geniet van elke moment en dan wens ik je nog hele fijne feestdagen ?☀️ Groeten uit België. Inge

  5. In bed struggling with the dreaded virus, trying to nurse my husband who is also ill, your beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Linda. I can’t wait to be better and enjoying Kruger again. Love from Cape Town.

  6. Dear Linda & family, belated Christmas wishes, we could not think of anything better than the Christmas you all
    enjoyed.Thank you for sharing your unique experience with us and especially now that we know if a sleigh does’nt work there’s always a KP helicopter to depend on. If you took any photo’s of the helicopter and father Christmas I would love to share them with my grandchildren [2 & 5].
    All the very best to you Steven and the boys for 2021 and I look forward to continue hearing about all your adventures and living in the Kruger we all love

  7. So lovely to hear from you again. I spent 5 or 6 days in Kruger during a self tour of South Africa a couple years ago. What an amazing country! We went to quite a few nature parks but Kruger was by far the best. I really enjoy your chats, they bring me back to a wonderful time. Would love to go again sometime. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Oh Linda I have been following your blog and we havent heard from you for a while. Enjoy your festive season and let’s hope for a better 2021. Keep your stories coming-love them

  9. Thank you for sharing your Christmas with us all.. best wishes to you and hope you can soon see family overseas.

  10. So lovely to hear from you again, Linda. Merry Xmas to you and your family. I think you’re all awfully brave to swim in a Kruger River! I don’t think I’d be brave enough to even dip my toes into a puddle. Please keep writing.

  11. I bet that this was a wonderful new experience of Xmas for you and it seems that you had an amazing time. That Father Christmas is a real timetraveller!!

  12. Hi Linda, ik heb je een e-mail naar het ‘donotreply’ adres gestuurd en weet nu niet of je dit ontvangen hebt.
    Dus m’n e-mail aan jou hierbij nog een keer. Groetjes, Tessa Schoemaker

    Dank je wel Linda, voor je Kerstbrief uit Kruger Park!!
    Erg leuk te lezen hoe jullie Kerstmis hebben beleefd!
    Jullie Alex en Jack beleven wel heel wat anders dan de gemiddelde Nederlandse jongens van hun leeftijd!!!
    We hebben dit jaar Sinterklaas kunnen vieren samen met ’n Nederlandse vriendin en er waren leuke gedichten bij de cadeautjes!!
    Er is hier in de buurt ’n Nederlandse winkel en zowaar verkopen ze daar taai-taai mannetjes en grote speculaas poppen!
    Ook de “Ruyter chocolade hagelslag” en ’n heuse “banket-staaf” zat bij de cadeautjes!

    Kerstmis vierden we bij onze zoon en zijn Engels-sprekende ZuidAfrikaanse vriendin.
    Dat was wel heel wat anders als dat we in Nederland gewend zijn…
    Met Christmas Crackers en ieder kreeg ’n hoofd tooi op, zoals ik die Rudolph de Reindeer moest voorstellen en mijn man ’n engelen voorstelling…..
    En dan natuurlijk de cadeaux , die we van Santa kregen.
    De andere Kerst sfeer ontvingen we toen we ‘s-Ochtends naar ’n kerkdienst gingen van de Baptist Church, [met mondkapje op] waar maar 25 mensen aanwezig waren.
    Daar kregen we ’n Christelijke boodschap en dat heeft mij ge-inspireerd!

    Alvast wens ik je ’n heel voorspoedig 2021 toe met weer veel bezoekers aan het Kruger Park.
    Bij welk kamp wonen jullie in het KrugerPark? Heel graag zou ik je eens willen ontmoeten, als we naar het KrugerPark gaan

    Veel groetjes uit Birchleigh, Kempton Park RSA
    van Tessa Schoemaker. [oud KLM stewardess]

    1. Hoi Tessa!

      Wat leuk, nog een KLM-stess die in Zuid Afrika is beland! En wat fijn dat jullie met vrienden nog Sinterklaas kunnen vieren. Dat mis ik hier echt.
      De gedichten waren altijd mijn favoriet. En al het lekkers. Gevuld speculaas met stip op een;-)
      Gelukkig was er iemand die mijn blog volgt zo lief om wat van dat lekkers voor ons mee te nemen uit Nederland en konden we toch genieten van kruidnootjes, gevuld speculaas en chocolade letters.

      En ik heb onlangs de webshop van de Soete Inval ontdekt voor mijn overige Nederlandse ‘must-haves’.

      Wij wonen bij Malalane Gate. Ik hoop echt je hier een keer te zien!

      Groetjes, Linda

  13. Dear Linda and ‘boys’, merry, merry Christmas. It’s good to hear from you again. Sorry you couldn’t be with your family this year. It has been a really bad year for so many people. You sound like you’ve been able to make the best out of your situation, well done. Hopefully next year will be soooooo much better. Take care, stay safe and all the very, very best for the New Year. Love and hugs

  14. What a wonderful way to spend Boxing Day! We still celebrate Sinterklaas in our own SA way. My father was always St Nick at the Dutch club. Peppernotte my altimeter favorite! Healthy Happy wishes for 2021

  15. Lieve Linda. Merry Christmas met man en zoons. Hoewel je prachtig woont, is het missen van familie met zulke dagen niet fijn. Dat zal wel even slikken zijn geweest. Laten we hoop houden dat in 2021 de wereld weer langzaam opengaat zodat bezoek mogelijk wordt. Gelukkig kan je ondertussen wel genieten van het prachtige Kruger. Wat een heerlijke en bijzondere plek middenin de natuur. En wat worden Alex en Jack al groot. De beste wensen voor jou en je gezin voor 2021. Xxx Marilou

    1. Hoi Marilou! Ik stuur toevallig net een appje aan Marguerite! Wat heb ik toch een hoop lieve oud-collega’s!

      Voor jullie ook alles goeds voor 2021. Veel raarder dan dit jaar kan het niet worden, toch?;-)

      Dikke kus, Lin

  16. Hi Linda julle is so bevoorreg om in so pragtige plek te kan bly en dan julle, julle kinders daar te kan groot maak, geniet dit en alles van die beste vir die nuwe jaar wat voor le hoop ons kan die virus afstuk dat alles normaal kan voort gaan. Groete Lilly Brand.

  17. Your blogs have been missed! This was such a lovely description of your Christmas in Kruger, thanks for sharing it with us. I particularly loved the boxing day expedition – the though of sitting on a plastic chair in the water, drink in hand, was wonderful.
    I’m sorry you had to miss joining up with your family this year – hopefully next year will be different.
    May you be happy, healthy, and safe from all harm in the New Yearxx

  18. Hi Linda! A really lovely Christmas present for all of us! So enjoyed this catch up,what a gift! I can’t get there now,not even planning one just yet,but somehow feel much better knowing my special place has had good rains, helicopters are flying,rangers are enjoying Christmas,water holes are full and life is special for the children and yourselves.Sorry you missed your family trip to Netherlands,but you took time to help us visit KNP through your eyes.Thank you and Bless you all.Happy New Year.

  19. Dankie Linda,
    Dit is altyd lekker om jou stories te lees. Ek wens ons kan jou en Steven eendag ontmoet wanneer ons weer in die Kruger kom.
    Intussen dankie vir die stories en dankie vir Steven vir die belangrike werk wat hy doen.

  20. Dankie Linda,
    Dit is altyd lekker om jou stories te lees. Ek wens ons kan jou en Steven eendag ontmoet wanneer ons weer in die Kruger kom.
    Intussen dankie vir die stories en dankie vir Steven vir die belangrike werk wat hy doen.

    Terloops, ek sien jy het naby Rotterdam groot geword. Ek het die voorreg gehad om een jaar die Rotterdam Marathon te hardloop. Amper gedink ek gaan dood. Nie gewoond aan die lugdruk daar in vergelyking met hier nie.

  21. Linda, dankie vir die plasing. Ek vra om verskoning dat my antwoord so laat kom. Ek kan sien julle het ‘n fantastiese tydjie gehad, Julle en die kinders is so bevoorreg, om die plekkies te he, waar julle kan wegbreek. Ek wil nie eens dink hoe dit sou wees as die publiek sulke plekke gehad het nie. Hoeveel ekstra personeel sou dit neem om ‘n ogie te hou en veiligheid te waarborg nie? Die Park lyk so mooi, na die reën. Voorspoed vir 2021 en baie seëninge.

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