There is the argument that the safaris of today are defined by the quality of accommodation on offer, with six star luxury and service replacing the crackling camp fire under the wide night skies of Africa.
True as this may seem when browsing the websites and brochures of travel companies, the reality is that there is far more on offer in African safaris. A complaint of many old time safari-goers is that the African safari is becoming sterile and has moved away from the ideals of the past - and many use the Kruger Park as an example of this, saying that the park has tar roads and fully catered rest camps that detract from the safari experience.
Whatever Your Choice for Safari
Kruger certainly has a reputation as an overcrowded park - and this was my perception before I visited there - but after a number of memorable trips to this iconic park I have found my space and peace in many of Kruger's places.
Yes there are tar roads in Kruger, and some of the rest camps may be busy, but it is the only park in Africa where a family can spend a holiday in the bush at leisure without paying exorbitant prices. Although the park is easily accessible in normal sedan cars 4x4 fanatics can get their fill away from the main tourist areas and for those wanting the adventure of a walking safari the Kruger is renowned as one of Africa's best walking experiences.
And you can even get away from it all and practice bushcraft. Many of the roads in the park are not regularly used and there are hides hidden on these routes where hours can be spent reading the wilderness. So whatever your choice for a safari the Kruger Park can provide it.
Without a doubt it is in Kruger where the best all round wildlife and safari experience in Africa can be found, so be it luxury lodges or walking safaris Kruger Park will satisfy everybody.
Experiencing the Wilderness you Desire in Kruger
Kruger has a number of hides situated in strategic positions along the road system and it is here that you may find true peace as the majority of 'game racers' do not stop to enjoy the tranquillity. The hides are usually located overlooking a water body, allowing for some great viewings.
My wife and I spent a memorable uninterrupted three hours at Nyawutsi hide near Shingwedzi where we experienced unadulterated wilderness around us. There were no other sounds but those of the wilderness - the birdcalls and the sound of a light breeze rustling the leaves. In that moment I was grateful for the haste with which many visitors experience the park for they did not have the time to stop at the hides.<
Some of my favourite moments in Kruger have come from the bridges over the major rivers. I have watched a herd of elephants drinking and crossing the Sabi from the bridge on the H-12 and have seen herons hunting and hippos wallowing.
There are some bridges in the park where it is allowed to get out the vehicle for a better view and it is from these viewpoints that i have seen some dramatic incidents such as an elephant accosting three resting hippo. Birding from the bridges is excellent and it is not unusual to add a number of species to a checklist.
With so many visitors to the Kruger Park there will be examples of bad behaviour but in general people visit the park to experience the wilderness and there are any number of ways of doing this.
Misty Eyes - Remembering Kruger
The true spirit of Kruger came home to me one day in my home town where I was in conversation with a legendary ranger of Kruger past. I had recently returned from a trip to the park and was narrating to him my experiences. His eyes went misty and his voice crackled as he recalled some of his own times. Such is the pull of the Kruger.