How a bad start became the best Kruger night drive ever

travelafrica On safari, Planning your trip to Africa, Self driving in southern Africa, Travelling with children in Africa, Wildlife tips

A big thank you to 12 year old guest blogger Nicky for this fabulous blog – we are so happy that your last night drive in Kruger became the ‘best Kruger night drive ever’!!

Kruger pre-night drive sunset

As we drove in silence slowly down a dirt stricken track each of our  eyes was ready to see something spectacular. Then, when my eyes  looked towards a tree, the carcass of a dead impala lay limp in the  high branches. But still, no leopard.

We were frantic and in a mess as we walked out of our 4 bedroom  chalet and jumped excitedly into the car. Dust, small bits of food  and sticks were scattered lazily around the floor and as I sat  down, my legs and feet seemed to shake. Tonight, was our last  night in Kruger, the best national park in South Africa. We drove our large  car on a small 200-metre drive to the gate and was met by a large safari truck with 15 people waiting. We took our seats, and from then on, it all seemed terrible. Every second, we were stopped by a tourist taking photos of zebras, the most common animal in the  park. A kind, ex-ranger had the eyes of a hawk and spotted a pair  of lions from over 300 metres away but not even the strongest  camera lens could capture a snap of the majestic beasts. Along the  way, we stopped at the tree of the dead impala. Still no leopard  Then, after all hope had been thrown out the window, our tour guide spotted two beautiful lions lying happily behind the trees. We sat and watched in awe as they stood and yawned. The  clock was ticking, only 45 minutes left. The truck turned around  and began its slow drive home. We crept up to a corner and were  given a choice. Left or straight. We chose straight.  

Only 5 minutes in, a startled hyena bolted across the road and ran  alongside us. Everybody was focused on and searching the darkening horizon. Then I looked forward. Two sleek and spotted animals were darting ahead of us. “Hyena!” I screamed  “Leopard!” screeched the woman behind me.  “Cheetah!” yelled my sister. The bus seemed to shake as everybody  jumped to their feet and glared forward. Our dreams had come 
true. 1 entire month of Kruger, no cheetah. Now there were 2  cheetah jogging happily in front of us. Darkness made photos impossible but our minds were dumbstruck. The cheetahs ran off into the bush in search of prey, and just like that, they were out of sight.

We  sped on, only a few minutes till the gates shut for good. We  drove around the corner when suddenly our guide whispered loud  enough for us to hear, “Leopard!” We spun to look, and there it was, glaring into our eyes whilst eating its delicious impala prey. The leopard was startled and scared. It climbed down the tree, stopped midway and gave us another glare. It then leapt down and ran off into the shrubs.  

Kruger night drive lions on a kill
Kruger night drive – lions on a fresh buffalo kill

When we returned, the chatter was loud and energetic, a sad start had led to the best Kruger night drive ever. Now we really had something  to boast about!

You can add a Kruger National Park night drive with national park’s rangers into any of the following Travel Africa safaris:

Captivating Kruger Safari

Self-Drive Kruger Magic

Kruger Under Canvas

Best of Southern Africa

Self-Drive Classic South Africa

Self-Drive South Africa & Mozambique: Bush & Beaches

Family Self-Drive Safari: Sun, Fun & Wildlife

Self-Drive South Africa: Mountains, Wildlife & Wetlands