Sojourn in Kruger 

We boarded a 30-seater aircraft from Johannesburg and before one could settle in the plane, the pilot announced our descent onto Skukuza. As I got out out of the plane, I was struck by the beauty of the Skukuza airport.

Skukuza
Welcome to Skukuza

Designed more like a safari lodge, the beauty of the arrivals section surprised me. Handcrafted lampshades hung from the ceiling and end to end prints of Zebra adorned the walls of counters.

Skukuza_Inside
Airport or Safari Lodge?

Even the departure lounge was designed like a cafe.

Skukuza_Lounge
Cafe Departure

It felt surreal. Unable to contain my excitement and while still standing in awe, like most first-time visitors, I took multiple pictures on phone.

At the exit of the tiny airport,  I came across a life size statue of the critically endangered Rhino.

Rhino_Airport
Prime spot | Airport Black Rhino

Beautifully sculpted, it occupies prime space at the  entrance of the airport and also signifies what the Rhino means to the people of South Africa and especially in Kruger.

After a quick exchange of pleasantries with the driver, we set off to what was going to be home for the next three days i.e. Imbali Safari Lodge. A journey of almost three hours, we were slightly behind schedule as we had landed in Skukuza after half hour delay. We had to make it to camp on time, else, we would miss the evening game drive.

Elephants, hornbills, hundreds of impala and a Cape Buffalo (who only showed his butt) were seen along the road as we drove to Imbali. Half way into the journey, the tired eyes finally shut and I took a much needed nap. The crackle of the radio woke me up. We were finally nearing our lodge. Minutes later we entered the driveway of the reception. Already quarter past four, I quickly chugged the welcome drink, fixed camera and lens, got introduced to my guide; Bradley, two lovely couples (who would also be part of the  wonderful experience) and was off for the evening ride.

Safari_Sky
Typical scene of an evening game drive

No sooner had we left the lodge, we were greeted by a huge Tusker and his two companions.

Elephants
Marching into the frame

The huge male in the above image came so close to our vehicle, we were literally within touching distance from him.

In the two hours of safari, we saw numerous birds, plenty of impala, a herd of kudu, elephants, mongoose chasing a boomslang snake, a group of southern ground hornbill (highlight of the evening), even had a flat tyre and finally two lions. And this was just the start!

Three days and 6 game drives, stay tuned for the the Kruger series!

Shot details: All images made with an iPhone 

 

Published by

Sameer Jain (Kittu)

Way before I started photography, I heard the song Lose Yourself by Eminem, and the starting line has stuck with me ever since. It goes- “If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted would you capture it or just let it slip?” This line is a constant reminder and the closest description of what I feel when I’m out on a safari or walking/trekking photographing birds. Fondly known as Kittu, I’ve been a resident of Mudumalai for three decades. I manage and run Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse; a family run resort near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. For as long as my memory goes, I have been an ardent lover of wildlife. Growing up on tea estates and Forest Hills, has played an active role in nurturing my love for nature and wildlife. During school holidays at Forest Hills, I made full use of safari and trekking opportunities that came my way. In 2005, I decided to pursue photography with a Canon film SLR and in 2007, I went digital. The love of wildlife has taken me to various national parks both in India (Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Tadoba, Kaziranga to name a few) and other esteemed forest reserves such as Masai Mara (Kenya). While I keenly keep a track of birding activity at home (Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse), one might just bump into me during a safari at my favourite forest reserve i.e. the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

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