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.

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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 

 

Hippos | Masai Mara

hippo_sparring
Sparring Hippos | Hippo Pool, Keekorok Lodge, Masai Mara, Kenya

There are certain scenes from the Masai Mara trip in 2014 which invoke the craving to visit that National Park again. And this is one of them.

After a day long drive in the game reserve, we returned to the lodge earlier than usual with low spirits. Our driver/guide James painstakingly drove us around with the hope of showing us a Black Rhino but it wasn’t to be.

The Hippo Pool seemed like a good spot to lift my morale. Walking on the deck I heard a lot of splashing in the pool. Anticipating some action, I rushed to a spot for a clearer view. Hippos known for their lazy demeanour, its unusual to see them get hyperactive in any regard. Amidst the many lazing hippos filling up the pool, these two were getting some fighting practice.

My lens hoisted on the wooden fence for support managed to freeze some of the action. It was amazing to see how these heavy beasts would move gracefully, open their mouths wide, displaying those mammoth sized sharp teeth and lock those jaws. The action lasted a few minutes and the hippos went back to being, well… lazy hippos.

Not among the usual list of expected sightings at the Mara but nevertheless an exciting one for me.

Shot with – Canon 1D Mark 3 + 500 f4 IS II