Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest and best known wildlife
sanctuary. It covers 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) and
well over a million people pas through its eight gates each year. The
various camps in the park are linked by a 2,600 km (1,615 mile) network of
roads, the main ones fully tarred, that lead to waterholes, viewing sites,
picnic spots and to the wonders of the park’s wildlife.
which was to become the Kruger National Park was "born" in
1898 when President Paul Kruger signed a proclamation for the
founding of a government game park between the Crocodile and the
Sabie Rivers in the Eastern Transvaal. Malaria mosquitoes and tsetse
fly prevented the settlement of humans in the area. Fever and
bilharzia debilitated the few African peoples that tried
to inhabit the area and the tsetse fly killed their livestock. Major
James Stevenson-Hamilton, was the first warden appointed for the
park after the Anglo Boer War. Skukuza, the main camp in the park is
named after the name ( siKhukuza - he who scrapes clean) that was
given to this remarkable man by the Africans. The meaning of the
word is said to have derived from Stevenson-Hamilton's reputation
for "cleaning out" all illegal residents, poachers,
hunters. blackbirders (illegal labour recruiters) and the like from
the game reserve.
Roads had to be made
and water supplied to be able to open the park for visitors. The
park was to be a sanctuary for all living things except man (who
would alone be controlled). At first no accommodation was provided
for visitors and the had to make their own camps in thorn-bush
Today a sensitive
balance has to be maintained to assure that the park remains a
sanctuary for the animals and at the same time allows more
than a million people per year to view and enjoy them in their
natural habitat. A visit to this park is an extraordinary experience
and (according to Bulpin) "it is possible for the tourist to
see the wonderful changes in vegetation from season to season; the
migratory birds that come and go; the periods of love and courtship
between animals, with innumerable duets and duels in the sun. During
the early spring an d summer when the birds are nesting, baby
elephants stumble around on rubbery legs; zebra foals are so dainty
as to be unreal; little giraffes stretch their necks even further to
take a snack; impala awns gambol about their graceful parents"
With far more humans
visiting the park in the course of a year than there are wild
animals it is difficult to assess the park as to its original
intent, that it be a sanctuary for the wild, where animals. insects.
birds, reptiles and plant-life would be left undisturbed to pursue
their own destiny in complete contrast to the onslaught of man and
developments on nature outside the park.
Today the park is
intensely managed with controls on most things including vegetation.
This "development" can be seen in the small towns
bordering the game park which Bulpin describes as: "amenities
such as drive-ins, supermarkets and assorted hideosites (that) lurk
menacingly on the drawing boards for thus piece of wilderness. Very
sharp watch has to be kept on the "lunatechs" and "idiotechs"
(lunatic and idiotic technicians) - the organisational men,
chartered accountants and graduate masters of business
administration - lest they destroy with glib persuasion the
the entire concept of a national park, carve it into a money-making
area and fulfill Stevenson-Hamilton's most pessimistic vision.
Perhaps one or two elderly lions would be left, chained to stakes
near the roads, trained to snarl at tourists occasionally in
exchange for being pelted with an empty beer can"
Well we did
experience five star treatment at some of the places where we stayed
as well as "cultural" experiences at others so I cannot
NOT tell you about our tourist experience at the Kruger Park
Backpackers in Hazyview! (Rose re-named this venue
"Backpacker's Palace"). This is also meant as specific
advice to prospective travelers to compare these photos with those
found for the "Backpacker's Palace" on the internet!
stay at Backpackers was for sure the least comfortable accommodation
that we had during the trip! (to put it very mildly). I was
completely bamboozled by the fancy description of " private
en-suite ethnic style rondavels" promising a traditional
"bush" experience with a barbeque, camp fire chats and the
best potjiekos in the Lowveld! What a scam!! We arrived to a
dilapidated dorm-style rondavel that must once have resembled a
mock-up ethnic hut with a bathroom door that would not close! Patsi
had to beg for a towel for Rose and when it eventually arrived it
was obviously already used!
promised meal arrived after I had begged and threatened and ordered
from a local restaurant (from where the food also failed to
arrive!). We sat gloomily next to a fire in the boma waiting for a
young man to finish the braai while Jo, who was running low on blood
sugar, was offered eating some plain cooked spaghetti as a
"salad" LOL! Well at the time I can promise you that this
was NOT funny! The meal eventually arrived - tough and almost
cremated steaks of unknown origin! (defeating our requests for them
to be cooked "medium to rare") with a salad and some
putu porridge for side dishes. What a disgrace for a South African
Braai but this is what happens when a Rooinek tries to imitate South
be fair I must say that the beds were okay! After the initial shock
subsided we agreed that some of it was indeed fun and as Jo
commented later on we were for sure going to "get a bit of
mileage out of telling the story!" The pictures taken tells it
all! When editing the photos I had a good giggle at our four
kaftan clad ladies without any smile in sight - not even one from
Rose!! Well the next picture was as gloomy but true to her nature
Rose then hesitantly graced the picture with one of her
smiles!! Have fun and see for yourself in the next few photos!!
Sorry sistahs I know you may not like these pictures but I HAD to
show the bad and the ugly as well!!