Penguins have been inspiring films, documentaries, fashion, dances and much more for years – there is an undeniable fascination with these ungainly creatures, which is why World Penguin Day has become so significant.
Over a million visitors go to the Kruger National Park every year (but don’t worry about crowds as the Kruger is the size of a small country like Israel or Wales, and there are strict limitations on visitor numbers). There’s a really helpful, user-friendly book, Kruger National Park – Questions & Answers, that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the park.
A quick visit to the Kruger National Park may sound impossible – but it isn’t. In fact, it can be done with only a little forward planning. So book a night’s accommodation, hire a car, pack some padkos, and hit the road.
Somewhere along the 5km Blue Route, one of the short hikes at Franklyn Park near Kampersrus, we stopped at the edge of a stream to cool down and enjoy the scenery. We weren’t alone – there were dozens of butterflies flitting over the water, alighting on plants and resting on cool patches of damp soil.
A pair of grey crowned cranes flew low over the road in front of us; flocks of Amur falcons perched on the power lines; and parties of enigmatic pied starlings gathered on roof tops. This was our welcome to the little town of Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga, an essential stop for anyone serious (or even not so serious) about birdwatching in South Africa.
Granted, spotting a leopard on a game drive is always a massive thrill. And getting up close and personal with an elephant will take your breath away, every time. But the African bushveld has many fascinating little secrets that exist alongside the Big Five, which can make any game drive interesting, even if you don’t spot a fresh kill.
I was watching a juvenile bateleur preening in a dead tree when I heard guide Mike Palmer whisper, ‘Cheetah.’ Almost immediately there was a collective intake of breath as everyone in the game-drive vehicle refocused their gaze on the cheetah, frozen in the soft morning light.
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