A massive herd of elephants with babies welcomed us to the Timbavati en route to Kambaku River Sands. It was an auspicious start to our Kruger self-drive trip.

As we headed out on our first game drive, it started raining, but we still saw some lovely impala, zebra and a single lioness lying next to a waterhole. Our guide knew she had recently given birth to cubs which she was hiding, so we eagerly followed her when she called them and started walking, presumably towards her den. A true mistress of deception she eventually simply stopped calling and simply lay down again, her babies safe from our prying eyes.

Game drive vehicle in the bush

Safari sightings are always a matter of timing. That night we would miss the elephants congregating at the waterhole in front of the main dining area… but instead ran into them on their way home back to the bush as we walked from our room to dinner.

Later in the evening…

A hyena strolled past our little porch. We had been told to expect a visit from the ‘camp’ hyena. A natural scavenger he isn’t much of a threat and quite wary of people and lights (although happy to take bites out of chair cushions etc. and cause havoc when no one is around!). He was about 10m (30ft) from us when we first spied him… but quickly ran away as soon as we stood up. It was a good reminder of the fact that our camp was truly ‘unfenced.’

The next morning, we saw the entire Big Five before breakfast!

In the afternoon, we headed to Oliver Restaurant and Lodge in White River. The road is gloriously beautiful and quite often covered in mist. We drove past Lisbon Falls, Pinnacle Point, and God’s Window.

Lisbon Falls
White River Road

After a lovely night in White River, we were off again to Sabi Sands. We stayed at &Beyond Kirkman’s Camp which is located almost 10km (6mi) from Shaw’s gate and was welcomed by a great big herd of Kudu and elephant before we reached the camp.

More was to come as we could spy elephant making their way down the Sand River from our room and had a buck lying under a tree a mere 15m (about 50ft) from our porch.

As we sat down for lunch a herd of elephant came for a drink from the pool!

We were lucky enough to see Giraffe play-fighting or necking and a magnificent group of lions.

Who has the biggest grin? Me or Mrs. Lioness?

Chris, our Kirkman’s guide kept us entertained with his playful spirit, exceptional knowledge and excellent imitations of animal noises.

That evening, we sat down for dinner and as it was my partner’s birthday – they gave us a private table and the whole crew came out of the kitchen with song and dance to celebrate with a birthday cake.

~ A sweet ending to a wonderful couple of days around the Kruger. ~

Images via Elsabé