Plan your post quarantine travels with our list of helpful tips

Plan your post quarantine travels with our list of helpful tips

COVID-19 threw the tourism industry and tourists alike quite the curveball. Trips that were years in planning and only months away were abruptly cancelled or postponed, borders were closed and the South African tourism industries, one that employees millions, suddenly ground to a halt, just about overnight.

And while the country remains in a travel ban lockdown, with even the locals unable to enjoy the beauty of the county (and with good reason), we think it is probably the best time to start day dreaming about the travel adventures that will come after this.

When we are all stuck at home, planning your trip after this storm passes will become not only a great way to spend your time, but it will also be good for your mental health as it will take your mind off of the chaos that is seemingly engulfing us all at the moment.

Keep in mind that this is not a permanent situation. It will come to an end and when it does, it will help to have something to look forward to.

This is how you can plan your trip.

  1. Do some online window shopping

We are lucky to be living in an era where most of us have some form of access to the internet. Not only does the web keep us well informed about what is going on around us, but it is also perfect for providing a number of travel options that you can browse through and literally do some “window shopping”

Think about what kind of trip you’d like to experience, and then look at your options. South African safaris are always a fantastic place to start because our country is so diverse and filled with plenty to see, besides going on an authentic safari trip.

  1. Give your travels more thought

In the past, we took travel for granted and often took unnecessary trips to places that perhaps didn’t live up to expectations.

Now that you have the time to plan, it is the ideal opportunity to make sure that the destination you are looking at is truly capable of satisfying your wanderlust. You can now not only have a look at what is cheapest, or what is easily available, but really do your research on the holiday you are considering.

  1. Organise your logistics

There is nothing quite like learning how to take full control over the planning of all of the logistics involved with your trip. Yes, travel agents are a godsend when you are looking for a pain free trip planned in between your busy day, but this time presents you with the best opportunity to learn how to plan your own trip. This will allow you to travel on your own terms and book a meaningful adventure.

If you have been day dreaming about paying South Africa a visit once the borders open, Royal Safaris can help you create the safari trip of a lifetime. We are the nations only tour company with permission to enter the Kruger National Park after dark, and we offer our guests a few unique tour packages that other companies don’t.

Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Steenbok – The Smallest Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Of all the antelope found in the Kruger National Park, the Steenbok is the smallest. Weighing only about 15kg makes these animals difficult to spot in the bush. If you are lucky you will spot one just before it scampers off into the bush.

They are usually found alone, spending most of the day in search of food. Steenbok are herbivores and feed on leaves, tubers, flowers and fruit. They get most of the moisture they need from their food and can go for long periods without a drink of water.

Appearance and Lifestyle

Because of the size of the Steenbok, it is often referred to as a dwarf antelope. Steenbok are white on their underside and the rest of its body is a pale red-orange colour. For their size, they have unusually large ears which are more predominant in the females as the males have small horns.  Females are usually slightly larger than males.  Both male and female steenbok can live up to six years in the wild. The Steenbok is a solitary animal which makes them quite territorial. They are not too fussy about their habitat and are as happy in the open savannah as they are in woodland areas provided there is enough cover to hide them from predators.

The Steenbok couple mates for life, sharing the same territory, an area from .50 to 1 square kilometre. In this area, they will forage, find shelter and raise their young. Both male and female Steenbok will mark their area by either urinating or defecating around the boundary and then covering the area with sand, much like a cat. By covering it, the dung or urine is kept moist and the scent then lasts longer. They do this on a regular basis until it forms a visible border around their area.

Steenbok have a gestation period of about five and a half months and usually give birth at the start of the rainy season. Normally Steenbok have only one or on rare occasions two calves.  The Steenbok keeps their young well hidden for the first two weeks of their lives.

Steenbok have the most predators because of their size. They are preyed on by caracals, servals, jackals and every other wild cat found in the Kruger National Park. The baby Steenbok is so small that it often falls prey to snakes, foxes and birds. The only defence a Steenbok has is to either hide or flee from the threat. When the Steenbok spots a predator it will first conceal itself in the long grass.  And the, at the right moment, they will sprint away, often changing direction very sharply or suddenly which does give them a bit of an advantage.

The best time to spot a Steenbok is in the early morning or late afternoon, while on a guided game drive as these bucks lie down in the grass under a tree in during the hottest time of the day but they will forage at the cooler times in the day.

Spend some time on a Kruger Parks safari with Royal Safaris and perhaps you will be one of the lucky few who get to see these quaint animals.

A Guide for First Time Kruger Visitors

A Guide for First Time Kruger Visitors

A Guide for First Time Kruger Visitors

Those who are first time visitors to the Kruger National Park are truly in for one of the most life changing experiences. This park is the stuff of legends and it is often featured on the must-see places lists as well as being a bucket list adventure of note.

Planning your trip to the Kruger National Park will present you with a myriad of options. You can choose to book a safari with a touring company like Royal Safaris, or you can drive yourself. Both have their pros and cons, and both will have an effect on your budget. When you begin your planning, you should do so with a clear but flexible budget in mind and it is important that you make sure you have researched all of your available options, and come up with an idea of how you’d like to see this world famous park.

In our quick guide, we cover the basics about what you need to know while planning your trip to the Kruger Park for the very first time. Our tips are helpful for both self-drive safaris and guided ones.

Plan your time of year

Summer or winter? There are benefits to visiting at either time and it’s really a matter of preference. Many park guests find that autumn, winter and spring, which runs from April to October, are the best times to visit as the intense heat that characterises summer has not yet arrived. Summers in the park can be quite overwhelming as it can be rather uncomfortable for most.  During the summer months the vegetation in the park can be quite over grown, which makes it incredibly difficult to spot animals.

What would you like to see?

Planning your route can, in a way, help you plan what you see. Keeping in mind that the animals go where they please making it impossible to know exactly what you’ll see, there are some places in the park that are home to more of one kind of species.

At entrance gates and rest camps, you’ll find sightings boards marking what has been seen and where. You can then drive these roads in search of those animals, and if you are lucky, they will still be hanging around.

Planning your route is also important for other reasons. Certain areas of the park are known to be more prone to malaria infected mosquitoes while other regions are almost malaria free. The routes you choose can also take you to watering holes and rivers (where animals are known to frequent) and you have the opportunity to take a trip to historical landmarks and memorials.

Where will you stay?

If you are going on a Kruger Park safari with a company, your accommodation arrangements should be included as a part of the package, if you are spending more than a day in the park. Many safari companies choose Hazyview as the place to accommodate guests. If you are driving yourself and intend to stay in the park, there are over 12 rest camps to choose from while there is also private accommodation and luxury accommodation in the park.

Getting there

Whether you’re driving or flying, the park is only 3 hours away from Johannesburg, and depending on the entrance you’d like to use, the park is an hour’s drive from Nelspruit and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. The park is easily accessible and there are countless transfer companies offering a ride.

Royal Safaris takes the hassle out of organising a Kruger National Park safari and we offer a wider range of safari options than most of our associates. With us, you can enjoy a morning drive with breakfast or an evening drive with a memorable braai and sundowners. The choice of how you experience the park is up to you.

Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Antelope of the Kruger National Park

Antelope of the Kruger National Park

When driving around the Kruger National Park, one of the first things you probably will see are the various antelope that call the Kruger Park their home. Here are some of the Kruger Park’s most famous antelope…

The Impala is the most common antelope in the Kruger national park and probably the first animal you see when entering the Kruger Park. The Impala is a social animal that lives in herds up to 40. Their fur color is duotone, with reddish-brown on their back and half of their sides and the rest is a cream colour. The Impala is both a grazer and a browser and feeds on grass, leaves twigs and even fruits and acacia pods. Impala aren’t shy animals and will go and explore camp sites and even walk up to your porch.

The Lichtenstein Hartebeest is a rather large and rare antelope. Both the females stand 1.25m tall at shoulder height with the males weighing up to 200kg. They have a dark brown ‘saddle’ on the back that stretches from the tail base to the base of the shoulders. Unlike the Red Hartebeest, the Lichtenstein Hartebeest has very short, stubby horns and it also has a much longer face. The Lichtenstein Hartebeest is a very rare animal that can only be found in the Kruger National Park (where originally thought to be extinct) in small numbers. The herds of the Hartebeest are rather small ranging around 10 members.

The Waterbuck is also a rather well-known antelope that can be found in the Kruger National park. It is a robust antelope that stands 1.4m and can weigh up to 260 kg. They have a grey colored coat with white rings around the eyes and nose and a white patch on their necks. The Waterbuck has very prominent ears that stick out under the horns of which the males are the only ones with long forward-facing horns). Another unique feature of the Waterbuck is the fact that their shaggy coat has a very unpleasant, musky smell that can linger at resting sites. Waterbuck are very strong swimmers and will retreat to very deep water when seriously threatened.

The Kudu is surely the most popular and iconic of the antelope in the Kruger. The Kudu is a massive antelope that show very strong Sexual dimorphism, with the bulls bearing massive record-breaking spiral horns that can reach 1.8 meters. With a shoulder height of 1.4m and weighing an average of 300kg, the Kudu can be crowned the king of the antelope. The Herds of Kudu usually consist of 20 members, with young bulls forming groups with older bulls after sexual maturity and young cows staying with their mothers. The hierarchy of kudu herds are size based, with the largest bull being the on in charge. All Kudus have beards and manes but the length depends on the age of the kudu. Both the male and female kudus have a light grey coat with white stripes on their sides.

The Black Sable is a very large and muscular antelope that is characterized by its glossy black fur, white face and long curved horns. The males are rather large, weighing in at 270 kg and about 1.4m at shoulder height. The horns on young antelope are only visible from two months old.  Black Sable is primarily a grazer, feeding on grass and other plant life found on the grass. The Black Sable also chews on the various carcasses found in the Kruger Park that help them counter Phosphorous deficiencies. The Herds of Black Sables are varied in size and are usually active during the early mornings and late afternoons. When young bulls are sexually mature, the Territorial bull will evict them from the herd.

When you book a Kruger Park Safari with Royal Safaris, you can experience these amazing animals yourself

James Stevenson-Hamilton

James Stevenson-Hamilton

James Stevenson-Hamilton

Nicknamed by the Tsonga people as “Skukuza”, which loosely translates to “The man that turns everything upside down or the man that sweeps clean”, James Stevenson-Hamilton was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1867.  Although well educated, James Stevenson-Hamilton decided to follow a career in the military and he stationed himself on the banks of the Crocodile River in South Africa before moving and settling at Skukuza which was known at the time as Sabi Bridge.

James Stevenson-Hamilton served as the first warden in the Kruger National Park, which was then called the Sabi Nature Reserve, from 1902-1946.

In 1902, James Stevenson-Hamilton was seconded from the military by Sir Godfrey Lagden, to become the parks first warden.  Sir Godfrey Lagden deemed James Stevenson-Hamilton as a bachelor, a man of means and a professional soldier and therefore fit for this unusual appointment.  After signing a two year contract, Stevenson-Hamilton left for what was described back then as the “White Man’s Grave” with only a map of the area, oxen and wagon, provisions and ammunition.  The area of the Kruger National Park as we know it today, was uncharted back in the day and rife with malaria.  Since “game ranging” was a completely new term, Lagden gave James Stevenson-Hamilton free rein in the area with his only instruction being “Make yourself generally disagreeable and eliminate poaching.

James Stevenson-Hamilton believed that if there was no shooting of game in the area, the game would lose their fear of humans and come back to the area.  He made it his first order of business to announce to the locals, that no shooting would be permitted.  He moved from Crocodile Bridge to make his headquarters at Sabi Bridge.   Here he appointed two rangers, one being Harry Wolhuter, and with the aid to these two rangers they trained local rangers.  Many poachers were caught and soon the locals realised that they were serious about the no shooting rule.  They even caught and convicted senior policemen for poaching in the area.

James Stevenson-Hamilton not only patrolled the reserve to keep it safe from poaches, he also saw the need to thin out the lions and wild dogs.  He managed to convince companies in the vicinity of the Sabi Reserve to lend him land which eventually gave him a huge landscape, spread out in a remote corner in the Transvaal.   This new land extended the original 3 100 square kilometres to 36 000 square kilometres, creating what is today the Kruger National Park.  Wildlife could now roam safely from Crocodile Bridge to the Limpopo River.  Up to this point it was still known as a reserve but in 1912, Stevenson Hamilton presented his idea to nationalise the reserve and transform it to a national park.

In order to do this he needed the support of the public and therefore the reserve was opened to the public.  His idea was put on hold by Wold War 1.  Encouraged by Stevenson-Hamilton, Piet Grobler established the National Parks board in 1926 in parliament and the dream of Paul Kruger turned into the Kruger National Park.  The Kruger National Park was officially opened to the public in 1927.

After 44 years of service to the Kruger National Park, James Stevenson-Hamilton retired and settled in White River, where he passed away on the 10 December 1957 at the age of 90.

The Kruger National Park has a rich and diverse history, and you can find out all about it when you join Royal Safaris on an exciting Kruger National Park safari. Book your trip today.