Scuba Diving for Beginners

Scuba Diving for Beginners

Have you ever thought about what it feels like to breathe underwater? Maybe you have dreamed about swimming with the dolphins or exploring a coral reef or a sunken ship. Maybe you have even thought about becoming a certified scuba diver. If you have, this post is for you.

Scuba Qualifications

Before you go scuba diving, you need to become Open Water Diver certified. This is the first scuba certification level which involves an online course, class time, scuba diving in a pool or confined area and then diving in open water with instructors.

The best-known scuba certification program in the world is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, also known as PADI.

Scuba equipment and woman scuba diving

Open Water Certification

Becoming open water certified requires three phases, but first, you will need equipment.

Equipment

Most dive shops include the cost of the equipment rental in the course price. Except for the snorkel, mask, and fins, which you will have to purchase or rent. It’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality mask and snorkel if you plan to scuba dive a lot.

The scuba shop will supply the wet suit, BCD (buoyancy control device), tanks and regulators. Although this might vary from shop to shop.

Phase One

The online course takes between 8 to 10 hours to complete. It is an independent study option where you read, watch videos, and take quizzes on your computer or mobile device at your own pace. You can control how fast or how slow you move through the material, but it will have to be completed before your first time in the pool.

During the training, you’ll learn all about scuba equipment, hand signals and safety procedures. As well as familiarize yourself with scuba terminology, and learn how to protect the environment. At the end of each module, there is a quiz, with a final exam at the end of the training, to ensure you have a thorough understanding of scuba diving basics.

Phase Two

In phase two, the training takes place in a pool or a calm underwater environment known as confined water. They’ll assign pairs of ‘dive buddies’ for the duration of the course. The first thing you will have to do is pass a swim test. Then fully outfitted in your scuba gear, you will practice basic diving skills like ascending and descending, buoyancy and clearing water from your mask with your instructor. Beginners often worry about clearing water and fog in their masks. The instructor will also show you how to breathe using a regulator. 

Your instructor will show and review the skills with you until you’re comfortable performing them on your own. When you pass, you’ll move on to the final phase, open water diving!

Phase Three

The open water course includes four open water dives usually done over two days. With your instructor, you’ll practice the skills you learned in the confined water while exploring underwater. You’ll dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters or 60 feet.

Most student divers complete their dives close to home, in local lakes or quarries.

Completion

After completing all course requirements and four open water dives, you’ll become a certified diver—a lifetime certificate that allows you to explore the ocean. Then you are eligible to take other courses such as Advance Open Water, Rescue Diver and Night Diving.

My Experience

I am a PADI-certified Open Water Diver, although getting certified wasn’t without its challenges. Phase one was easy. As long as you read the chapters, you can answer the questions.

Phase two took place in a heated pool while phase three took place in a nearby quarry. Carrying all the heavy equipment to the pool and the lake wasn’t fun. Neither was taking your mask off underwater or letting it fill up with water so you can clear it. Both are requirements for certification. I also battled with the mental aspect of breathing underwater, but pushed down my fear in order to pass. Going down south where the water is clear to scuba dive is on my bucket list.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to take the time to go on an inexpensive try dive (with an instructor in a confined area) before committing to a full diving course. Have you ever tried scuba-diving? Let me know in the comments.

 

Until next time
Frankie

Feature photo by Arhnue Tan from Pixabay.

Ollantaytambo Peru: An Inca Archaeological Marvel

Ollantaytambo Peru: An Inca Archaeological Marvel

Have you ever heard of Ollantaytambo Peru? Ollantaytambo is an Inca archaeological site with massive terraces in the Sacred Valley of Southern Peru about 72 km (45 miles) from Cusco. Here, the residents preserve the traditions of the Inca living in the oldest occupied dwellings in South America.

The History of Ollantaytambo

In Quechua (the Inca Language) they pronounce it Ollan-tay-tambo. The name comes from the combination of two words. Tambo means ‘resting place’ and Ollanta was a famous Inca captain.

Emperor Pachacuti built the town and ceremonial center of Ollantaytambo during the reign of the Inca Empire. Picked strategically because it is a choke point in the valley. It is situated at an altitude of 2,792 m (9,160 ft) above sea level in the Andes Mountains. It also was the stronghold for the leader of the Inca resistance, Manco Inca Yupanqui, during the Spanish Conquest circa 1528. In 1536, Manco defeated the Spanish by flooding the plain from his position on the high terraces.

Why Visit Ollantaytambo

Tourists flock to Ollantaytambo because of the original structures that haven’t changed since the Incas built them in the 13th century. It makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time. 

It is also the main train station to Machu Picchu in the Urubamba region and where porters meet up with hikers to start the famous Inca Trail. For travelers who wish to spend a few days in Ollantaytambo before hiking to Machu Picchu, the town is the ideal location to acclimatize.

My Trip to Ollantaytambo Peru

My daughter and I travelled to Ollantaytambo as part of a day trip (during our 10-day stay) where we toured the Sacred Valley. Our guides from Condor Travel picked us up early at our hotel, the La Casona De Yucay. After spending the morning in Chinchero, we were off to Ollantaytambo for the afternoon.

The Town of Ollantaytambo Peru 

The ancient town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley (a zone named by the Incas because of its fertility). The climate here is relatively hot and dry, with sun for much of the year. The dry season lasts from April to November, while the rainy season begins in December. February is the wettest month in Peru.

The quaint town has narrow cobblestone streets and stone steps that show off the Inca architecture. They built the small town of Ollantaytambo in a grid-like formation with four longitudinal streets that are crossed by seven parallel streets. In the center of the grid is a large four-block plaza. The town also features many accommodations, a range of food, and engaging tours. 

The Terraces of Pumatallis

Standing at the bottom of the structure, you are amazed by the Terraces of Pumatallis and the high-cut stone walls. The sunken terraces start south of Ollantaytambo’s Plaza de Armas and stretch all the way to the Urubamba River. The terraces are about 700 m long, 60 m wide, and up to 15 m high. It isn’t until you are standing on the terraces that you realize how tall the walls really are.

The agricultural terraces allowed farming on the otherwise unusable terrain by allowing the Incas to take advantage of the different ecological zones created by variations in altitude. It is only because of the Inca architecture that the place is still standing. Inca architecture is known for its fine masonry, featuring precisely fitted cut and shaped stones without mortar.

The climb to the top was a struggle for most of the North Americans on the tour. Altitude makes you feel like your feet are encased in cement, every step takes energy.

The Granaries of Pinkuylluna

The Incas built their storehouses out of fieldstone on the hills surrounding the terraces because the higher altitude allows for more wind and lower temperatures to defend against food decay. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to climb all the way to the top.

Image Courtesy of JT Nelms from Pixabay.

The Temple of the Sun

The Inca Religion involved a group of beliefs and rites that were related to an evolving mythological system. The Temple of the Sun has an impressive megalithic stone at the top of the terraces. The stones each weight 50 tons and came from a nearby quarry. I marvelled at what it must have taken to lift these massive stones to the top of the structure.

Image courtesy of Ruben Hanssen at Unsplash.

Final Thoughts

What do you think? Is Ollantaytambo on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments.

 

Until next time
Frankie

All photos courtesy of Frankie Cameron except where noted.

Cape Town, South Africa: 5  Places You Need to Visit

Cape Town, South Africa: 5 Places You Need to Visit

Have you ever visited Cape Town, South Africa? There are so many things to do in the city. There is the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, and the Bo-Kaap, to name a few. Read on to learn more about our Cape Town adventure.

5 Must Visit Places in Cape Town

There are a lot of things to do and see in Cape Town, but these are a few of the highlights.

Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront

Exhausted from our 3 flights, we still wanted to get out and explore right away, so we headed to the V&A Waterfront. We took a long walk on the boardwalk to stretch our legs and watch the ocean as the waves ebbed and flowed. There were plenty of tug boats and sailboats in the harbour. We took a stroll through the Waterfront Village.

There is a huge shopping area. We visited a lot of the tourist shops while looking for something to eat. There was a giant Ferris wheel, and we had our picture taken in the frame that showcases Table Mountain.

Table Mountain

Our tour guide picked us up at our hotel, the Twelve Apostles Hotel, and drove us to Table Mountain, which is a flat-topped mountain that overlooks the city of Cape Town. One of the 7 Wonders of Nature. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions that draws 800,000 visitors a year (pre-pandemic). Most visitors hike or take the cable car to the top. 60 people can fit in the rotating cable car at a time.

Table Mountain’s dominant feature is the level plateau that spans approximately three kilometres (2 miles) from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs. Devil’s Peak (west) and Lion’s Head (east) flank it. From the top of the mountain, you can see all of Cape Town. Just don’t miss the last shuttle or you will have to walk down.

They paired us up with a couple from Australia. The wife was afraid of heights and panicked any time her husband went near the edge. She could barely look at anything.

The City

Next up with a tour of the city. A drive through some of the most affluent areas in Cape Town: Camps Bay, Clifton, and Sea Point, (the first suburb). We passed by Cape Town Stadium into the main street of the central business district. There was a quick stop at City Hall where Nelson Mandela spoke after his prison release.

Drove past the Castle of Good Hope, originally built as a maritime replenishment station and the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.

The Cannon

Next was a visit to Signal Hill, close to the center of the city, to see the Noon Gun and witness the historic time signal that has been happening since 1806. There are two black powder Dutch Naval Guns that are fired alternately. Even though they told us to plug our ears, it was loud and there was a ton of smoke.

Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter a racially segregated area. They built it on the slopes of Signal Hill. It is known for its brightly coloured homes and cobblestone streets. The Nurul Islam Mosque that was established in 1844 is in the area. Almost 60 percent of the multicultural neighbourhood residents are Muslim.

This section of Cape Town contains the largest concentration of pre-1850 South African architecture and is the oldest surviving residential area in Cape Town.

Final Thoughts on Cape Town

Cape Town was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. If you ever have a chance to go there, do it. You won’t be sorry. Have you ever been? Let me know in the comments.

 

Until next time

Frankie

Feature photo by Pascal OHLMANN from Pixabay All other photos copyright Frankie Cameron.

Lake Humantay: Cusco’s Secret Hidden Treasure

Lake Humantay: Cusco’s Secret Hidden Treasure

Have you ever been to Lake Humantay in Peru? Just a quick trip from Cusco is a lovely glacier-filled lake hidden in the Andes Mountains, that is too beautiful for words to describe.

Bright and Early

The trip starts with an early morning pick up around 5 am in Cusco. The drive takes about 3 hours and on the way, there are beautiful views and landscapes. We had spent most of our time in the Chinchero district, so it was nice to travel in a new direction. The trip winds through the towns of Izcuchaca, Inquipata, Huertahuayco, and Limatambo (an important Inca point) with a quick stop in the village of Mollepata for a bathroom break. In Peru, you pay for the privilege of using a bathroom and toilet paper.

The roads are full of switchbacks, and about an hour and a half into the trip, the paved roads turn to gravel. The roads became thinner until they narrow down to one lane. VW vans honk as they approach the corners to let other drivers know they are there. At times, it feels like the road isn’t wide enough for the vehicles to drive on as we drive on the edge of a cliff.

Narrow winding road on a cliff

This isn’t the best picture, but it shows the narrow winding road.

Soraypampa

Finally, we reached Soraypampa, the starting point of the hike towards Lake Humantay. This is the last place to find a bathroom. There is a gated area, and the trail starts on the other side. Here the elevation is 3858 m (12,660 feet). Since I struggled on the Inca Trail, having to quit when we reached 3840 m (12,598 ft) we played it safe and rode horses up the mountain.

We didn’t actually ride the horses as much as sat on them while Marco, the owner, walked in front and Eddy, our guide, walked as well. At first, it seemed silly because the path was flat and we rode through pastures, but then the path becomes rocky, uneven, and steep. Hiking boots and walking sticks are a must. If you have the chance to buy or borrow walking sticks do it, they are so useful in Peru.

Spectacular view of Soraypampa. Meadows and glacier.

The Salkantay Glacier is visible first. 

Salkantay Glacier

Soraypampa is also the start of the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. We saw several groups, guides, and porters preparing for their hike. The Salkantay Trail runs between the Salkantay and Humantay glaciers, part of the Vilcabamba mountain range all the way to Machu Picchu. Access is only available via hiking. Hikers usually stay there a day or two to acclimatize before beginning the hike at base camp (after acclimatizing in Cusco).

Salkantay Glacier close up

Image by WaSZI from Pixabay.

Luxury Camping

There is luxury camping at Soraypampa, and a brand new lodge. Eddy our guide did not like the new structures because he felt that the area was becoming commercialized and it spoiled the view. Instagram is partially responsible for the popularity of places like Humantay Lake and Rainbow Mountain. The photos on Instagram exploded tourism in this area (pre-Covid 19).

In fact, adding horses to the area was also a fresh addition. There are also homes scattered here and there.

Luxury camping at Lake Humantay

The Climb

While the mountain does not look that steep, it is very deceiving. It is much steeper than the hike on Rainbow Mountain. Marco started in a winter coat but by the top had stripped to a tee shirt. So did we, in Peru, you are taking clothes off or putting them on depending on the altitude.

It normally takes 1 to 2 hours to hike to the top, and we did it in about half the time. We passed several hikers practicing mini-hikes before hiking the Salkantay trail and others hiking to Humantay.

Lake Humantay

The horses only go to a certain point and then you have to walk the rest of the way. We had gotten ahead of Eddy but continued on the well-worn path knowing he would catch up. At first, all we could see was the beautiful blue green glacier fed lake. Then the fog parted, and the glacier appeared, standing majestically in all its glory. It was stunningly beautiful. The pictures we took did not do it justice.

Because we had taken horses, we were alone at the lake with only one other small group, so we felt like we had the place to ourselves. We stayed a long time taking pictures and soaking in the beauty. The altitude at Lake Humantay is 4200 m (13,779 feet).

The Descent

On the way back down, we kept stopping and turning backward to take in the view. At one point, you can see both Glaciers at the same time. I am not a religious person, but I felt very spiritual looking at the Glaciers.

There were so many people struggling with the altitude on the trail up. In fact, the locals have horses half way up for people to rent if they are struggling. Altitude is not a joke. At this height, your body can only use 60% of the oxygen you use at sea level. Don’t even attempt this hike if you haven’t acclimated for three days. Even Eddy commented when he saw the locals playing soccer that he didn’t know how they did it.

Locals wait with horses

Back to Cusco

We got to see several Mother’s Day festivities in the towns we passed through on the way back to Cusco. (Mother’s Day is a huge celebration in Peru). The entire trip is normally a fourteen-hour day, but because of the horses, we could do it in less time. That gave us the evening to spend in Cusco after we enjoyed a meal at the Hotel Novotel.

Final Thoughts

If you are ever are in Cusco don’t miss this hidden gem. Just make sure to acclimatize first. Are you interested in taking this trip? Let me know in the comments.

 

Until next time,

Frankie

 

Feature image by by WaSZI from Pixabay. All other images copyright Frankie Cameron Writes except where noted.

Zip Lining: Have You Ever Wanted to Fly?

Zip Lining: Have You Ever Wanted to Fly?

Have you ever gone zip lining? There is nothing more thrilling than flying through the trees, over water, and across ravines, high above the ground while viewing spectacular scenery. I guarantee you will have a great time and an adrenaline rush.

What is Zip Lining?

Zip lining is an action-filled recreational nature activity that allows you to cover a distance between two points via gravity while a safety belt attaches you to a stainless steel cable by a pulley. Zip lining has become a growing outdoor activity.

There are also urban zip lines that span buildings or bridges.

The History of Zip Lining

Did you know biologists developed modern zip lining when they wanted to observe animal life without disturbing them? They pitched their ropes between two pivot points, sometimes using trees in the Costa Rican rain forests.

Adventure Parks

Most adventure parks have more than just zip lines. They have rope bridges, balance beams, wooden bridges, Tarzan swings, net walkways, steps to climb, jungle nets, and more. You’ll have quite the workout. Each park allows you to explore an original area of the world and provides a unique experience that makes each great in its own way.

Safety Equipment

Adventure parks rigorously test the zip line cables, platforms, and safety equipment to adhere to high standards (in Canada at least). The parks provide professional guides and most times you have to do a test on a demo line to start on easy courses before graduating to higher levels. You need to wear loose, comfortable clothing, and running shoes. They will give you a body harness attached to pulleys and carbineers with helmets and gloves.

Two photographs on a black background. One photo is rope stairs, the other is a zip line in a ravine.

Created in Canva

Seven Reasons to Zip line

1. It’s Beautiful

They set most zip lines in beautiful locations and resorts. Sometimes in unspoiled country, thickly wooded areas, ravines, and gorges. The views are always stunning.

2. It’s Challenging

It is a challenge to step off a platform high in the air trusting that your safety gear will work and that you are secured on the zip line. You’ll end the day exhausted with blisters, sore muscles, and the odd scrape or cut, but feel like you have accomplished something.

3. It Feels Like Flying

Some zip lines are so fast you’ll feel you have wings. Unless you learn to grow wings, zip lining is the closest you’ll ever get to flying.

4. It’s Fun

It’s pure enjoyment! Zip lining is like a roller coaster or amusement park ride but better because you are all alone speeding through the air.

5. It’s Inexpensive

Compared to other outdoor activities like golf or horseback riding, zip lining is relatively inexpensive. Most parks even have yearly passes.

6. It’s A Shared Experience

Zip lining gives people a chance to bond while sharing an adrenaline experience. It’s perfect for families, individuals, sports teams, or corporate events.

7. It’s Quiet

The only thing you’ll hear on zip lines is the humming of the pulley on the cable. Although you may hear the chirps of birds or other animals and the occasional scream from the other zip liners.

10 Longest Zip Lines in the World!

According to the WorldorBust website, these are the ten longest zip lines in the world.

  1. Jebel Jais (Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates)
  2. Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon, Mexico)
  3. Toro Verde Adventure Park (El Monstruo) (Orocovis, Puerto Rico)
  4. Volo dell’ Angelo Zip Line (Rocca Massima, Italy)
  5. Ziptrek Whistler Zipline (Whistler, BC, Canada)
  6. The Eye of the Jaguar Zip Line (Sacred Valley, Peru)
  7. Crimean Hawk (Sudak, Crimea, Russia)
  8. The Unreal Zip 2000 (Sun City, South Africa)
  9. Mega Tirolesa (Pedra Bela, SP Brazil)
  10. ZipFlyer (Nepal)

Ziptrek Whistler is the longest in North America while Mega Tirolesa is the longest in the world. The most extreme is ZipFlyer, and the fastest is Jebel Jais. I am so sad that I didn’t know about The Eye of the Jaguar Zip Line when I was in Peru.

We did see people zip lining at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe from the Zambia side, but I am not sure if I would have done it if we had the time.

Woman walking on a steel cable on a balance beam

My Zip Line Experiences

I have done lots of zip lining courses in Quebec and Ontario, Canada with my daughter. These are the ones I can remember though I feel there should be more on the list.

  • Abraska LaFletche in Gatineau Quebec is my absolute favourite park. It has an impossibly high zip line over a lake and one long continuous obstacle course.
  • Montmorency Falls Quebec City, has a double zipline for adults only that zips by the falls.
  • Promenade Du-Parc-des-Chutes in Mansfield-et-Pontefract Quebec has an exceptional zipline in a gorge among its other activities
  • Tree Top Trekking Barrie found at the Horseshoe Resort features a mega zip line.
  • Tree Top Trekking Brampton in the Heart Lake Conservation Area has a zip line over the lake.
  • Tree Top Trekking Ganaraska in the Ganaraska Forest. The Timberwolf course is the highest and most challenging in Ontario.
  • Tree Top Trekking Huntsville is in the Muskokas. It is a beautiful place to visit in the fall when the leaves are turning.
  • Tree Top Trekking Stouffville is set up at the Bruce Mills Conservation areas.
  • Treetop Eco-Adventure Park Oshawa is in the Oakridge Moraine

Final Thoughts

If this post hasn’t convinced you that zip lining is fun then I haven’t written it properly. Take it from someone who is afraid of heights, it is so much fun. Are you convinced to try it? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time

Frankie

 

All photos copyright Frankie Cameron Writes.

Kruger Park Safari: The Greatest 72 Hours of My Life

Kruger Park Safari: The Greatest 72 Hours of My Life

Have you ever been to Kruger National Park in South Africa? Have you ever gone on safari? I have never enjoyed myself more than the three nights and four days I spent with exotic animals in their natural habitat in Kruger Park.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the largest protected game reserves. It encompasses 20,000 square km (7,500 miles) in northeastern South Africa. The park has strict anti-poaching laws which allow animals such as the big five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and water buffalo) to roam freely.

We traveled to Kruger Park in August with Lion World Travel. The dry time or off-season is the best time to view animals before the foliage gets too thick and the weather becomes too hot.

Skukuza Airport

After four days in Cape Town, my daughter and I flew to Skukuza Airport in Kruger Park. I thought we were landing in the middle of the bush right before the plane taxied up to the door.

Inside of Skukuza airport decorated with African Animals
Wart Hog scrounging for food in Kruger Park

With only three flights in and out of Skukuza each day (one to Cape Town and two to Johannesburg) we quickly found our guides Raymond and Reckson who gathered our luggage. We felt the heat of Africa as soon as we exited the airport and observed our first animal, a warthog.

Lion Sands Tinga Lodge

Tinga Lodge

The Lion Sands Game Reserve is the only private reserve in both the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. We stayed at Tinga Lodge on the Kruger side, on the edge of the Sabi River where you can view the animals in their natural habitat in scrumptious comfort.

Deck surrounding a Serengeti tree
Entrance to Tinga Lodge

The main lodge blends beautifully into the scenery. There are nine suites, a villa, a bar, a lounge, a pool, a spa, and a gift shop. Greeted with a hello drink, we dined outdoors under an enormous Serengeti tree. We weren’t there ten minutes before a herd of elephants casually walked by. Ecstatic is not the right word to describe our emotions. I took the photos below from the deck of the lodge.

Elephants in Kruger Park, South Africa
Elephants crossing the Sabi river

Tinga Suite #5

We stayed in suite number five. A beautiful air-conditioned room with two beds and a living room area with a bar and snacks. The bathroom was enormous, with a huge shower that had discretely placed windows so you could see nature. The bathtub was large enough to lie down completely flat. There was also a deck with its own plunge pool. 

Every day the maids left notes and stories on our bed. At night they would arrange the mosquito nets over the beds and make animals out of the towels. Nyala and Steenbok grazed right beside our room. After dark we had to have an escort from the main lodge back to our rooms so we didn’t have to encounter any animals.

Kudu

Kruger National Park Game Drives

Evening Game Drive

We left with Raymond (the guide) and Reckson (the tracker) after high tea on our game drive at 3:30 pm. Reckson rode at the front of the jeep looking for animal tracks. There were six people to a jeep. Our goal was to see the big five.

We hadn’t driven very far before a giraffe blocked the road. The jeeps don’t phase the animals because they are used to them (inured) and know they don’t pose a threat. They caution us not to stand up or scream because it would draw their attention. There is no hunting in Kruger Park, but Raymond had a gun for emergencies. In all his years of guiding, he said he had never used it. 

Krugar Park Water Buffalo

Shortly after the giraffes we ran into a herd of water buffaloes, then more elephants. Halfway through the drive, we stopped and got out of the jeep to stretch our legs for drinks and snacks. We saw a leopard from a distance but didn’t get too close.

At dark, Raymond pointed out the southern star, which isn’t visible in the northern hemisphere. When we arrived back at the lodge, we immediately went to dinner, a scrumptious chef-prepared meal (they constantly fed us at the lodge). We exchanged stories with the other guests, discovering who saw what animal. We met a lovely couple and a family of six from England.

Morning Game Drive

The morning started with a 5:30 am wake-up call; a small breakfast and we were back in the jeep. The first hour we only saw a vulture, but then Reckson spotted rhino tracks and discovered our first white rhino. When one jeep finds an animal, they radio the other jeeps its location in code so poachers do not overhear. It seemed to be a game among the guides who could find the animals quickest.

Vulture in Kruger Park

There are strict rules for Kruger Park. If a tree falls, an elephant poops or an animal dies, it has to be left in place because other animals feed or use the materials. The only exception happens when they find a dead elephant or rhino, then they notify the park authorities who come pick up the tusks and horns.

Kruger Park
Hippo in Kruger

We stopped for a snack of hot chocolate and pastries, then we went on a bushwalk. Raymond led with the rifle and Reckson trailed with a machete. Raymond pointed out some flora and fauna, animal track and elephant dung (it is as big as you would expect). We also saw a large termite mound.

Termite Mound in Kruger Park
Safari jeep at Tinga Lodge

Then one jeep discovered leopards. They were so beautiful and terrifying as Raymond positioned us about six feet away, too close for the lady in front of me who almost had a heart attack. Leopards only spend time together when they mate. The roar from this pair was chilling. The morning ended with a hippo and we headed back for brunch.

Leopards in Kruger Park
Kruger Park Narrow Bridge

Kruger National Park Highlights

There were multiple highlights in our three morning and evening drives at Kruger Park. Too many to write about, but these stick out in my mind:

Chasing Lions

One morning the guides found two male lions. We chased them so hard and fast through the bush I thought we were going to bounce out of the jeep. Their manes were not as full as in other places in Africa because the thick bush pulls out pieces of it. The photo on the right is one of my favorite photos because besides the Steenbok feeding in the distance there were crocodiles in the river and hippos on the other bank.

Two male lions in Kruger Park
One male lion in Kruger Park

Hippo Walk

One afternoon, Reckson and Raymond left us in the jeep as they checked animal tracks. They had discovered hippos and a vantage point where we could watch them without danger. After a whistle and some hand signals from another guide on the other bank, Raymond told us we had to leave in a hurry. Once we were safely back in the jeep, he let us know a leopard had been stalking us. Later we got to see the leopard as he/she walked past.

Hippos in Kruger Park
Kruger Park leopard

Monkey Attack

Once, while we were lounging on our deck, a monkey chased us into our room. He was probably just after our snacks. The monkeys also loved the Serengeti tree on the deck where we took our lunch. The morning we left Kruger Park a monkey went crazy in a tree shouting out to all that a leopard was near.

Kruger Park monkey
Kruger Park monkey

Friendly Zebras

On our last morning in Kruger Park, our guides took us to an authentic African village and school. We got to meet the children and their teachers to see how the locals lived. The school was very colourful, everything was red, blue and yellow. We also finally caught sight of our first zebra grazing with a mother and son rhinoceros.

Kruger Park zebra
African Village school

Final Thoughts

While we saw the big five, we didn’t see the magnificent seven, which includes hyena and cheetah. We took over two thousand photos while we were in Kruger Park. I would love to go back again. Is a safari in Africa on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time

Frankie

All photographs copyright Frankie Cameron Writes.