10/26/09: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Here’s why I don’t like Kruger National Park:
It’s too darn big. Depending on who we listened to, it’s either 2 million or 70 million hectares, whatever a hectare is. In words we were able to understand though, it’s bigger than England. When you combine this size with all the below factors, it becomes really difficult to enjoy a game drive.
The roads are paved. Sure, you can drive faster on paved roads and your butt doesn’t get quite the workout it does on dirt, but usually that’s not the goal of a game drive. For some reason, the sight of paved roads reminds me more of my neighborhood at home than a wild animal safari in Africa.
You can’t off-road. You couldn’t in the other public national parks either, but in those there were so many more roads to choose from. It didn’t feel nearly as restricting in the Serengeti as it did here in Kruger, where several times we saw furry animals in the distance but couldn’t figure out what they were.
There are too many trees. The Serengeti was filled with plains and sparse rock formations (e.g. Pride Rock), so it felt like you could see for miles. If you love plant life and birds that sit in trees, perhaps Kruger is the park for you.
Our guide was terrible. In the Masai Mara, our guide was very unknowledgeable as well, but he wanted to help us find animals. This one didn’t have a clue about the wildlife, and he had more fun racing our other truck over the paved roads than spotting animals. This isn’t any fault of the park itself, but it still made for a lackluster day.
Radio communication needs improved. Again, this one might have been our specific safari company (I apologize, but I can’t remember the name), but they only had radio communication between the two drivers (which wound up being largely used for smack talk). In the other game parks, we were able to pick up signals from more drivers and therefore see more animals.
There are too many cars. Kruger Park is open to everyone and their mothers, so you see lots of families driving through looking like they’re on their way to the grocery store. Seeing all the Honda Civics and Toyota Yarises with Garfield stuffed animals in the windows was quite a change from the usual safari jeeps.
Drivers stink. A byproduct of my previous complaint with the park, this is the worst problem of all. In case anyone in charge of the park is reading this, let me explain. When you allow any idiot who could barely pass their driver’s test into a park where animals have spent the last millennia trying not to get eaten by each other without worrying about people cruising 40 mph down newly paved roads, accidents are going to happen. In our one day there, we saw three dead animals on the side of the road, having been killed not by predators, but by bad drivers. I’m sure economically Kruger does well by allowing all cars into the park if they pay the entrance fee, but [morally] it just doesn’t make sense to me.
It’s too bad though, because two years ago, Kruger Park used to be an incredible experience.
Picture of the Day: This was the only wildlife that I saw the entire day. What a sight though!