World Travel – Africa Adventure 2022 – Skukuza Camp Riverside Bungalow

Up to this point we’d traveled from Florida to Germany to Cape Town and now finally – we were heading into Kruger National Park for the rest of this epic adventure. We boarded our in-country flight with AirLink and the things that stood out to me the most were that we could travel with our wine in our carry ons!!! Heck one guy ONLY had large bottles of wine as his carry on – so next time I won’t hesitate to purchase even more from the local wineries. The plane was also very small so this was the leg of the trip that was most important to have a small carry-on bag that would fit in a very small overhead on a plane that only seats 3 people across total. It was a short and sweet flight with the most incredible landing…

Landing in Skukuza was WILD!! I am notorious for taking time lapse or slow mo videos while landing in airplanes and naturally I was filming a time lapse as we started to get closer and closer to the runway. As I’m watching closely out the window and merely holding my phone in that direction, all of a sudden everyone on our side of the plane just erupts with excitement and cheers – right before our eyes… GIRAFFES blending in with some of the tallest trees. We literally got to see our first wild animal sighting as we were landing!!! Also this is now one of my favorite airports in the world – Skukuza Airport in Kruger National Park – just beautiful!

Timelapse video landing in Skukuza

After gathering our luggage and rental cars we headed to our first of several camps. The first stop was the Skukuza Rest Camp where we booked the Luxury Riverside Bungalows.  This was one of my personal favorite camps.  Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger National Park features a variety of accommodation options such as camp sites, furnished safari tents, luxury bungalows, cottages and 4 guesthouses along with 2 restaurants – the Cattle Baron Skukuza and the Kruger Station.  Plus they have a Camp Store with everything you need, an ATM, 2 swimming pools, internet, library, fuel station and much more! 

Minutes after we checked into our rooms we were frantically called outside to see a mom, dad, and baby elephants forging in the tall grass right outside of the fence along the Sabie river.  It was a glorious sighting and one that would kick off the most incredible 24 hours in Kruger – you guys – we saw the BIG FIVE within the first 24 hours of our stay here!!  Which makes perfect sense because Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger National Park is situated in the heart of the Big Five territory.  

We had arrived mid-day and were running on a good nights sleep from Cape Town so we decided to head out on our own little safari to use our time wisely before dinner and our first Night Tour. Essentially the moment you leave the front gate you see animals everywhere – Impala, Baboons, Elephants, Zebra, and more Giraffe – only way closer than we did on the plane. But obviously our group was there to spot the cats… and spot the cats we did! Our first drive around the area led to one of my proudest moments – I WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO SPOT A LION!!! We were just driving along and saw some elephants near a watering area, down in a valley and pulled over to watch. I happened to be on the right side of the car at the right time because before I knew it – this gorgeous man just walked right into view and I screamed LION!!! He was there watching and stalking some of the baby elephants until mom decided enough was enough and charged at him until he sulked away into the trees just as dusk was approaching.

Photos below taken with my Canon 80D and 60D.

We drove back to camp and enjoyed one of the best meals of the trip at the Cattle Baron Skukuza then proceeded to our Night Drive Tour.  Its illegal for tourists to be outside of the camp gates before sunrise or after sunset so the only way to see the animals at night is to book safari tours with authorized camps or companies.  I learned very quickly that my camera equipment wasn’t cut out for nighttime photography on a moving truck so I pretty much gave up and just used my iPhone and mostly took videos and tried to enjoy every second of the excitement.

What an experience – The moment we left the front gate we were instantly following hyenas who ultimately led us to male and female lions on the hunt.  This is also where we saw our very first pair of African buffalo, or Cape buffalo (part of the Big 5).  So up until this point we had already seen elephants, buffalo, lions and were on the look-out for rhino and leopards…. It started to get very cold and very late and the jet lag was kicking in on this late night drive and just as I thought I could hardly stay awake any longer – BOOM we spot two momma rhinos with two babies!!! They spooked quickly and ran almost immediately but I managed to get a blurry photo that I kind of love and a short video clip – my heart melted but sadly this was our only sighting of them for the trip.  They are critically endangered and it was extremely eye opening that we only saw them this one time in our 10 days in The Kruger National Park

It was hard to sleep that night after all the excitement but we knew we had a long day of moving camps and searching for Big Five number 5… and it didn’t disappoint! I’ll save that for our next post!

WILD CARD – I highly recommend that you purchase your Wild Card before going to South Africa. What is a Wild Card? Your Wild Card is the best way to explore South Africa’s wild spaces, as you’ll get 365 days of unlimited access to the parks and reserves in the cluster of your choice. As a member you don’t pay daily conservation fees – instead you pay an annual fee. They did ask to see it at the airport upon arrival and many of the tours we took at each camp.

Did you miss any of the previous posts?

Read our full trip Itinerary here!

Read Day One – Germany here!

Read Day Two – Cape Town here!

Read Day Three – Wine Tour here!

Read Day Four – Penguins & Whales here!

*** All photos taken on iPhone 12 Pro Max, Canon 80D, 60D or Insta360***

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