One word for Kruger National Park…GO.

Scroll to the bottom for all the good animal shots!

We left the Kalahari and began making our way towards Johannesburg. We stopped for the evening in a small town called Vanzylsrus. We pulled up to the Vanzylsrus Hotel, and after reading that reception was closed (outside of cities, hotels tended to close early on Sundays), we looked in and around the corner, and to our luck, we found the proprietor who set us up with a room that included dinner and breakfast. The hotel was really unique and quirky – almost hippie-ish and super artsy. The name, and theme of our room, was “Cunning Critters.” The owners were there and shared a wealth of information – especially on places to avoid stopping on our way through to Johannesburg as they preyed on tourists.

From there, we headed to Johannesburg and met Luan from SA 4×4 to get a new air filter put in and a spare in case it happened again. We then started heading towards Kruger! Unfortunately, we got off to a slow start as there was a bad accident that made the 6 lane highway essentially shut down. We made it to Sabie River Camp late that night, a little more than an hour from Kruger. We woke up the next morning and made our way to Kruger via the Panoramic Route and Blyde River Canyon. The views were absolutely stunning.

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Blyde River Canyon

We finally made it to Kruger – and it didn’t disappoint. We initially planned for two nights, but decided after we got in to stay 4 nights in various areas of the park. We finally saw the elephants we so desperately wanted to see – they would just come out of the bush where you were least expecting them too! We also saw many giraffe, zebras and impala. It was a magical place – we could sit for hours just watching the animals.

Keep scrolling down for the bulk of the animal photos!

We had another issue with the Defender… the rear door wouldn’t open. We tried everything, but because all the tools were in the drawer accessible only from the rear, we weren’t able to open it at all…which also meant the food we had bought we couldn’t get to either! We called Luan back and he said there was a shop in the park somewhere. We head there on day 2 and spend the entire morning and a good part of the afternoon there as they literally unhinged the door from the truck – and even then the latch was still jammed. Unfortunately they couldn’t fix it, but we were able to get the necessities out of the drawer. Because they “didn’t win,” they didn’t charge us for working on it. We did, however, tip them and make them sandwiches for lunch!

The animals at Kruger were really something special…vehicles didn’t really phase them a whole lot. It was a great way to end our journey through Africa!

We finished up at Kruger and stopped on our way back to Johannesburg at a Lodge we found in the GPS. As we were driving up.. we decided on a max we were willing to spend – as it looked like it was going to be pricey. Turns out, it was less than half of what we were expecting it to be! Staying at the Kloppenheim Estate, including dinner, drinks, breakfast and a little laundry, cost the two of us a total of $140. Based on the buildings, activities offered and gated entry way, we were expected it to be closer to $400. It was a beautiful place to relax and clean up before we started our 30+ hour trip back to the US.

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Last day in Africa with the Defender. Chris Bennett Photo

So that’s all for Africa… and unfortunately wraps up my 11 or so months of travel around the world.