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10 July, 2012

Kruger Park : Planning a Camping Trip

Nothing gets you closer to nature than pitching a tent under an Acacia tree. Listening to night fall and the awakening of the nocturnal animals makes you realize you are but a small piece of the creation. This is food for the soul.

It’s no surprise then, that many people actively search for an excuse to get to the bush. I often hear comments like “The Kruger isn’t bush anymore” and “There’s too much luxury at the Kruger Park to be a true bush experience”. While both statements might be true, I’m a firm believer that experiences are clouded by perspective.

If your normal day consists of sitting behind a desk in a posh office, relaxing on the deck of a guesthouse or cottage in the Kruger will feel like roughing it – simply because it’s different. For me, regardless of where I stay, as long as I can hear and see the African bush, I’m happy. I’ve learned that you can enjoy a holiday staying in the luxury chalet of a wildlife reserve just as much as camping in a tent. It’s all a matter of expectations.

While we’re talking about expectations, people who know me, know that I can rough it with the best of them. As long as I have something to protect me against the rain and a couple of steaks to barbeque, I’ll camp anywhere. But, you knew there was a “but” in there, didn’t you. I’ve never had to carter my camping gear to the destination without a vehicle that had a boot. Boot as in something covered. Like a trailer or caravan or simply just my LC105 EFI’s luggage compartment. (Those who don’t speak Land Cruiser language, a 105 EFI stands for Land Cruiser Station Wagon, Model 105 4500 EFI ) 

No ma’am, we are going camping at the end of the month with a LC 79 Pick Up. Like in one with cattle rails and absolutely NO luggage compartment. And no canvas cover either, because it takes too long to manufacture and we don’t have time to leave the vehicle there. So, for the first time in decades (I refuse to say how many as I will reveal my age) I have to give serious consideration about how I’m going to get my gear to my destination – preferably intact.

Still not seeing the problem? Yes, I can hear you men out there grumble. Hubby also don’t understand it. According to him I’ve never had more space to load the camping gear. Let me explain the dilemma I’m faced with:

1. We live in approximately 500 km away from the Kruger Park, which means somewhere along the road you have to allow for a bathroom stop. With the gear stowed on an open pick up, someone will have to remain with the vehicle at all times – that rules out a nice Wimpy breakfast along the way.We live in South Africa after all.

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2. As we are traveling eastwards, although it is winter, chances of rain can’t be ruled out. So anything that needs to be kept dry, must be placed in waterproof containers.That’s not so bad, is it? Mmm, considering we’re camping that includes bedding, food, cameras, laptops (you didn’t think I would leave it at home, did you?) tents (not a major issue, but try to pitch a wet canvas tent and tell me again it’s not that bad), freezer, etc. Some of these items will need BIG containers if you have to stow it away. Now we do have canvas bags to cover some of the items, so this might turn out not to be such a big deal. .


3. Then, my biggest issue. What do we do once we are inside the park? If you’re anything like me, you wait at the gate in the morning for it to open. Last night’s barbequed meat and toasted sandwiches are your food for the morning until you can stop at a picnic spot to prepare brunch. So, how do I keep the baboons and monkeys from stealing my food off the load bin? I’ve seen baboons at Balule run away with an entire cooler and scale the electric fence without missing a beat. A cooler on the back of an open vehicle will pose no problem to them.


So now I’m spending the next couple of weeks to figure out how to keep all hands off my equipment while I traverse through the Kruger Park. Once I’ve sorted the problem, I’ll update you on how I managed.