Kruger National Park - Day One-Oliphant Camp

Our first elephant sighting
At roughly 7500 square miles (220 miles long and 40 miles wide), this is an immense area to explore.  With 7 days and 6 nights scheduled within the park, we intended to give it our best shot.  Prior to making reservations in the park, we researched which animals are seen in different areas.  Selecting different camps, starting at the middle of the park (due to time constraints) we felt would provide the best exposure to the widest variety of species.

Having booked our first night in Oliphant Camp, we had a 3-hour plus drive from the entrance.  That timing was based on driving directly at the speed limit (50 km/hr-31 mph) and not stopping to enjoy the animals along the route or meandering on the gravel roads or stopping at the viewing areas.  By booking through the South African National Park website, we were able to secure reasonable accommodations throughout the park.  With 37 camps, ranging from basic with minimal services to luxury resorts, most folks can find something within their budget.  We opted for 5 different camps, which, in all cases but one, offered a basic kitchen with a hot plate, refrigerator and essential cookware and utensils.  Bungalows in this range were around $90 a night. Oliphant Camp offered only a refrigerator, but there was a restaurant and a communal kitchen on site.  Rooms in the luxury resorts start at around $400 p/p per night, but that's not our travel style (or budget). 
Cape Buffalo

Impala by moonlight
Greeted near the Phalaborwa gate by a small herd of impala, the discoveries continued to unfold as we moved toward camp.  Soon after spotting some elephant dung in the road, we saw our first elephant within 50 feet of our vehicle, followed shortly by another elephant and a wart hog.  Taking a side trip down a dirt road we were surprised by a small herd of elephants crossing the road less than 75 feet in front of our car.  By the time we reached Oliphant, we had seen several clusters of giraffe, waterbucks, zebras, herds of blue wildebeest, and a small group of Cape buffalo, in addition to many more elephants and herds of impala.

Having scheduled 5 park ranger led tours during our stay, we had our first sunset tour with a guide named Wonderful.  By leaving at 4:30 P.M., the 3-hour trip is half daylight hours with the second half at night when the nocturnal creatures appear.  Over the next few hours, we saw not only a fabulous sunset, but baboons, crocodile, a cackle of hyena, a spotted genet, and our first lion.  Seeing the big cat at night and moving, photography was a challenge, and National Geographic will not be buying any of our photos, but it was our first lion and we were thrilled!
Mom and baby crossing the road
Giraffe hanging out by the river

Our single room bungalow at Oliphant
Striped skink with neon tail
Our lion sighting
Spotted hyena
Yellow-billed Hornbill
Zebra with Blue Wildebeest blocking the road
Spotted genet

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