Spotting Kruger's Big Game

Watching game in the bush is very different from watching it on the Discovery Channel with its nonstop action. The former demands energy, concentration, patience, and luck, and with these you'll probably see wonderful game at Kruger, including the Big Five. The easy option is to visit a private game reserve, where knowledgeable rangers take you out in open vehicles or on foot and find game for you. You might spend two or three nights at a private reserve and then rent a vehicle and strike out on your own into Kruger's unknown territory. There's nothing quite like the thrill of finding your "own" elephant or identifying that psychedelic turquoise-and-lilac bird for yourself. Bring a couple of good field guides, available at bookstores and Kruger camp shops.

Drive slowly, stop at water holes, and keep your eyes and ears open. Talk to other visitors, and read the "game sightings" notice board and visitor's book at each camp. If other vehicles are stopped on the road, be courteous. Don't drive in front or beside them and block their view, but edge along and find out what's being looked at. Don't forget to absorb the total bush experience—big and little creatures, trees, plants, sounds, colors, shapes, and smells. Look for the Little Five: the elephant shrew, lion ant, leopard tortoise, buffalo weaverbird, and rhinoceros beetle. You'll sometimes find these in camp along with hundreds of birds that are habituated to visitors, good for up-close pictures. If you’re a birder, it’s a good idea to spend a morning or afternoon in camp when most visitors are out on a drive. You’ll get great sightings.

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