Kruger has a sub-tropical climate and temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius or warmer most days, but it’s not only the weather that makes this South African national park such a hot spot to visit. Kruger is almost 2 million hectares in size and as Intrepid’s Sue Elliot discovered, it’s where you can enjoy some of the most extraordinary wildlife viewing on our planet…
“Setting off on our first game drive in Kruger National Park the adrenalin is pumping. Sure the morning air is brisk, but with the thrill of being out on safari we barely notice. And if yesterday’s savannah weather is anything to go by, we should be enjoying the cool air while we can. The golden light is starting to bring the grassy plains into focus and we can see the well-trained eye of our Kruger guide keeping watch. “Look there!”
The most memorable moment of any African safari is spotting that first wild animal. We’ve seen them in zoos or on the Discovery Channel, but as Simone Bunnett discovered, to see them in real life is worth waiting for…
“Chobe National Park in Botswana is the most incredible national park that I have visited on our planet. It was my first park in Africa where we were camping and instead of unpacking my tent when we arrived, I walked up to the water hole right next to where we were going to set up camp. It was literally a 5 minute walk and I could not believe my eyes, my mouth dropped to the ground I am sure.
You can’t get a much more heart-thumping moment than coming face to face with a magnificent mountain gorilla. Alessandra McLachlan’s adrenalin was racing during her memorable encounter in Rwanda…
“While our group was watching the antics of young gorillas, I noticed one of our guides beckon me to follow him. The guide and I came to a clearing where an alpha male gorilla was laying on his stomach and holding up his head with his left hand. He was peaceful and almost seemed bored. I am not sure why I did this, but I dropped to my knees and both the gorilla and I looked deeply into each others eyes.
Sadly the local hero of the Galapagos Islands, known fondly as ‘Lonesome George’, was found dead on Sunday, 24 June, 2012. George was a Galapagos tortoise and tragically it seems likely that his death marks the end of the Pinta Island subspecies.
It was hoped that he had many good breeding years in him yet, as he was thought to be a sprightly 100 and they often live close to 200 years, but there’s been no romance for George in a long time and attempts to produce George Juniors or little Georginas have all failed. George lived at the Charles Darwin Research Station, where he had become a symbol for the Galapagos Islands and pin-up boy for endangered species.
Always wondered it’s really like in Antarctica? It’s wild and windswept, but far from being a wasteland. It is a destination for the most intrepid of souls and Vicky Marin rates it as one of her most amazing adventures…
“Antarctica to me was always a dream destination and I finally had a chance to see the dream up close and personal. One of my favourite memories was when we visited a rookery of Gentoo penguins. This particular breed of penguin is quite sociable. One curious bird approached me and nibbled at my boots and pants. I smiled and snapped a few close-ups of my new friend.
Even if you’re not competitive by nature, when you are egged on by a cheeky sea lion in the Galapagos Islands Summer Davis discovers that you have no choice but to take up the challenge and be thankful that you’ve put in the hard yards in the pool…
“Swirling under a cyclone of bubbles, a spirited sea lion stares sweetly into your snorkel mask, its puppy dog eyes pleading to play with you. Almost twice your size, you freeze with fear, then realise this hefty mammal means no harm as it dives down in circles below you. Let the games begin!
In late January, when the 19th Egyptian Marathon took place in Luxor, one special entrant caused some surprise and consternation. In fact the policeman at the car park said that young Felix wasn’t allowed.
After much negotiation by Felix’s companion, Kim, he was able to proceed and win hearts along the way. You see Felix is an orphan and resident of Animal Care in Egypt (ACE). That’s right, Felix is a donkey!
Meeting the proud Maasai people and learning more about their traditional village life in Kenya was all part of the amazing Africa experience for Intrepid’s Dyan Mckie…
“I can understand why most travellers are inspired to visit Africa to see the unbelievable animals. I too was extremely excited to see white and black rhinos, giraffes running across the road and a Masai Mara lion, who decided to check us out from only two feet away. Plus I will never forget the cheetah who stalked a gazelle, but made a last-minute decision to leave it alone only yards from our 4WD! The animals are primarily why people go to Africa, but with some surprise, my Africa journey was more about the people.
In 1835 Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Islands as a “living laboratory”. Fortunately centuries later the islands are still a haven for unique flora and fauna, but there is a growing threat – tourism. In an effort to protect the native animals, new cruising restrictions will come into effect in 2012, but more can be done to travel responsibly in the region.
Intrepid’s Active Galapagos is a great example, because you stay on the islands and support communities by dining in local restaurants, rather than just running up a tab on the boat. And as Sean Kennaway discovered, your wildlife encounters will still be amazing…