Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is roughly the size of Belgium. It is home to, amongst other animals, roughly 1.5 million impalas, 27,000 buffalo, 18,000 zebras, 12,000 elephants, 9,000 rhinos, 3,000 hippos, 3,000 lions, 2,000 hyenas, and 2,000 leopards. It became South Africa’s first National Park in 1926 and is named after Paul Kruger, the president of the Transvaal Republic that first designated the area as a wildlife park.

It is also a 6 hour drive North from Johannesburg.

As the first portion of our adventure here in South Africa, the drive to Kruger represented a daunting first hurdle. On the morning of January 10, ~35 bleary-eyed, jet-lagged Columbia MBAs boarded two cramped shuttle busses (fully equipped with rather precarious luggage trolleys) and headed North to the province of Mpumalanga.

Kruger did not disappoint.

In fact, it exceeded all expectations. We saw an unbelievable amount of game. Including the “Big 5”: hippos, lions, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos (author’s note: I am admittedly bitter that I rode in the safari vehicle that did not come across a rhino). Highlights included several sightings of leopards, giraffes, and the king of the jungle (and mascot of Columbia). One male lion even serenaded us:

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The trip was off to a magnificent start, so it was hard to imagine that Johannesburg could possibly compete with the awe-inspiring Kruger. But, Joburg has risen to the challenge. Tune in later in the week for my Joburg update (or follow me on Twitter, @samwollner, for real-time updates).

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