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«Slingshot to Kruger»

A special multi-part story of the 2013, 5000 km road trip from Cape Town to the Kruger National Park in northern South Africa, right up against the border with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. 

The Promise of Many Miles and Much Dust

Once again, with the help of many, we will soon hit the road and eat some dust. A 5,000 kilometer round-trip at the wheel of the good old Toyota Landcruiser V8 Turbo Diesel will take us from Cape Town to the Kruger National Park, and back. The Kruger is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier […]

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Pixel

We are back from the Kruger, recovering from a fantastic 5,000 km road trip through South Africa and enjoying Cape Town’s funky winter weather. I now have to sort through close to 3,000 photos and eliminate the many bad and ugly ones, and deliver the goods – the few keepers that will fuel our memories […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 1 – Snow in the Karoo

I am writing this from New York City, the Big Apple, eight million souls, fifty million visitors a year, four hundred and sixty-eight subway stations, thirteen thousand yellow cabs, on a hot and humid summer day with a thirty-seven degrees Celsius signature (98°F). My head is still spinning from the trip, daydreams powerfully controlling reality, dampening the heat, distilling […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 2 – Mpumalanga Worries

Up early on our second day, we had breakfast in the hotel lounge and I was granted an eyebrow lift when I asked a waitress if she could kindly fill our coffee flask for the road. I guess Bloemfontein, third capital of South Africa, gets more business travelers than off-the-beaten-track explorers – the latter, it […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 3 – Through the Orpen Gate

In a rare breach of morning protocol, the Landcruiser was packed and the premises vacated even before breakfast the next day. The keys dropped off, we asked for advice on the best place to purchase some kind of coffee-making apparatus, and drove down the main street two full stop signs and a bit. To our […]

Slingshot to Kruger – The Map

Due to popular request, I have created a map of the Kruger trip. You can zoom in using the navigation buttons top-left, and dragging with the mouse will move you around. Or even better, click here to open the map in a new browser tab, full page, and then use the mouse wheel to zoom […]

Slingshot to Kruger – Interlude

(Brought to you with the help of Google Translate) “- Yeah, and good old Muddy’s entire family was culled last week after he got carried away and led them through a fence into a tented camp. Best bushes and leaves ever, y’know? Never touched, all organic and first growth. Any way, he’d miscalculated his appetite […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 4 – The Wild Song of the Olifants River

Up before dawn, I glanced at Marie. A single strand of red hair emerged from underneath her sheets and she looked fast asleep, having had a difficult night. I decided to let her rest and got dressed silently for a solo drive. I could hear the camp slowly coming to life around me, although only […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 5 – Interview with the Hyena

Wintertime mornings are chilly in the Kruger Park, and when up before dawn, a sweater or fleece are welcome. Shivering a bit in the dark rondavel, I dressed up enough to feel cozy and brewed coffee on the outside hot-plate while birds added their solos to the river tune. Our next camp, Balule, was only […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 6 – Predominant Mopane Syndrome

In the morning, the hyenas were gone and I wondered if I had dreamt their presence. Departing from Balule, we concluded that the life of a camp keeper can be rough and left the grumpy guard a tip. He lit up like a child, receiving the gift with both hands the customary way. It would […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 7 – In Lion Country

Olifants was revisited with intimate pleasure. Our new rondavel had an even better view than the previous. Hippos were on station down below, loud and comical. Birds and mongooses were also on cue. We managed to change our following booking from Letaba to Satara where we would now stay three days. Then we drove around, […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 8 – The Hunters and the Hunted

While Satara lacked the soft song of a river and the hippo grunts that had faded away to the north, evenings in camp were quite enjoyable. Our rondavel circle was visited by a wide variety of exotic birds in late afternoon and when the night closed in, we sat in our camping chairs and watched […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 9 – False Alarm on the Exit Road to Skukuza

Author’s note: I wrote this post over the course of a week and pretty much let my fingers and distraction do the writing without really focusing on a goal. When I began editing, however, I realized I had drifted completely off course in a sort of self-indulging monologue. I considered pruning the story heavily but […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 10 – The Man Who Loved Milk

Up early in Skukuza, we packed up the Landcruiser and brewed coffee for the road, wondering whether we should go for one last morning drive, but there would have been no way to justify a breakdown anywhere else than on the road home. Our last animal sighting was a family of warthogs hanging out by […]

Slingshot to Kruger, Part 11 – Lion Roar on a Quiet Karoo Evening

Leaving the milk farm behind, we joined N1 and steered due south. Driving through Bloemfontein in daytime again, we did not see much more than we had before. Eventually, dry agricultural lands turned into plain dryness and the northern boundary of the Karoo was crossed at the Orange River. Marie and I took turns driving […]