We live very near one of the most famous areas for wildlife viewing in Africa, nay the world, Kruger National Park. It’s huge – the size of Wales or Israel – and there are loads of animals that could eat you or tear you to shreds. Spending time watching these animals is Sam and my idea of a good time. And we want to expose our son to as much of the wild as we can because what could be cooler for a kid (or anyone) than seeing animals most people only get see in the zoo or on TV in their natural habitat. Noggs has been to Kruger four times and he is under two years old. The first time he was only nine months old. We went again this weekend, just for one night of camping at Satara Rest Camp.
It’s easy to forget just how spoilt we are. I asked Noggs what animal he wanted to see most in Kruger and he said “baby giraffes”. I replied, “Hopefully we will see baby giraffes this weekend but if not, we will see them when get home.” How superbly lucky that this is our reality. Noggs watched a huge elephant for awhile when it blocked the road. He knew exactly what it was. He knows the names of all the animals. Many of the African animals are part of his everyday life. He sees them at home and at school since both places are situated on wildlife reserves. He doesn’t realise yet how special this is and that people fly across the world to see these animals in the wild on once in a lifetime trips. I love that he lives in a reality where seeing incredible megafauna is completely normal.
We set up our tent for the night. And Noggs loved camping because he got to break all the rules – he stayed up late and played on his bike outside in the dark. He ate lots of steak cooked on the braai and springbok droewors (meat sticks). Then he said “I want more meat”. He loves eating meat so much that we think he might be part Afrikaans.
A tourist in the restaurant at Satara asked me what it was like bringing such a small child on safari. She was concerned Noggs would get bored with all the driving in the car. I told her how great Noggs does in Kruger but admitted that yes he does get bored in the car. For example, we had an amazing viewing of lions. At first, all we saw was a tuft of lion mane in the grass.
Then the male got up and greeted the female lovingly. Awww.
Then he proceeded to bang her while biting her neck. Less awww and more awesome.
Noggs was not particularly interested. He had reached his car time threshold by that point in the game drive. When we got back to camp, he found a dirty bottle cap and a cigarette butt on the ground. These fascinated him way more than the lions did. And these items scared us, as parents, way more than the lions did too. “Noggs, put those down now! They are dirty! No, don’t even think about putting that in your mouth!”
But even though Noggs can get a bit bored in the car, Kruger is enjoyable for the smallest humans with a bit of planning – short drives, toys to play with, books, and snacks.
Oh and Noggs got his wish and he saw baby giraffes in Kruger.