Makalai Private Reserve – Kruger National Park

On Sunday we flew from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, and Monday drove to a private game reserve outside of Kruger. We’d been advised to stay at a private reserve for at least a couple of days, where the guides would teach us how to spot animals and also provide information about them. We’re so thankful we listened to this advice!

The reserve we stayed at was amazing; we never wanted to leave. We had a morning and an evening game drive each day, and our camp was in the middle of the reserve so animals were free to come and go. At night we were not allowed to walk unescorted in the camp. We saw so many animals, including four of the big five (lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo). We also saw a cheetah with three babies, eating an impala (these pictures are quite graphic). Alicen felt so uncomfortable sitting there so close and watching the cheetahs eat; she literally felt ill afterward. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We learned from our guide that there are extreme poaching problems for all animals in the Kruger area, but it is a large problem for rhinos. It is so sad as these animals are killed only for their horns. We were told that the poachers are very sophisticated and after locating a rhino they’re able to descend in a helicopter and shoot it, cut off the horn, and fly away undetected all within five minutes. Apparently the rangers at Kruger, in an attempt to save the rhinos and deter the poaching, tried removing the horns from the rhinos. But the poachers still kill these rhinos so that they do not have to bother themselves with tracking rhinos with no horns. It is so sad. We were thankful that we got to see three rhinos here; they may be extinct soon.

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