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The Self-Drive Safari
 
A day out here, including everything, costs less than a single ticket to The Lion King on Broadway and look at what you get: zebras playing, snakes staring, impalas running, baboons on piggyback and, wait for it, leopard in a tree.
You can also pay extra for a bush-walk but…walk?
Driving on the left side of the street is killing me. Can I ask you a question. Am I going to see these lions because…or do I just need to wait ‘cause I’m driving? You need to quite have good eyes to see the lions, right? You have to have a good eye because like now, the grass is too thick. And like, uh, it’s hard to spot them now.
Maybe that’s for the best but in Kruger you can’t help but spot tons of other animals like these on this daily sightings list: giraffes, jackals, wildebeests… Wait, that say bush-baby? Those are real? Speaking of things that are real…
Objects in your rear view mirror may be closer than they appear.
That’s me behind the wheel, by the way, driving in my 23 dollar a day Fiat; stick shift in one hand, camera in the other, guidebook in my lap. In South Africa you can get close to big game without a luxury budget if you don’t mind things being slightly rustic.
Brought my own food. I spent about 25 or 30 bucks on food. That should last for three days . You know, I got some fruit. I got some dried fruit. I got…I even bought some chicken salad for tonight. There’s actually a refrigerator here. I’ve got my rusks. Got to have the rusks. The South Africans say, got to have the rusks.
Six hour drive from Johannesburg, the biggest game park in South Africa, there’s all kinds of places to stay they’re all much, much cheaper than private game parks. Only thing is: you got to find the game yourself, which is actually pretty easy.
You know they give instructions that no, if we’re attacked by something, go behind the bush or… If we’re attacked by something, go behind the bush. That is the protection plan. That’s another protection plan. So you will face the animal. So you are protected. So he’s going ...he's gonna attack … The guide, not me Not you. Not going to attack you. When’s the last time a guide was killed by an animal? Uh, don’t remember… When did it happened? Uh………….., I don’t remember… Not that you remember? I don’t remember.
So the next morning, me and some other potential mauling victims hopped into a truck and drove out for that early morning bush walk. Ah, okay. Now we’re talking. I’m beginning to feel a little bit safer. Just remember guys, if a hippo charges, hide behind a bush. Simple as that.And if twenty lions charge? Find a really big bush.
Okay, two more tips to reduce costs on Kruger. Number one: you’re looking at it. Number two: get a car that’s fuel efficient…oh, uh, and lion proof.
Oh boy. Maybe I’ll back up. How’s backing up sound to you?
From Kruger National Park in South Africa, this is Seth Kugel your frugal traveler.
Source: nytimes

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