Kruger Park: the fight to the death between men and lions

For: Javier Brandoli (text and photos)
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They say in South Africa, in a sarcastic joke, that the best border policemen in the country are the lions of Kruger Park. Morning, park rangers are, sometimes, sports shoes or a jacket of an immigrant, you tried to jump the fence only to dream of forgetting hunger in southern Africa.

Illegal immigrants crossing the National Park, the border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe, under the darkness. Little do they know is going through a wilderness, filled with thousands of animals that have little understanding of roles and a lot of hunger. After the lions, , a whole liturgy of scavengers nibbling bodies to leave no trace of the deceased.

The Kruger Park has an area similar to the whole of Belgium. Its almost 19.000 square miles become a surprising explosion of animal life: elephants and giraffes crossing in front of cars with a slow walk and a shrug of indifference; herds of wildebeest across the savannah in a messy and endless row; a group of lions sleeping peacefully, hardly be seen, behind some bushes, dozens of vultures rest and hope among the branches of a dead tree ... The list is endless. As much as one chooses to spend time in the park and nature dictate your chances. My advice is to not lose a place that is as we have all dreamed of Africa when we were kids and not so young. "For me Africa, cuando era niña, was a zebra ", explains a Bosnian during a dinner with two young black South Africans who are dying of laughter at the occurrence. "For me too", I explained. They are somewhat disappointed.

Bushmen, slaves and early explorers

Of course, this beautiful Natural Park has a history that is fascinating for its landscapes eclipasada. We found human remains dating back to 1,5 million years. C. These lands were set Bushmen (Bushmen). Then, the arrival of the Nguni had these pulled out of these fertile lands and return, mostly, to what is now Botswana.

In 800, the appearance of the Arabs in the area, coast of Mozambique, causes the beginning of the slave trade in the area. In the park you can find the remains of a civilization, in northern, in Limpopo, who raised a large settlement of stone over a thousand years ago. Stone is known as Thulamela. Traded gold and ivory. They are the forerunners of the Great Zimbabwe, the first great empire in South Africa.

The arrival of the first Europeans to park occurs in 1725. 73 years after the Company Dutch East India was installed in South Africa, the first European, Dutch Francois de Cuiper, explores these lands

The arrival of the first Europeans to park occurs in 1725. 73 years after the Company Dutch East India was installed in South Africa, the first European, Dutch Francois de Cuiper, explores these lands. And 1838, in the throes of the Great Journey, in which the Dutch colonists decided to leave Cape Town to find their promised land, the expedition traverse these lands. But, the first European to settle here, in 1845, fue el Italian Giovanni Albasini, son of a Spanish, that 18 years, built a house and opened a store near what is now Pretoriuskop. His tomb, which is a national monument, you can visit near the dam Albasini, in Limpopo. (The history of this polyglot traveler is frankly curious).

National Park

And 1873, the area is plagued by the same storm that shakes all of South Africa: discover gold. But, Lions, crocodiles, cheetahs and some diseases (malaria) rid the park of an epidemic of wealth and power that did blow up the fragile unity between Boers and British. (Anglo-Boer Wars are one of the bloodiest events in history occurred. During these clashes, eg, the British invented the concentration camps, so popular years after World War II). Yes, natural threat resulted in the hunt for thousands of animals were killed. You can not give an exact figure, but the lion population declined dramatically during those years. And gold is spent in the business of hunting. The park becomes a stop to the hunters who come from around the world and which also shelter fugitives from justice. La caza y algunas enfermedades dejan el coto casi vacío de vida salvaje y es el legendario cazador Stevenson-Hamilton el que comienza una batalla de conservación que termina en 1926 with creating the first National Park in South Africa, Administration baptized by Paul Kruger in English as a gesture of reconciliation with the Boers.

Two finishing touches. The first: after the park opened to tourists stopped killing lions, administrators stunned after finding that the public preferred to watch the cats that the thousands of antelope that raced across the savannah.

Second: A small profile of Paul Kruger. The bearded man with the hat has been named the reserve is one of the icons of the Afrikaner. Uncle Paul, as they call their compatriots, killed his first lion to 14 years (That same year he lost his left thumb to kill a rhino with a rifle). With 17, the future leader of the fundamentalist religious and Boers, faces a group of Zulu to those put to flight and had entered the family farm. Dominique Lapierre, in his brilliant book on the history of South Africa, "A rainbow in the night", describes the end of the man who humiliated British troops in fratricidal struggle to control the country: After not receiving the support of European countries in their fight against Britain, “Kruger, wounded, takes refuge in Switzerland, where, die without ever seeing the green hills of his beloved Transvaal (Boer Republic). But his compatriots entered his name forever in the promised land. Defined on the northeast, a territory almost as large as the whole of Belgium, which meet all specimens of African wildlife. In this republic Nature, unique in the world, will give the name of who killed his first lion to 14 years. Kruger National Park will be called ".

the way

The agency organizes the best Intrepid Bundu Safari Park. The price per person, to stay three to five nights, is between 400 and 700 EUR. There are many deals between agencies, so should ask several and hope for the best price. It is cheaper to purchase travel in South Africa to do with a Spanish agency.

a nap

Thornhill Prívate Lodge: a semi luxury hotel located in the middle of the jungle, in the heart of a private reserve. It has a pool, bar and restaurant. The menu is fixed at noon and allows a small buffet at night. Dinner, front of a campfire and the fun end of dances and songs of the hotel staff (do it for fun and without asking a single rand), is hot and fun. I suggest applying the most modern rooms, with a huge bath and glass, overlooking the jungle. In the morning, when you go to the Safari at five in the morning, a few 100 meters of your room, the headlights are awakening to zebras and giraffes that stand awkwardly in the eyes of the traveler still closed. Unforgettable moment.

But the offer is as varied as the quality and prices.

a table set

(We have no special recommendation in this regard. The food is made on site or at a restaurant the park itself. Not emphasized nor for their quality or lack of it by)

highly recommended

-Read the books a "Rainbow in the Night", Dominique Lapierra; "Brief History of South Africa", R. In. Johnson and "Tramp in Africa", Javier Reverte. The first two are very complete and explain in detail the turbulent history of this country. The Professor Johnson's teaching is particularly. (The same recommendation we made in the article on Robben Island).

-Spend one day in private reserves. All tours offer this option more expensive, for viewing, cases in the paper, certain animals more elusive, as cheetahs and lions. The cars come with guides through the jungle to offer the visitor a view of the coveted piece. But, in the opinion of this traveler, the vastness of Kruger and his constant surprises, make the private reserve is an option only for a day that was just drinking a wine by the car and listening to the sounds of the jungle.

– In the Kruger Parquer can enter private vehicle. Los caminos de tierra y asfalto están en buen estado, but around the park with a guide to help understand the wildlife.

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Comments (2)

  • ernesto


    Very nice story, but you do not know what is really “be in an area full of wild animals” and survive the struggle between men and lions. We miss you. Greetings, everything is OK, and is well.


  • Xavier


    Thanks, but the lions here is nothing compared to what is in Madrid. Everything is OK. Vez and the Afrikaner, I have started with the Khosa, speaking to him when I get in the minibus and I have to face what the fuck are saying.
    A big hug


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