Madhu Kumar shares with us what was for her the experience of a lifetime …
The iconic and legendary Kruger National Park in South Africa is home to some of the most spectacular and magnificent wild life in the world. Of special interest are the Big Five: The elephant, the lion, the rhino, the leopard and the buffalo. My late father was a wild life enthusiast and an avid photographer of flora and fauna. He was, in addition, a raconteur par excellence whose engaging anecdotes centring around his vast experiences in the wilderness and in the jungles could effortlessly capture the undivided attention of his listeners for hours on end!
A few years ago, I had the good fortune of visiting Kruger and experiencing first-hand the richness of the wild life that abounds there. From my first sight of a regal lioness as she reclined redolently on a small hillock, to the majestic spectacle of a band of lions and lionesses sprawled in sleepy abandon in the vast grassy space by the side of the rough track, to the magnificent vision of a massive African elephant that fixed us with a gimlet stare while flapping his ears in warning, to the sudden appearance of two bucks with their horns locked in a vicious show of aggression - my visit was replete with exceptional moments that transmuted into extraordinary and precious memories.
During our amazing stay at Kruger National Park, my thoughts flew very often to my father. How he would have enjoyed each moment in the lap of nature with a wide variety of wildlife within shouting distance of our camp! How we would have spent hours exchanging notes and discussing the various sights witnessed during our forays into the wilderness!
Long will I remember our pre-dawn rides along the roads of the park, often branching off onto trails that were breathtakingly rough and uneven. Long will I remember how we would watch with rapt attention as the silver moon reluctantly set and the sun rose in a blaze of pink and gold. Long will I remember the utter silence that would descend on us as we watched - literally holding our breaths in awe and not a wee bit of apprehension - a gargantuan elephant shake its mighty head at us or a lion toss us a lazy glance. It would be no exaggeration to say that this was undoubtedly the experience of a lifetime...
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