Part 2: Rhino Post Camp

By Bert Duplessis

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It took almost 4 hours to transfer by road from Simbavati to Rhino Post, which is located in the southern portion of Kruger Park, not very far from Skukuza Camp, and bordering on the MalaMala concession.  En route to Kruger Park, I was surprised at the traffic congestion on the main road going through Acornhoek.

Having completed some entry formalities at the Paul Kruger gate of Kruger Park, we made a quick stop at the park shop for a newspaper and some candy, always a scarce commodity at a safari property.  We arrived at Rhino Post Camp just in time for afternoon tea – and I was pleasantly surprised with a special separate vegan platter.

At just after 4:00PM, we were off on an afternoon game drive, 6 persons in a comfortable vehicle, with somewhat limited visibility due to a roof cover.  The sides were completely  open though.  Rhino Post game drives cover terrain both inside and out of the concession, making use of the extensive Kruger Park network of roads.

We saw a fair number of general plains game and chanced upon a leopard but it was too far off the road for any useful photographs.

The evening meal was most enjoyable, with some convivial company, amongst others a family party from Colorado who more or less took me under their wing.  I enjoyed a vegetable soup and a superb couscous-based main course as well as an exceptionally tasty dessert, consisting of a banana filling in pastry, with a fruity sauce.

The rooms at Rhino Post are terrific with views to the outside from everywhere including the huge indoor bath and outdoor shower.  There is an inside shower as well.  The bed was comfortable, there is plenty of space to hang clothes and to unpack, the lighting was fairly good and there are ample plug points for recharging.  There was also a small mini-bar fridge with mostly soft drinks and a few beers.

I thought the main lounge was well-designed with a bar and lounge and large deck where tea is served, and a separate kitchen and dining room for breakfast and dinner.  The choice of wine was above average for a game lodge.

Our Rhino Post guide James was extremely knowledgeable and very competent and treated us to some rally interesting facts and background information, a lot of which was new to me too.  What impressed me most was James’ versatility:  he was just as good with birds as he was with mammals and other life forms.

Come to think of it, all of the staff members whom I interacted with were exceptionally friendly and helpful.  On my last morning there one of the members of the kitchen staff engaged me in a long conversation about my family, about living in the USA, and we touched on several other topics such as the various seasons in Kruger Park.  Summer is hot, winter is cold and the best time to go is from May to October. I agree.

November 2:  Elephant everywhere

The southern portion of Kruger Park had had unseasonably early – and heavy – rain so by early November the vegetation was thick which made game-viewing very challenging, to put it mildly.  As a result the morning game drive started our rather slowly.  An hour and a half or so into the game drive we saw a couple of elephants, semi-obscured in thick bush, quite far off the road.  Fortunately we stopped for a better look as a couple more appeared, then three more, followed by another 20 and before we knew it, we were witnessing the slow progress of a huge breeding herd of 300+ individuals moving from our left to our right.

This is the kind of event that makes Rhino Post special.  None of the private game reserves adjacent to Kruger Park have the size and scope of the Park itself.  They offer fantastic game-viewing and you can go off-road to get photographs of the ecto-parasites on a buffalo’s hide, if you wished.  Inside the Park there are restrictions on driving off-road (prohibited) and there are often several other vehicles around a sighting.  Even so, it is only inside the Park itself that one can truly appreciate the simply amazing size and grandeur of the place, such as when you experience  a massive herd of elephant moving through the woodland in a manner that truly speaks to them being one with their environment.  Nothing contrived or artificial about it.

The elephants were totally relaxed and many of the youngsters were in a playful mood, scooting down a hill or engaging in playful jousting their siblings.  It was truly an unforgettable experience.

Rhino Post may not be the best choice for very serious/professional photographers unless you can spend a minimum of 4 nights there to allow yourself enough time to get lucky with some of the more elusive cats such as leopard.  I think in most instances you will.  However being limited to the roads certainly does impact on one’s ability to get good close-up photographs of the subjects of your choice.  Be sure to bring a long lens of 400mm+ or a good zoom.

For visitors who are interested in the full spectrum of a wilderness experience, Rhino Post will be very appealing.  Certainly there are many opportunities for ‘Big Five’ game-viewing, but some of them will be on roads shared with any number of other vehicles from nearby Skukuza, the biggest camp in Kruger Park.

However, even after a short visit, I was again struck by the impact of visiting the magnificent sanctuary that is Kruger Park.  Driving up from Rhino Post to the Orpen Dam area gives you a sense of the vastness of the reserve and the almost limitless potential for exciting sightings.  As I noted earlier, our game-viewing was impacted by the thick bush conditions, but what we saw was of high quality.  For example, on our afternoon game drive on November 2, we spent nearly half an hour observing 3 white rhinos, and I obtained several good photographs.  During all this time, only one other vehicle showed up at the same sighting.

On the morning of November 3 I did not go out on a game drive as I had to transfer by road (about 2.5 hrs) to Kruger Mpumalanga International  Airport , a pleasant enough small regional airport.  From there I flew on SA Airlink to Jo’burg, to meet Kathleen off her flight from the USA.  We picked up a car from Budget and headed to Pretoria for a few days with family.  It was very enjoyable and great to see everyone again.

Continue to Part 3

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