This morning we woke up that it was still dark, we are at the Kruger National Park in South Africa and we are here to do 12 days of safari in the nature that we love so much.

We want to leave before dawn to have as much time as possible on safari, also in the early morning the animals are more active because it is cooler; when we were in the North of the Kruger National Park it was not a big problem but, as we descend, it is hotter and hotter and, in the central hours of the day, the animals tend to hide in the shade.

We take the H8 for a short distance and enjoy a spectacular sunrise, the colors of dawn and sunset in Africa never disappoint, impossible not to fall in love with them!

We also sight some grater kudus among the bushes, perhaps they are also enjoying the spectacle of dawn; on a branch of a dead tree instead we spot two bateleurs, they are beautiful illuminated by the sun with their orange beaks and legs, they are the first we see here in the Kruger.

We continue our journey and take the S 92 that begins with a low bridge over the Olifants river, we also traveled on it last night at sunset and we decided to make an encore today at dawn: the warm light of the sun is reflected in the mirrors of water, creating a wonderful landscape; let's see if by chance there is also some animal that went to drink, but there is none.

From here we take the S 89, here we find the first herd of elephants of today, there are also three puppies, they are too cute; we also see the first zebras and impalas, today we will see so many.

We also see a nyala, will it be the last? In theory they should be only in the North, from here on the vegetation will change, we will soon leave the mopane behind; I wonder if we are going to find the nyala even further South.

The S 89 ends at the intersection with the main road, continuing straight on it becomes S 39, we proceed along this road that runs along the river; on paper it's a perfect way to spot felines, but then you know that theory is one thing and practice is another one.

We spot another bateleur, but are they all concentrated in this area?

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We do all the loops along the river to have more chances to spot animals, one in particular we like a lot, we decide to get out of the car, even if it is better not, but before we checked very well all the surroundings; it's time to take another coffee, the 5:00 AM alarm starts to be heard.

We arrive at the Roodewalpool, as always we check well all the area around, often predators lurk waiting to hunt and in fact we spot 3 hyenas lying down, they seem to sleep but at the slightest noise, they raise their heads to check what happens.

The hyenas are not just scavengers as they are often thought of, sometimes they hunt and here they hunt more frequently than the hyenas of other African parks.

There are also several go-away birds called like this because their cry sounds a lot like "go away ".

We continue our path along the river, we keep to spot zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, impalas, different birds; at every turn there is something to see.

The river is almost completely dry but, here and there, there are some puddles of water; at some point we see a very green one, it seems almost artificially colored so intense the color is.

We also see several herds of elephants, some smaller, others more numerous, we also meet some solitary male that is busy eating.

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At one point we see a herd of elephants marching, they are all lined up and proceed at a fairly sustained pace, we stop to observe them, not only because they are beautiful, but also to understand in which direction they are moving; they are directed towards the river this is clear, but we want to understand which way they will pass because we are on the road that is between where they are and where they are going.

They cross the road a little further, one at a time, some specimens are more daring, others are a bit more fearful, but all pass and we enjoy the show.

In this area the river still has water because here is a small dam, the Piet Grobler Dam, built precisely to preserve the water in times of drought; the elephants know it and are headed here to drink.

It really is a spectacular road, both from the point of view of the landscape and the amount of animals that are found here.

We stop at the Timbavati picnic area​​, it has a beautiful view of the river, what a pity that in this stretch there is no water because the view would be even more beautiful.

Last night we did not prepare anything for lunch, so we have to improvise, but we are always ready for anything and so we rent the gas stove for half an hour, so we do not have to disassemble our gas cylinder, and we decide to make popcorn; the guy who rents the stove looks at us amazed and was a little doubtful about our success, but we have denied him, the popcorn came out really well.

Here there are also other visitors who may have got carried away a bit too much, they are cooking everything: eggs, bacon, horse-shoe shaped salami, sausages, melted cheese, steaks and other stuff; did they come here to go on safari or to cook and have brunch? 

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In fact, many South Africans live national parks a bit like camping and picnic sites and not just as places to go on safari.

There are several birds that are ready to collect whatever falls from the tables, among these there are the southern yellow-billed hornbills, the Cape glossy starlingor red-shouldered glossy-starling, the greater blue-eared starling, the francolins and the quails, also at a certain point a bushbuck arrives; it is incredible, when you see them on safari they run away at the slightest noise, but then they roam quietly in the lodges and in the picnic areas as if nothing had happened, regardless of the human presence.

When we leave again we continue along the S 39; in the part of road South of the Timbavati picnic area the vegetation changes again, here there is the bushveld; it is a bit more difficult to make sightings but the landscape is spectacular.

Here too we see many kudus, zebras, giraffes, impalas and elephants, the latter we see them everywhere, some while eating, others while crossing the road, others while drinking or splashing water to cool off; we see another hyena, today it is the day of the hyenas!

The S 39 ends on the H 7, this road connects Satara to Orpen, since it is early we decide to drive on it towards Satara to see if there is something interesting.

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Here the landscape has changed again, we are in a prairie, only here and there, there are some trees; potentially this is the territory of the cheetahs but also of lions and hyenas.

We arrive to a large pool of water where, however, we see only two zebras, there are also the safari guides of the camp that are looking for lions, but no trace of them; on the other side of the road there is a ditch on the bottom of which it has remained a bit of moisture of the water that filled it, so it's all green, here there are many impalas and baboons.

We are also able to photograph the African gray hornbill, these days we had always missed it.

We decide to go back and head towards Orpen, where we have to check-in for the Tamboti, our tented camp.

We continue our safari and go to a lookout in a raised point on the river, from here the view is spectacular; you can get off the car and take advantage immediately.

Even if there is still a bit before the sunset, we decide to drink a glass of wine to celebrate this spectacular place and what's better than a Casa Montini riesling, our favorite winery from Oltrepò Pavese, well yes we have brought our favorite wine also to South Africa!

We have it in the fridge and so it's nice and fresh, there's nothing better than a glass of white wine waiting for the African sunset.           

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In the distance some giraffes keep us company, we enjoy this moment, with the sun still high but starting to have a warm light.

We go back to the main road and continue our safari; we see some elephants that have stormed a large concrete reservoir of water, they rise up as long as they can and then with their trunks they draw water for drinking and for bathing; another elephant is instead at an artificial pool, it is drinking the water with an almost unnerving calm, but then we note that with the trunk it splashes the water around, initially we do not understand what it is doing, but then, observing it better, we see that it pulls water to the birds when they get too close, it's too funny!

From the movements of the safari guides car we immediately realized that there is an important sighting so we look at them to understand what they saw.

There are three rhinos practically at our camp tonight! Well let's go and see them!

When we arrive we discover that they are white rhinos, that are beautiful; one is standing while the other two are lying down, but after a while they get up and move; it is not that they make a long way, but they are more in favor of light for the photographs.

The long day today ended with a super sighting, we are really happy; now we can even go and check-in at the camp.

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