Original source: bushboundgirl.com
One of the best things about a holiday in the Kruger National Park is the feeling that I am partaking in a family tradition – my Grandad has been going the Park since he was just a little baby, and my Dad too.
On a recent family trip, while having ‘sundowners’ at Lower Sabie rest camp, looking over the beautiful Sabie River, Grandad began telling me about his memories of the Park in the ‘old days’. I’m sure many of you/ your parents/ grandparents, have similar stories to share…
“When I was a little baby, my mother and I were sitting on the back seat of the Chevy when we met a big lion in the road. In those days, motor cars didn’t have proper windows, just cellophane covers that you had to clip on at the side . The lion put his feet on the ‘running’ (step on the side of the car) and came right up and sniffed inside the car. My mother had to pick me up and put me on the other side of her. It was getting dark and the lion wouldn’t let us pass. Each time it walked around the car, my mother would have to pick me up again and move me! Eventually, we took a chance and managed to get past it. We arrived late at the camp gate, but because of what had happened to us, we didn’t get into trouble.”
“We hardly ever saw elephants in those days. I remember one time – we on our way to Letaba – there were lots of cars stopped in the road, and a ranger was there who said we should all get out and walk with him. We walked a little way, and there in the river bed, was an elephant. It was very exciting! Even if you saw one from miles away, it was a big event.”
[This is because there was still a lot of hunting going on, after the hunting stopped, elephants moved back into the Kruger National Park from Mozambique]
”The huts didn’t have windows, but were open at the top, and there was a hole in the door. As a little kid I used to peer out at the moon, expecting to see a lion jump out at any minute! There were still no fences in those days.” [Camps were fenced for the first time in 1932]
“I remember that we used to hang outside the bathrooms in the evening and watch the ladies walkng out with their paraffin lamps that would shine through their long white nightgowns…it was very naughty!.” [In 1939 it was thought necessary for the Kruger National Park to provide hot water for overnight guests, but the rule was that only ladies could have hot baths (available daily from 17:00 to 12:00) and men were entitled to showers only!]
“In those days there weren’t a lot of people visiting the Park, so they used to have communal fires. In the middle of the camp there would be a little brick wall with a sheet of corrugated iron that you cooked on, and you would make your fire underneath it. In the evenings, everyone would gather around to cook and tell stories about the animals they had seen that day. There would only be about 20 – 30 people in the camp at a time.”
“I remember when they put up ‘bell tents’ at Letaba. Your Granny and I stayed in one, overlooking the river. There were metal beds in them and it was so hot in the day that we couldn’t even go into them. But at night – your Granny and I were newly married – it was so cold that we had to sleep in the same single bed!”
Here is an official SANParks account of the history of the Kruger National Park
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