Someone’s Dream Destination is always someone elses back yard. Something I tried to remember when thinking about driving from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park yesterday.
As travellers and tourists we would do well to remember that the place we often spend hours or even days planning to get to is never as inaccessible as you might think. And this holds a clue to the very best travelling… making like it is your back yard!
For example, the national parks of Planesberg and Kruger are just half day drives from Johannesberg, allowing people who live there the chance to visit for the weekend, just like you or I might visit London. And it is really that simple! By the time you’ve booked a train, hotel and theatre ticket to see The Lion King, you’ve booked flights London Johannesburg, rented a car and booked a lodge in the heart of Kruger National Park – with the show on your doorstep!
Don’t get me wrong, I love The Lion King, but I’d rather see the real thing! Or Elephants!
So, like a local, I took the N1 out of Jo’burg and headed North before turning right onto the great N4 which crosses South Africa with 4 lanes of high speed traffic joining the dots of this varied country.
With The Lion King on the stereo I blasted on through South African towns and countryside. Past Bronkhorstspruit, Emahlaleni and Belfast: even the town names testifying to the different identities that history has left this country to cope with and celebrate.
The toll roads and freeways traverse the country across wide plains, and rich agricultural land, the journey interupted by small townships, industrial towns and service stations much like the M1 does through Yorkshire.
Four hours later and just past Malelane, I turn left onto the R570, Past Crocodilepoort Lodge, Past One Tree Hill Butchery, the terrain now switching from agricultural to African bush and back again as each kilometer passes by.
Finally I cross Crocodile River, which I have been following for some time now, and arrive at Malelane Gate – the southern most entrance to the great Kruger National Park.
Unfortunately I will have to wait till tomorrow to explore the park itself – but I’ve loved just hopping in the car and driving from Johannesburg to Kruger.
So if you are feeling like you want to go somewhere, try to travel like a local. If you want to see lions, just fly to South Africa, if you fancy croissants for breakfast, book flights Birmingham Paris. Travel can be as simple or as complicated as you make it