Val Stephens Challenge

The ‘Val Stephens Challenge’ has taken the internet by storm

‘Val Stephens Challenge’: Much-needed laughter for weary South Africans

The Kruger National Park is arguably one of South Africa’s favourite game parks and has a large, closely-knit group of followers who share their passion for the beloved park and the wildlife that reside within it.

Val Stephens Challenge

The ‘Val Stephens Challenge’ has taken the internet by storm

When the Kruger opened its gates once again after being closed to the public during the national lockdown, the park was inundated with reservation requests, causing the SANParks online booking system to crash, and leaving many people frustrated and angry.

On the back of this problem, a report by the Democratic Alliance (DA) emerged that raised concerns about the management of the park and the mismanagement of finances on refurbishments to accommodation.

The ‘Val Stephens Challenge’ turns negative into positive

Kruger Park-lover Val Stephens decided to turn the tables on the negative news surrounding South Africa’s favourite park. She initiated a challenge on Facebook where she asked people to share their favourite experiences and stories about the park and funny things that might have happened to them during a stay or a visit.

Val is a member of a Facebook group that shares their passion and love for the park, and after reading a funny story shared by a member on the page, she decided that some positive, enlightening stories were needed about the park amidst all the negative news.

Group moderator for the Facebook group, Val sent out a request for people to send in their funny and favourite experiences, stories, titbits, and tales about Kruger.

“Let’s see whether we can bring some enjoyment and laughter, as well as some interesting stories to this lovely group… Ok it’s over to you, and please take up the challenge if you can, we are waiting for your tale!” Stephens wrote.

And the stories began flooding in. From sneaking wine into the park during day visits to changing a flat tyre while unaware that a large pride of lions were a few hundred metres away – the stories highlighted some hilarious moments and provided some much-needed smiles and laughter and to all the members of the group.

The initiative is described as being the same as sharing stories like old friends around a campfire and has connected people through their love for the Kruger Park, camping and safari-going, and wildlife watching.

The overwhelming response to the “Val Stephens Challenge” just goes to show that people are desperately in need of escaping all the negative news that has been surrounding us for the past five months by welcoming some laughter and positive energy.

If you would like to become part of the Kruger-loving community and share your story, head to