Kruger National Park

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JohnM

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I made mention in comments on my TR on the E Africa safari of my trip to Kruger NP in S Africa just on two years ago. Here’s a short TR, with a few pics, on that trip as it may form an addendum of interest to some folks.

The great thing about Kruger and S Africa is that it’s very easy to do independently – in fact IMHO, it would be pointless to do as an organised tour. Being government-based and long-established, there is a lot of comfortable but slightly old and basic accommodation. But the advantage of that is that it’s not expensive – and it is great for families.

They also have an excellent website where you can put together your full accommodation itinerary and pay all your park fees before you go (South Africa National Parks - SANParks - Official Website - Accommodation, Activities, Prices, Reservations) . You then just check in at one of the entry gates and they know you’re in the park and where you’ll be each night.

Each ‘rest camp’, as they call them, is closed from dusk until dawn, so it is mandatory to be inside a camp at night. All camps have a mix of accommodation: campsites, caravan sites, onsite tents and cottages, and they have a café/restaurant and a general store. At most camps they also offer activities such as night game drives, where they take you out of the camp in a safari 4WD for some spotlighting – at very reasonable cost.

There are quite a few rest camps across the park, so it is easy to gradually move through without having to go backwards. Kruger is quite long N-S and, essentially, there is one main sealed road through the middle, with plenty of good unsealed roads meandering out and about from that.

The southern part is the most visited and can feel a bit touristy; the northern part is noticeably quieter.
The speed limit is 50kph on the sealed road and 40kph on the unsealed – but you wouldn’t want to go any faster as it becomes hard to spot the wildlife.

The park is about 5h drive from JNB on the superb dual-carriageway M4, so it’s dead easy to get to. I had decided to do the full length of the park so I decided to deviate northwards to Phalaborwa, a town about halfway along the W side and use that as an entry point. After a day there to recover from the CX flight from S Korea xHKG-JNB (the Kruger trip was part of a DONEx) and the quite long drive, staying at a very comfortable and reasonably-priced B&B, I entered the park for 8 nights.

I would say 6-8 nights is about right to cover the whole park N-S.

Apart from the rest camps, there are picnic spots with brais (small BBQs that S Africans love to use for cooking whenever they stop) and toilets. Outside these and the rest camps, getting out of vehicles is prohibited.
Basically, it’s just nice to slowly cruise around looking for wildlife (with iconic, more cryptic species such as leopard often signalled by the presence of a group of stopped cars). A picnic spot or rest camp is never a great distance away so it’s easy to work out when you need to get moving towards your next camp before they shut the gate.
The other thing to consider is to rent an SUV for a little more height. It may aid the game viewing. The best time to go is in the dry season (around August-September) because the grass is shorter and the animals are congregating around water-points.

Anyway, I think Kruger is a great introduction to Africa and its wildlife and is not intimidating in the slightest for the Africa-nervous. It would be a great, and very educational, place to take kids for a family holiday at quite reasonable cost.

Here are a few pics:

The general route that I took. The Pafuri border site is quite interesting as it is the meeting point of S Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
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Gardens of the nice family-run B&B in Phalaborwa.
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Some examples of cottage & on-site tent accommodation in the park:
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Cont...
 

JohnM

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11.jpg

OK, what everyone is there for: some wildlife.
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Hello.
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Some stunning rhinos.
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JohnM

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Give way, please.
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I was not about to wind down the window…
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A ‘roo bar wouldn’t be much help against a hippo when coming home at night.
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Crocodile heaven.
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JohnM

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Traffic stops for the animals.
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Is that all you guys left for me?
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This is MY waterhole (a group of antelope was just above, stamping about and bleating because they were thirsty on quite a hot day but they knew this leopard was there.)
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Classic pose.
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One more...
 

JohnM

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When an angry elephant meets a Lexus driver who is a bit slow and backs against a log, the Lexus comes off second best. (This was unusual but it seems that poachers may have stirred up the elephants near the Mozambique border so the females with young were very touchy.)
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The driver was the talk of the camp. Fortunately, the tusks hadn’t penetrated the radiator or any other vital bits so the Lexus was still driveable, albeit I imagine embarrassingly, back to Jo’burg. There was also damage down the right side of the vehicle because the elephant had lifted the car and slewed it against a log.

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Major

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Ooops

Great photos, thanks for sharing
 

TomVexille

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Looks fantastic. Will definitely have to try and get there at some point.
 

lovetravellingoz

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Excellent and thank you.

I am doing this in August 2015, and your post confirms what I have read from others on other forums tat self-drive with a hire car is the best way to do the Kruger.
 
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Paddy55

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Thanks, JohnM

Have happy memories of visiting Kruger 30 years ago and staying in those rondavels :)
 

Cool Cat Phil

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I Just stumbled across this Stirling TR & thought I would add praise to JohnM as it's mighty well written. :cool:

Having been to Kruger NP for the first time myself last year, I agree entirely with your observations that's it's a great introduction to a Southern African wilderness area for a first time visitor. ( and repeat visitor for that matter )

And The beauty of Kruger NP & the neighbouring Private Reserves is that their is an experience awaiting everyone, no matter their travel budget.
 
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