South Africa: safari to Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is the biggest natural park of South Africa, it covers an area of 20.000 kmq, up to Mozambique. It’s very different from Kenya’s parks where we stayed years ago; here you can make a safari by yourself with your own car, inside the park there are supermarkets, restaurants, and petrol stations.
Safari is an indescribable experience, you will remember it for all life, is for these reasons that I wanted to do it with my sons. It is not like going to the zoo, it can be very boring, you could wait hours to see animals, but when you finally find they, you will forget about the time spent looking for them.
We visited the park by ourself with the rented car in Johannesburg, the car had a navigator loaded with all the roads in the park. During the dry season it is not necessary to have a 4 x 4, you can visit with a “normal” car, but if your car is high you will have a better visibility. Remember that you will spend a lot of time into the car, so try to get a “comfortable” car. Inside the park you’ll find paved roads, gravel roads and small paths.
Access to the park is via “gate”, there are several along the park’s perimeter, we came from Graskop and the first night was in Letaba camp so we entered from Orpen’s gate.
Remember that the gates have an opening and closing time, usually are from 5:00 AM to 6 PM (check on the official site because they change during the seasons), after the closing time you must be out of the park or inside a camp where you’ll stay for the night, rangers only can drive in the park during closing time.
Inside the park you can not get out of the car, it is allowed to do it only in the special area and, naturally, inside the camps.
The maximum speed allowed is 40 km/h, calculate the travel times well.
Sleeping inside the park is very exciting but also more expensive than the options that are just outside the gates, staying inside will save you time and miles every day.
The camps inside the park are managed by the park and offer various types of
accommodations: ranging from simple pitches where you can mount your tent, to fixed tents up to luxury accommodation. There are very well equipped camps where you can also find the cinema and the petrol station, other camps called “satellites” where you will find only fixed tents and toilets, all completely immersed in the vegetation.
In all the camps there is a panel with the map of the park on which are reported the sightings of the animals made during the day, are not reported sightings of rhinos, they are protected animals that seek to protect.
To view the camps and make the reservation, you can visit the website
https://www.sanparks.org, here you will find all the updated information. If you want to sleep in the park, remember to book well in advance, we booked in March for July and some camps were full.
During the closing time you can take part to an excursions with the rangers, all the camps organize it: night safari, sunrise safari, walking in the savanna,….. We participated in a sunrise safari started at 5 AM, it was wonderful, we were the only participants and we had the rangers only for us. You’ll see sunrise from the savannah, the nocturnal predators, the animals that wake up,……indescribable emotions. If like us you go during our summer, remember to bring heavy clothing, it is very cold and the cars for the safari are open, neither the blankets that will give you will protect you from the cold.
We decided to sleep every night in a different camp to see different parts of the park:
- 1st night we stayed at Letaba camp, it’s a very nice and well equipped camp.
There is a supermarket, a cinema, and a beautiful terrace on the river, you
can spend hours watching the animals that come to drink. There are different
types of accommodation: there are pitches where you can mount your tent,
fixed tent, rooms, bungalows,… We stayed in a fixed tent, it is a raised tent
with four beds and a outdoor veranda, the toilets are shared. Every tent is
equipped with a bbq, in South Africa everyone loves bbq.
The restaurant offers very good dishes.
- 2nd night we stayed at Tamboti camp, it is a “satellite” camp of Orpen camp.
Satellite camps are in the nature, they haven’t services, remember to buy food and water before. It’s a very beautiful experience, we have hear animal’s sounds, we have seen the darkness of the savannah, the stars in the sky.
- 3rd night we stayed at Pretoriuskop camp, among all the less beautiful. It is
very well equipped, inside there is also a petrol station. The atmosphere is
not what we were used to, perhaps also for the proximity to the gate. Here we stayed in a brick bungalow, warmer and less humid than previous
If you’ll visit the park during South Africa’s winter, you will have more chance of sighting, the vegetation is less luxuriant, the water is scarce and the animals stay around the few pools left. We have seen many animals, big five too: elephant, leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo. Impala, gnu, zebras, giraffes, elephants are the animals that you will always see, for lion, leopard, cheetah and rhino you will need luck.
Here are some tips:
- Leaving early: the hours of dawn are the best for sightings
If you view a road sign for lake or river, go! Often there are animals coming to drink
- Choose a high car for better visibility
- Drive slowly
- If you see cars stopped, surely there is something interesting, get closer and ask
- Arm yourself with a lot of patience
- Remember to bring with you: camera, binoculars, mosquito repellent.
- There are very few petrol stations inside the park, remember to fill up before entering
The park is located in an area subject to malaria, we did not do anti-malarial
prophylaxis because we traveled during the dry period. We have not seen
mosquitoes, perhaps even for low temperatures. We are always protected with Autan. Ask to your doctor before leaving, for entry into the country there are no mandatory vaccinations.
You can buy the entrance ticket directly at the gate, you can pay with cash or by credit card. You have to fill out a registration form for each traveler. In addition to the single ticket there are different kind of tickets, visit the official website where you can find all the updated information, we have made the family wild card.