The Kruger Park: ”Where nearly 2 million hectares of unrivaled diversity of life forms fuses with historical and archaeological sights – this is real Africa. The world renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa.”
A lifelong dream came true: We visited South Africa. We were there for 12 days and really made the most out of it!! We planned the whole trip by ourselves and managed to keep it within budget! Below I’ve written our itinerary and you’ll also find a cost breakdown.
MY TOP 10 TIPS FOR SAFARI AT KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
- Do research beforehand – Our trip was very comfortable as we had everything planned beforehand. Scroll down this article for the useful links, most tours and accommodation can be booked online and there is A LOT of information available!
- Go Camping at one of the Rest Camps – Sleeping in a tent, going back to basic at one of the Rest Camps inside the National Park!
- The more you drive, the more you’ll see – The organised tours are great, but driving in your own (rental) car gives you so much freedom of going anywhere you like!
- Look at the maps in the rest camps to find the Big Five – Every rest camp has a map of the area with colored magnets where people show which animals they found where that day. During the day, most animals don’t go far as it’s too hot to move. So you’ve got a good chance that the animals you’re looking for are still around!
- Do an organised tours after sunset – The rest camps close before sunset and open after sunrise, so you need to be back at the camp on time. Book an organised tour to go out of the camp for a sunset drive, night drive or sunrise drive.
- Do a morning guided walk – For obvious safety reasons, you can’t get out of your car outside the camps, but some camps organise guided walks. We didn’t do it as we were short in time, but it is definitely on our bucket list!
- Do not harm or disturb the animals – This goes without saying… But we are a guest in the National Park. We come to watch them, but not to scare them!
- Have lunch at one of the rest camps – Most rest camps have a Mugg & Bean or a Cattle Baron restaurant, where you can find a lot of different and tasty food! Some rest camps have fuel stations, have a look at the map so you can fill it up timely!
- Don’t be fooled by the distances – We underestimated the time it takes to drive from one place to the other. Most rest camps are about 50 km away from each other, but it can easily take 2-3 hours (or sometimes even 4 hours) to drive 50 km inside the park. Especially when stopping to see animals from time to time.
- Take insect spray with you – We were lucky to not find many mosquitos, but that was probably the time of the year (February). When you go on a tour with an open vehicle, especially during sunset and in the night, you will find many bugs.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 9: We woke up early and headed to Port Elizabeth Airport where we had our domestic flight to Johannesburg. Arriving to Johannesburg, we drove to Rand Airport, where our friend Nick (@masonthepilot) took us for a helicopter ride (I hope to show more of that in a next video). We then drove for more than 6 hours from Johannesburg to our hotel just before the Paul Kruger Gate, so that the next day we could start our safari early! Our hotel was a bit of a disappointment, we found many insects in our bed and asked for a different room. We got an ‘upgrade’ and after a quick check we accepted the room. But preparing to go to bed, we found again dead and live bugs all around the bed and below the pillow. We did not expect to have luxury, but we at least like a clean bed. We decided to sleep in the car that night. It was practically the first night of camping, even though that wasn’t really planned!
DAY 10: We woke up in the car, took a shower and got ready for the Safari! We arrived at the Paul Kruger Gate and as everything was already booked, the paperwork went very quickly and just after entering the park we saw a mommy elephant with her baby! We drove to Skukuza Rest Camp for breakfast. Then continued our trip towards Lower Sabie, the rest camp where we were going to stay for the next 2 nights. On the way we saw many springboks, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, baboons and vervet monkeys. Welcome to Kruger!
We arrived to Lower Sabie and chose the spot where we would set up our tent, that we had bought earlier in Cape Town (The Checkers Supermarkets have basically everything, we found our tent there). When we had finished setting up our tent, we got ready for the Sunset Drive, which was organised by the rest camp. It is a relatively cheap option to not book a private tour and still go out of the rest camps after opening hours. We loved it, the guides are very knowledgeable and know how (and where) to spot the animals. We were so amazed to see two lions just next to the road!
DAY 11: We had the alarm at 4 o’clock as our Sunrise Drive started at 4:30am! It was beautiful to see the world waking up. More and more birds started to sing, the hippo’s went back into the water after they had been eating grass the whole night, the zebra’s were running to go to the nearest waterhole and we saw them drinking all together! Just before returning to the rest camp, our guide was told that there was a crocodile in a lake nearby, so we drove there to watch!
We came back around 8am and went for breakfast. I really liked the Mugg&Bean at the rest camp, they have various options for English breakfast such as eggs, toast, etc! All is served with fries, by the way, also at 8 in the morning! For dinner I really liked their tomato soup with mozzarella toast. Light, easy, but delicous! The food really shows the colonial past of this country, there are typical African dishes such as Bobotie, but I was also quite happy to find some food that I’m more used to.
The rest of the day we went out on our own, we got to see a rhino far away. The only rhino we have seen. They are not indicated on the maps with the colored magnets, to reduce the chance of poaching. We were looking for a leopard that would have completed the Big Five, but couldn’t find any. We talked with a couple that had seen already 3 of them in the past two days. It really depends if you’re lucky to be at the right place at the right time!
In the afternoon we cooled off in the swimming pool at the rest camp. We bought some souvenirs in the local shop and after dinner we went to do the night drive! It was a bit more difficult to take pictures and photos in the night, but we could hear the sounds of many animals and it was very impressive!
DAY 12: We woke up in our tent from the heat! In February it is summer in South Africa and during the day it was around 40 degrees in the Krugerpark. At night, the temperature didn’t really go down as much as we’d hoped! We had brought sleeping bags but didn’t need them at all. After breakfast, we were going to leave the park but as Diego passed the shop, he overheard people saying they spotted a cheetah not so long ago! Diego asked where he found it and we got into the car right away to see if the cheetah was still there. We were lucky, we found it quite soon! There were two cheetahs laying under a tree and we got very good close ups from both of them! We were told that it only happens a few times per year that the cheetahs come this close to the road! That kind of made up for the fact that we hadn’t seen any leopards.
Via Pretoriuskop rest camp we drove back towards the gate, as we still had to drive about 6 hours to get to Johannesburg Airport and catch our flight at 11:55pm.
What an AMAZING experience, we are sure we will come back some time in the future!
Have you read about the Top 10 Things to do in Cape Town yet? All about our helicopter flight over the Cape Peninsula, visiting Penguins in Boulders Beach and riding horses near giraffes and zebras in Stellenbosch!
Also, don’t forget to check out Top 10 Things to do on the Garden Route where you will read all about spotting Elephants and Lions at Addo National Park, watching whales, dolphins and seals at Plettenberg Bay, hiking the Tsitsikamma waterfall trail and close up with Zebra’s in De Hoop Nature Reserve – This really is the Garden Route at it’s best!
Kruger National Park: 800 ZAR (€49) per person for 2 nights (staying 3 days)
- Sunrise Drive: 346 ZAR (21€) per person
- Sunset Drive: 346 ZAR (21€) per person
- Night Drive: 270 ZAR (17€) per person
Food & Drinks:
- Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner: +/- 650 ZAR (40€) for 2 people per day (going to local restaurants)
Lower Sabie 680 ZAR (42€) per campsite for 2 nights
Here’s the link to the 2019-2020 conservation fees in South Africa:
Here’s the link to the 2019-2020 tariffs for all Kruger Rest Camps and their activities:
For general information about all the parks, visit: sanparks.org
I would really recommend to do a self-organised trip (besides the Sunset/Sunrise/Night Drives) because you will save A LOT of money AND you’re free to go wherever you want to go!
Have a look at the Kruger Park VLOG!