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Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Philadelphia, PA
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Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

I'm taking my family on a "triangle" route between Johannesburg, Kruger, St. Lucia and then back to Jo'burg. This is our first trip to South Africa.

The drive from JNB to the south gate of Kruger along Rt. 2 seems well-worn, and we're going to get a good start and do it in one-day.(no problem with that, right?). The drive from Kruger to St. Lucia seems very long, but we're also inclined to get up early and do that in one day.

Coming back to Jo'burg from St. Lucia, though, we plan to stop. We can get a good start on "day 1," but we need to be at JNB by 5 pm or so on "day 2" for our flight. Would a short visit to Hluhluwe make any sense -- from both a time perspective and a "we've already seen Kruger" perspective? Is there any place else worth stopping on the way, and which route would make the most sense? What town or towns would be good choices for overnight accomodations? And, finally, in the afternoon, would we run in to any traffic in the Jo'burg area getting to the airport?

Thanks for the help!

Edited: 30 April 2012, 22:43
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1. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

The drive to Kruger from Johannesburg is an easy drive of 3+ hours. Just dont get there in the dark. The drive to St Lucia could go two ways, either through Swaziland with annoying border posts, but a very interesting, and pleasant drive. 7.5hours, or skirt Swaziland

Its about an 8 hour drive if you skirt Swaziland through Piet Retief and Ermelo to Johannesburg. Yes, you dont want to get to Johannesburg after 4 as you could just hit bad luck and get trapped in traffic.

Hluhluwe is an option for game viewing, its very different in topology and vegetation to Kruger. Living in Durban, this is our favourite game reserve, just two hours from my door. But you may be "gamed out" by then.

The Drakensberg and the Cradle of Mankind are both World Heritage sites and worth a visit

2.5 hours to Durban, 2.5 hours to Central Drakensberg - stay the night, 4.5hours to Johannesburg

9 hours to Cradle of Mankind, Magaliesburg, stay the night, 1hour to Johannesburg

Hope that helps.

Terry

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N. Calif
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2. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

We just did this in March, and I am prejudiced by the fact that we did not see any wild dogs until Hluhluwe. Another park you might consider is Ithala - quite lovely and very different scenery from what you have been seeing. It is a hecka long drive from KNP to St. Lucia. If you come through Swaziland, mind the speed limits, they have speed traps and we got caught in an erratic 100-80-60-80-60-100 zone, going 80 in a 60 zone. Not too big a fine, but it smarts. Good luck figuring out where to go at the borders!

We broke our trip from Hluhluwe with a stop at Dusk to Dawn, a working farm bed and breakfast near Piet Retief - far above our usual roughing it trips, but quite posh and excellent food - if you go, be sure to order the dinner as well. Your kids might enjoy the farm contact (or not).

I would recommend allowing plenty of time at Joburg. They have been working on the highways and we sailed right past the sign to the airport (blocked by construction workings). Fortunately, you can see that you're heading away from it so we turned around, but it's a bit dicey, and this was on a Friday afternoon, heading INTO the city.

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3. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Thanks for the advice. The Dusk to Dawn b&b looks very nice on their website, and gets excellent tripadvisor reviews. But if I'm reading their rates correctly, it would cost my family of 4 more than US$200 for a one-night stopover. Ouch! I think that's too much.

Can anyone give me an idea of how many hours it will take to drive from St. Lucia to the Johannesburg Airport? Is the routing through Piet Retief, and then Emelo and Bethal my best bet? If we want to see something along the way -- but not add a lot more driving -- Hluhuwe seems better than Ithala. Would a few hours at either park be worthwhile (after a week in Kruger), or is that not enough time to see anything?

Anything to see on the way to Jo'burg past Piet Retief, or are we better off make the trip from there in a straight shot? How many hours will the trip to the JNB airport take from there? And is there a logical way to "switch over" from the 17 highway to the 12 to make it an easier, faster trip to the airport?

Thanks for the help!

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4. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Just to add a bit more.

Yes the drive from JHB to Kruger is easily doable, we are usually in Malelane gate by lunchtime, inlcuding shopping for supplies and a couple of breaks along the way, but we do leave early, picking up the car at the airport at 5am.

The drive from Kruger to St Lucia is very long, we had an overnight break in Swaziland on the way rather than cut it too fine or drive in the dark. Also consider the time it takes to get out of the park. Although we left early it was after lunch by time we got to Crocodile Bridge gate, thanks to game viewing along the way!! Just made it to our hotel near Mbabane at dusk.

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5. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Why not see Hluhluwe while you are at St Lucia?

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St Lucia
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6. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

sandman has made very good points.

The first posters timings are very ambitious. It is at least 5 hours to Kruger. The timings also make no provision for road works, which are everywhere at the moment. Use www.tomtom.com to plan your route.

Where in Kruger are you going and how long for?

How long are you going to be in St Lucia? The Imfolozi part of Hluhluwe/Imfolozi is definitely doable as a day trip from St Lucia.

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Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park
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7. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Traffic around the Joburg airport can be very heavy. Not sure of the state of the roadworks in the area. Maybe they are complete? If you are flying out on a Friday, leave bucket loads of time.

Philadelphia, PA
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8. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Thanks for the advice. We'll have 3 days in St. Lucia and the idea of visiting is to do something different from Kruger. If we were to stop in Hluhluwe, I would think we'd want to do it on the way back to, say, Piet Retief.

As far as getting to St. Lucia from Kruger, our plan is to be "on the road" at dawn! I can tell it's a very long drive.

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9. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

@Dave - when are you doing the trip? I am going via Piet Retief after reading on the SANRAL site that the Piet Retief road works are better now..

Philadelphia, PA
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10. Re: Route advice for St. Lucia to/from Kruger & Johannesburg?

Mid to late June. Was there a big roadwork project there?