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Sanpark accommodation help!

Dublin
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Sanpark accommodation help!

I'm currently in the planning stages of a trip in July, planning on spending 6/7 days in Kruger, after reading lots on here I think I'll attempt to a self drive but still have a number of questions, apologies if they have already been asked.

~I'm still quite nervous about the thought of driving, will it be safe in Kruger for a female and 16 y old boy travelling by themselves?

~I'd like to experience 2/3 different camps the priority being wildlife viewing, especially big cats and elephants and I know there are lots of recommendations for Sanpark camps, but logistically which camps would be best to visit?

~do most sanpark camps offer guided tours? It's our first safari so I would like a combination of self drive and guided to get the most out of the holiday

~ the drive from Joburg to KNP might be too far so I was thinking of using one of the shuttle services and hiring a car at KNP, is this possible?

Thanks for any help :)

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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1. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

I believe you can safely drive from the airport at Johannesburg to one of the gates to Kruger in less than 6 hours. There are a couple of tolls to be paid - not expensive - and you need cash (in rand) to pay them. Within Kruger, you surely are safe to drive yourself. There are very low speed limits and you must obey them. All of the Main camps offer game drives with Camp Rangers. Others who are more familiar with Kruger wildlife hopefully will advice you on the camps you should select.

Boston...
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2. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

Hi Coleen,

Here are some of my thoughts.

First of all, South African school holidays are from the 22nd of June to the 14th of July. The park will be quite busy and book up early so keep that in mind.

In my opinion, you will be safe driving in Kruger with your son. Just follow the simple rules/guidelines the Park offers and you will be good to go.

Almost all the camps offer bush walks, morning drives, sunset and night drives. The SANParks website is the best source of up-to-date information.

One option is to fly from Johannesburg to Nelspruit and rent a car from there. You can easily get to Skukuza from the airport if you arrive around mid-day/early afternoon. You may be able to get to Lower Sabie if you land early enough.

One can never predict where the animals are at any given point. My suggestion would be to check out availability at Satara, Lower Sabie and Skukuza (in that order).

If you take a shuttle into Kruger, you are confined to pick and drop off at Skukuza (for your car).

Another option is to fly to Nelpsruit and spend the night at Hazyview or Graskop. Wake up next morning and drive to Satara (Orpen Gate) via the Panorama Route and see Blyde River Canyon etc. Spend 3 nights in Satara and then 3 nights in Lower Sabie. Fly out of Nelpsruit.

I am a self-drive safari junkie so am happy to offer any thoughts or answer any questions to appease any uneasiness you may have.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Heeten, Owner, Swagat at Kruger Park Lodge

Naracoorte
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3. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

I second the above.

It is very safe and relaxed driving and staying in Kruger! In fact I would go by myself any time (solo female) and am encouraging my 20 yr old son to go solo too it is that easy. I have to qualify that and say that we do fly to Phalaborwa and hire a car from the little airport there, then it is about 1-2 minutes to the park gate!! :) But flying to Nelspruit is a bit cheaper and it is still a comfortable short journey to the park. It also is the closest airport access to the southern camps. If you are used to fairly busy city driving (like around major airports) then as bwanadave says, it is perfectly feasible to drive from Johannesburg to the park.

Dublin
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4. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

Thanks for the replies, I am used to driving in busy Irish traffic but I imagine this doesn't compare to driving in a major city like Joburg, the only benefit is that we drive on the left hand side as well, it's the only reason I am considering driving :) if I did drive from Joburg which camp should I go to first?

I will do some research today on the places mentioned, so keep the suggestions coming x

Hermanus, South...
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5. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

If your flight arrives early in the morning and you intend to immediately head for the park then it is an easy freeway drive at least to Nelspruit. You join the freeways as you exit the airport and you don't even travel within Jhb traffic because your route takes you east away from Jhb. At Nelspruit you would either take the road to a gate going to Skukuza or continue on the freeway to Malelane where you can also enter with the obvious first camp at Berg en Dal about 10km inside the gate. In Sept last we left Berg en Dal at 6 and I dropped my son at the airport at 11 and our trip included a stop for breakfast at one of the roadside filling stations and restaurants.

However, if you have a late flight arrival it is not feasible to reach the park same day.

You would probably receive many opinions of rest camps to stay over. Given the time you have I would not consider going beyond Satara.

Less is more...meaning rather stay at two camps as against four. Lets say three at Skukuza from where you can take day trips in various directions like down to Lower Sabie along the river and back, the hide at Lake Panic, etc. then on to Satara for a similar stay. That way you relax more without constant packing up and unpacking.

The park is not only about the Big Five. (If you only want to see the B5 then rather go to a game farm where the guide will drive you straight to them). It has a unique variety of wildlife. The bird life is not to be ignored. And yes, we all want to see the lions, elephants and other cats, but holistically the park is about all the animals, birds, vegetation and the atmosphere at the camps, especially in the evening around your

campfire when you are likely to hear the calls of nature. It is so exiting when you self drive and come across a sighting of a huge male Kudu

or elephant with baby or a fish eagle or whatever. It's like you created the sighting yourself

Enjoy the planning

W

Boston...
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6. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

I have driven in some of the Irish cities and would say that your experience with the smaller/narrower streets/roads in Ireland is decent preparation for driving in South Africa. Roads are wider and but the traffic volume may be similar.

If you're driving from the airport to Kruger, you are not going through the city but leaving the airport and the first hour may require close attention to signs (largely due to construction).

I am not sure I would try to drive from Johannesburg to a camp inside Kruger on the first day. The stress of driving in a new country along with making the gates closures and getting to camp right after landing is not worth it.

Instead consider driving to Hazyview to spend the night and then start your drive early to a camp of your choice (Satara, Skukuza, Lower Sabie -- all easily accessible).

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Heeten, Owner, Swagat at Kruger Park Lodge

Cologne, Germany
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7. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

if I was the owner of a lodge close to KNP, I'd also advice against driving without a stopover....since I am not, I say: go for it, if your flight arrives in the morning

Dublin
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8. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

So I have booked 3 nights each in Satara and Skukuza (Sanpark rep said there wasnt the availability in Lower Sabie) from 24th - 30th July.

After the posts on here I think I'm going to brave the drive from Jo'burg to Kruger, probably staying in Hazyview for one night and then getting to the park early to check in at Satara, does this seem ok?

Hazyview, South...
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9. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

I second Swagat's advise, as Hazyview has got much more to offer than just a stop over, forced by Lodge owners.

As Satara seems your first stop, I think its a good idea to stay over in Hazyview or somewhere close to a gate.

When staying over, you should also have a look at the Panorama Route, along Blyde River Canyon, with God's Window, The Pinnacle, Bourcke's Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, various waterfalls, Pilgrim's Rest etc etc etc.

It is the world's third biggest canyon and No.1 green canyon. I believe a MUST see when in the area.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Edited: 07 January 2013, 14:19
Dublin
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10. Re: Sanpark accommodation help!

The panaroma route sounds lovely Klaus, will definitely need to factor that in, can I ask your opinion on Skukuza? Is this a nice place to stay?