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Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

Weatherford...
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Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

We have our flight home on a 5:50 p.m. flight out of the Johannesburg airport on a Thursday evening next October. Can we spend the night before inside Kruger National Park and still make the drive to the airport on time? If so, do we need to stay in a rest camp close to one of the gates? How long should it take to drive to the airport? We will also need time to check in our rental car at the airport.

Thanks for your help!

Boston...
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1. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

I have mixed feeling about this and will voice both. Others with more experience will chime in.

I think it is doable for sure if you stay in Skukuza, Pretoriuskop or Berg-en-dal. I would leave as early as possible to account for traffic, road works, etc. The drive, if you stay in the park, should be around 5-5.5 hours (depending on where you stay and barring an elephant on the road who refuses to move -- which happens).

I used to do this a lot until one year, our rental car gave us trouble and I had to get to the Nelspruit airport to change the vehicle. We had two little kids with us and fortunately only about an hour past Nelspruit. We did make our flight but it was too close for comfort and erased all that Kruger had done for me over the week we were there.

Now, I go to Pretoria or Johannesburg the night before to play it safe.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Heeten

Charlotte, North...
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2. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

On our last 2 trips, we have done something similar, but for a slightly later flight. Both times we left through the Berg en Dal gate, but we stayed at Prtoriuskop, drove through the park to the gate, and then on to the airport. Leaving the park at roughly 0900, we were in the airport by 2:00 pm. For my taste, that is cutting it too close for a 5:50 pm flight.

I would choose a camp near one of the southern gates. I would also plan to leave early, and not to have a final morning drive in the park before getting on the motorway.

The drive itself is fairly easy. On our last trip, I had a hard time finding the proper place to return the car. A big sign said car rental returns in one lane, but a much smaller sign said returns for that company in a different lane.

Weatherford...
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3. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

Thanks for your replies! We are thinking of staying the last night at Berg-en-dal. The gates open very early that time of year. If we leave our camp by no later than 7 a.m., it feels like we have plenty of time to make it to Johannesburg. We're just not familiar with the route and the traffic and roads to the airport.

Charlotte, North...
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4. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

Staying the last night at Berg-en-dal and leaving early should allow plenty of time. I do not recall the route numbers off the top of my head, but they are motorway almost the whole way. Buy a good map, remember cash for tolls, and when you return the car be sure to look for the company name.

Enjoy your trip.

Sydney, Aus
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5. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

I concur with all the above replies. Leaving at 7:30 will give you adequate time. The roads are all excellent, but do not speed - for your own safely and the safety of your wallet. Remember that there are a few toll points so budget for those as well.

Safe travels. You'll have a great time.

Weatherford...
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6. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

We just got back from a wonderful trip to South Africa, and I am replying to some of my own questions with our experiences. If I had it all to do again, I probably would have chosen a different rest camp for our final night in Kruger, as Berg-en-dal has limited roads and probably less game viewing than some rest camps. I think I would have preferred Lower Sabie. We were up and out the gate at 5:30 for our final game drive, and left the Malalane Gate at 8 a.m. We gave ourselves more than two hours of cushion in case we had a flat tire, road construction, etc. We had just paid our 50+ rand toll on the highway when we came to a complete stop. We thought it was the construction delay, but later found out there must have been an accident. We waited 20 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour. We started plotting an alternate route, but the locals I asked said that route was hilly and would take a long time. After waiting for two hours, we had no choice but to leave the main highway. The first leg of our detour south was on a narrow, pot-holed road, but the highways improved and it was a very scenic (yet hilly and curvy) route. When we returned to the toll way, there was almost no traffic so we assumed they were still stopped. We had made the right decision to take another route, and we got to the airport just in time for our flight. It was a very exciting end to our African adventure.

Denisa

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

okie traveller. thanks for getting back. I love reading final reports to questions that the traveller originally asked about. BTW where were you more or less exactly when this accident occured and which/how alternate route did you plot? Just wanted to know just in case the same thing happened to me.

Weatherford...
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8. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

We had just paid our toll at the Nkomazi toll plaza just west of Malane on the N4. We were stopped in traffic about 6 km past the toll plaza for two hours. By the time we turned around, the cars were backed up almost to the toll plaza. We drove 5 km back east to the 38 and headed south toward Barberton. The 38 does not actually go through Barberton, and we followed it until we took the 541 until it rejoined the N4 just west of the Machadodorp Toll Plaza. All of these secondary roads were quite good, except for the first leg to Barberton. However, there were lots of curves and hills, and we had to drive maximum speeds to get to the airport on time. It would have been a lovely drive if we weren't pressed for time.

Denisa

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

Thanks okietraveler.

Atlanta
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10. Re: Kruger to Johannesburg to catch evening flight

The comment re 2 PM as too close for a flight after 5:50 PM is freaking me out a little. One needs more than 4 hours to check in at the airport in Johannesburg? International flight.

Edited: 31 October 2013, 23:02
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