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Private Game Lodge and self-drive

South Florida...
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Private Game Lodge and self-drive

I'm not sure I'm using the correct terminology, so bare with me. I'm looking for accommodations for our family (2 adults, a teenager, an 11, and a 5 year old) and an adult friend who will be with us. We have $250-350 to spend per night and the friend will likely contribute some or get his own room, depending on the place/availability. I see several family "chalets" etc that could accommodate us in our budget. But here's my question:

I really like the idea of being in a private game lodge where I don't have to cook for my kids every meal (a little is fine). And our friend grew up in the South African bush (his father was a ranger) and so will be our guide, allowing us to self-drive with all the knowledge and experience of a ranger or reserve guide. But when I look at lodges, there are nearly always bush drives included in the price.

Does anyone know of a private reserve game lodge in/near Kruger that doesn't require the drives? Or, conversely, one that has family units that are priced by unit rather than per person. That pp is what always knocks me over our budget. I'm willing to do self-catering if I could find a nicer spot than a rest camp or maybe a place with the option of meals or breakfast.

As an afterthought, do you all recommend staying in 2 places vs 1 for a total of 6 nights? It occurs to me that we could splurge for a few nights and rough it the rest.

Hazyview, South...
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1. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

According to the budget the only choice you will have is Kruger Park and the Sanpark camps.

The main camps all have restaurants (ok'ish) so if you dot feel like cooking you can have breakfast and dinner there.

The private reserves are much more expensive and way out your budget. You are not allowed to self-drive in the private reserves.

I would split the 6 nights between 2 or even 3 camps to experience the differences in fauna and flora.

My favourite camps are Olifants, Satara and lower Sabie. For strictly selfcatering Crocodile Bridge or the Biyamity Bushveld camp.

All of them have units that should accommodate all of you. The main camp's guest houses are very nice for a group like yours.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

South Florida...
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96 posts
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2. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

Thanks for the advice. I saw a few spots in reserves that were $300 but now I'm thinking those were nature reserves not game ones. I suppose I will need to factor in the Kruger Park entry fee, which for my family of five will be $80 daily. That does add up.

We are spending a month on holiday so I must be careful about expenses. I think I will investigate the rest camps you mention.

Hazyview, South...
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3,784 posts
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3. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

You may have seen $300 even for the private game reserves, but that would then be per person.

Consider the wild card, which you pay once for the entire family and you have free entrance in all sanparks.

The information is also on the sanparks website

www.sanparks.org

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

South Florida...
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4. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

Thanks. And yes, I saw the Wildcard idea. If you don't mind, could you look at this lodge via link below (Masodini) Based on these rates and with the age of our children, we would be at about $300. I just can't figure out what I'm looking at with the variety of per person, unit price, drives, all inclusive etc. it's maddening.

www.roomsforafrica.com/establishment.do…

Because we are a family of 5, with a 5 year old, I wonder if lodge would all the littlest one to sleep with us in the large bed. We would of course pay for him, but I notice many places have only 4 people per chalet

Hazyview, South...
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3,784 posts
17 reviews
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5. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

Why makinguse of a third party booking engine?

Have a look at Masodini's website direct and ask for a quote. That would be the easiest:

http://masodini.co.za/rates.html

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Edited: 08 September 2013, 18:15
South Florida...
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96 posts
10 reviews
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6. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

Yes, you're right. I just never know how annoying I'm being, but you are correct.

I've now contacted several lodges directly. And I even went to the Abangane site to see about staying with you! But alas, no children under 12 (and we've got two of those).

I think I will splurge on 3 nights at a game reserve and stay 3 at one of the larger Kruger camps. Thanks for all your help.

Hazyview, South...
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3,784 posts
17 reviews
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7. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

You are not annoying at all!

Yes, sorry, you are right about our child policy.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Gold Coast...
Destination Expert
for Kruger National Park
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24 reviews
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8. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

Do have a look at SanParks site as suggested by Klaus. Try this page, just scroll down to each camp link to view information about the accommodations and camps.

www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/default.php

If you get in early you may be able to get into one of the Guesthouses in one of the main camps that have lots of beds. They are great and you would have a terrific family adventure.

Apart from the thrill of staying right in the park it is easy on the budget and you can still eat at the camp restaurants. When we go, we do a combination of both, sometimes eat out and sometimes cook ourselves. I might add that when I say cook I use the term lightly, it is usually something pretty basic!

Some days you may want to have lunch on the road at a different camp restaurant then have something light in the evenings, usually you are pretty tired by then after driving all day anyway. There lots of options and I would really encourage staying in the park, there is nothing like it!

South Florida...
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9. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

Bravo! I'm delighted to read that being in the park is so thrilling. I'm not really a roughing it kind of girl and have been a little concerned that I would prefer the outside park luxury to the inside park adventure. And alas, I cannot afford $1500/night for our family of 5 in the private lodges.

So.... I booked our first 2 nights at a 6 person cottage at Skukuza (one of the quicker drives from JNB where we will arrive in the early morning). Then, per my friends request, 2 nights at Olifants. There I had to split us into two bungalows, but I will keep checking back to shift around possibly. We have 3 more nights before returning to JoBurg. I think we will stay at a place like Indlovu River Lodge or similar.

If anyone things we should do an additional night at Olifants vs 3 at outside park but more luxurious lodge, let me know! Those bungalows book fast. And I'm looking at July 2014. Good grief.

That's my takeaway here: book a year in advance for Sanparks!

Gold Coast...
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for Kruger National Park
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10. Re: Private Game Lodge and self-drive

That is wonderful news that you have a booking underway. Yes one of the main things I tell people with booking Sanparks is that it must be done well in advance, just proves how popular the camps are though.

You clearly know about monitoring the availability so you can change rooms any time. We are staying soon in the Lebombo guest house at Olifants, I would keep an eye on that and also Nshawu, also at Olifants.

I know where you are coming from re lodging, we are not into roughing it either, but when we are in Kruger it just seems right, and there is nothing like laying in bed listening to the hippos grunt or the lions roaring. When you are staying right inside the Park you really only sleep and use the bathroom in your bungalow, and we look at it as just being all part of the experience, and honestly it is not bad at all. Just what I would call quaint haha. The rooms are all serviced and cleaned daily, this is more important than being ultra modern and the shops are pretty good for supplies. Personally we get up between 4 and 5 in the morning, have showers and make coffee and go, sometimes we don’t get back till that night, when we have dinner and fall into bed. Sometimes we return for lunch or breakfast and spend time on our verandah watching the wildlife and just soaking it all in.

As for extending your booking I am probably not the best to ask because I will only say yes stay in the park for as long as you can to get the best experience. Naturally the longer you stay the more you will see. Although we have had lots and lots of wonderful sightings, one trip we were in the park a week before we saw our first lion, it didn’t matter to us but these things can happen. Other times you can drive in and see a lion on the first day. I would never stay less than five or six days.

Also remember if you stay 2 nights in one camp that is only one full day, not really much time in one place, no extra time to just sit and soak it in or cover any roads you may have missed. From Olifants you will want to head south to the Satara area, this is famous for big cats, this alone you could spend a day doing. Would consider looking at longer at Olifants or maybe another camp like Satara.

So as I said it is a little tricky, only you know whether you would want to extend your park time or have some luxury time instead. I would hate to tell you stay in the park and then you wished you had luxury as well. I have no problem with that, we ourselves usually add some days at a private lodge after our Kruger self drive, but we spend weeks in the park first, you however have to maximise your time.