Just returned from 7 days 6 nights self drive trip to Kruger.
Here is the detailed trip report - tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g312618-i9872-k757…
If that is too detailed (I did get carried away).
Here are the big takeaways and planning questions answered.
My earlier forum questions is here, which has inputs from other contributors who were very very helpful.
Left side drive was no trouble to adjust to even though I was driving on left for the first time. Roads and highways are fairly well marked even though signs are a little bit different. Stayed in a hotel for the night at Sandton (considered safer part of town).
Drive to Malelane – Started at 4 in the morning. was a great drive. Couple of pit stops at gas stations on the way. All of them do take credit cards although I preferred to pay by cash.
Closer to Malelane there are delightful fruit vendors by the road side and picked up some fruits. Construction delay was only 15 minutes on N4. Entered Malelane gate at 9 A.
Park Shop stores in bigger camps have most of the supplies that you will need. Including some selection of fruits/vegetables/dairy/meat.
Gates sell the official Kruger Map/Guidebook – 35 R
Camps stores (Park Shop) sells the Honeyguide Map/Fuide which is fantastic for maps and identification lists -60R
In effect, you end up buying both to get around, unless you have a map preprinted.
Visa: No visa needed for US Nationals. Just make sure that your passport has 6 months of validity and 2 free pages at the time of departure. I know someone who was denied boarding as he did not have 2 free pages and had to go to US Passport services and have pages added.
Expenses : Primary expense was getting from US to JNB. Flight tickets were very expensive. I need to solve this problem and move to SA :-)
Other than that 6 nights accommodation in camps costed ~500 USD for family,
Renting a FWD SUV for 7 days costed another ~500 USD (including insurance) ,
Gas, food, and incidentals and souvenirs cost about a $1000 for the entire trip including the conservation fee of ~$25/adult/day + 2 night safaris.
Exchange Rate - Convert money at JNB airport. their rate was about 10R to 1 $. Back in US, i saw rates such as 5R - 1$ at Atlanta rate.
Insects/Malaria: Very low bug activity in June. Hardly any mosquitos. We had insect repellents handy. Please use your best judgement on your concerns for malaria
N4 Road construction : Rapid construction work in progress on N4 near Malelane. While going in very early in the morning had to wait only 15-20 minutes. But while returning in the evening hours, had to wait 1 hour. There was 2.5 km long line in the opposite direction.
Rest Stops/Gas stations : JNB to Kruger. Some of the stops had armed (with machine guns) security detail. So please use care. Although I didn’t feel threatened in any way. The workers themselves were very very helpful. Enjoyed interacting with them.
Souvenirs – Park shops in bigger camps do have an assortment of Tshirts, Mugs, postcards, magnets, bookmarks etc. T shirts were very expensive but other things are fairly priced. IN JNB, Sandton, there is a Sandton craft market by the Mandela square which has almost all the local flavored souvenirs on a bargain. Must visit this market first if you are looking for souvenirs. Nearby shops in the Mandela square shopping complex have 2 shops which are a little bit more expensive but good quality.
Night Safari in June – Very cold at night. We had 4 layers + blankets and still were very cold.
Clothing for June – as seen in many posts here, layers. When you get out at 6 you need multiple layers. By 11 AM it is quite warm. By 6 Pm cold again.
What I could have done better. Stay multiple days at each camp, rather than 6 days in 6 camps. Ideally I would do 2 nights at small camps then 1 night at big camp, then again 2 nights at small camps and so on. Probably a day at Lower Sabie sitting and drinking coffee at the restaurant all day watching the river.
Photography – Had a Nikon SLR with 200 mm lens. + an ultrazoom Sony SX 50. Changing lens etc during the trip is not recommended due to 1. Dust/dirt 2. You are going to miss out on the real wild environment. Went through about 40 GIG worth of SD cards. Had enough to spare.
Voltage – Tented camps and smaller bush camps had no outlets. Bigger ones had outlets and in one case had a 110v outlet. If you bring the adapter it should work well. I had a in-car charger which I could plug into the cigarrete lighter outlet which I could use to charge cell phones, camera batteries etc.
Cell phone coverage – should be expected only in the bigger camps.
Do carry Flashlights, very much needed. if you get a powerful one, you can use it to shine across the river beds in the smaller camps
Any questions, i can try to answer.