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My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

Toronto, Canada
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My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

Hello,

My wife and I are planning our first trip to South Africa in September 2014. Here is what we came up with for the safari portion:

From JNB, fly to Phalaborwa (Hendrik Van Eck Airport) and stay at Olifants Rest Camp (Bungalow BG2) for 3-nights. Surprisingly, there are a lot of units left for the Bungalow, is there a reason why?

We will then travel to a Private Game Lodge and spend 2-nights there. Can anyone recommend a budget Private Game Lodge to us? We are looking to spend about $400 CDN in total a night (is this budget even realistic?). I looked into Elephant Plains Game Lodge in Sabi Sands Reserve but unfortunately everything is booked. I also looked into the private game lodges in Timbavati Reserve and it seems everything is above our budget. Our main goal is having great experiences for game viewing.

Thanks in advance for your comments and answers!!

Raleigh, North...
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1. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

Hello

If your objective is primarily game viewing, I suggest spending some time around Satara or Lower Sabie as well. Even though these are big camps, southern part of Kruger are more rich in game, and you will have more game viewing opportunities.

Satara also has multiple routes that you can drive during those 3 days

If game viewing is your primary focus (and not luxury) and if you are comfortable with the self driving option, I would definitely suggest spending more time in Kruger itself

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

Lower Sabi was my first choice but everything is full for my dates. I just looked up Satara and they only have 2 dates available out of the 3. And I would rather stay at a rest camp for the entire 3-nights than splitting it up.

Thank you for your suggestions though.

Raleigh, North...
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3. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

ok. . I just returned from Kruger visit of 7 days..

If you look at the map, the routes you can take from Olifants are a little bit limited. And the S93/S46 route was not the most productive for us.

During my visit, we were in a different rest camp each night. It was a bit hectic, but we maximized our game viewing opportunities. My trip report is in the forum. Ideally i would have stayed in 1 camp for 2 nights.

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

We do not plan to drive ourselves as neither of us are comfortable driving in a foreign country no matter how easy it may be.

Do you know roughly how much it costs for game drives at Kruger National Park?

Atlanta
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5. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

I'm just in the planning stages myself, but having researched so many posts here on TA before booking our safari, I believe the costs associated with transfers (airport to KNP, KNP to private reserve, & back to airport) are going to significantly eat into your budget. Not to mention the game drives - I can't answer your question about the cost of those, but I imagine they will add up. I wonder if you have checked the game lodges just outside the park that would offer all the driving services as part of a package? Just from what I've read, I think the allure of staying inside the park & viewing game at your own pace in your own vehicle go hand in hand.

Naracoorte
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6. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

You cannot stay in the park without self driving. There is no transport to or between camps. The guided game drives run by Sanparks are primarily taken by self drivers as an additional activity as the drives can go out earlier and later than one is otherwise allowed. They also only go out for 2-3 hours.

If you are not driving yourself and don't have the budget for a private reserve then you will need to look at staying somewhere like Hazyview at a B&B and going into KNP with one of the private day tour operators.

Gold Coast...
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7. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

Hello jooksingjai

Yes as said above if you are planning to stay at Olifants then you will need a vehicle as staying right inside Kruger Park [which gives you the best experience] is really all about driving around yourself just as Rob above has recently done. It is not only a great adventure, but also gives you the greatest game viewing time and all the flexibility that comes with it.

The other thing is that September is peak period, as you have seen already bookings are very limited. Surprised that there are bungalows available at Olifants but I presume thy will be the inner ones rather than the Riverview options, which are drastically different due to their location on the cliff and spectacular views. Without the views I agree Satara would be a better choice, although once again it is heavily booked.

You do have the option of staying outside the park and travelling in on an organized safari jeep every day as suggested above, but this is not ideal, only my opinion of course, although certainly doable. Staying in the park gives you great viewing opportunities early in the morning and late at night, plus you do not have to queue at the gates, which you will do in September.

Without driving it will be hard, and although I do not often recommend a smaller and expensive private reserve over staying in Kruger itself, it may be your only option.

Edited: 12 July 2014, 00:10
Raleigh, North...
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8. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

I apologize, as I didnt realize you wont be self driving. Believe it or not, self driving was rather easy.

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

After all the comments, we decided to rent a car when we get to Phalaborwa (Hendrik Van Eck Airport) and drive to KNP.

Also, I am now concerned about the unit at Olifants Rest Camp with no view of the river. Is it really a deal breaker? I looked at Lower Sabi and Satara and they are all fully booked. Can you guys recommend another rest camp that may be better than Olifants?

Thanks!

Naracoorte
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10. Re: My itinerary so far.....opinions and questions

If you are flying into Phalaborwa (charming little airport BTW), then an alternative is to head straight to Letaba if there is any accommodation left there. Wonderful camp (my second favourite) with a great view of the river and a wonderful ambience. You can also check out the Elephant Hall whilst there. Oliphants is a little further south but I wouldn't worry about not having a bungalow with a view if you really want to stay there. You won't be in camp much anyway.

The hire cars are able to be booked for collection right there at Phalaborwa airport. Thrifty, Budget and Europcar all have depots there. The entrance gate to KNP is literally only a minute or two away. In fact you will fly over the park and land right next to the boundary fence!

You won't regret self driving in the park! :)