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“A GREAT PLACE TO START KRUGER HOLIDAY”

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Punda Maria Restcamp
Reviewed 29 June 2013

After driving from the Western Cape and spending three nights on the road, our reception at Punda Maria Gate was excellent and set the tone for this delightful camp. We stayed in a tented chalet, situated in the trees, with all mod cons. The chalet was in a very good state of repair and kept very clean. Everyone working at the camp was very friendly and helful, from the petrol attendant to the cleaners, and the shop. The whole camp had a special ambience and was a most relaxing place to be. We thoroughly enjoyed the game drives in the area and especially seeing the huge and beautiful trees. Roads were in good condition.

Room Tip: The tented chalets have kitchenettes and are well-situated so that one has privacy at all times.
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  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank GREEN15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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102 - 108 of 171 reviews

Reviewed 17 June 2013

In a 2 week stay in Kruger, we thought that Punda Maria might be the most "rustic", but in fact, our lodging was outstanding and our dinner in the restaurant was by far the best in the park, and rivaled meals we had had in other restaurants in South Africa. We stayed one night in an original lodge room, which was very comfortable, and then moved to a "tent" which was spacious and well appointed, with a comfortable bed and lovely deck. Everything we needed plus over the top comfort. We went to the restaurant for dinner, expecting the usual uninspired park food one gets in any country, but instead, were met by a professional, friendly staff, checked on by the Restaurant Director, and enjoyed a generous gourmet meal. Although the north is not known for an abundance of animals, we saw lions and elephants close to the camp, so felt very fortunate that we had great food, great lodging, and terrific animal viewing, all in a very peaceful intimate setting.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Deaneontheroad123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2013

The camp is well located within the northern section of the park. The rooms are cramped but clean and are air conditioned. There is also a terrible shortage of cupboard space. The rest camp itself is very quiet which is great if you want a peaceful time. Staff are very polite and helpful and there is a small supply shop offering only the very basics. The restaurant is clean but not very inviting and the food leaves a heck of a lot to be desired and the food prices are rather hefty although this may be due to the fact that logistics costs are significant. I would definitely come back. Game is abundant around the camp.

Stayed: April 2013, travelled on business
1  Thank Justin L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 November 2012

The north of Kruger is a must for birdwatchers to the park. The scenery, habitat and the birdlife are different enough from the rest of the Park to add another dimension to the experience and well worth including in the itinerary. Punda Maria Restcamp is a great place to settle for some days to take in all the trails locally, the Mahonie loop and the Pafuri picnic spot being highlights. However the grounds of the rest-camp with the lovely forest walk: the Kingfisher trail, the shady gardens planted with fruit trees and the lower level with its hide overlooking the water-hole are an experience in their own right. The restaurant is rather small for the size of the camp. Advance booking is essential if you hope for dinner there. The rooms are basic but comfortable having formerly been the game rangers’ quarters.

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank lizziesbirds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 November 2012

The advantage of Punda Maria camp is that it is very close to the Punda Maria Entrance Gate - so ideal for a first or last night in the Park if you are going through that gate. But one sees very little game there in comparison with further south in the Park. We were luckily to see three very young (days-old) impala lambs together with their mothers on the loop road round the camp, but saw very little else of interest in the area. Not even a single elephant. Our night at Punda was the last of five days travelling up through the Park from Crocodile Bridge and we detoured via Pafuri before getting to Punda Maria - and that IS worth it, there was much more game up there than closer to Punda Maria. But it had been VERY dry around Punda Maria for months (although the long awaited rain finally arrived the evening we got there) - so perhaps that partially explains the lack of game. Or maybe we were just unlucky (our luck had to run out sometime, we had been exceptionally fortunate in our game-viewing further south). Having said that, my last visit to Punda Maria had been about 25 years earlier, as a student, and did not see much at Punda Maria then either...

The Accomodation at Punda Maria is very good - certainly the most modern and recently renovated chalets of the five camps we stayed in during this visit. However, a big downside is that the chalets are very close together and although one can sit outside on the chairs provided for each chalet, one is virtually sitting in the pathway leading to the other chalets. Plus the close proximity of the chalets means that there are no barbecue sites at each chalet (as was the case for all the other restcamps we stayed in). Rather, one can cook one's meat at a communal barbecue area further away from the accommodation. Not quite the same... Not that we were planning to barbecue anyway....
Although the chalets have been upgraded and modernised since my visit of 25 years ago, the shop and the restaurant certainly have not. The shop is miniscule and very poorly stocked - had difficulty in finding sufficient provisions for breakfast. Bread rolls about a month old. Since the rains had not yet arrived, it was very hot and sticky that evening but although the chalets do have good air conditioning, the restaurant does not. Only a couple of archaic ceiling fans that did little to combat the oppressive heat. On this, our final night in Kruger, by now heartily sick of the identical, limited-choice menu that is found at all the restcamps. Were there any pies available in the restaurant? Yes, replies the waiter, and rattles off the names of three different flavours of pie. We both order the same type of pie, but have to modify our order when he returns a few minutes later to inform us that he only has one of each kind available... The restaurant freezer seems to as equally poorly provisioned as is the Punda Maria shop...
Would only stay at Punda Maria again if it made sense to spend the first or final night of a Kruger Park trip there.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank WorldwideAtraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 October 2012

We love Punda Maria and will strongly recommend this camp, especially if you are a bird lover. The trees in the Punda Maria/Pafuri area are exquisite and that alone is enough reason to drive so far north. The water hole at the fence is an added bonus and, if you are lucky enough to find a site close to the water hole, you could spend the day in camp and see an abundance of wild life. During peak times the ablution blocks are inadequate, so try to avoid the June/July rush. We also found that the shop was last in line to receive stock and days would go by without basics like bread.

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank ilsev348
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2012

Like a previous reviewer, our family had one of the two 3-bedroom cabins reserved. These are probably the most comfortable family cabins in Kruger: huge, with a nice indoor living room, kitchen, plenty of bathrooms, etc. Even satellite TV, if you want it. And the setting is very nice too, just up the hill from the office and other accomodations. In other words, peaceful, with civets joining you outside for your braai!

As also previously mentioned, make sure you stop by the waterhole at the camp ground for the ever-changing wildlife show. And, at least during our winter visit, the wildlife is just as easy to see in the north as in the south (perhaps because the animals gravitate to the waterholes in dry season). Touring the north is also quite pleasant, due to the nice scenery and low number of visitors.

We did not eat in the restaurant, which is small and not scenic (unlike other camp restaurants). The store has basic supplies; if you want something fancy to braai, bring it with you.

The swimming pool looked nice, but was too cold to swim in during winter. The promised laundry room was also broken, but the maids cheerfully did our laundry for a few dollars.

One world of caution on the "regular" accomodations. They look "atmospheric," but are also old and cramped. Nothing like our "fancy" 3-bedroom house. Just know what you're getting into.

I'd also note one oddity: there was no way to lock up our cabin. All the locks were broken, and we weren't given any keys. I know the locals probably think that's safe but, as a foreign visitor, I want to at least be able to lock my cabin at night. If management is reading, I'd fix the locks and give out keys.

Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
1  Thank Dave's_reviews
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Punda Maria Restcamp

Address: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 13 Hotels in Kruger National Park
Number of rooms: 24

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