Self safari in the wild heart of South Africa: the Kruger.
We arrive in Johannesburg with an internal flight after visiting the Garden Route in the South. To discover the first part of the journey:
Once landed at Johannesburg airport we rent a car from Europe Car. We took a Ford Ecosport, taller than a city car so that we could better see the animals inside the Kruger. If you don't want to spend so much (around 400€ for 8 days) a smaller car is also fine for the purpose, the unpaved roads inside the Kruger are well-kept. Make sure you have a valid credit card and that the credit limit available is substantial (even more than € 1000, depending on the company from which you rent the car and the value itself).
We head towards Sabie where we arrive around 5pm, after 4 hours of driving. On the road there are several motorway toll where we thought we had to pay. However, without even knowing it, we had a smarttag in the car, so they topped all the tolls from the credit card (about € 50 tolls return trip Joburg-Kruger).
On the early morning of the 13th day we leave Sabie and, along the Panorama Route, we reach Phalaborwa (a northern middle gate access to the Kruger). Spectacular landscapes with expanses of pine trees for 200km, something you wouldn’t expect to find in SA!
On the Panorama Route there’s plenty of things to visit: Mac Mac falls, Pinnacle, God's window, Bourke's luck potholes, three Rondavels. Every stop will take you about 20 mins for walking around and take picture.
We arrive in Phalaborwa in time to buy food supplies before entering the park. Do be honest, it isn’t necessary as the shops in the park are super-stocked so don't overdo with sandwiches! Alternatively, in SanParks camping there are always public and/or private barbecues, but in this case you’ll need to have your own supplies. Which is why we felt it was more practical to eat sandwiches or to be served in the park restaurants.
At dawn of the 14th day we enter the Kruger after having completed all entry procedures. We had already bought the Wild Card in Italy so obviously we didn't have to pay anything.
We immediately buy a map (€ 5), very useful both for the roads and for the drawings of the animals listed one by one, so you know what you see!
We head towards the Olifants where we booked a night. Accommodations for the night in the Kruger are more expensive than hotels outside the park. The Olifants charges 80€ for a double room with private bathroom. This accomodation allows you to visit the park when the animals are most active, at sunset and at dawn. The next day, in fact, we wake up at 4.30 am (the time the camping gates open, while the access gates open later, usually around 6 am, when the animals go back to sleep after the hunt). We are lucky to see a leopard with a prey, something very difficult to see during the day!
During the day, infact, the animals rest under the trees, especially feline. And it become almost impossible to see them.
Blackboards with the latest sightings can help you plan your day, check them before leaving the campsite. There is also an app that reports them (but without internet it is not very useful: in any case it's called 'latest sightings' take a look when you have internet in the hotel before leaving every morning).
For the two nights we slept in the Kruger we woke up at dawn, returned to the camping for breakfast and during the day we used to rest in the camp’s pool.
We booked two game drives organized by the rest camps: the night one at the Olifants and at the Satara the sunset one (twenty euros p.p. each game drive). We saw many more animals during the sunset game drive but that’s all a matter of luck.
Prices (in Rand) of the activities organized by SanParks.
On the morning of the 15th day we wake up at the Satara rest camp.
Do not leave before having admired the sunset and the sunrise from the panoramic terrace of the campsite ... breathtaking !!
Another early wake-up to see the animals in their morning routine hunting. Return to the campsite for breakfast. On the road again in order to reach the Numbi Gate. The maximum speed inside the park is 50 km / h and there are speed cameras. So take the whole day to deal with long trips. If you pass through the H1-3 stop at the Tshokwane pit stop and enjoy a hot pie made from Kudu or buffalo meat...the best I had in South Africa!
Hot pie appreciated despite the 43°C!
We arrive in White River around 3pm in time for a nap next to the pool of the beautiful Thokozani Lodge!
On the 17th day we head to Marloth Park and here we rest one day enjoying the beautiful hotel La Kruger Lifestyle (highly recommended half board, superlative food)! In this private reserve, near the Crocodile Bridge gate, there are superlative hotels, you can also go around with your car looking for animals, just like in the Kruger!
In the early morning of the 18th day we access the Kruger and immediately after the Crocodile gate we come across a family of rhinos!
These magnificent animals are easier to spot in the South of the Kruger. Rhino’s sightings are never reported on the camping blackboards in order to avoid poaching.
The Kruger, if you go to South Africa is a must do experience. Sometimes, after a few early wake up it can be boring to staying in the car (you can never get off except in marked places such as campsites or sighting pitches) but patience is always rewarded with magnificent scenes, such as the birth of an impala or a battle between elephants! Believe me, it's worth it!
On the 19th day, after another brief visit to the park, we set off for Johannesburg and sleep in eMalalheni.
We spend the 20th day near Pretoria, in a recovery sanctuary for lions. Many of the Kruger lions in fact have a feline disease that is also transmitted to new generations. These 'sanctuaries' exchange lions, in order to regenerate the genes and avoid the spread of genetic diseases. At Horseback Africa you can organize a full day: horseback riding in the morning and in the afternoon walk with the lions (the cubs! Parents better not to get too close!). The experience also includes pizza for lunch (€ 45 per person all inclusive). Not much to add, the pictures say it all!
At 9 pm we fly back to Italy from Johannesburg!
South Africa is an unforgettable experience, should be in your bucket list asap!
Contact your doctor for malaria and typhoid fever vaccine.
Speaking of money, in short (costs per person):
€ 400 return flight Alitalia Milan / Johann.
€ 200 internal flights
€ 120 wild card
500 € hotels for 20 days (including 3 for surf only)
€ 300 rent two cars
€ 100 petrol and highway
80 € shark excursion
50 € day with lions
€ 1750 to add
Surf 60 €
Food, other activities and souvenirs around € 300
Total 2100/2300 p.p.
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