Student (23 years old) travelling to Kruger SOLO
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Feb 25, 2013 5:03 AM Last Post By: Jeroen
Nov 17, 2012 5:57 PM
Student (23 years old) travelling to Kruger SOLOHi everyone,
So I've done a lot of research and have checked the many threads already on this topic. It seems as if there are two ways to see Kruger National Park:
- Stay at a private game reserve and they will give you a tour around
- Drive yourself and stay at the rest camps
That being said, I am a 23 year old student who would like to visit KNP by myself during the first week of April. I have 4-5 days to see the park, but it seems as if doing that is not so flexible in terms of price. The private game reserves are very expensive and I'm afraid that staying 4-5 days at one of these will be very expensive. On the flip side, driving will be both expensive (though not as expensive as a private game reserve) because I am under the age of 25 AND I will still need to pay to stay at rest camps.
So in my situation, what is the best way to see KNP which balances both cost and quality? I was hoping there was such thing as a 3-4 day student value tour which would take me from Johannesburg to KNP and back, with everything included in the cost. My budget would be around $500 for such a thing.
Nov 18, 2012 12:52 AM
1The ideal (not taking your budget into account) would, to my mind, be to spend three full days doing a self-drive safari in the Kruger Park itself, followed by two full days at a lodge in one of the private reserves bordering on the Kruger Park (in the west where the fences between the Kruger Park and the private reserves have long since been removed).
US$500 is currently roughly R4500. The rental of a small car would be in the region of R300 per day; accommodation in the Kruger Park in a safari tent (2 single beds) is R435 per night (base rate for 2 people max). Then you have to add the cost of food and fuel. The latter should be minimal as one drives slowly and does not cover long distances. Total cost should amount to about R1000 per day, whether you are on your own or in the company of another person. At R900 per day your budget would suffice for about 5 days in the Kruger Park itself.
Pick up the rental car in Nelspruit in Phalaborwa and drop it off in Nelspruit (or vice versa depending on at which camps you find accommdation). Book your accommodation in safari tents well in advance. My choice of camps would be Letaba, Tamboti and Lower Sabie (all three have safari tents) - if accommodation is available there.
Study a map of the park and surrounding area.
Alternatively contact a backpackers lodge in either Phalaborwa or Nelspruit and enquire as to the tours that they offer into the park. For that type of information have a look at http://www.coastingafrica.com/
Nov 18, 2012 7:51 AM
Nov 18, 2012 4:27 PM
3Thanks for the detailed response RudiK. Just curious, will renting a car be more expensive than R300/day if I am 23 years old, or was my age taken into account for that? Also, what's the easiest/cheapest way to get to Nelspruit from Johannesburg?
senzaparole, the reason I want to see KNP is because it is one of the most well-know destinations in S. Africa. I have a good friend who used to live in S. Africa and she recommended me staying there. I am open to other places but I only have 5 days so I'd rather keep it to a minimum. Please though, I'd like to hear about your other experiences!
Nov 18, 2012 9:33 PM
4Greyhound.co.za and a few other companies have comfy buses from Joburg's Park Station (next to the terminus of the Gautrain line from the airport) to Nelspruit. I used it once, departed around 8, arrived in NS around noon; it goes right through the centre of town so probably not a long walk from the city centre rental agencies.
Take Rudi's golden advice, book your accommodation asap via sanparks.org and go it alone. To add spice and a guided tour element, book a morning and/or evening drive and especially a morning bush walk, these are often amazing and good value at about 250-330 rands for several hours each time and often expert guides. Book these as soon as you arrive in the park if it's a busy period. You may luck out, if there's just 3-4 people it's a jeep tour instead of the bus.
I've driven around KNP alone several times, and as it's a large and wild place and you won't be surrounded by other cars most of the time, do make sure you have a map, enough water and food and a charged mobile phone (won't work everywhere). Also, know where the spare tyre is and the tools you need to change it. If there's any trouble simply wait till someone passes and wave/smile.
Nov 19, 2012 6:50 AM
5Ok, I've followed your advices and bit the bullet, just booked these camps!
April 2 - Lower Sabie (camp)
April 3 - Skukuza (camp)
April 4 - Tamboti (safari tent)
April 5 - Letaba (safari tent)
I'm planning to hire a car in Joburg or Nelspruit and then do this self drive. Once I get into Kruger I will book bush walks and game drives. I then plan to leave on April 5 back to Joburg.
That's all I have planned. Any suggestions about this itinerary?
Thank you all in advanced for your advice, and thank you to those who have already posted.
Nov 19, 2012 7:20 AM
6Personally I didn't like Skukuza, too big and messy and near to Lower Sabie anyway. I'd try to change it to 2 nights in L.Sabie instead. Easy to change - but no big problem if you don't.
If you take the morning bus from Joburg to Nelspruit you can get your car, drop by a mall to stock up on food/drinks and then drive east to enter KNP at Crocodile Bridge, to be in L.Sabie before gates close.
Nov 19, 2012 8:09 AM
7Hmm, I booked Skukuza just because it is one of the most popular rest camps. Would staying in 4 camps (in 4 days) allow me to see a lot of the park? Since this is my first time in S. Africa and honestly probably my last for a while, I'd like to best my changes of seeing game (Big 5) as well. Do you think this is possible with that itinerary?
Nov 19, 2012 2:35 PM
8Popular means it's big, with a golf course, airport, hospital and staff town - it's not the close wildlife experience I was hoping for. Better add a night in LSabie (this is the best camp according to many) or wonderful Tamboti (my favourite) instead.
4 camps in 4 days is rushed for me - i like not to pack my stuff every day, and I'd focus more on the south, skipping Letaba (especially as there to Joburg is a long drive). If you're out and about in the car early dawn and before dusk and you join a few drives you're going to see tons of stuff - though leopards and lions can be elusive.
At Tamboti by the way it's just safari tents with communal camping cooking facilities, you'll need to bring your own food (in my case: a bunch of fire wood and some boerewors sausages with bread; a grillstand is provided).
Nov 26, 2012 10:28 PM
Nov 27, 2012 1:10 AM
Nov 27, 2012 4:16 AM
Nov 28, 2012 8:50 AM
12I've made a few changes in my itinerary after reading your posts and doing a bit of research.
April 2 - Lower Sabie (hut)
April 3 - Lower Sabie (hut)
April 4 - Lower Sabie (hut)
April 5 - Tamboti (safari tent)
I am not going to camp at all since the additional costs in paying for huts/safari tents is much lower than the cost of purchasing camping gear AND having to carry it around with me.
April 6 - Spend a few hours in Tamboti area, then leave through the Orpen Gate and see Blyde River Canyon. Spend the night in Nelspruit.
April 7 - Travel day, get to Johannesburg.
April 8 - Fly off!
I think this itinerary is much simpler and will allow for the maximum time to see everything.
Any thoughts or comments?
Thanks once again,
Nov 29, 2012 2:54 AM
13That's more relaxed, and not having to worry about packing and checking in/out every day means you can drive all day and make the most of the organised drives/walks. On the 4th I'd suggest leaving as soon as the gates open and taking the H10 to the Satara area and the main road from there towards Olifants; the landscape is a bit different from further south and it's a well-known area for cats. Just before Olifants the landscape changes to Mopani shrubland, quite different.
If you hire a car from Joburg, consider staying at Graskop on the 6th, this gives you more time for the park in the morning (tip: depart from Orpen gate around noon and loop north around the canyon using the R36 and see the canyon viewpoints from north to south, ending at Graskop), and this also allows you to take the scenic highland route to Joburg via Pilgrim's Rest (well worth a short stop), Lydenburg and Dullstroom; you join the highway at Belfast. You avoid a few highway toll payments this way too.
Nov 29, 2012 1:25 PM
14Have you already made your reservations, or is this a tentative itinerary in the hopes of obtaining the accommodation? The Easter week-end is very early next year (last week-end in March, I believe) and you should check the parks board web-site http://sanparks.org.za/parks/kruger/ as to the availability of accommodation at Lower Sabie which is a very popular camp and is not a very big camp.
I usually agree entirely with Jeroens' suggestions, but in this instance I am afraid I must differ with him. What he is suggesting you do on the 4th (when you plan to spend your third night at Lower Sabie) is simply far too much. I would try to limit my driving to around 100km per day - at a push maybe 150. Anything more than that is over the top. In any case you would be driving up to Satara the next day on route to Tamboti. To my mind that would be far enough to go in a day.
While you are at Lower Sabie you should do day trips to Skukuza and back and to Crocodile Bridge and back - those routes both cover excellent game viewing areas and you are likely to see a wonderful variety of animals there. Bear in mind 4 nights is only 3 full days plus a potion of each of another two days.
I agree with Jeroen that you should aim to stay at Graskop (or Sabie for that matter) rather than going all the way to Nelspruit. The route that I would take back to Johannesburg from the Blyde River Canyon area would be: Blyde River canyon - Graskop - Sabie - Lydenberg (via the spectacular Long Tom Pass) - Dullstroom - Belfast - then onto the N4 to Witbank. In fact you could also consider staying at one of the resorts at the canyon - see: http://www.foreverblydecanyon.co.za/ and http://www.foreverswadini.co.za/
Note that some of the names of the towns have recently changed / are in the process of being changed. Lydenberg is now Mashishing; Witbank is now something like Emahlaleni; Nelspruit has also got a new name. When you get here you will need to acquire an up-to-date road map.
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