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Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

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Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

Hi there- I'm looking into doing a self drive safari in Kruger. I don't have any restrictions on when to go at this point (as long as it's planned far enough in advance, it should be fine). I'll probably travel with my sister and two brothers. We're all aged 25-45. I love to plan trips and am not a huge fan of tours, so I've come to the conclusion that self drive is the best option. Would welcome any thoughts or recommendations! Specific questions are below.

1. It looks like May-September are the best months to travel because it's the low season, winter and best wildlife viewing months. Any opinions on the best time to travel?

2. Any must-visit areas of Kruger? How many days should we plan to visit? Kruger's website is great but I'll admit the park is much larger than I expected so I'm a little overwhelmed at all the possibilities.

3. I'm seeing conflicting advice on the necessity of renting a 4x4. Would welcome any advice.

4. Considering it's a 19 hour drive from Kruger to Cape Town, I'm assuming we would have to fly. Or thoughts on driving throughout the country? Or thoughts on going into Mozambique?

Thanks in advance for your help!


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1. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

Hi Amanda,

I have only been to Kruger once so am by no means an expert- but can give you some feedback based on our first experience in Kruger.

2) while there is no "must-see" area, a typical first visit to Kruger mainly consists of camps in the southern or central area. We spent 7 nights in Kruger which I thought was a good amount of time. Enough to have a couple of quiet days and not stress if you don't see much. Others spend longer and shorter periods of time in the park, depends on your overall itiniery. We stayed 3 night at skukuza, 2 nights Satara and 2 nights lower sabie, which is a fairly well worn path for Kruger newbies! It worked well for us.

3) we didn't get a 4x4 which was fine on most roads. Over the course of 7 days there were probably 3 instances where a 4x4 would have helped on some of the rougher roads, but for us it wouldn't have been worth the price.

4) we flew from Cape Town to Kruger- depending on where your first camp is will decide which is the most convenient airport to fly into. Some people fly to JNB then drive as the flights are cheaper, but for us it was worth the extra money to get off the plane, pick up our car and be on safari immediately!

In my research into the trip I thought about driving to Mozambique, but in the end I read a lot of negative things and didn't think it was worth the hassle. Others who have gone may have better advice, but we found plenty to do in South Africa to keep us occupied without crossing over to Mozambique.

Happy planning!

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2. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

Thanks so much, Phillip! That's very helpful. I totally get the part about Mozambique. There's so much to see in South Africa, it probably isn't necessary our first time over. Thanks again!

Johannesburg, South...
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3. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

Hi Amanda, you never mentioned how long you were visiting for. Self drive would definitely be the answer and unless you plan on doing Mozambique getting a 4x 4 isn't warranted.

Winter makes game spotting easier but it also makes activities in other areas less enjoyable having said that there is never a bad time to visit except perhaps December which is peak holiday season and prices rise and availability plummets.

There really isn't a must see area unless you're a birder, otherwise I'd suggest 2/3 !nights in the main southern & central camps. Lots of game spotting is luck, you could drive out of the camp and almost run into an animal or you could drive for hours and see very little. Most people get up early, drive out, come back or head for another camp or rest stop for breakfast, return to camp for a break and then repeat that in the afternoon. Personally I love Bergendal, Lower Sabie and Oliphants as each is so different.

Once you've indicated your time frame and perhaps an index of what other activities appeal you could get more specific recommendations,

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

There is no bad time in Kruger but if pushed I would go for September. Getting dry, easier to spot animals, but not too cold in the evenings. The weather is lovely in May but more vegetation.

No need for a 4x4 but for 4 people go for a SUV or cheaper a people carrier type. It's height that helps with viewing.

You can fly directly into Skukuza airport from Cape Town. If expense not a problem this is the easiest option.

Book as early as possible to get the rooms you want. Always try to get view or perimeter cabins, U or V at the end. This will enhance your safari considerably.

Our favourite camps would be Biyamati, Talamati, Satara because of the game viewing, not a great camp, Olifants , and Punda Maria which is maybe too far north for you. Our best sightings have been in the central area.

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5. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

With 4 of you make sure your car is big enough for all of you, plus binolculars, cameras and picnic food. It would be quite uncomfortable to be squashed in for hours on end.

Avoid the June/July and September/October school holidays.

Cape Town, South...
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6. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

I would suggest you book NOW as the best accommodations book up very quickly The Bush camp accommodation is very spacious so would suit 4 people Try Biyamiti

Skukuza is large but accommodation with a river view is great you would have to hire two cottages

Satara is in a very rich game area but maybe try to book the bushcamp at Talamati or the Tented camp at Tamboti or Orpen which is a small camp but has some super family accommodation

Check the availability on the Sanparks.org forum and book online and that avoids all the Hassle and you can change your accommodation online .

As far as cars go Hire a SUV and make sure it has plenty of space My Daughter hired a jeep and the space was limited so we travelled in our car a Qashqai and it was perfect . and there were two of us and three of them .

Happy booking and let us know how you get along

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7. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

1) If you're looking to combine with Cape Town I'd look at either May or September/October as the weather is generally better in Cape Town then too.

2) The southern areas are generally considered to have more game in them. My favourite Camp is Lower Sabie, but Skukuza is also in great game viewing territory. As for the length of your stay, as said above, it really depends on how much time you have. 3 nights is probably the minimum you'd want to spend, but it can go up from there tbh. I normally spend about 6 nights in 3 different camps and then spend 2 or 3 in a private reserve.

3) Absolutely no need for a 4x4 unless you're planning on doing the dedicated off road trails. A lot of people do kruger in a small hatchback and have no problems even on the dirt roads. I would go for the SUV though . I did it with 4 adults a while back and we had enough room in the ix35 (or equivalent).

4) There are direct flights to and from cape town to all 3 kruger airports or you could drive to Jo'burg and fly from there. Most people tend to do Cape Town first then Kruger, but it depends on how your flights etc work out.

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8. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

Hello, self drive is a amazing experience highly recommend and guarantee you won't be disappointed. Flying into the South of the park Skukuza is a great option. My favourite camps are Orpen,Letaba,Skukuza (river front is well worth the extra money if avialiable) all camps are great in their own way. Enjoy every second

Sayulita, Mexico
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9. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

Hi Amanda,

The excitement of planning the is half the fun! Not sure how long you have but we did our trip at the end of Sept and beginning of Oct, the weather was perfect everywhere we went and the game viewing was spectacular. We spent a great week in Cape Town, the drove up the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth and drove into Addo Park for two solid days (it's a quick 30 minute drive) and we enjoyed every second of it.

Then flew to Nelspruit... the most charming little airport you'll ever see. Picked up a car and drove to Marloth Park and stayed at Birdsong Lodge (http://birdsongafricalodge.com/) where we rented one of two amazing 2 bedroom homes for 5 nts at R2,200 per night. Sitting in our private pool and hand feeding zebras and kudu as they walked past every evening was unbelievable. Two days we self drove and two days we hired Kerry with Pride Safaris (https://www.krugerpridesafaris.com/) for R870 per person. She picked us up at 5am and didn't bring us home until 6pm. The cost included entry fee, breakfast at one of the lodges inside the park, snacks and an intimate knowledge of both the animals and the area. There was no question she couldn't answer. We saw the big five on both days, as well as wild dogs, baby rhinos, a cheetah mother and cub with a freshly killed impala and lions mating. Really one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Renting a car is insanely cheap and the basic size was perfectly fine, the highways are in great condition, easy directions and some of the friendliest people we've ever met on our travels. Leslie and Paul, the owners of Birdsong, could not have been any nicer or helpful. Incredible trip all around.

Feel free to contact me with any specific questions. We can't wait to return.

Dale Nall

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10. Re: Self Drive in Kruger for 4 Adults

We went in early May last year. It was great weather with warm days & coolish nights. OK, I saw my breath a few mornings at 5 am . . . We had 4 nights in the public camps in Kruger – Skukuza & Lower Sabie (river view bungalows in both btw) & then we finished with 2 nights in a private lodge on a concession. We walked away feeling that the 2 nights in an expensive lodge was worthwhile but we didn’t want more. We had deluxe treatment & we got up close & personal with some animals because the driver could off-road. This was a good way to discover both sides of Kruger.

But . . . we wanted more self-drive because it was way, way more fun. We are heading back for 2 weeks of only self-drive in a month.

So, since you like planning, delve into the SanPark site. Their forum is a motherlode of info about the park.

See: Index to Kruger National Park Topics


Look at the different camps & plan a rough route. I agree that flying in would be your best option - we started/ended at Skukuza. And as mentioned above, book your accommodations as soon as SanPark booking opens for your chosen time period.


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