The Kruger Park is the ideal self drive safari destination. With the freedom to discover the Park at your own pace, the thrill of finding the Big Five on your own, the Kruger Park offers you a great value for money holiday.
The Kruger Park is an excellent self drive destination as:
* the roads leading to the Park from Johannesburg (and other cities) are tarred and well maintained, well signposted, traffic density is low, there are many fuel service stations along the way and easy-to-follow maps are available. The Johannesburg - Maputo Corridor allows you to travel on dual carriageway for most of the way.
Plan your trip by viewing details of How to Get to Kruger Park, view the Kruger Park Map for the location of restcamps and check the Travelling Time inside Kruger National Park.
* the infrastructure of roads (most are tarmac), outlook points, waterholes and hides within the park and a variety of Kruger Park outdoor activities have been done with the self drive tourist in mind.
* accommodation in Kruger Parkis provided in a number of Restcamps offering different accommodation types and spread from south to north. This offers the self drive visitor the opportunity to explore different areas of the park by staying at 2 or 3 different restcamps during the visit.
* all larger Kruger Park Restcamps offer at least twice daily game drives on open safari vehicles with guides for those who wish to "take the day off".
* the surrounding Mpumalanga area offers wonderful scenic drives to places such as Blyde River Canyon, Pilgrims Rest, Bourkes Luck Potholes, as well as waterfalls, mountain passes and trout fishing streams.
The following is an example of a self drive itinerary and can easily be amended to suit your requirements.
Day 1: Johannesburg - Kruger National Park
Drive from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park following the N12/N4 to Nelspruit (355 km) and then another 46km to Malelane. It will take you about 4.5 to 5 hours including a stop along the way.
Please note the entrance and restcamp gates close at sunset (17h30 in winter) and you need to be in the camp before this time. The speed limit within the park is 50km / hour.
However, should you be delayed, you can use the late entry escorts (at the main gates) until 21h00 at a fee. Enter the Park at the Malelane Gate. You'll be requested to pay a daily conservation levy amounting to R120 / adult / day for foreign visitors.
Proceed to the Berg-en-Dal Restcamp (7km) and check-in at reception quoting your reservation number. Check in at you bungalow or chalet.
Rest of day at leisure until you do your first game drive at about 15h30. Follow the Rhino Trail in the Camp and view the eco-display in reception. Berg-en-Dal also has an Internet Caf - should you wish to check your email.
Get a detailed map of the Kruger Park at the shop and to stock up on refreshments for the game drives. Plan your game drives from the map and check at Reception the list of the day's game sightings and locations.
Start you game drive about 2.5 hours before sunset. Follow the Jock of the Bushveld Route to Crocodile Bridge Restcamp (42km) searching for the elusive creatures of the bush. Remember slow travel and regular stopping produces much more action than covering a lot of ground. There are so many creatures to see and sightings of rare species can be the highlight of your trip.
There are some very interesting rock art sites and en-route stop at one of the Bushman Paintings sites. Berg-en-Dal is the only camp set in a rugged mountain environment and is built on the site of a prehistoric settlement.
Return to camp before the gates close. Enjoy an early dinner at the Rhino Restaurant offering guests an a la carte menu and for breakfast a full English Breakfast or a Continental Breakfast. The restaurant also has the option of light meals.
Retire early amidst the sound of Africa's nocturnal animals
Day 2: Berg en Dal
Rise early to leave camp when the gates open - from 04h30 in summer - for your first game drive of the day. Early mornings and evening time are usually the most productive game viewing periods. Remember to take a camera, binoculars, bird and wildlife reference books and map with.
Follow the circular route to Afsaal Tea Room. The Berg en Dal area hosts white rhino, kudu, impala, giraffe, elephant, reedbuck, klipspringer, grey rhebok and warthog. Leopard are seen regularly in the region - some lucky people have even seen them drinking at the dam in front of the camp.
Wild dog are also found in the area. Lion are usually found in the lower plains on the roads to Skukuza and Crocodile Bridge.
Return to camp and spend the day at leisure before you depart on a Sunset Drive on an open safari vehicle. The drive departs 2 hours before gate closing time and expose you to the nocturnal activities of Kruger's secretive creatures. Experienced guides drive the groups and last for about 3 hours.
After the excitement of the drive return to camp for a late dinner.
Day 3: Satara
Depart Berg en Dal early morning for your next restcamp - Satara Restcamp. Follow the H3 to Skukuza - for breakfast - and then via the H1-3 to Satara. En-route you'll find many opportunities to view game.
At Tshokwane on the H1-3 approximately midway between Skukuza and Satara is a picnic spot with a small shop where you can stop. You'll also pass the most southerly Baobab Tree and some memorial sites.
Satara is situated in an area with the bush relatively open and the animals plentiful and diverse. The camp itself has a rustic charm, with the bulk of the accommodation set out in a series of circles. The camp is well wooded and the bird-life is prolific.
Satara is regarded as one of the best game viewing areas in the park and is particularly noted for the big cats, with lion, leopard and cheetah recorded regularly. General game includes blue wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, giraffe and the ubiquitous impala. Rhino, buffalo and elephant are also easily seen.
Of the smaller animals, the honey badger is something to look out for. At night spotted hyena regularly whoop from the camps perimeter while the repetitive sonar chink of fruit bats blends with the chirp of cicada and cricket. Satara, like other camps, has a plethora of resident birds
On arrival check-in at your bungalow or chalet and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Satara offers you an Eco Information Centre, Film Auditorium, the Nhuthwa Restaurant, a Cafeteria and a Shop.
Enjoy an early dinner before retiring for the day.
Day 4: Satara
Satara offers various routes around the camp with excellent opportunities to view a variety of wildlife on your early morning and late afternoon game drives. Plan your drives and consult the sightings map at Reception.
The N'wanedzi Picnic Site (24 km from Satara) provides a viewing platform with an elevated view down on the N'wanedzi River. About 2 km from N'wanedzi on the S37 Road the Sweni Bird Hide is well worth stopping at.
There is also a bird/game-viewing hide at Ratel Pan near the Timbavati Picnic Site and a picnic site at Muzandzeni.
The following are 5 "specials" to seek in the Satara area: Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Lion, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest and Honey Badger. During your game drives you are likely to see lion, zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, rhino, buffalo, elephant, impala and other buck.
Meals can be enjoyed at the Nhuthwa Restaurant.
Day 5: Pilgrims Rest
Leave the Kruger Park early the next morning via the Orpen Gate about 30 km from Satara. Proceed via the R531 towards Swadini and at the intersection with the road to Hoedspruit keep left towards the Abel Erasmus Pass and Echo Caves for your first stop.
At Echo Caves take the turn-off to Blyde River Canyon (R352). Visit the Canyon, Bourkes Luck Potholes and God's Window before proceeding to Graskop. From Graskop travel to Pilgrims Rest - the historic mining town.
Spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the old town and its variety of curio shops. Overnight at the Royal Hotel
Day 6: Johannesburg
Depart for Johannesburg and home