Travelling to South Africa can be exciting and we all would love to see as much of it in the time we have booked but as you know we do sometimes leave without being able to see everything SA has to offer.

Focus here is whether we end up in a situation on where we either visit the Kruger National Park or do we give it a miss for another out of the city Big 5 Safaris based in Western Cape, Kwazulu Natal or Gauteng?

Most tourist coming to South Africa would usually book Cape Town as the main destination and combine it with a Kruger Lodge Safari and some would not, due to time constraints or other factors such as a low budget since Kruger Lodge Packages can add up when adding logistics and accommodation.

Kruger Safari Experience

Some of the best Safari experiences are captured in the Kruger located in the Mpumalanga Province whilst there are many other reserves around Southern Africa and the best safari parks in South Africa are located in the Greater Kruger which shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park making wildlife traverse freely over 420 000 hectares.

Most of the Greater Kruger reserves are Private reserved consisting of many private luxury lodges and to name few are:

  • Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
  • Thornybush Private Game Reserve
  • Timbavati Private Game Reserve
  • Balule Private Game Reserve
  • Kapama Private Game Reserve
  • Klaserie Private Game Reserve
  • Makalali Private Game Reserve
  • Manyeleti Private Game Reserve

So if you’re looking to book a true African safari experience then look no further than these Reserves. Overall experience at any of these lodges will consist of a luxury en-suite tented accommodations, three meals per day and 2 game activities (3 hours of Game drives or Bush Walks offered depending on the Lodges Terms)

The Kruger National Park Camps is also a great option for families and self-drive groups with accommodation is in self-catering chalets making it affordable.

Main Kruger National Park Rest Camps:

  • Berg-en-Dal (with satellite Malelane)
  • Crocodile Bridge
  • Letaba
  • Lower Sabie
  • Mopani
  • Olifants
  • Orpen (with satellites Maroela and Tamboti)
  • Pretoriuskop
  • Punda Maria
  • Satara (with satellite Balule)
  • Shingwedzi
  • Skukuza

Other parts within the reserve also cater for the more rugged camping tented experience with the same Game activities and meals per day.

Spotting the Big 5 is never guaranteed since its such a large traversing land and that is what makes this Safari a unique experience because when you do find them it’s always worth the safari adventure!

Travelling options to Kruger

The Kruger is a large area and depending on where your book your lodge the travel options may change.

Flights: Flying into Hoedspruit or Nelspruit Airport is great without having to take the 5 – 6 hours road trip.

Self-Drive: Car rental is also a great alternative if you want to also stop on the Panorama route to visit all the main attractions. The only downside it once at the lodge you won’t be using your vehicle for your entire stay.

Road Transfers: There are plenty transfer options to go with but so far the best options I have come across is with Ashtons Tours that offers a daily departure from OR Tambo Airport to Hazyview or Hoedspruit making any of the lodges in the Northern or Southern Kruger easily accessible. Also, offering Private transfers if you would like to add the Panorama route.

Cape Town Safari Trip

Opting to do an overnight or Day Safari in Cape Town in order to see the big 5? op 2 Lodges located the closest to Cape Town would be Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Aquila Game Reserve both lodges offers day visits so you are able to enjoy a safari and lunch for the day or your could overnight. These Game Reserves are both located on 10 000 hectares on traverse land giving your great Safari experiences making it fit in well with your short travel plans in Cape Town.

Another two great Safari Lodge option located just a bit further out of Cape Town would be Garden Route Game Lodge and Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.

Enjoy a 3-4 hour drive on the Route 62 which is known as the world’s longest wine route as you make your way to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. This Reserve is located on 58 000 hectares! Yes, you read correct! Huge land of Cape sculpted mountains, wide Karoo Plains, indigenous flora and flora as well as San Rock Art dating back 3500 years. This Reserve is more than just a Big 5 wilderness reserve giving you more of a true experience with vast options on activities. spend 2-3 nights here and reconnect with nature!

Just up the Garden Route 3.5 hours drive from Cape Town the 11 000 hectares Garden Route Game Lodge property located just off the N2, offers a big5 experience. If you will be coming up a Garden Route you can stop off for a game drive before heading onwards to your destinations or you are able to spend 2 nights here for a full Safari experience.

The Safari Lodges mentioned above offers transfers from Cape Town for your convenience!

What to Pack on a Safari

If you need to know what to wear on a safari in South Africa.

  • Lightweight cotton clothing, in neutral colours
  • a rain jacket and a warm top
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • insect repellent
  • Camera
  • The Greater Kruger is a malaria area – please take your own precautions

Making the Decision

So many great options in the Greater Kruger, Kruger National Park & Western Cape Safari options it is clearly dependant on your budget and travel date flexibility.

As your most likely will be going to Cape Town the guarantee of a Big 5 sighting is almost definite, however, the true African experience of the Kruger is always a winner in my books and if you have the budget to experience it then why not?

I hope the above has given you some more clarity and can assist you in making a decision that will suit you best.

Happy Travels!