This area of the Kruger Park is no exception, and if you’re lucky and follow a few basic guidelines and etiquette, you too, may well see lots of animals on the drive from Pretoriuskop to Skukuza Rest Camp.
Basically, there are two routes available to take from Pretoriuskop Rest Camp - the more northerly route includes the Doispane Road whilst the southern route, the main road, is busier but also offers the possibility of providing very good sightings of wildlife. We’ll highlight both routes in this guide.
As we usually advise in our guides, leave camp as early as you can, as soon as the gates open, head out and begin your drive. The earlier you get out, the more chance you have to spot animals that are more active at dawn and dusk, and you may well see spotted hyenas, leopards and other predators still walking on the road in front of your vehicle. About 4 kilometres outside Pretoriuskop Rest Camp, you will get the S7 dirt road turn off to your right - take it and after a few hundred metres another turn off, the S10 which goes around Shabeni mountain.
This small road takes you a small way up the mountain and provides spectacular views of the bushveld, especially as the sun is rising. This is a very good area to see animals such as leopard and greater kudu so drive slow, keep your windows open and be alert to any strange sounds or smells that may give animals away.
You rejoin the S7 a short while later and continue heading in a northerly direction. After about 6 kilometres, you arrive at a junction to the S3. Turn right and continue along this road for 10 kilometres. Impala are always seen here and, as the day gets warmer, you may also spot animals such as warthog. This area is also very well known for sightings of rare antelope such as sable antelope (Hippotragus niger).
After 10 kilometres, you’ll join up with the tarred S1 or Doispane Road. This road often has amazing sightings - be on the lookout for wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), black and white rhino, lion and leopard.
The road, being tarred, also gets busier with vehicles driving in and out the Kruger National Park so stop and ask people if they have seen anything special on their drive and where it was. This is a quirky little practice very common in the Kruger Park and, generally, people are more than happy to hand out information on special sightings, often accompanied by smiling children in the backseats still amazed by what they recently saw!
Continue on the Doispane Road for 21 kilometres, until you get to the S65 turn off to the South and drive via the Nwaswitshaka waterhole, where there is often a good chance of seeing the resident lion pride found in that area, along with elephant, and occasionally rhino.
The S65 continues for 13 kilometres before joining the main H1-1 road that comes from Pretoriuskop Rest Camp. Turn right and head towards Skukuza Rest Camp.
Stopping off at Mathekenyane lookout point before arriving in Skukuza is worth it as you, once again, are greeted by stunning vistas of the Kruger National Park, from atop the small hill. You are welcome to get out your vehicle here and stretch your legs before the last few kilometres to Skukuza.
Apart from a 13-kilometre dirt road section, the majority of this route is on tarred roads and is quite busy, as it is often used by registered safari operators who take their guests on safari in the Kruger National Park. We, at Outlook Safaris, are also safari operators with our very own vehicles, guides and chefs based at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp, offering various products for guests to choose from when they come on safari to South Africa.
Driving out of Pretoriuskop, turn right onto the H1-1 and head east towards Skukuza. Seven kilometres after the turn off, you should take the short detour to Shitlave dam. Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatis) are sometimes seen in this area along with Burchell's zebra, giraffe and elephants, often accompanied by fork tailed drongos who fly alongside larger animals as they disturb the bush and alarm insects which fly off. The drongos eat these insects, so they form a close symbiotic relationship with animals and are often seen together.
The Napi detour is also highly recommended and often people see rhino along this short dirt road section. As you drive past the Napi boulder, keep a lookout for chacma baboons and klipspringer antelope, who like to use the rocks, trees and boulders as viewpoints to spot predators lurking in the bush.
Remember to keep your windows open and glance every now and then up into the sky, in order to spot vultures circling around a kill, perhaps giving away the presence of lion or a fresh cheetah kill.
The Napi detour joins the main H1-1 tarred road again and 12 kilometres after re-joining the tarred road, there is another turn off a few kilometres from Transport Dam - the site where the famous “Battle at Kruger” video was shot. Lots of birds are seen at Transport Dam and it’s not uncommon to see ground hornbills as they pick their way through the bush in search of food.
Shortly after Transport Dam, the S65 turn off to Nwaswitshaka waterhole should be taken. It’s a 13 kilometre stretch of dirt road but well worth the effort and is, as described above, a good place to see lion and rhino.Continue on the road until you reach the S1 Doispane road, turn right and head towards Skukuza Restcamp a short drive further.
The Kruger National Park has a lot to offer. Use your time wisely, maximising time during the cooler times of the day, early in the morning and later in the afternoon, when animals are generally more active. Take your rest and relaxation times during midday when it's hot and animals are generally more lethargic and lazy.
For advice on how to approach potentially dangerous game like elephants and lions, have a look at our articles on these animals. Have fun and enjoy the bush!
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