Picture this – it’s your first time travelling to South Africa, and you read on one of those cool travel websites that your trip here isn’t complete until you’ve experienced an unforgettable burnt orange, bright yellow and true blue sunset on a game drive in the Kruger National Park.
After reading that, you think to yourself, “That sounds perfect! Kruger, here I come!”
Naturally, you’d like to keep your safari as… well… natural as possible (you’re looking for an authentic, African bush experience after all), so you decide to book a Kruger camping safari with Kruger Wildlife Safaris. Great choice, if we do say so ourselves.
Fast forward to two days before your flight to South Africa. You start to make your way through your checklist and you realise that you actually have no idea what you’re doing or how to prepare for your Kruger camping safari experience. Panic sets in and all of a sudden, your excitement turns to full-on anxiety… what to do, what to do…
Ok, the truth is this is an over-dramatised, worst case scenario. Many of you would probably be as prepped as you can be for your Kruger safari. But just to be sure you have most, if not all, of your ducks in a row before you leave home, we’ve decided to put together this little blog post with helpful tips as well as what you can expect on your Kruger camping safari.
Now don’t get us wrong, surprises are good too (they keep things interesting), so we won’t reveal every detail of your Kruger safari, only the details that will help you prepare for the awesomeness that is to come.
You’ll be packed and prepared for your Kruger camping safari in no time!…but first, a little background on the spectacular, culturally-rich destination that is South Africa.
SA isn’t like any other country you will ever visit (we probably sound incredibly biased when we say that, but we can back it up). It just has an unmistakable richness to it, whether it be from all of the natural wonders and attractions we have (like the Kruger National Park, for example) or the many friendly, smiling faces that will greet you as you continue on your journey here.
Known to many as the ‘Rainbow Nation, South Africa has 11 official languages and is steeped in diverse cultures, history and heritage. As for the climate – the temperature here averages at highs of 28°C and lows of 8°C in the summer months, while winter temperatures go from 1°C at night to around 18°C during the day. We also get an incredible amount of sunshine (an average of 8.5 hours a day!).
Geography-wise, South Africa is made up of nine provinces and each one has its own uniqueness and appeal. The Kruger National Park spans both the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces and has 12 main rest camps.
Our Kruger camping safaris are based at Pretoriuskop camp, which can be accessed via Numbi gate. This particular camp has a Wimpy restaurant, a swimming pool and a curio shop with truly South African gifts for the family, beautifully-crafted, beaded jewellery, water bottles, mugs, guide books, food and drink items, you name it!
While we always encourage our guests to pack a hat and sunglasses for their Kruger safari, if you happen to forget them (nobody’s perfect, right?), the curio shop has got you covered.
Speaking about the family back home, there’s no need to worry about not being able to get in touch with them. There’s cellphone reception at the camp – just be sure to buy a South African SIM card with airtime and/or data (networks include Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom) to use while you’re here. Just don’t be surprised if you forget to check in with them as you soak up every smashing second of your trip to the Kruger National Park.
When it comes to the accommodation on your Kruger camping safari, you’ll be sleeping in a meru tent (in other words, not your everyday tent) with twin beds, bedding and a wonderbox (confession – we literally just made that name up now). What is this wonderbox, you ask? Well, it provides you with light, a fan for those warm summer nights and it has a plug point and several USB ports… it’s WONDER-ful!
On our camping safaris in the Kruger, ablutions are shared. It’s open for use to all of SANParks’ camping guests and is serviced by SANParks. A major plus is that the building where the showers and toilets are located, is just across the road from our campsite.
Now that we’ve gotten all the technical details out of the way, let’s get to the really fun stuff – the actual Kruger safari!
From the moment you leave Outlook Lodge O.R. Tambo in Johannesburg (aka the base for all of our Kruger safaris), you’ll be exposed to all the natural beauty and splendour that South Africa has to offer.
Our journey to the Kruger National Park seems long, but it’s also the perfect time to catch some z’s, listen to music or catch up on a little reading, so be sure to bring your earphones or that novel that you’ve just bought along.
You’ll see a change is the landscape and you move from buildings and industrial centres to open fields and mountainous backdrops. Our first stop on this journey is ALZU, where you’ll have some time to grab a bite to eat, a coffee or snap some photos of the wildlife at the petroport… yes, ALZU has its own game enclosure. Expect to see buffalo, eland, blesbok and a few ostriches roaming about.
After a stop at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, where you’ll get the opportunity to stretch your legs before we change shuttles, we then head to our final destination – Pretoriuskop Rest Camp, and your home for the rest of your Kruger camping safari.
Have you ever heard that saying by Eleanor Roosevelt that goes, ‘Life is what you make it.’ Well, it’s the same on a Kruger safari. So if there’s one thing you absolutely must do, it’s to expect to have an awesome time. Bring that positive attitude and sense of adventure, and you’re sure to make this a camping safari in the Kruger that you’ll never forget.
Following your arrival at camp, you’ll be introduced to and briefed by our camp manager and shown to your tent.
There’s plenty to see around our camp, which is located along the fence of the reserve, as well as in Pretoriuskop camp itself, so a comfortable pair of shoes is a must. Plus, seeing as how South Africa gets a generous amount of sunshine, don’t forget to pack your sunblock.
After settling in, that afternoon/early evening, you’ll get your first taste of a Kruger safari game drive with either a sunset drive with SANParks (if you booked a Kruger camping safari with us that’s 3 days or longer), a night drive or an afternoon drive with Kruger Wildlife Safaris. Remember, our Kruger safaris are conducted in open game drive vehicles so that you enjoy an unobstructed and comfortable game viewing experience.
If you’re not sure about which drive you’re doing though, just ask your camp manager as early as possible, so that they can check that for you.
While wildlife sightings are never certain on a Kruger safari, and we can’t guarantee that we’ll find what you’re looking for, if there’s a particular animal that you would like to try and find, it never hurts to let your guide know.
Now we know this a pretty obvious fact but, when you’re on a Kruger safari, always be sure to listen to your guide. They’ve got your best interest at heart and at the end of the day, it’s about safety and ensuring that everyone has a great time.
From the moment you set off on your game drive, you’re sure to feel the excitement building. Perhaps it’s due to the anticipation of knowing that an unforgettable sighting could be waiting around any corner.
Oh, and don’t be fooled by those wildlife documentaries that you see on TV – while it seems like you might get ample time to take your photos when you come across a sighting on your Kruger safari, some of those sightings might only last a few seconds. That’s why it’s really important to stay alert, keep your eyes peeled, and keep your binoculars and your camera ready.
And remember to stay hydrated, too, by keeping a bottle of water with you throughout your Kruger safari.
Don’t hesitate to speak up and interact with your guides and fellow guests on your game drives. There’s so much to learn about the Kruger National Park, from the variety of flora to the various bird species and everything in-between… so the more questions you ask, the better!
Our game drives last approximately 3 to 3 and a half hours, and take you down both tarred and dirt roads around Pretoriuskop, and through varied vegetation. During the rainy season in South Africa, Kruger Park become a lush, green, jungle-like locale, which can make it slightly harder to spot animals. Luckily your guides are great at what they do and usually know what to look for in order to increase your chances of spotting something.
Some guests opt to visit the Kruger National Park during the dry, winter months because the vegetation is sparse and you’re more likely to find wildlife near water sources but, if you ask us, the Kruger can be experienced many different ways and, thus, in any season.
Evenings and early mornings in the Park can be nippy at times so even if the weather forecast says sunny skies and warm temperatures during your Kruger camping safari, rather be safe and bring a jacket anyway.
After your game drive on that first day, you’ll return to the camp for supper. Meals on our Kruger camping safaris are always enjoyed in our communal dining tent (basically, the biggest tent at our camp). Breakfast and Dinner is included in our package rates and is usually 2 to 3 courses, so they’re sure to be hearty and filling.
As you enjoy the tasty fare, prepared by our talented chefs, and sip on that glass of divine red wine, get ready to hear all about the sightings that your fellow guests encountered as well as to share and show off all the awesome photos that you took on your Kruger safari that day.
Speaking from experience, we’re pretty sure you would have made a whole host of friends from all over the world, by the end of your Kruger camping safari.
Depending on how many days you decide to stay with us – we have 2 to 7 Day options – each day on your Kruger camping safari (except for Day 1 and your last day) will consist of 2 game drives – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Before each game drive, there will be snacks for you to enjoy and keep those rumbling tummies at bay.
Between those daily game drives, you’ll have plenty of time to take a walk around the camp, a dip in the pool, or to just relax in your tent and take in the sights and sounds of the area around you.
Appreciate the little things on your Kruger safari. Whether it be to stop and truly admire that rich, multi-coloured sunset or a point in time where you just sit outside your tent and listen to the call of the Kingfisher or the African fish eagle – it’s usually those moments that make your trip all the more worthwhile.
We’d like your time on safari and in South Africa to be as worthwhile as possible (for some of our guests, this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip), so we also offer an optional Panorama Route tour on our Kruger camping safaris.
It’s only available to guests that do a 3 Day Kruger safari or more because it replaces your game drives for the day. The Panorama Route is outside the Kruger National Park and is known as one of the most scenic and naturally-beautiful routes in the country! We visit attractions like the Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels, Lisbon Falls and God’s Window.
If you ask us, this tour is the perfect complement to your Kruger camping safari and gives you an all-encompassing experience of South Africa’s Mpumalanga province!
And that’s your Kruger camping safari in a nutshell!
Like we said, while you won’t necessarily be 100% prepared for your Kruger safari (and where’s the fun in that anyway), you can still do your best to cover all your bases.
We hope that, after reading this blog post, you’re pumped and feeling as ready as you can be for your Kruger camping safari. See you soon!
PS: For an added dose on what you can expect, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram – we regularly post sightings that our guests and guides have experienced on their safari.
I went on Safari with Outlook Safaris in June last year on part of a year out. Everything about the company was perfect, even before booking everything was very well taken care of. When I initially emailed with questions I was replied to very quickly and all the information I received was very useful,Robert was very patient with me. The drivers who picked me up in Jo’Burg were very friendly and professional and made the journey up to the Kruger Park very pleasant.I stayed in the most basic accommodation provided but it had all I needed including a fan and heater because the temperature varied so much. The Skukuza Park is stunning, with beautiful birds, baboons all wandering around. The game drives were amazing.
I just want to say that this was one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had. From the moment I first arrived until the sad last day I had to leave was amazing. Moss driving our group to Kruger National Park that first morning. Not sure if it was the early hour, but everyone was quiet and either looking out of the window, listening to their ipod, or getting some more sleep. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After our first stop for gas and snack some conversations started. By the end of the trip, I really missed seeing everyone every day and sharing those wonderful memories. I had such a good time building friendships and sharing laughs. I think I enjoyed making those new friends as much as seeing all of those wonderful animals in their own environment.
Both my husband and myself have traveled extensively and have had unquestionably one of the best experiences of our lives with Outlook Safaris. The first safari we took was the Classic 7 Day Kruger Park Safari, and this January/February we enjoyed the 5 Day Explorer Safari. Both safaris were wonderful and we were able to see many of the “harder to find” animals. The staff is enthusiastic about their jobs and it shows.Their excitement is only outdone by their knowledge of the bush.I would recommend also an overnight at Outlook Lodge on your return to Johannesburg where Chef and Manager Francois will pamper you with wonderful meals. The downy beds and intimate surroundings are refreshing after a soujourn in the bush. All in all, an experience never to be missed.
– Mary & Jim
An incredible company. Debbie the guide and also game driver has a wealth of knowledge and passion for the wilderness like no other. Being a single female traveller, I felt completely safe. All the staff are friendly, the meals delicious and the experience is second to none! The game drive vehicles are large enough to feel safe but small enough to have an intimate experience with the animals.
– Laura M