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 Post subject: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 2:01 am 
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Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 1:47 am
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We (Em and El) are wanting to visit Africa for 3 weeks around the end of July but we have absolutely no idea where to go and because it is probably the only time we will ever get to Africa we want to make it the best trip we can!!
We want to see lots and lots wild life and are quite keen on Self driving and camping - preferably with the tent already set up, but we cannot afford to do the fancy safari camps except for maybe a couple of nights to celebrate our 50th birthdays.

Any advice at all would be appreciated...

Which park at that time of year?
Will it be really crowded and if so where might be better?
Who is good to hire a car from?
Which camps are recommended? Rough is fine, we just want to see animals!
Which luxury camp or lodge would you recommend for a mini splurge?
Any itinerary plans would be great.

thanks in advance to all of you Africa experts, New Zealand is a long way away from Africa and way off the beaten track for us - SO EXCITED!


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 3:38 am 
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Hi EmandEl, and warm welcome to the forum. :)

Are you in for a treat! South Africa isn't just a great place to get a "first taste" of Africa, but you are practically spoiled for choice with SANParks offerings. Is self drive and "glamping" is your plan, I'd suggest Kruger and looking at the safari tents available at many of the camps. As for a car hire (as well as camp advice etc ) there are several helpful threads in this board and you can always ask for specifics.

I used this board exclusively to plan my first trip to Kruger. :)

As for luxury on a budget, there are some upscale spots in Kruger as well as many in the surrounding reserves that provide full service without breaking the bank. I will PM you a place we've used twice now if you are interested.

Again, welcome and happy planning!

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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 5:19 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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A warm welcome to you EmandAl :gflower:

I love the sound of your planned trip. :gflower:

The end of July and beginning of August can be a busy time , due to school holidays, but it is a wonderful time for sightings.

A word of warning, avoid the southern Park in the first weekend in August. That is the running of the Skukuza half marathon and it is extremely busy.

I tend to enjoy the smaller camps for camping. My favorites are Crocodile Bridge, Tambotie, Balule and Tzendze.

As Kruger novices, I would advise you to spend most of the time in the south and central Park. July/August can be disappointing in terms of animal sightings unless you are very avid birders. I would however recommend a couple of nights at Tzendze for the pure bush experience. I would also recommend a night at Shipandani or Sable hide for something really unique.

Croc Bridge is possibly my favorite camp for really good sightings. It is close to the S28, arguably one of the most productive sighting roads in Kruger.

Although I prefer Maroela camp to Satara, if you can get a booking at Satara, it is worth taking. There are a number of roads, particularly the S100 and S39, that deliver predators and excellent sightings.

Balule is a firm favorite of mine and another special experience.

Balule and Tendze do not have electricity, but they do have gas freezers and hot water.

I am sure that you are going to get lots of good advice on car hire from our overseas mites.

Enjoy your planning. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 5:36 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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I see you would like tents already set up. :hmz:

Read my previous advice on roads, but Kruger's tented accommodation is by far my favorite.

I would suggest:

3 nights Croc Brige
3 nights Lower Sabie (river view tents, if possible)
3 nights Tambotie
2 nights Letaba
1 night Shipandani hide
3 nights Punda Maria.

These are all camps with tented accommodation. It would mean doing the whole Park in permanent tents.

Croc Bridge and Letaba only offer economy tents, which means shared ablutions. Tambotie offers both economy and semi luxury. Lower Sabie, Punda Maria and Mapungubwe offers only semi luxury. It is all pretty good value though, given the settings.

From Punda Maria, if you still have time I would consider a few nights in Mapungubwe, Limpopo tented camp. Mapungubwe is quite unique and a national heritage site.

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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 6:47 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:19 pm
Posts: 144
Location: The City of Gold
EmandEl wrote:
We (Em and El) are wanting to visit Africa for 3 weeks around the end of July but we have absolutely no idea where to go and because it is probably the only time we will ever get to Africa we want to make it the best trip we can!!
We want to see lots and lots wild life and are quite keen on Self driving and camping - preferably with the tent already set up, but we cannot afford to do the fancy safari camps except for maybe a couple of nights to celebrate our 50th birthdays.

Any advice at all would be appreciated...

Which park at that time of year?
Will it be really crowded and if so where might be better?
Who is good to hire a car from?
Which camps are recommended? Rough is fine, we just want to see animals!
Which luxury camp or lodge would you recommend for a mini splurge?
Any itinerary plans would be great.

thanks in advance to all of you Africa experts, New Zealand is a long way away from Africa and way off the beaten track for us - SO EXCITED!


South Africa is very big and diverse. Cape Town is pretty and it offers a great deal to overseas and local tourists. It has the Winelands, two nature reserve areas controlled by SanParks, Robben Island, some fabulous indigenous theatre at the Fugard and Baxter theatres as well as being historically interesting. When I plan an itinerary for people who will probably only visit Africa once I plan a week to ten days in the Western Cape. It is off-season (except for school holidays) in July in the Western Cape because it is a winter rainfall area. A Winelands Tour, Robben Island, Cape Point, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town Gardens, theatres, restaurants, the aquarium and some other touristy places that may suit your own interests will keep you busy for as long as you are there, regardless of the weather.

The other place I plan for visitors is the Kruger National Park, mainly because it is one of the most famous parks in the world ... oh, and because I love it. You've had - and will probably get more - advice about the KNP. July is an excellent time to be in the Park because it is not too hot then. It can get chilly at night so plan to take layers of clothes. It is the dry season in the KNP.

Basically, and this is just my opinion, I wouldn't bother with luxury camps at all for a birthday treat, but use the money instead to have tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, and to do other "little" luxury things that you fancy as you go along. A bush braai is one of the other little luxuries that I would splurge on - I hear they are fabulous! All the camps are comfortable enough if you are using the camp beds. An investment in units with their own bathroom (and their own kitchen if you are self-catering) is luxury enough. :D

If you choose to spend a few days in Johannesburg, there is also lots to see and do, for example a visit to the Cradle of Humankind, to the Origins Museum where you can get your DNA tested for all kinds of ancestry stuff if that tickles your fancy. They have a lot of information about the San Bushmen. Once again, the theatre will be full of interesting South African pieces. The National Arts Festival takes place in Grahamstown from 1-13 July and thereafter a lot of the works will be showing in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Market Theatre is world famous as an institution which used "struggle theatre" to raise awareness in South Africans of the evils of apartheid.

As you make decisions about general areas you want to visit, people can help with more specific information.

Have fun. :)

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KNP Sable Hide 21 December 2014
KNP Letaba 22 - 26 December 2014
KNP Lower Sabie 25 April to 3 May 2015


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 7:14 am 
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Joined: Tue May 13, 2014 1:47 am
Posts: 2
Thank you Stark - good to know that you planned your first trip through this forum, I think that we will take your advice! And I shall have a look at what others have to say about car rentals...

Meandering Mouse you have given me a lot to start looking at, thank you for that and your great itinerary! I have started checking out the availability of the camps that you mentioned - unfortunately Lower Sabie is booked up for ages and it was one of the places that I really wanted to stay :( I wonder if there are ever cancellations?
How does one go about booking one of the hides that you mentioned? We would LOVE to do that but they do not seem to be on the reservations page? I can't think of a nicer place to wake up on my (eek) 50th birthday :D

Moira de Swardt thank you for your suggestions, I should have mentioned that we are very much going to Africa to see the wildlife not the towns - apart from to land in Jo'berg, hire a car and blast off into the wilderness! We may have a day or 2 spare though so I shall print out your suggestions too x

Anyone else out there - we would love more suggestions!


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 8:19 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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I would also look at Pretoriuskop and Shingwedzi who have bungalows/huts for 2 people that are good value, sometimes cheaper than permanent tents.


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 8:22 am 
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Location: Pretoria
EmandEl wrote:
I wonder if there are ever cancellations?

I would recommend booking something else in the area (eg. a bungalow in Lower Sabie, or another camp that would fit into your itinerary, like Crocodile bridge or Skukuza) and check for cancellations daily, up to about two months before you go.

Unless one books online, you can pay a deposit, and have to pay the balance two months before you arrive. It seems many people, for whatever reason, never pay the balance, and there are often cancellation around two months before.

As for luxury... I'm not quite sure what your idea of a "mini splurge" would be, but we stayed in Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga lodge and Hamilton's Tented Camp (Both in central KNP) for our honeymoon, and I would definitely recommend it - especially Hamilton's. It's full-house - five star accommodation, two guided game drives day, three meals a day + Coffee & rusks on the morning drive, High tea, and sun-downers on the afternoon drive. The only thing that isn't included in the price is your drinks. However, it's NOT cheap :( There may be cheaper options available in some of the private reserves bordering Kruger.

To book the hide, you will have to contact central reservations via phone or email. I would recommend doing that before booking any other accommodation. It's quite popular, so you may have to plan your itinerary around when the hide is available!


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 9:53 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Just one thing It would be wise to purchase a Wild card as you normally have to pay a daily conservation fee But with the wild card after 7 days in the park it pays for itself and saves you quite a sum of money. You can buy it on entering the park And you can pop in and out the park to buy supplies with the minimum of bother ( the shops are OK in the park but anything special is best bought outside in the local super markets at kamatipoort/malelane / Phalabora .)
Happy booking and I suggest you book asap .. you can always change you booking later if there are cancellations

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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 11:09 am 
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Welcome to the forum EmandEl.

Why not consider some time at Kgalagadi and Augrabies. Kruger is very busy at the end of July, but if you can handle a bit of cold weather, (and you are Kiwis after all!) Kgalagadi, would be an awesome adventure, particularly as you are not luxury wimps.

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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 6:49 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Welcome EmandEl ;

Be aware that you will get a different response from every single person who posts here :lol:

We love all the parks that we've been to, but Kruger and Kgalagadi are the top 2. If you are doing a "trip of a lifetime" why not consider doing both? Both are completely different and can be done in a 3 week trip. In 2012, we couldn't decide so that's exactly what we did. I did 2 trip reports - you can view them here if you want:

viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=66002

viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=66391

Regardless of what you want to do, if you are planning on going in July of this year, your choices may be limited to where you can get space.

I wish you luck in deciding because it won't be easy.

......and it may end up being the first of many visits to SA :whistle:


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 7:10 pm 
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Hi EmandEl and Welcome!

Timbits makes a good point, I think that many/most of the overseas members here made their first RSA trip as that "once in a lifetime" trip -- only to discover that it was the start of a life-long love affair.

South Africa is the friendliest country that I have ever visited (and I have travelled extensively) and that's a big part of why I keep returning. The country offers a wealth of variety -- and not only a wealth of wildlife variety, Moira's given you a good idea of the extensive choices on offer -- and the friendliest and most generous people anywhere. :thumbs_up: This year I'll be celebrating the 30th anniversary of my first visit :dance:

I'd agree that Kruger and Kgalagadi are the best choices for a first visit, but whatever you choose, be prepared to fall in love -- and to return!


Last edited by arks on Tue May 13, 2014 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 7:11 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Hi EmandEl. Welcome. I am glad you will be doing a trip to South Africa. The above information is very good and I can't add to it except to say - re Kalagadi: A small hire sedan is not suitable. I am hoping when other mites read this they can give you some more info about suitable vehicles to hire if you are doing that area. Personally I would go to Kruger any day. And in my opinion (thats just me) you can see more animals in July, August and September when the bush and grass have died down for the winter. In the summer months and Autumn there is just too much green bush and high grass to view from a small sedan car. ( I speak from experience - I went end May/beginning June once only). Enjoy the planning and enjoy your trip. :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 7:19 pm 
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Delene D wrote:
re Kalagadi: A small hire sedan is not suitable.

Delene, I beg to differ. I have always visited KTP in a sedan -- Toyota Corolla in 1992; VW Polo in 2007 & 2012; Ford Fiesta in 2010 -- because IMO the cost of hiring a 4x4 is prohibitive, especially as I travel solo. Yes, some of the verges are a bit high for a sedan, but I've never felt that I was missing anything and I'd rather spend my hard-earned dollars on a few more nights in the park. And I have never been the only sedan in the park, far from it.


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 Post subject: Re: Kiwis need help!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 9:12 pm 
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EmandEl, I'm sure you can see the vastly differing opinions which you were warned about! Both KNP and Kgalagadi can be negotiated in sedans, although there are some roads which you will obviously be unable to do in a sedan. More so in Kgalagadi than KNP though, but they are both unforgettable.

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