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Matnikstym's Kruger Trip Report-A Fantastic Time We Had!

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Matnikstym's Kruger Trip Report-A Fantastic Time We Had!

Unread post by matnikstym » Fri Oct 19, 2007 4:36 am

What was I thinking?
This has to be the worst way of getting to Africa from Hawaii! Hilo-Honolulu-Taipei-Hong Kong-Dubai-Johannesburg. It was 60 hours of pure HELL! My reasoning when booking was we could do layovers in Dubai and Hong Kong on the way back and see more of the world. That sounded good on paper, but didn’t really put much thought into how long it would take to get to Africa.

Tom and I left Hilo on September 19th for an overnight in Honolulu. Took an afternoon flight, had a good prime rib dinner at the hotel, had a few g & t’s and off to bed. Woke up early the next morning, took the shuttle to China Airlines, checked in (10 minutes) and waited for Burger King to open. We tried to get China Airlines to check our bags all the way through to Johannesburg, but since the flight to Dubai was after 12:00 midnight, they couldn’t do it.

The first flight wasn’t too bad on an A300 with a pretty good VOD system. The plane was full and the 2-4-2 configuration was nice, and we left Honolulu on time. I watched 3-4 movies, slept a little, played some video games and 9 hours and 40 minutes later we landed in Taipei for a two hour layover. Not much to see in the Taipei unless you like Asian porno magazines, as these were available at most of the shops. There is a museum like thing there with reproductions of the real art you would see if you went to the Taipei Museum.

The next flight was on a 747, again a full flight, this one with no VOD or game system. The food smelled gross, some kind of sushi roll type thing but steamed. I think that was the first meal I ever turned down. Short flight of only 1 hour and 45 minutes to Hong Kong.

Since our bags weren’t checked through, we had to collect our duffels and go through immigration and wait 8 hours for our next flight. The immigration process was quick and we went to the Emirates check-in area but they wouldn’t be open for another 5 and a half hours. If you are a shopper, the Hong Kong airport is for you, I‘m not so didn‘t bother with the shops. Found a Burger King and had dinner and walked circles in the airport. If I had known at the time how easy Hong Kong is to get around, we would have left the airport and went into town, but I didn’t want to take any chances of missing our flight to Dubai.

Finally Emirates check-in opened and we were able to go into the secure area where there is even more shops, a lounge, restaurants etc. Our flight was called and we were again on our way. Another 2-4-2 configuration, another full flight, good VOD system and pretty good food. Took an Ambien and got some sleep and before I knew it, 9 hours later, we were in Dubai.

For anyone with a layover of more than 2 hours, Emirates gives you a free meal in one of the restaurants in the airport. Not bad, nothing to write home about but it did kill some of our 5 and a half hour layover. Then off to the Duty Free where we stocked up on gin. The Dubai airport is big, modern and crowded but there is NOWHERE to sit while waiting for your flight.

Off we go, finally on the last leg of this journey and felt we would be in Africa soon. This flight was full, best VOD system, ICE, but the seats were 3-4-3. I can’t sit still for too long, so the poor guy next to me didn’t get much sleep as I was up and down quite often. 9 and a half hours later, WE MADE IT! 60 hours after leaving home, we were in Africa again! It never felt so good to be somewhere as it felt to be here. Got our bags (30 minutes), went through immigration (15 minutes) grabbed a luggage cart and made our way to the hotel shuttle area over by the Domestic Terminal. They have really cleaned up the JNB/ORT airport, banning all unlicensed porters and taxis and it was a nice, unharassed walk, unlike the other times we went through JNB.

We stayed at the Southern Sun Airport Hotel, a five minute ride from the airport. Very nice hotel, comfortable rooms and a good restaurant. It’s about 1/3 the price of the Airport Sun and I thought it was just as nice. Cracked open the first bottle of gin and toasted to a successful trip. Had dinner in the restaurant and went to bed.

Left the hotel for the Domestic terminal and waited for our flight to be put on the screen. Rented a cell-phone from Vodafone, went to check in, showed my original credit card used to buy the ticket (they did ask for it) and we were on our way to Kruger (KMIA) airport. Nice flight with a chicken salad sandwich and Coke Light (too early for g & t’s) and 1 hour and a half later we landed at KMIA, a really beautiful airport, looked kind of like a big mountain lodge. You could smell Africa in the air and feel it on your skin.

Let The Adventure Begin!

I had been having nightmares for months about this “self-drive” trip we were doing. Elephant trampling the car, trying to change a flat tire surrounded by lions, etc. etc. but when we got there most of the fears vanished and I felt confident that we could do this and enjoy it. Went to the Avis counter, got our car (a Hyundai Tucson SUV-comfortable and roomy) and we were on our way. Anyone considering a self-drive, I highly recommend renting an SUV for the height and suspension. The unpaved roads in Kruger can be pretty bumpy and I am glad we didn’t rent a sedan.

Left Will Always Be Left!

The lady at the Avis counter told me directions to the town to buy supplies. Go left here and in 10km you will see White River. O.K. I chalk this up to jet-lag but my figuring was this: Since I’m driving on the opposite side of the road than in America, the directions must be opposite also. So, we go right and am driving over these hills with a beautiful village and all the villagers in their blue and white church clothes heading back from church. After 25km, Tom said, “how much farther?” I said “I don’t know, it was only supposed to be 10km, but we’ve gone 25km so maybe we should turn around.” He said, “How’d ya f--k this up?” I said “The lady said turn left at the road and I did.” He said “You turned right” I said “Yeah, but since I’m on the other side of the road than at home, the directions are opposite than what she told me.” He said “Left will always be left, no matter what side you drive on.” (and I heard the word moron somewhere in this conversation.)

We turned around and again passed through this beautiful village and all the villagers in their blue and white church clothes, over these hills thinking “I’d like to live in this village.” Some of the houses were brick huts, others had very ornate gates and windows and there were goats all around. Very scenic village, but we were on a mission to get to Kruger.

Found White River and stopped at two supermarkets to stock up on supplies. Coke Light, tonic, and some food. Since it was a Sunday, the shops closed at 3 so we had about an hour to get all we needed. The first store was pretty much wiped out so asked a woman where the other shop was. She said “Turn left at Kentucky” it’s on the right. Here we go again! Kentucky turned out to be Kentucky Fried Chicken, I of course turned right but managed a quick U-turn and found the Super-Spar Market and finished our shopping and followed the signs to Kruger Numbi gate.

Checked in at the park gate and drove a short distance to Pretoriuskop, our home for 1 night. Saw some zebra, giraffe and impala on the way in. Bought our Wild-Card, got our key and drove to our bungalow. There are park fees for every day you are in the park or you can buy a Wild-Card which is cheaper if you are spending more than 6 nights in the park. The cost of the Wild-Card is a bit over $100 U.S. per person and is good for 1 year. The daily park fee without a Wild-Card is around $18.00 per person.

Pretoriuskop Camp

The bungalow here was in the rondaval design. Two beds, shower, toilet, sink, refrigerator, hot plate, air conditioner and that’s about all, not as well equipped as the other camps we stayed at. There was clean linen on the very comfortable beds, great pillows, towels and a bar of soap. I went to check out the restaurants and found a “take-away” restaurant and a buffet style restaurant and decided we would eat at the “take-away” restaurant after our first game drive. Loaded up the g & t and headed out. The way Kruger is set up is the main roads are paved and in very good condition and off of the main roads there are “loops”. The “loops” are mostly gravel, again in good condition but in the corrugated type road and very bumpy. Speed limits on the paved roads is 50kmh and on the gravel roads 40kmh. Rarely do you go that fast as there is almost always something to stop and see.

We took the first loop out of camp and came across a rhino! Of all the animals we hadn’t yet seen on our trips, rhino was the one I most wanted to see. He/she was incredible in size and we spent some time watching it eat grass a bit off the road. Continued on the drive and came across a tssebe, some elephants, more zebra and giraffes, water buck and birds. Pulled off the road for a g & t and watched some zebra eating and baboons playing.

Got back to our bungalow and found out the “take-away” closed at 6, and the menu at the buffet didn’t sound so good, so we had salami and cheese sandwiches, a few more g & t’s and in bed by 8. The rules at Kruger are that you have to be in the camp gate by 6, and must follow the speed limit. Oh yeah, and Do Not Feed The Animals! Not much to do after 6 except eat and sleep. All of the bungalows have braais (bar-b-q’s) for cooking but we didn’t have any food to bar-b-q this night. Another thing to know is that Kruger is very popular, especially on school holidays and you need to book the camps you want early. It was school holidays while we were there and I booked the camps about 6 months out and availability was limited for the first couple of nights. That is the reason we had to spend 1 night here, 1 night there. Two or three nights at each camp would be enough, 1 night is not long enough.

Off to Orpen Camp
Got up early the next morning, had some cereal and headed off to Orpen Camp, our next stop. 182 km from Pretoriuskop to Orpen, and of course I had to stop and see all of the animals along the side of the road. Took most of the day to get there, stopped at Satara Camp for lunch and stock up on tonic. Beautiful scenery on the way up, the usual cast of characters along the side of the road-zebra, giraffe, impala and elephants. Made it to Orpen by mid afternoon.

Orpen Camp
Orpen is one of the smaller camps and there is no restaurant here, but they do have a nice shop and swimming pool. The bungalow was more square in design with a bigger (huge) bathroom and shower, two comfortable beds, even better pillows, a refrigerator, hot plate, air conditioner, toaster, all utensils and large deck. We had squirrels and yellow billed hornbills to keep us company.

I saw a group of black “little ladies” looking into the pool area so I went over to them and asked if I could take their picture, they were so cute. Showed them what they looked like on the screen and they all laughed like crazy! They wanted so badly to go into the pool area, so I told them “Go ahead, put your feet in the water.” They had a ball and giggled at the rather large lady in her bikini and a rather large man in a speedo. I admit I laughed along with them. There is a web-cam at the waterhole outside of the camp, but I never saw a single animal using it.

Loaded up the g & t and went on a game drive. Found a hyena family on the side of the road, and this is where I fell in love with hyenas. They are so fascinating to watch. The mom was nursing her cub, dad (or surrogate dad) was fast asleep. Finally baby woke up and was quite a character! Came across a huge herd of buffalo, at least 200 who surrounded the car. The cutest little buffalo thought he was so tough staring in our window and making all sorts of funny faces. When they finally crossed the road it was time to head back. Stopped to say good-night to the hyenas and were back at camp by gate closing. Tom spotted a snake on a dirt mound, so I took a picture and when back at camp, asked an “independent” guide what kind of snake it was. He said that it’s not supposed to be out this time of year, probably one of the refugees from Mozambique brought it in. I’m thinking “yeah, you leave your country and pack up a spitting cobra?”
Glad we didn’t book him for our night drive!

Since there was no restaurant here (we knew that when we booked) we had salami and cheese sandwiches again and a few g & t’s to ward off the malaria.

We booked a night drive at this camp. It had started raining and had gotten cold but went ahead with the drive. Probably one of the worst drives I’ve ever been on (the worst is coming up). Due to the rain, we didn’t see much of anything, and honestly, I didn’t care if we did I was so cold. Met a nice man manning the gate at the camp. When he found out we were from the U.S. he asked if we had ever met Oral Roberts. I said, “no, we hadn’t” He said “I LOVE that man, I have read his book, I LOVE that man, I saw him on T.V. I LOVE that man.” “When I quit this stupid gate job, I am going to save and someday I will go to America and meet Mr. Oral Roberts”. “I LOVE that man!” O.K.

Got up early again. Tom wasn’t feeling too good. Had cereal and headed off to Shingwedzi Camp, our next stop where we’d be staying 2 nights. Stopped to visit with the hyena family, the baby was quite inquisitive, he went up to another car and sniffed the tires, then mom came and brought him back to the den. The ride was beautiful, big boulders coming out of nowhere, passed the Tropic of Capricorn, which I think is significant since they had a sign stating that was where we were. Not a lot of animals due to last nights rain, (but I did stop at every giraffe and zebra we came across) and I actually set the cruise control for 60kmh. We had 225 km to cover today and Tom slept most of the way. Made it to Shingwedzi in mid afternoon.

Shingwedzi Camp
This was my favorite camp. The bungalow was like a condo. Huge bathroom, comfortable beds, big porch, refrigerator, air conditioner, stove top, all utensils, braai, elephants at the fence and a Laundromat! Definitely time to wash some underwear! One thing I really liked about all the camps in Kruger was the water pressure and hot water. The showers were like heaven! Again, clean towels, linens and a bar of soap.

Again loaded up the car with g & t’s, SaltiCrax and bacon flavored crackers and off we went on a game drive. I found third gear on the car today and I tell you, it made for a much smoother ride. No more sore necks or almost whiplashes! On one of the loops near camp, we came across a herd of around 40 elephants. Turned off the motor and sat with them for awhile at the water hole. Two youngsters started fighting and were backing up into where we were parked. I started the car, put it in gear and floored it out of there! My first almost elephant meets car experience. Scary! Found a river with hippos so poured a g & t and decided that the best place for sundowners are near water. Enjoyed watching the sleeping hippos and birds.
The area around Shingwedzi has a lot of loops, you could spend days without doing the same loop twice. Lots of elephant around too, which is always a plus and saw one crossing the river. When he got to our side, he gave all the cars a “look” so we all backed out and went on our way. Beautiful scenery here and lots of game.

Tonight we were going to try and braai some chicken. At home I have a bar-b-q where you push a button and the thing lights. Here we would be using wood and starter sticks. I tried to watch the neighbor in the next bungalow how to do it properly, but ended up with burnt chicken and raw potatoes. Much better than another salami and cheese sandwich though!

It was raining when we woke up and it rained all night, so decided to sleep in and take a later game drive. Tom was feeling and sounding worse so he was happy to stay in bed. I wasn’t and got up about 10 minutes later and said “Let’s go” Off we went on a drive and found some more hyenas and elephants. Went back to camp, did some laundry and took a nap. Today would be a lazy day. Went on a short game drive, still raining and decided to eat in the camp restaurant. I had lamb chops, Tom had a steak. Best meal of the whole trip! The lamb was so good! Had two or three g & t’s and the bill came to $24.00 U.S.

Letaba Camp
Left Shingwedzi early and headed for Letaba Camp, only 108 km to drive today and since the weather was nicer, we took some of the longer loops off the main road. Stopped at Mopani Camp for breakfast and it is probably the nicest of the camps in Kruger. The breakfast was bacon, eggs and toast with fresh juice for around $3.00U.S. each. Pretty good! They even have “luxury bungalows” here and are building a conference/business center here. The usual cast was on the road, buffalo, zebra, giraffe but nothing really was on the loops. The approach to Letaba is beautiful along the river. Hippos, crocs and birds. Met one of the forumites from the SANPARKS forum who was watching one of the named Giant Tuskers.

The SANPARKS forum members tie a yellow ribbon on their rear-view mirror and when you see another yellow ribbon, you stop, introduce yourself and get some info on current sightings. I met two members and they were very nice people, and the yellow ribbon is a good idea to meet people with the same interests.

Got to Letaba too early for check in, so went to the Elephant Museum they have there. Very interesting, and can learn everything you wanted to learn about elephants! Finally got our bungalow, again in the rondaval design with three beds, large shower, air conditioner, patio with refrigerator, cook top, braai, and most utensils. The camp had many bush bucks in residence, and two kept guard outside our rondaval each night.

Of the five camps we stayed at in Kruger, Letaba probably has the best surroundings. There’s a river in back of the campground and we saw giraffe, hippo and elephants coming down to drink. There is also a resident troop of vervet monkeys which people were feeding, but they didn’t come to our rondaval.

We headed off to the dam with our g & t, but the river and dam was dry. Someone stopped us and said there was a lion kill on the next loop, so we headed for that. The problem with seeing a kill at a public park is that EVERYONE in the area has to go and check it out. It was the only time we encountered traffic and everyone was jockeying their cars to try and see the lions. They were WAY off the road, you’d need binoculars to see them. The only thing worth seeing was the trees above the kill were loaded down with vultures. When talking to our bungalow neighbor later that night, he said he had stayed and watched for four hours! Four hours looking through binoculars? No thanks! We decided not to waste time here and continued on our way, and found a nice hippo pool to have g & t’s, SaltiCrax and pork sparerib flavored potato chips. Amazing! These chips actually tasted like spareribs, not like bar-b-q- chips, but actual spareribs. How they do it, I don’t know, and don’t think I want to find out. After watching the hippos and g & t’s we headed back to camp in time for gate closing.

I don’t want you to think I was driving intoxicated all through Kruger. Not at all, we had it all worked out. Sundowners and g & t’s are an integral part of safari and I had devised a perfect solution to be able to partake in a g & t and still be sober enough to drive back to camp. We’d leave camp between 2 and 3 in the afternoon and at exactly 4 o’clock, no matter where we were, we’d stop, have a g & t (Tom had 2 as he wasn’t driving) and at 5 we’d head back to camp. I tried to time the 4:00 cocktail hour to be by a river, water hole or pool, but it didn’t always work that way. Once we were surrounded by elephants at a water hole, once by buffalo, once at a hippo pool and once on a bridge. A few times we were just in the middle of nothing with only impala or kudu to entertain us. That was sundowners, no drunk driving, around the park!

We decided to have dinner at the restaurant here tonight. Good food, fixed price, buffet style. This was the most expensive meal we had, with a few g & t’s each and dinner, the bill was around $45.00 U.S. Very nice waiter though, and the surroundings were enjoyable with bushbuck waiting for their handout.

We booked a night drive, but I read the pick-up time wrong (different than all the other camps) so missed out. They have an outdoor theater here (and at some of the other camps) and watched a movie about leopards, back to the bungalow and off to bed after a g & t nightcap.

The next day we went back to the lion kill to see what was up, but the lions and vultures had cleaned up and were gone. All that was left was a single hyena. He just ambled along in front of our car, checked us out then walked across the road and stayed long enough for some pics, very cool animal! Then we headed for Phalaborwa, a town just outside the Phalaborwa gate to do some shopping and check out the town. I had done some research on buying property in South Africa, and this was one of the towns I am interested in. Very nice town, lots of b& b’s, shopping centers, restaurants and anything you could think of or need. (other than Burger King or McDonald’s, but there was a KFC.) The Super-Spar market had everything we needed-American style bacon, croissants, muffins, lunch meat, tonic and cream puffs. We were set for the next couple of days.

There wasn’t much game on this drive, even on the rather long and boring loops. There are some kopjes where I tried to find some klipspringer, but none were to be seen. Stopped off at Masorini Hill, a reconstructed archarological site wehre you can see signs of previous human habitation, but noone was here to guide and there was a sign saying “Enter at your own risk” Didn’t want to find out what that meant, so used the loo and continued on to Phalaborwa. Did some souvenir shopping at a local craft shop just outside the gate, all items are handmade by the locals and the money goes to them. Wish I had more room in my duffel as they had some beautiful things there.

We booked a sunset drive at this camp so came back to camp around 3:00, had some ham, turkey and cheese sandwiches on croissants and a few g & t’s surrounded by bush buck off our patio. Tom’s cold was getting worse, none of the OTC medicines at the shops seemed to be working, but he did go on this drive. We decided that when we got to Skukuza Camp, he would visit the doctor there. (It’s the only camp with a doctor and clinic in Kruger.) The drive wasn’t too bad, the best of the organized drives that we went on. Only 2 other people on a huge safari wagon. We came across a giraffe mom with twins. Very cool! Also elephant, zebra and some of the antelopes. Coming back at night we came across some bush babies (too hard to photograph) and a glimpse of a serval, and also another hyena, which I spotted with the spotlights provided to the guests on the safari wagon. (more on this later). The sunset drives organized by Kruger leave camp at 4:30 and return at 7:30, giving you a bit of time outside the gates after closing and they go on some of the loops that aren’t available for tourists. The night drives leave at 8:00 and last until 10:00.

Satara Camp
The drive from Letaba to Satara is only 70 km, so we stayed in camp a bit, had a real breakfast and set off around 10:00. Came across some wildebeest, giraffe, zebra and elephants. Tom slept most of the way, said to wake him when I saw something interesting. I passed up some giraffe and zebra, and when looking in my rear view mirror, they seemed to be saying “Hey, you passed us by and didn’t take a picture, what’s up with that?” So I’d back up take their picture and continue on. Tom would wake up and say “please, no more giraffes!, I’m sick!” We did see some ostrich finally. Tom wanted to see those ever since Hwange last year, and we saw half a dozen a bit off the road.

We got to Satara, got our bungalow, another rondaval but this one was very cramped. I think it’s one of the oldest camps, and they have since improved the design. The room was the same, but the sink was right off the beds. Again, clean linens, towels, a bar of soap, air conditioner, braai, cook top, refrigerator and utensils. The patio area was crowded and no bush bucks.

Satara probably has the best shop in all of Kruger. You could get feta cheese with kalamata olives in olive oil, pesto, raspberry vinegar, macadamia oil, sea salt, cheese cake and most any gourmet “foodie” item you would want. All of the shops sell the basics, everything you’d need including meats, vegetables, ice cream, large wine/liquor selection, laundry soap, batteries, dishes, glasses, pots and pans, and wood for the braai. Anyone thinking of going, you really do not need to bring anything with you. If it’s not provided in your bungalow, you can buy it at the shops and the prices are reasonable.

We had the same bungalow neighbors here as we had in Shingwedzi, nice family from Capetown here for school holidays. Had a good talk with them. There was also a group of ‘birders” with their “bazooka” cameras and tripods running all over camp looking for birds.

The World’s Worst Game Drive

Booked a night drive at this camp, and after dinner and a few g & t’s, we boarded the 22 passenger safari wagon with the 20 other safari goers and off we went….almost. The safari wagons have 2 spotlights mounted on the roof, and several spotlights for passengers to use while out in the bush. BAD IDEA! The protocol for the people holding the spotlights was to search for game and when you saw eyes or movement, you’d yell “STOP” Sounds good in practice, but between the blue-haired lady and the “cute little kiddies” holding the spotlights, I swear we didn’t make it 10km from camp. Every flash of eye would bring a “STOP” and the driver would stop and back up, shine his light and say “Impala.” This went on for the whole 2 hours, and we saw nothing but impala…NOTHING! You’d think they would realize that blue eyes reflected are some sort of antelope….NO! They never got it and if I had a few more g & t’s I would have ripped the spotlight out of the blue haired ladies hands and knocked her on the head! This was really my only complaint about Kruger, how they do the game drives. With 22 people paying $18 dollars each, they can afford a real spotter and give us a real game drive. We had booked another night drive for the next night, but didn’t bother, and since the guide let this go on without educating the people in the wagon, or changing the spotlights, it was the only time I did not tip a guide.

It rained most of the night, and the roof leaked over Tom’s bed. Satara camp definitely needs an update, it was the oldest, dingiest of the five camps we stayed at, but still better than being at home! All the camps are laid out the same. Bungalows are in a circle, around 20 bungalows in each circle. Then a separate area for hut rental and a separate area for campers with their trailers. A very well thought out plan.

Started off from camp and came across a monitor lizard chilling out on a bridge railing, and a small herd of buffalo. Took the paved loop this time and noticed a big herd of wildebeest all looking in the same direction, calling out their alarms. Knew there had to be lions in the area, so drove a bit up the road and parked. Within a few minutes Tom said “Lion” and out of the grass came a lioness and her three cubs. So cool! We were the only ones on the road, they stopped and looked at us, the cubs rolling around, mom trying to get them to get a move on. We were a few meters from a turnoff to a water hole, so after the lions crossed the road, we went to the waterhole and waited, but they never did show up.

Continued on and the usual were out, despite the rain. Buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest. Went back to where we saw the lions yesterday, and they were there, but heading off into the bush, all we saw were their tails in the grass. Waited again at the waterhole, but they never came. Since this was our last full day in Kruger, we stayed out most of the day, packing the g & t in the morning. Went on a loop road, but at one point the water came up to the door of the car and we turned around and spent time on the bridge watching the buffalo come to drink. There were crocs in the water, the buffalo were spooked but still continued across. One buffalo got stuck in the mud and was hoping the crocs would come and get him and get a “You Tube” video, but he managed to get out and the crocs didn’t move.

Bought some really good filets at the shop, and lit the braai and had a great bar-b q dinner. Packed up our stuff as tomorrow we’d be on our way to Mala Mala. Sorry to leave Kruger, as other than Tom being sick, we had a great time!

I’d recommend Kruger to anyone, but if it’s your first safari, I’d spend some time in a lodge/camp to get some knowledge of the animals, birds, and the bush. It was different not having a guide, but since it was our fourth trip, we already knew the basics. I would do this kind of trip again, it was much easier and less stressful than I thought it would be.
The game is there, easy to see and mostly was not far from the road, if not on the road.

The accommodations are comfortable, the roads are well maintained and well-marked. Impossible to get lost. The camps are clean, rooms are clean and as said earlier, you can find everything you need in the shops. The camps were quiet even though full. Gas is available at all the camps. Traffic was never a problem other than at the lion kill, we’d drive for hours with only passing a handful of cars. The staff were very nice, though no interaction like you get when staying at a lodge/camp. A few of the camps have ATM’s and all camp shops and restaurants take credit cards. There is a full service bank in Skukuza Camp.
The next day we drove to Skukuza seeing the usual giraffe, zebra and impala and about 1/2 way there came across 5 lionesses just off the road. So cool! Only 1 other car so we stayed awhile then went on our way. Took Tom to the doctor in Skukuza where he was diagnosed with pneumonia, got some meds. Much better experience than visiting a clinic in the U.S. Walked in, asked for an appointment, the receptionist said come back in 30 minutes, we did, he saw the doctor on time (no waiting) and was out in 15 minutes....all that for only $80.00! Went to Avis where they drove us to Mala Mala for our next three nights in Africa.

Mala Mala was nice, but I really preferred Kruger to that, and other than the wild dogs we saw on our first day there and leopards, there seemed to be more variety in Kruger....and Kruger was 1/4 the price of Mala Mala.

Cost-much cheaper than a lodge or camp
Time out in the bush-we probably averaged 8-10 hours a day away from camp and contrary to popular belief, not all animals go into hiding at exactly 10:00 a.m.
Eat when and what you want
No schedule-do what you want, when you want and for as long as you want, stay at a sighting for as long (or short) a time as you want

No night noises in the camps-one of the things I missed the most
Hardtops-no convertibles allowed in Kruger. Hard to take pictures at times
Night drives-can’t do it on your own and the ones they offered weren’t worth it
No guide-a lot of the fun on a game drive is talking to and learning from a guide. It’s just not the same looking up the birds/animals in a book as it is hearing it from an expert. Missed the interaction that we had from previous guides, James and Victor from LRL, Foster from Somalisa and even Beaven from Susuwe.

Cost of the Kruger Portion of the Trip (IN U.S. Dollars)
$574.00-8 nights in Bungalows at 5 different camps
$730.00-Car Rental 9 days (incl. drop off at different location than pick-up)
$240.00-Car Insurance through Travelex
$100.00-3 Organized Drives for 2 people
$210.00-WildCard Park Pass for 2 people
$300.00+/- -Food
Comes to $2304.00
Divided by 8 nights = $288.00 for 2 people per night
Or in Lodge Terms: $144 pp/pn
*Doesn’t include gin, souvenirs, tips or airfare to/from Kruger

Booking next years trip soon!
Thanks to all the SanParks forumites for the advice given before this trip and it was a pleasure meeting the two "yellow ribbons" I met this year!

You can view my pics
click on the Kruger album
Last edited by matnikstym on Fri Oct 19, 2007 5:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Kruger September 2014

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Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 2:48 am
Location: Pahoa, Hawaii

Unread post by matnikstym » Fri Oct 19, 2007 4:53 pm

sorry it's so long, but wrote it for another forum where most people haven't been to Kruger and wanted them to get the details.
forgot to edit for this forum:
I did NOT feed the bushbuck at Letaba
I did NOT set the cruise control at 60
I did get out of the car once to pick up litter on the road.

Pictures are at:
click on Kruger album
Kruger September 2014

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