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booking a specific unit and guest house questions

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rowingboat
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booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:04 am

Hello,

I'm researching Kruger accommodation before booking for the first time later this year (young family of 5 in Australia). Trying to make the right decisions and develop a streamlined strategy when the time to book finally arrives :-)) Two questions please:

1) During the online booking process, are we able to choose a specific unit? For example, at Satara we prefer 'Guest Cottage GC6B' in the D circle. From the map, Unit 80 faces the perimeter fence while Unit 89 faces bungalows in the C circle. We prefer 80 so what is the best way to secure this please (assuming its availability), can we do this online or should I email the camp after making the booking? (perhaps it's just luck of the draw on the day we check-in, arrive at camp earlier rather than later?)

2) We may splurge on one of the guesthouses during our two week visit. However, I read the following on another travel forum with regard to the Nyathi Guest House at Skukuza, which reads as a sweeping statement for all the guesthouses in Kruger:

"One thing people should know about these bigger houses however is that ALL 4 rooms are entered from the outside. I'm guessing they are designed for groups of couples sharing but those with younger children should know that there are no connecting doors".

And on the SANParks website this is stated as one of the features of the Lebombo Guest House at Olifants rest camp:

"Bedrooms separated from dining room and kitchen"

So does this mean that bedrooms can only be accessed from outside at Lebombo? There is no such statement for the other guesthouse at Olifants, ''Nshawu', so this could be preferable with young kids. That said however, there is no such statement for Nyathi (Skukuza) on the SANParks website either... and being able to quickly reach our kids during the night is important.

Thanks for any assistance.

cheetahlady
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by cheetahlady » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:52 am

Hi Rowingboat

1. You can book the type of accommodation (eg, GC6B) but not the actual unit number. However you can email the camps and request a specific unit after making your reservation (provide your reference number, unit type and dates). They do not guarantee that you will be allocated the requested unit but do their best to accommodate requests.

2. Can't speak about Nyathi but we did rent Lebombo and the bedrooms are separated from the living area, and are not all together. Maybe not the best option if you have younger kids.

3. The GC6V units at Mopani are a good option (if you are going that far north). Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and kitchen all under one roof with a patio table outside.

Enjoy,
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Balule, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge

rowingboat
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Fri Apr 08, 2016 1:24 pm

Thank you Cheetahlady,

I've since received an email from the Duty Manager at Olifants who confirmed what you wrote about Lebombo. Fortunately for us I am also informed that the Nshawa Guest House has two internal bedrooms and two external rooms. Two internals are sufficient so we will try for Nshawa instead, easy!

You have aroused my curiosity in Mopani, I like what I've read today about the camp and surrounds (someone had convinced me to go no further north than Letaba but that may be bad advice). Since we are in Kruger for two weeks we could skip Skukuza as we work our way north to allow time for Mopani (I am in two minds about Skukuza anyway and now thinking BnD --> CB --> LS --> Satara --> Olifants --> Mopani --> final night at Orpen before drive back to Johannesburg).

Hard to know until we go, which makes the planning fun.

Thanks again.

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Elsa
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by Elsa » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:11 pm

We really love Mopani and many say its not a productive area but we have been going there each year for a long time now and have had some amazing sightings there.
The perimeter units are especially nice and I would always recommend them as you have a view over the Pioneer dam, beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Have a read through Requesting specific accommodation for lots of great info and advice and also Index to the best units in KNP

Another good topic if you are looking for more info re Guest Houses in Kruger
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kite
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by kite » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:15 pm

I think many forumites would agree that 2 weeks is sufficient time to go as far north as Mopani.
It is a beautiful camp set in indigenous vegetation, on a rocky hill, overlooking a large dam (only some units & deck/
great restaurant).
The drive up from Letaba passes Middelvlei waterhole which is worth stopping at for a while as it often has good sightings and as you near Mopani, a beautiful picnic spot, Mooiplaas, also overlooking a water in a river.
Try to allow for 2 or 3 night stops as that allows time to explore the surrounding area at a relaxed pace.
I think Croc Bridge only has 3 sleepers, but you should choose either that or Lower Sabie, which has limited family accommodation. However the 3 sleepers at L.Sabie are semi-detached so you could get 2 separated by a low wall on the verandah section.
Enjoy your research.

cheetahlady
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by cheetahlady » Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:06 am

Hi Rowingboat,

The bungalow accommodation at Crocodile bridge only sleeps 3 people, so you would definitely need 2. I am not sure what the ages of your kids are, so you would have to decide if you were comfortable with this or not. This is a smaller camp, so no restaurant, and I don't think there is a pool (we visit in winter).

I never used to be a fan of Skukuza, but we stayed there in 2015 and had a really good experience. We were in 222 (only sleeps 4 , but near some of the guest houses). Even though it was an easy walk to the restaurant, it was quiet (apart from the bushbabies). There is a big choice of roads from Skukuza, and is a good option if you can't get into Lower Sabie. We had fantastic sightings - wild dog, lion, cheetah, leopard. The riverfront is beautiful, and we had some lovely elephant feeding in the river in front of our accommodation. Depending on when you go, you may struggle to get accommodation in the most popular camps (esp if SA school holidays).

We always make a list with first choice, then plan B if that is not available.

Planning is half the fun :)
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Balule, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge

rowingboat
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:39 am

Thank you Elsa, what a wonderfully informative forum, and the links you posted are just so incredibly helpful. I can't believe my luck!

rowingboat
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:09 am

kite wrote: The drive up from Letaba passes Middelvlei waterhole which is worth stopping at for a while as it often has good sightings and as you near Mopani, a beautiful picnic spot, Mooiplaas, also overlooking a water in a river. Try to allow for 2 or 3 night stops as that allows time to explore the surrounding area at a relaxed pace. I think Croc Bridge only has 3 sleepers, but you should choose either that or Lower Sabie, which has limited family accommodation. However the 3 sleepers at L.Sabie are semi-detached so you could get 2 separated by a low wall on the verandah section.
Enjoy your research.


Thank you Kite, I have pasted your comments into our travel notes as we have decided to stay at Mopani :-)
You make a good point, instead of choosing between LS and Skukuza, it could be LS or CB. CB appeals because it's an opportunity for us to sleep in two safari tents (CTT2) in a much smaller camp, and more importantly, I've read that the game drives are particularly good at CB.
At LS we would go for the Family Cottage FU4V (but only two of those) or else two semi-detached bungalows BD3U separated by a low wall on the verandah (thanks for that information).

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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:51 am

cheetahlady wrote: I never used to be a fan of Skukuza, but we stayed there in 2015 and had a really good experience. We were in 222 (only sleeps 4 , but near some of the guest houses). There is a big choice of roads from Skukuza, and is a good option if you can't get into Lower Sabie. We had fantastic sightings - wild dog, lion, cheetah, leopard. The riverfront is beautiful, and we had some lovely elephant feeding in the river in front of our accommodation. Depending on when you go, you may struggle to get accommodation in the most popular camps (esp if SA school holidays).


Thanks Cheetahlady.
222 is one of the five guest cottages (GC4V), which are also our preference. At the end of this row is the Elsie Clarke Guest Cottage (GC4VB) so I wonder which type is better? I intend emailing Skukuza to ask.
Am I correct to assume from your comments that you still prefer LS over Skukuza? I've read that LS is a fantastic camp and from my general reading, a better option than Skukuza, particularly for first-time visitors.
BTW, I should have mentioned that we intend visiting Kruger in the second half of September 2017 (and out of the park before the school holiday begins Sept 30th 2017).

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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by DinkyBird » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:24 am

I am butting in here ;)

Rowingboat, hi - have you looked at Fish Eagle guest house at Letaba, if you are considering a guest house stay. That is my dream guest house. I have never stayed there, but when I do take our family, it will be my choice. It is far right at Letaba on the river.

If you want a smaller camp 'tent' experience, have you looked at Tamboti - there are no tents with 5 beds, and I do not know the ages of your party, but if you book and reserve specific units early, you can ask they be allocated together.

I would rather do Lower Sabie than Crocodile Bridge. I cannot choose between Skukuza or Lower Sabie, I think that will depend on which camps you finally do decide on, with regard to spacing out the camps you stay over in.
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by Friedrich von Hörsten » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:47 pm

Hi Rowingboat,

I just did the north to south trip in 10 days. A bit rushed, but lovely. Try not to spend less than 2 nights per camp. It wastes an awful amount of time to pack up and be out by ten, and then to have to hang around till 2 pm with a car full of kids (if it is hot especially)...

If you are looking for quiet and peace, then try the north like Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Mopani and even Letaba.
If you are looking for predators, then Satara area is good (include Tamboti tented camp and Balule camp); Skukuza is very central with so many different drives on busy or quiet roads. Your best bet to see A LOT of predators is in the south. LS is lovely with many good drives, but currently between LS and Satara it is a bit dryer than usual, with many dams empty. First 40 km north of Satara looks like a desert...
Croc Bridge has plenty of lions, wild dogs and cheetahs, often within 2 km of camp on a daily basis.
On booking a specific unit -- it MOSTLY works well. There are exceptions -- I booked a specific tent in Skukuza last year and it was great. Did the same this year, and on arrival I had been dumped in the worst tent in the camp -- hot and exposed. No, they knew nothing about my request... So do make your request rather early, and confirm again before departure.

Enjoy and God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

Ps. If you are going during HOT weather, make sure you choose a camp where your kids can relax and enjoy the pool. Most camps have a pool. Pretorius Kop has a wonderful pool. During hot weather, try to get out early (EARLY) while it is cool, then relax by the pool with kids till about 3:pm for late afternoon drive.
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay

cheetahlady
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by cheetahlady » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:10 am

rowingboat wrote:Thanks Cheetahlady.
222 is one of the five guest cottages (GC4V), which are also our preference. At the end of this row is the Elsie Clarke Guest Cottage (GC4VB) so I wonder which type is better? I intend emailing Skukuza to ask.
Am I correct to assume from your comments that you still prefer LS over Skukuza? I've read that LS is a fantastic camp and from my general reading, a better option than Skukuza, particularly for first-time visitors.
BTW, I should have mentioned that we intend visiting Kruger in the second half of September 2017 (and out of the park before the school holiday begins Sept 30th 2017).


Hi Rowingboat,

I like the LS area, especially the back rd to Tshokwane/ Mlondozi and Sunset Dam. It has been a while since we stayed at LS as we have not been able to book decent accommodation (we are a family of 3, and prefer units with utensils and own bathroom). We avoided Skukuza in the past because it is a big camp. After our experience last year we will definitely stay there again. Good option to avoid SA school holidays. Should give you more options for accommodation. We usually sneak in before the mid-year holidays.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Albert Einstein

KNP June 2015
Mopani, Balule, Tamboti, Satara, Skukuza, Croc Bridge

rowingboat
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:46 pm

DinkyBird wrote:Rowingboat, hi - have you looked at Fish Eagle guest house at Letaba, if you are considering a guest house stay.
If you want a smaller camp 'tent' experience, have you looked at Tamboti - there are no tents with 5 beds, and I do not know the ages of your party, but if you book and reserve specific units early, you can ask they be allocated together.
I would rather do Lower Sabie than Crocodile Bridge. I cannot choose between Skukuza or Lower Sabie, I think that will depend on which camps you finally do decide on, with regard to spacing out the camps you stay over in.


Thanks DinkyBird!

Following your suggestion I emailed Tamboti and the manager has allowed all five of us to stay in one tent, with our two youngest sharing a single bed (kids will be 6, 8, 10 when we visit). So we will attempt to stay at Tamboti for our final night in KNP.
From one of Elsa's links it appears that the Fish Eagle guest house only has external bedrooms (with outside entrances) that are separated from each other and the main living area. This wouldn't be ideal with young children.

I have two questions please. How do you feel about NOT staying at the Satara Camp to see the Satara area, but preferring Talamati (GC6), Balule (EH3 x 2) and Tamboti (CTT4) instead? Do you think the following itinerary is sensible, with a combination of smaller and larger camps (swimming pool) that are spaced well?

Two nights Berg-en-Dal following long flight and drive from Johannesburg (flight probably arrives 4am)
Three nights Lower Sabie
Two nights Skukuza
Two nights Talamati
One night Balule
Two nights Mopani
Three nights Olifants (hopefully Nshawa Guest House)
One night Tamboti then drive back to Johannesburg.

rowingboat
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by rowingboat » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:10 am

Friedrich von Hörsten wrote:Hi Rowingboat, I just did the north to south trip in 10 days. A bit rushed, but lovely. Try not to spend less than 2 nights per camp. It wastes an awful amount of time to pack up and be out by ten, and then to have to hang around till 2 pm with a car full of kids (if it is hot especially)...

If you are looking for predators, then Satara area is good (include Tamboti tented camp and Balule camp); Skukuza is very central with so many different drives on busy or quiet roads. Your best bet to see A LOT of predators is in the south. LS is lovely with many good drives, but currently between LS and Satara it is a bit dryer than usual, with many dams empty. First 40 km north of Satara looks like a desert... Croc Bridge has plenty of lions, wild dogs and cheetahs, often within 2 km of camp on a daily basis.

Ps. If you are going during HOT weather, make sure you choose a camp where your kids can relax and enjoy the pool. Most camps have a pool. Pretorius Kop has a wonderful pool. During hot weather, try to get out early (EARLY) while it is cool, then relax by the pool with kids till about 3:pm for late afternoon drive.


Thank you Friedrich. We intend visiting second half of September 2017, kids will be 6, 8 and 10.
Thanks for the Balule camp recommendation, we will risk one scary night without electricity :-) then drive to Mopani.
I've posted our current itinerary (16 nights) in my reply to DinkyBird. What do you think, any suggested changes with regard to spacing out the camps?

Cheers

kite
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Re: booking a specific unit and guest house questions

Unread post by kite » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:07 am

It looks like a great itinerary!
The only change I would make is to leave out Balule this time and try for another night at either Talamati or Mopani, depending on availability. That would give you another 3 night stay in a different area as you already have 3 nights in the Olifants/Balule area.
The Balule huts have communal kitchens and ablutions and it is a very small camp, I think, more suited to campers.
There are no utensils, plates, cups, glasses, pots, pans etc supplied which is challenging with a family. There are no windows.
Have you looked at Roaneric's photos on Accommodation Photos pages? She comments that the huts are very cramped inside and shows a photo with just room for the 3 beds.
The 4 sleeper tents at Tamboti do at least have a fridge and a fan but no eating equipment. You could get a few basics at the Orpen shop nearby (but no prepared food) . Possibly have a meal or takeaway pizzas from Satara after drives on way back to Tamboti for the the night.


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