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KNP - Itinerary opinions please

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KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by kayliec » Sun May 21, 2017 5:17 pm

Hi All

We are visiting SA for 2 1/2 weeks for our honeymoon in late October 2017. I am a complete amature and have never done anything like this before so these forums have been extremely helpful, please forgive me if you think my itinerary is bad! Please give me your honest opinions and nothing has been booked until I know i have the best final version! Thankyou :)

Our dates - Thursday 19 October - Sunday 5 November (or possibly these days 1 week ahead)

Day 1 - Flight is late afternoon from Scotland
Day 2 - Land JNB mid morning - pick up hire car. Drive to Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, stay 1 night.
Day 3 - Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve (this has been recommended by a friend - opinions welcome) drive to Malelane late afternoon - stay by Malelane Gate for 2 nights
Day 4 - self drive around South Kruger
Day 5 - self drive around Skukuza & Sabi Sands stay for 3 nights
Day 6 - drive around Skukuza & Sabi Sands
Day 7 - drive around Skukuza & Sabi Sands
Day 8 - self drive around Sunset Dam + stay at Crocodile Rest Camp 1 night
Day 9 - leave KNP. Drive to Swaziland stay at Mkhaya Game Reserve
Day 10 - Mkhaya Game Reserve - Drive to Durban (may need to split the drive into 2 days)
Day 11 - Day 17 - Not sure what to do around Durban, would like to do some snorkeling and visit Orbi Gorg. Anyone else got any recomendations? We would have loved to have gone to Mauritius for the 2nd half but i think it'll be too expensive.
Day 18 - Drive back through to JNB for flight back home in late afternoon

As you can see its all very amatuer just now, its my first draft! We will be doing some game drives through the places we stay too so we wont be self driving the whole time.

Thankyou so much for reading this and i look forward to seeing any advice :)
Last edited by kayliec on Mon May 29, 2017 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by Hippotragus » Sun May 21, 2017 6:23 pm

Hi kayliec and welcome to the Forum.

It is great that you will be coming to Kruger National Park.

I don't quite understand "self-drive around Skukuza and Sabi Sands". Skukuza is a camp in Kruger National Park. Sabi Sands is a neighbouring reserve with several camps, but you cannot just drive around Sabi Sands without a reservation at one of their camps. You drive from the Reserve gate to one of the camps and go on organised drives - you do not use your own car again until you leave - no real self-driving.

Have you made accommodation reservations in Kruger National Park. Bookings open 11 months in advance and accommodation gets fully-booked very quickly.

It will take you at least 5 hours from Rhino and Lion Reserve to Malelane Camp.

I think you must urgently look for accommodation in Kruger National Park - any of the camps from Satara southwards should offer good game-viewing in October.

Good luck with the planning - keep the questions coming.
Last edited by Hippotragus on Mon May 22, 2017 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by kayliec » Sun May 21, 2017 6:29 pm


We haven't booked any accommodation yet as we only just got the money through to pay for our trip, so its a little last minute with the booking! We have seen that there are places available still so will be booking this week.

I didnt realise that you can't self drive within sabi sands without a reservation, I thought it was an area in KNP which had camps but that you could still drive yourself around in. So will make sure that we book a camp within sabi sands so that we can do that. I checked and there are still some available :)

We have looked up driving times and can do a 5-6 hour journey no problem in the car ourselves so dont mind that.

Thankyou for your post and tips :)

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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by johanrebel » Sun May 21, 2017 9:49 pm

kayliec wrote:I didnt realise that you can't self drive within sabi sands without a reservation, I thought it was an area in KNP which had camps but that you could still drive yourself around in. So will make sure that we book a camp within sabi sands so that we can do that.
You cannot self-drive in the Sabi Sand, full stop (unless you are a private landowner driving on your own property, but that doesn't apply in your case). If you book a camp within the Sabi Sand you will be taken on guided game drives in a lodge vehicle.


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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Mon May 22, 2017 4:27 am

Johan is right Kayliec, Sabi Sands is out of the question for self drive under any circumstances, no matter where you stay.. Once you park the vehicle, it remains parked until you leave. The only driving is done with a ranger from Sabi Sands in a Sabi Sands vehicle. The Park is actually quite small and there are a limited amount of roads. Self drive would place too much strain on the roads.

Some people don't mind being taken around. Personally, I have grown too accustomed to doing my own driving, so I felt very constrained.

October is a month where it is fairly easy to get booking. If you want a little luxury, why not book one of the guest cottages in Kruger and make use of their facilities.
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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by gbird » Mon May 22, 2017 2:17 pm

Kayliec, in another post you mentioned that you had a budget of GBP 3000. This is approximately R50 000.

Three nights at a camp in one of the private reserves like Sabi Sands could eat up your entire budget. Before you go any further, please check their prices very carefully.

Although you can stay outside the Kruger Park ("stay by Malelane gate for 2 nights") you will need to get in the queue each day for the day visitors entrance to Kruger. Much better to stay in the park itself so that you do not waste valuable time in the early morning which is one of the better times for seeing animals.

From 1 November the camp gates open 1 hour earlier (at 4:30) and close 30 min later (at 18:30). The entrance gates to the park will only open at 5:30. Another good reason for staying inside the park at that time of the year.

You will not want to be in the car the whole day. It can be very hot! A mid day snooze or a dip in the swimming pool (if you are staying at one of the main camps) is very welcome. BUT remember you can only get access to your accommodation from 14:00 so try not to move camps too often. For your proposed itinerary and assuming you are going on to Swaziland afterwards, look at Berg-en-Dal for two nights, Skukuza for 3 nights and Crocodile Bridge for 1 night.

Personally I would skip the Rhino and Lion nature reserve, spend your first night at a B&B close to Kruger, and possibly have 3 nights at Satara and 3 nights at Skukuza. You should be able to get accommodation at these camps.

I hope you manage to get your booking done soon.

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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by kayliec » Mon May 22, 2017 3:42 pm

gbird, thanks for your reply.

Thats correct, with an extra bit of saving I think we will be able to stretch to R60,000.

I have checked Sabi Sands and they are pretty expensive, so we are in discussion via email with them now seeing if they have one that meets our budget, they are been pretty helpful :)

Ideally your right staying inside the park would be best for us. Thanks for letting me know about the times for the gates extended opening hours!

Thankyou I will look into Berg-en-Dal. Also going on yours and a couple of other peoples opinions we are going to skip the Lion and nature reserve.

Thanks so much for your reply :)

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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by Hippotragus » Mon May 22, 2017 4:03 pm

I think you are getting good advice. It would be much better to stay in the park.

I have edited my first comment - I did not mean it to read that you could self-drive in Sabi Sand Reserve if you have a booking. You just drive to the camp and then get driven around until you leave again. We have stayed in several camps there, but much prefer staying in Kruger Park itself and self-driving each day.
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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by DirtTrail » Mon May 22, 2017 7:33 pm

Hi Kayliec

I am from Durban and often travel to the Kruger through Swaziland. You can do Swaziland to Durban in about 7 hours if the borders are quiet. I would recommend stopping at the Imfolozi to break your trip which is about half way and 3 hours from Durban. I have seen a lone female wild dog take down a female nyala at Bhejane hide and you will often get lion on the sontuli loop. I have also seen a few cheetah there and loads of rhino and other game. Oribi Gorge is quite far further South from Durban.(about 2 hours). The uShaka aquarium is quite cool and you can snorkel at vetchies pier just opposite in central Durban. I have seen dolphin there while snorkeling.
Anyway hope this helps with your kzn leg of the trip.

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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by ekoppen » Fri May 26, 2017 12:20 am

Hi Kayliec,
Well I just couldn't resist. You have been given a lot of advice so here's my two penny's worth.
We travel to Kruger each year for five to six weeks in the park. Everybody's reason to visit Kruger is different to be sure. Scenery, African Wildlife, R & R, and so on. My wife and my main interest is wildlife sightings. You will see from our itinerary at the bottom of this posting where and how we spend our time in Kruger with wildlife sightings our main passion. Given the relative short time you will be in Kruger and also your first trip there my suggestion is "make it easy on yourself". Granted you may see just about anything anywhere in Kruger but some areas are better than others.

We like the big cats. You will notice three camps connected by a red line. Skukusa, Satara and Lower Sabi. Major paved roads within the red triangle are shown in yellow. Accommodations in any of the three camps are excellent. Chances of sightings with variety is good to excellent from any of the three, but not guaranteed.

Get up and out the gate early, while game is still moving.
Take water and maybe an energy bar or two
Stick to the paved roads. Sightings are easier and you can enjoy other hunters sightings as well
Safari to anther camp or Tshokwane bush restaurant and have a relaxed breakfast later

Disclaimer: No guarantees of course. "TIA" (this is Africa) As you can see, parts of our 2017 itineraries may overlap. So if I've led you astray you know where to find us. :thumbs_up:


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Skukuza Oct 27, 28, 29,30,31
Orpen Nov 1, 2
Letaba Nov 4, 5
Oliphants Nov 6, 7, 8
Satara Nov 9, 10, 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25
Lower Sabi Nov 26, 27,28,
Crocodile Bridge Nov 29, 30
Skukusa Dec 1,2,3,4

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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by Travelstory » Fri May 26, 2017 7:51 pm

Hi Kayliec,
You have been given a lot of advise.

The most important is to book your accommodations ASAP. As an international traveler myself the Sanparks website is easy to navigate. But time is running low to get this done for an October trip; especially if you are looking for great options. And by great options I mean perimeter view accommodations. To me that is the best. And if you are staying in the park as opposed to the private lodges you should be able to book those within your budget. As mentioned, the private lodges will eat up your budget. Don't feel like you will be sacrificing great overnight stays. There are plenty of options in the camps that are quite nice.

Also - don't schedule too much driving. Try to stay in one camp at least two nights. If Skukuza camp is on your itinerary - for example - then you will have options to drive around that area and casually come back to camp at night to chill; eat at the restaurant or grill out. Packing and moving from place to place night after night will not be relaxing.

I wish you a wonderful time. As you will soon find out, one trip to South Africa or to Kruger will not be enough!!!


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Re: KNP - Itinerary opinions please

Unread post by Waterbuck » Sun May 28, 2017 10:16 pm

Hi Kayliec
You've already been given a lot of good advice, but if I could add some core points:
1) Get into Kruger as soon after you land as possible. If you can't make it on the first day, sleep close to the park and enter early next morning.
2) No disregard to the greatness of Sabi Sands and other privates, but if you are on a tight budget, keep to Kruger main.
3) I have a personal rule of never spending only one night in a camp. If you do, you end up packing out and packing in and enjoying little of the area.
4) With you sticking to the south, Berg en Dal, Skukuza, Pretorius, Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie are all good options. I support Satara, but you may be going a bit far up for a short trip. If you want a bit more privacy, then go for Biyamiti (may be booked up already). If you need good restaurants, go for Skukuza. Wherever you stay, I would recommend a bush walk!!
5) I see you have a week in Durban and that you want to dive. I support the advise that you have received to stop off at Umfolozi. This can be combined with Hluhluwe as both these reserves have great game viewing opportunities. Yet, if you want to dive, then do yourself a favor and head to Cape Vidal and cut Durban shorter. You could even go further north than Vidal and get some of the best diving in SA, but this will depend on time and some of those areas are only accessible with 4X4.
Above all - enjoy the big stuff and the small stuff!!

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St Lucia & KNP Itinerary - Final Draft (hopefully!)

Unread post by kayliec » Mon May 29, 2017 5:02 pm

Hi all,

Firstly thankyou so much for all your help and advice from my other posts, this is my final draft now i think for our Oct Trip, we are going to book everything this week but wanted to put another post on here to see what people thing. This is our first trip to SA and im sooooo excited!! Please do let me know if you think I could improve, im very new at all this.

Day 1- Fly pm EDI-JNB
Day 2- Land JNB am - connecting flight to DUR. Pick up hire car. Drive to St Lucia where we stay for 5 nights.
Day 3- St Lucia - Boat Tour/ Whale Watching
Day 4- St Lucia - Explore town/beaches
Day 5- St Lucia - Snorkeling at Sodwana Bay
Day 6- St Lucia - Explore town//beaches again
Day 7- Drive through to Swaziland and stay at Mkhaya Game Reserve Stone Camp for 2 nights
Day 8- Mkhaya Game Reserve game drives
Day 9- Leave Mkhaya Game Reserve and drive through to Skukuza Rest Camp in their Riverside Bungalow for 2 nights
Day 10- Skukuza Rest Camp game drives
Day 11- Leave Skukuza Rest Camp and drive to Berg-en-Dal for 3 nights
Day 12- Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
Day 13- Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
Day 14- Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp then onto stay at Hazyview appartment for 2 nights
Day 15 - Explore around local area outside of Kruger
Day 16 - Drive to JNB, drop hire car off. Fly home pm JNB - EDI

***edited with your advice to extend our time in Kruger instead of staying in Hazyview. Thanks!!***
Tips/changes welcome!! Thanks again :)
Last edited by kayliec on Mon May 29, 2017 11:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: St Lucia & KNP Itinerary - Final Draft (hopefully!)

Unread post by kayliec » Mon May 29, 2017 6:36 pm

Karin Mitton wrote:This sounds great. I' never been to St Lucia, but it is on my bucket list. The only change I would make is perhaps extend Skukuza by a Night or 2 and reduce Hazyview. Skukuza does have a pool. Then when you stay in Hazieview, you can enjoy the outside of the Park as well as you have had a few days extra inside the Park. The area outside the Park has many gorgeous waterfalls, sights and of course God's window.

Hi karin, i never realised it had a pool too. We can only get the riverside bungalow for 2 nights, but we wont be unpacking so i dont see why we couldnt swap to another bungalow for 1 night or 2, sure we can deal without a kitchen for a couple of days! :) Thanks for the advice

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Re: St Lucia & KNP Itinerary - Final Draft (hopefully!)

Unread post by Mischief » Mon May 29, 2017 7:02 pm

Kayliec,you have been given great advice from Karin.The communal kitchen facilities at Skukuza are great,place to wash up dishes,stoves where you can cook food and always hot water available for early morning tea or coffee.You can also buy a packet with a paper plate,cutlery,serviettes in the Shop.The shop at Skukza is very well stocked so you will not go hungry but there is also the Cattle Baron takeaway at Skukuza and a wooden terrace and inside restaurant also run by Cattle Baron overlooking the Sabie River where you can have a meal served to you.In Skukuza camp you have plenty to do...there is the library which is incredibly interesting,the river walk inside the camp but along the fence.It is a huge camp and you could spend just a day exploring it!My preference but then I am a Kruger fanatic would be to spend more time in the Park!
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