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Orpen Rest Camp

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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Unread post by Krokodile » Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:45 pm

The camp shop is pretty good, considering the size of the camp. There again, there is currently no restaurant at Orpen, so it needs to be. Satara is only a couple of hours slow drive away on the tar, and being a large camp has a better choice.

We have always had great game viewing in the area - rhino and jackals aplenty and a lion kill on the Tamboti turnoff once. There are also some lovely drives in the area (if you've not been there, visit the angels favorite, Bobbejaankrans :lol: . Have never seen much on the Timbavati road although the picnic spot down there is gorgeous. The Orpen area is not quite as open as the Satara area, but you should expect similar type of viewings, although maybe a few less cats.

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Unread post by Shidzidzii » Wed Aug 24, 2005 9:03 am

I agree with all the sentiments expressed.
Orpen is a lovely old world charming little camp with the bush on your doorstep and silence at night.
Tamboti is good value and an authentic BUSH tented camp an experience not to be missed.
Maraoela is in my opinion the best camp to caravan or camp - it's privateand intimate , surrounded by the bush and that special atmosphere and even has a communal freezer sponsored by the East Rand Honory Rangers (THANKS AGAIN).
As you may guess I stay regularly (first visit was 40 years ago) at all 3 and could not pick a favourite however they are all 3 rated above all the other camps in my opinion .
Game viewing in the area is excellent especialy when the undergrowth is burnt away. This has been a problem the last couple of years with less sightings (as elsewhere) but the resumption of a burn programme will restore the veld quickly. The only area I may concede as being beter is Lower-Sabie to Crocodile Bridge.
All the roads in the central area are feasable for day trips and lots of picnic sites to visit too.
And reservations especialy last minute one's are easy to get because of the larger camps holding all the reputation - long may it stay that way.
And the staff are all special too being less pressured.

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Unread post by Stoffel » Wed Aug 24, 2005 4:33 pm

I love Kruger in general.
And I always feel privileged to stay there - no matter which camp.
But everybody normally has a favourite (for various reasons).
Personally I prefer the smaller camps and bushveld camps (the latter is unfortunately normally too expensive for me).
We do not care about restaurant facilities, but some people do (especially overseas visitors as they normally cannot bring all necessities with needed for self catering).
For this reason Orpen is one of our favourite camps (actually the favourite).
I have not camped in many camps yet, but of the few I visited, Maroela is no. 1.
I have never stayed in Tamboti myself, but everybody that did so and which I have come upon, says it is tops.

But my main reason for giving preference to the Orpen/Maroela area is my personal experience regarding game sightings.
I have mentioned on some of the other forum pages before that I've been keeping record of all personal mammal sightings in Kruger since 1987.
During this time I travelled more than 9000 km's and stayed in the park for 70 nights.
I had some exceptionally good sightings in the Orpen/Maroela region (especially when Rabelais Dam was still in existence), but have never been really fortunate with predators.
But all in all it is a fantastic game area.
However, I also had my disappointing visits to the area.

From contributions to the forum, I gather that Satara and Lower Sabie are regarded by most forumites as the better camps in Kruger for general game viewing.
Personally I had wonderful experiences in the Lower Sabie region (which are according to my records the second best game area), but Satara is rather low on my personal list (for game as well as atmosphere).

I regard Pretoriuskop as a poor game area in general (although I had some exceptional sightings there too), but for my personal taste it is a camp with a lot of character and charm.
Therefore I love Pretoriuskop, although I never go there with expectations to see a lot of game.

But the diversity in 'first choices' regarding camps in Kruger amongst forumites is one of the nice things to read about on this forum.
If everybody wanted to go to the same place it would have been chaos.

Actually our Orpen lovers should stay quiet about our little haven.
Quite a pity that the rustic huts now also have to make way for "development and progress".

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Unread post by Herman » Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:49 pm

Jose wrote:Hope they will leave the spoors intact. Apart from the lion and leopard mentioned by Loams, there is also a nice buffalo print in the cement between the two office buildings behind the shop.


When I first read about the spoor here, I thought real lions might have walked over the wet cement while they were still building the camp ! On our recent visit to Orpen we stayed in no 3 and right in front of that hut is giraffe and jackal spoor, so I guess they were made by the builders using moulds?
BTW the building site around 1 and 2 was fenced off so I couldn't see if they left the lion spoor intact - didn't look like they did, because there was new paving around. I must say the improvements in Orpen look nice. I agree that it will change the atmosphere a bit, but as long as the camp stays small it'll still be nice. In my book the best renovations ever done was in Punda, where they left the exterior of those old huts and just upgraded inside.
Last edited by Herman on Sun Oct 09, 2005 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread post by LittleLeopard » Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am

Vonnie wrote:Other than the presence of the webcam - what makes Orpen so special?

Like some other Forumites have mentioned on these pages, it has this kind of "untouched" atmosphere and character, more than any of the other major camps in Kruger.

I have always found Orpen-Satara one of the best gameviewing areas in the centre of the Park :P

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Unread post by christo » Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:29 am

I suppose what makes a camp special differs from person to person.

For close up and personal game viewing I only need to refer to the webcam sightings, all visible from the camp.

The atmosphere has been written about, but if you have not experienced it firsthand, you might not understand.

My best experiences were out of season when only a few huts were occupied. The tranquillity and nightsounds are amazing.

I myself am always thrilled by the big cats, of which there are plenty in the vicinity.

Should you wish to venture to spots like Kapama, the Panorama route and the Blyderivierspoort, it can all be easily utilized as a daytrip from Orpen.
Last edited by christo on Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by Shidzidzii » Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:55 am

The upgrade to huts no 1 and 2 is STUNNING .

Features :
Bathroom that is not pokey with toilet on one side, clear-glass shower on other and washbasin in centre opposite a space saving sliding door .
Natural slate tiles and wickerwork light fitting for a very African feel .
The original bedroom now has a slate tile floor, tinted glass sliding door and picture window , natural wood bedroom suite , airconditioner , BIC and matching curtains and quilts in very attractive fabric.
The original verandah is now a kitchenette with all the utensils and appliances that you may need including twin hotplate and sink .
Cupboards are natural wood with black marble tops .
The fridge has a key to lock up against the baboons but I wonder how long before someone "loses" that.
Arguably the most outstanding feature (as we are here for the outdoors) is the new verandah .
IT IS SPACIOUS (HUGE) extending in front of the bedroom and kitchenette with slate tile floors and attractive furniture .
The roof and screen wall is done in rough wood but it also has a polycarbonate (clear plastic) roof above (hidden) for waterproofing - best of both materials .
Where a tree encroaches they just let the roof go around it so you have roof and tree above you .

When all the other improvements are also complete ORPEN could really become the finest gem .
What with a "cuddle-puddle" overlooking the waterhole I imagine this could be ideal for a romantic second honeymoon or "whatever" .
It just gives that "feel" now as nowhere else .
A very warm congratulations to SANPARKS you have outdone yourselves here .

The other huts are being converted a pair at a time every 6 months .
The disturbance is very minimal .

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Unread post by bucky » Sun Jan 29, 2006 10:31 pm

I have always had brilliant trips in the orpen area .
It was better when the rabeleis dam was still a dam , but its still good .
The family cottages there are in my opinion 1 of the nicest family units in the park , with a great verandah .

The only drawback I found last trip , was being overtaken every morning by the staff bus motoring people to the concession camp past talamati .

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Unread post by Shidzidzii » Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:24 pm

1. A new entrance gate reception office , parking area and commercial centre is being built (close to complete) just outside the current camp ensuring privacy to the camp in future. The idea is to keep the Orpen entrance gate aspect separate from the Orpen camp facilities .

2. A new day visitor centre and pool is being developed well outside the camp to keep Orpen private.

3. The 50 year old huts are being renovated (beautifully) as discussed before. The first pair is complete and a further pair will be completed every 6 months . The disturbance is minimal in the camp .

4. A small pool is being built for Orpen residents only . Should be complete by next summer (hopefully by August for Vaatjie).

5. A new gate (same as the one about a kilometer from Orpen is now) is being erected at the common entrance to KNP , Manyeleti and Timbavati (about 8 km Westwards). From there you drive in the Greater KNP Conservancy at 50 km/h until you reack Orpen entrance gate reception office and get your permit to enter KNP proper. All internal fences are already down ( or is that falling down rather ) .

6 The funding was given by the Poverty Alleviation Fund to create employment.

7. Unfortunatly the tar road to Satara - H-7 , will probably get busier not quieter.
Maybe it is time for a few gravel loop roads (a-la-Pretoriuskop) to be constructed to disperse traffic . In years gone by you just needed to go and park at Rabelais dam but the 2000 floods sadly put an end to that era. But Orpen camp is one where you can forego your afternoon drive and just birdwatch in camp and in the dry season watch the waterhole pantomime.

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Unread post by Shidzidzii » Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:26 am

In the 2000 floods the Rabelais dam wall broke and caused a severe erosion gully downstream.

Before that , and the dam still held water , there were always game around which was superb for parking and waiting any time of day and only 12 km from Orpen.

I have witnessed a pair of Cheetah males kill an Impala there .

Apparently the latest research on Sodic Soils points to the area as unsuitable for a dam because of the overgrazing impact . As conservationist we accept that but what a pity from a game-viewing aspect .

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Unread post by bert » Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:31 am

Was my first time at Orpen
Everybody working there, from the gate attendent, reception, shop to the hut attendent were all very friendly and helpfull
Did their best to make you welcome

Although its a gate camp, once on the terrace of your hut you never had the notion that many cars pass by.

And the waterhole is a gem. Always had something to watch and the nightsounds were great.

Just a pity that the pool wasnt leafless. A croc would have got lost there.

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Unread post by Shidzidzii » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:26 am

News about the pool and building work .

The pool will be OPEN as from the school holidays and the long weekend - 22nd September , at last .

The new reception centre is "awaiting funds" before work commences again for the final finishing work .

Interesting though I was reading a November 1991 issue of CUSTOS magazine when the reported on previous upgrades -
- 3 family cottages completed
- Escom electricity laid on
- huts wired for lighting and refrigerators
- "new" reception office and shop (ie the current one as before that it was the cubicle in the middle of the road) .
Up until then the huts had parrafin lamps (later gas) lighting ,
there was a communal parrafin fridge (ala picnic spot fridges) ,
the bathroom hot water geyser was wood fired (donkey boiler which still stands in the back) but there was a Lister generator for bathroom lights only till 9 pm when it would be lights out until an hour before gates open when it would be restarted .
The day visitors picnic spot had braai fires which did supply coals for evening braai's to the huts (by the hut attendants) . The kitchen had a coal stove for hot water and kettles .
The shop only had dried goods and cooled drinks until then . You always brought ice from Satara for sundowners.

How we take amenities for granted !
And rememeber the attendants had duties and hour before and after gates - generator , coal stoves , kettles and donkey burner etc .

The conversion to gas skottel braais was in March 1990 , however Orpen and Punda Maria camps and Babalala and Pafuri picnic spots still had hardwood communal fires for a couple more years (Orpen till November 1991) .

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Orpen Upgraded Units

Unread post by Elsa Hattingh » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:18 am


This is how the upgraded units look in Orpen. It is Stunning.
Last edited by Elsa on Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: pics resized.

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Unread post by Stoffel » Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:49 pm

MLAMBANE wrote:An excellent camp!

I love every single place in the park, but I believe in "Good, Better, Orpen!"

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Unread post by Bush Baptist » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:15 pm

And you have the floodlit waterhole with the webcam thrown in. :dance:
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