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Discuss and find information on the Kruger National Park
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bobandamy
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Things we were glad we did / things we wish we had done

Unread post by bobandamy » Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:21 am

I'm not sure if this is the most appropriate place for this post, so I'm hoping the moderator will move it if necessary. My wife and I and our (nearly) 6 year old have just returned from a truly fantastic trip to Addo, Mt. Zebra, and Kruger. I'll be assembling a trip report soon, but I want to "give back" some advice in return for the many tips that we gleaned from this forum in preparation for our trip. A quick summary of the outcome: we saw more than 225 bird species and 51 mammal species (including Homo sapiens) during our 18 days in South Africa - our very first trip to the continent. The trip definitely exceeded even our VERY high expectations!

Things we are glad we did:

1. Read this forum thoroughly. I can't begin to thank all of you who provided advice, either directly or indirectly.

2. Curbed our inclination to cover too much distance. Our early itinerary in Kruger would have had us driving from Malelane to Shingwedzi during our 8 day visit. Based on advice from Forum regulars, we changed the schedule (as cancellations arose) so that all of our time was spent in the southern 1/3 of the park, with 2 days at Berg-en-dal, 2 days at Skukuza, and 2 at Biyamiti. We did plenty of driving as it was - I can't imagine going the distances we had once scheduled. Some day we'll be able to check out the rest of the park, I hope.

3. Booked a couple of sunset drives. We went on 2 drives, both very productive. One was with Lourens - a highlight of our trip. He is a gem - we even have a picture of him for the trip report.

4. Shopped at the Super Spar (Malelane) before entering Kruger. The shops within the park had even less selection than I had imagined, and of course the prices were much higher. Eating at the takeaways and restaurants in the the park was nice and not too expensive, but early morning food and snacks definitely were important.

5. Flew to Mpumalanga Airport from Johannesburg. The airport at Nelspruit was really nice, and we gained an extra full day in the park. Coming from overseas, each day in Kruger was precious.

6. Drove mostly on the gravel roads. Virtually all of our "quality" experiences were away from the crowds. Even the most corrugated roads weren't too bad (at least compared with Wisconsin/Minnesota back roads). We had a rental Hyundai Tuscon mid-sized SUV that worked flawlessly for us.

7. Started the day early. Except for our last day at Berg-en-dal, we were one of the first cars out of the gate. This paid off big time.

8. Exercised patience at prime locations. Toward the end of the trip just about the only "target" species that we hadn't seen (other than sable) was cheetah. We asked whoever we could for tips, and heard that some had been seen at the Mpondo Dam, so we went there. We read a book to our 6 ear old and waited. Wildebeest, waterbuck, zebra, a huge herd of buffalo, impala, and others came and went (like quite a few cars) during our 2+ hours there. Sure enough, eventually we saw a herd of impala running fast and furious, with a chetah close on their heels. The chase was unsuccessful, but exciting. I think the cheetah had been there hiding all along - we just hadn't seen it. (I guess this makes sense. Why would a cheetah in hunting mode be conspicuous?)

9. Stayed at Biyamiti. What a place! If I were a regular at Kruger I would hesitate to mention this, for fear that it would become even more difficult to make a booking.

10. Brought 2 cameras - one with a telephoto, the other with a "standard" lens. Both were ready for action. We also brought a Wolverine card backup system, which gave us peace of mind that our images were safely stored.

11. Packed lightly. We were able to do laundry during the trip, which kept us comfortable. We needed warm jackets and even gloves on the sunset drives. We could have left our shorts at home.

12. Tried some SA Pinotage wine. Hmmm. That was very nice. I am finding it hard to find here in Wisconsin, unfortunately.

I think I could go on, but this is long enough already.

Things we wish we had done.

1. Stopped at the fruit stands on the way into the park from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga. We ran out of fresh fruit fairly early, and didn't find much within the park.

2. Re-arranged our luggage for the flight from J'burg to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga. The plane was small and had no overhead compartments, so my standard carry-on (with all of my camera gear + binoculars) had to be stowed underneath the cabin. I was not comfortable parting with this stuff, although everything was delivered without a hitch.

3. Kept the fuel tank on our car closer to "full" than
"empty". I had a close call one of the last days because I thought Lower Sabie would have an ATM machine for petrol-funds. Unfortunately it is just a mini-ATM that does not accept foreign cards. We ended up going back to Skukuza for cash and filling with petrol there - the tank was nearly empty.

4. Planned "bladder-stops" more strategically. This seemed to be a recurrent problem for us.

5. Spend more early-morning time between Croc Bridge / Lower Sabie. We didn't do very well in this area, but I think it was partly due to time of day. One desired bird species that we missed was Kori Bustard, which seems to be reasonably common in these open areas.

It's late here, so I'll end with only 5 points. This is appropriate since I think we did more things right than wrong in retrospect.

I will send more details in the trip report.

All the best,
Last edited by bobandamy on Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by Senyetse » Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:55 pm

Have your meat vacuum packed in meal sized portions, it will last longer on ice.

Regarding malaria, remember pills are not 100 % effective and the side effects of some pills can mask the symptoms of malaria in certain individuals. To be safe go overboard and do all the things you describe in addition to taking pills.

Have a great time.
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Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:25 am

On our last trip, we made extensive use of ice sold from the shops and a cooler bag.
We just cut open the packets and poured a few packs of ice over our food.
The meat did last from one destination to the next and in fact needed defrosting once before we braaied.
We were there a short period of time, which is why I am not sure how it would be for large amounts.

I would suggest that you steer clear of chicken, except maybe for the first two nights.
Smoked meats, such as certain spare ribs will keep well.
Have everything vacumed packed, and for the later days have it vacumed packed in marinades. I seem to remember the freezer being pretty much the size of the average fridge freezer.

If the freezers are too small for your quantity of meat, there is always the possibility of just using lots of ice and a cooler bag and replenishing it regularly.
I used about 4 packs a day for travelling purposes.
Last edited by Meandering Mouse on Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rules and regulations

Unread post by Gary1210 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:48 am

Does anybody know where i can find the rules and regulations for national parks?

Your urgent reply would be appreciated.

Regards.

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Unread post by DinkyBird » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:16 am

Hope this helps.

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Unread post by BunnyHugger » Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:06 am

Liora wrote:Thanks for all the info and the excited posts. Now I want to get there more than ever :dance:

Bringing the meat with us, I am getting a bit nervous about not having enough freezer space. Also, is it feasible to pack the meat in cooler bags with dry ice?


Hi Liora.
I have researched the dry ice thing but have not used it yet.
It keeps you stuff cold at about -70 degrees so it will be very cold. I have no knowlegdeof how long it lasts.
The down side of dry ice (other than a very low temp) is that it is solid carbon dioxide, which goes from solid to gas. Co2 is known to attract mozzies.
What works for me a salt water solution which I freeze in 2l coke bottles. I am not certain what the ratio is but I would say about four tablespoons of salt per 2l will give you a solid ice bottle at about -20 degrees. As the water stays in the bottle, the food does not get wet. (I have an aversion to my Rump steak getting "marinated" in water for several days before I braai it.) I have three cooler boxes and use one for food only. It is in this box that I use frozen bottles of water and a saline solution. The salt solution will tend to melt before the ordinary water bottles, but the temperature is still low enough to keep everything cold.
This lasts us around five or six days in Winter. The secret is to open the coolers only when necessary and for as short a time span as possible. Open the box, get your stuff, and close it immediately. That keeps the warm air out and prolongs the life of the ice.
Also important is to keep the boxes out of the sun.
I purchased a Coleman wide body cooler some years ago, which I have found to be useless. If purchasing coolers, rather get the good stuff (it will last and can be used many times in the future. I am confident that you will enjoy the park so much you will want to go back again, repeatedly.)

In the drinks box, I use only ice cubes and this tends to leave rust marks inside, but that is not a biggie in my life.
Hope you have agreat trip.
Bunny Hugger

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Leave KNP alone. Go build a hotel someplace else. Reserves are for the preservation of wildlife.

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Unread post by BunnyHugger » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:18 am

Jazil wrote: BH, we also use 2L coke bottles filled with water which we freeze. I am curious to know why you add the salt if you say the solution with salt will melt before the ordinary water bottles? :?


If you add impurities to water it lowers the freezing point and raises the boiling point. (Primary school science as I remember it).
Therefore adding salt to water lowers the freezing point. To keep it solid, it has to be at a lower temp. (-20 deg.)
Therefore any temp above -20 will turn it back to salt water, but it is still very cold.
Also, being colder, it should keep your food frozen for longer.
Bunny Hugger

Conservation is not an option.
It's imperative.

Leave KNP alone. Go build a hotel someplace else. Reserves are for the preservation of wildlife.

Think Pink. ..

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Unread post by Goggo EJ » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:03 pm

I also use one of those cooler boxes that runs off car battery. Not the expensive condensor type as they take too long to get cold in the first place..... I have an invertor so I can plug it in to mains if needed too.

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Unread post by Goggo EJ » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:01 pm

My drinks have stayed cold in the hottest weather south east Kruger has thrown at me so far! Actually another tip is to freeze your drink itself - works well with juice cartons, and if you decant others into water bottles leaving space for expansion. Then it slowly defrosts giving you ice cold liquid through the day - and acts as cold block in your cool box too! I travel with one of the little DC cooler frigs next to me on the passenger seat as I am usually alone and always have a cold drink available.....

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Unread post by Penny » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:21 pm

Liora dry ice works absolutely brilliantly - buy it in blocks and wrap it in newspaper - do not remove the newspaper (it helps to insulate) and place the food at the bottom of the coolbox with the dryice on top - do not cut the dry ice up but use one solid block. This kept our meat etc for 48 hours on the trip from Durban to Kgalagadi with an overnight stop in Kimberley where we did not even take the coolbox out of the trailer. It works brilliantly. The problem with using anything that has to be be refrozen like blue bricks, bottles of water etc. is that with some of the freezers in the Park there is insufficient room to put both the food and the means to keep it cold into the freezer together unless you have more than one hut in which case you will have more than one fridge. One June holiday we kept meat in a steel belted Collemans coolbox with dryice and did not open it for 5 days and when we did everything was still rock solid!
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Unread post by Pjw » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:48 am

The most basic essentials for a trip to Kruger are
Camera, Sunglasses, Binoculars, sunhat & sunscreen , mosquito repellant, torch, a good map with bird and animal identification included or a separate animal and bird field guide.
During the day you can go for a walk around the camp. There is always plenty birdlife in all the camps and most of the camps have small game like squirrels, bats and so on in them. Sometimes you will just want to have a day time sleep as you get up very early and get tired. Take a couple of books to read or the bigger camps ususally have a selection of wild life interest books in the shop that may interest you. Take time out to just relax under a tree and see what nature has to offer. You will see a lot of the small things like that
Enjoy your 1st safari I know you'll be back for more!
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Unread post by Pjw » Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:20 pm

All the picnic sites have toilet facilities, but the further north you go the fewer there are, As a rule of thumb, there is about 2 hours between each place you could stop at with a loo. Of course there are some shorter and some longer, but thats an average kind of time. The picnic sites in the south have shops where you can get take aways, but as you go further north they seem to do cooldrinks only. All the camps do take aways,, but I think its only Tshokwane and south that have take away and mini resturant facilities.
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Unread post by Freda » Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:38 pm

All your camps have shops and all have restaurants, I think all have take-aways but not sure about Mopani, perhaps someone else can help here.
There is no picnic spot on the H14 from Phalaborwa to Mopani (approx 70kms) so you could take the H9 and stop at Letaba (52kms) then the H1-6 to Mopani, 47kms, depends what time you enter the park.
If you visit Makhadzi picnic site while at Mopani they don't have a shop but they have wheelchair friendly toilets, bit of a steep incline but OK.
Mopani to Letaba, Letaba to Olifants, Olifants to Satara should be fine as not too far apart :wink:
From Satara to Skukuza you can stop at Tshokwane, has takeaways and toilets for the disabled.
Skukuza to Berg-en-dal will need a stop at Afsaal, small shop, nice takeaway and toilets.

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Unread post by Pjw » Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:44 pm

Mopani does have a restuarant with a lovely view over the dam. Great place for a snack and I'm pretty sure it will have wheelchair friendly facilities as it is one of the newer camps in the oark
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KNP Picnic Spots et al info

Unread post by vanalder » Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:56 pm

Sounds like fun with a bit of a challenge thrown into
the mix. Here are some sites you might check:

KNP "Facilities"
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/to ... lities.php

KNP Picnic sites
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/to ... cspots.php

KNP Map with non-camp picnic spots shown
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/im ... erPark.gif

Have a great trip. Daan


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