SANParks - The FAQ

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SANParks - The FAQ

Unread post by DuQues »

SANParks Frequently Asked Questions

Planning and booking your first trip to any of the parks can be a daunting task, so here we should have the answers to most of the questions which you may have, with some useful links to relevant info provided by other visitors.

If at any time you still feel unsure about anything feel free to contact any of the Forum Moderators for a helping hand, or post your question in the relevant forum. It's usually answered very quickly.

Please read a consolidated document on the Rules and Regulations of SANParks (23 July 2015).

Or watch the video!

General information

The Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are the two most visited parks. We have used this page for general information with a Kruger slant (just keep scrolling), for the Kgalagadi we have a seperate topic

Are bookings required?

Always book up front, especially for Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. These parks are very popular destinations and bookings are you run a higher risk of not getting any accommodation by just pitching up, especially during the South African school holidays.

Day visitors to Kruger should also book their visit, especially in busy periods.

Accommodation can be booked 11 months in advance by emailing or calling Reservations or one of the satellite offices. Online bookings can be made 10 months in advance.

You can check the accommodation availability for all parks on this page, and in almost all cases you can view photos of the accommodation by clicking on the little photo on the far right of the type of accommodation you are interested in.

Booking and paying can be done in a variety of ways, but the easiest way is via the real-time, online booking system. Other ways of booking can be found on the reservations page. Note that bookings for disabled people can not be made via the real-time system, these have to be made at least 1 month in advance via mail, fax or phone!
Enquiries about reservations and changes can be made via mail: [email protected] OR by phoning Head Office in Pretoria South Africa at Tel (012) 428 9111 and Fax (012) 343 0905.

SANParks often offer discounts for senior citizens and also for booking through the online system at certain times of the year. Check here for the latest offers.

You'll receive a Client Number and a Reservation Number which must be quoted in all subsequent correspondence.

South African School Holidays and Public Holidays

Check the dates here to avoid the busiest times. Kruger for instance is usually fully booked during the holidays.

Pay the accommodation for the national parks in advance?

All reservations made online will require immediate and full payment by credit card.

If you make you bookings via email or phone, you can still make use of the online facility to make payments. Alternatively you can email or fax your credit card details to the Reservations Department (see above for phone number).

From January 2013 all reservations made via the Reservations Department will require a 50% deposit within one month of the reservation being made. The balance will be due 60 days before the first date of the booking. Failure to make either payment will result in the booking lapsing.

Disability and the parks

For the Kruger National Park, and some of the others, there is a very informative section which you can find here, this section covers probably all the information you will need, from accommodation assessments to specialised tourcompanies to guide dogs.

Car hire

You can visit most parks with any brand or make of car, the roads are well maintained, including the gravelroads. Most of the cars for hire will be white, which is a nice color in summer as the car will stay cooler. Air conditioning is also fairly standard in the car, but to maximise the experienceyou will probably drive with all windows open to let in all the smells and sounds.

While a sedan/saloon car (e.g. Toyota Avensis) will do you for most of the year, during and just after the rainy season (say January till April) a car with higher clearance (e.g. Nissan X-trail) will benefit you more in a lot of parks due to the vegetation growing.

Other parks, the more rugged ones especially need or should be driven with 4x4 vehicles, or contain sections that are for 4x4 vehicles only, so check what you need! In those more rugged parks, like for instance Richtersveld keeping an eye on your petrol is very much advised. An advisory on the pages for that park as an example:
Diesel and 97 Octane Petrol is available at Sendelingsdrif. Note that Lead Free Petrol is not available. The nearest supply of Unleaded Petrol is at Alexander Bay - 80 km.

Kindly note that the roads in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are not sedan friendly, although the roads are maintained on a monthly basis, sedan vehicles find it difficult to cope with the conditions. Here is a topic on the Kgalagadi roads.

All the airports close to Kruger National Park (KMIA, Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa) and Upington airport serving Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are served by the major car rental firms. In addition Avis have an office in Skukuza.

Please check your insurance to see if it covers damage caused by driving gravel roads! Some companies do not have that insurance.

Cash, Credit Cards and Fuel

Although since July 2009 credit cards may be used to pay for petrol in South Africa, this still doesn't mean that all stations will accept your card! Some infrastructure for that service may need to be installed, and in many cases that may simply be too expensive. So make sure you have enough cash on you, just in case! The petrol stations in Kruger will only accept cash or garage cards (which are not available to foreign visitors).

Credit Cards for purchases other than fuel, are widely accepted, and ATM's do accept most bankcards as well. Those with a 6-digit PIN-code are advised to change that PIN-code to a 4-digit one though prior to flying to South Africa to avoid problems.

Skukuza Rest camp has a bank (First National) and a fully functioning ATM. There is also an ATM at Letaba Rest camp but this is limited to withdrawing R2000. Most rest camp shops have a mini-ATM which allow withdrawals of up to R300. However the cash comes from the shop tills so you must check before hand that the shop has enough cash to cover your transaction. Please also be aware that these also rely on communications being up so ensure you have enough cash to cover yourself.

Telephony and Internet

It's usually far cheaper to buy a SIM-card in South Africa, and use that during your vacation. Pop an SMS to one of your friends or family, and they'll all know your temporary number.

More importantly, your phone will not try to connect to the Internet via your home-network! And that will save you big bucks on roaming charges.

You can buy SIM-cards in lots of places. Since the first of july 2009 you are required to show your passport when buying a SIM-card, but you need to have your passport on you at all times anyway, so that's no problem. The Vodacom shop at Johannesburg airport has a facility to order a SIM-card or 3G data dongle in advance.

Skukuza has a Post Office where Vodacom airtime can be purchased.

UMTS is available in (places in) some parks, best ask the forum if the area you are going to is covered.

Your arrival

Staff at the Gates are wonderful. You should encounter no problems whatsoever. From your side have the following with you:

1. If from overseas, your passport
2. Your Wildcard (see below)
3. Your booking confirmation received from SANParks.

You'll receive a document which you need to carry with you at all times. Keep it in the cubby hole or somewhere easily accessible. It should look something like this, although the look of it changes now and then the info contained in it stays the same:


You can download the pdf-file (± 900kb) here so you can read it / print it.
When you check in at camps this booklet, and the slips stapled to it will be asked for by the staff at reception.
Do read the booklet, not only does it have the what can be done/what shouldn't, but you'll also find handy information there like gate times and such!

Wildcard system

What is the Wildcard System?
In short, if you are planning on spending 6 or more nights in the parks then it will save you money on Conservation Fees. Tariffs can be found on this page. Conservation fee tariffs can be found here.

The Wild card can be bought online or at the parks gates. A personalised card will be sent to your home address within 4 weeks of applying but you will be given a confirmation letter at the time of purchase that can be used to gain entry to the parks until the card arrives.


It has been asked a few times, no animals may be brought into a National Park, not even a little dog or bird. This is of course to avoid tranferring disease into the parks. The only exception to this rule is guide dogs for visually impaired, but then only with the proper license. See the section above about disabilities.

What to bring or pack?

Quite a lot, and not really that much. Obviously you'll need clothing, and we would be surprised if you did not bring photography and/or video equipment.

South Africa is quite warm, even in winter. You'll need to be able to layer your clothing, mornings and evenings can be quite chilly. You do not need the wonderful looking "safari clothing", zip off trousers, t-shirts, shorts and a warm jumper or fleece are quite enough. Here is a discussion on clothing for Kruger.

Those going to do 4x4 or camping trips may want to look at the checklist, and create your own from that topic.

People staying in bungalows have it easy, bedding and towels are supplied in all accommodation (except camping). Cooking utensils and refrigeration are provided in most accommodation units. Exceptions will be indicated when booking. Just bring your own shampoo and toiletries.

Photography gear is of course very much up to budget and personal choice, in the photography forum you can find all you need to know.

Binoculars are recommended for viewing animals and especially birds deep in the bush.


Most accommodation has power outlets, unless otherwise stated. There may be restrictions on it though, some camps run generators that are switched off during the night. Campers should bring an extension cord of at least 25 meters long, fitted with the "blue plug". This 240 Volt blue plug is rated at 16 Amps and is suitable for use with extension cables outside.
Chargers for batteries that can be run off the car batteries are recommended for people doing a lot of photography.

More questions?

We hope that this information is all you need, but of course there could be questions left pertaining to your special needs. These might already be answered, but a bit hard to find. No problem, these two links may help you:
- Search the site or
- Search site & forums.

And if even that doesn't help, registering on the forums is free, and most likely someone can answer your question within hours.

Praise and complaints

With well over 3.7 million visitors to the parks per year it is unlikely everything works out to 100% satisfaction for everyone. Far more likely you will have had service above and beyond the call of duty. In both these cases feedback is very much appreciated, please fill in the Guest Feedback Form, and provide as much detail as possible.


Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is probably the best known National Park in the world. It houses the Big 5 (the African elephant, the lion, the Cape buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros), as well as 142 other mammals, 517 species of birds and 1.982 species of plants.
The Kruger National Park has 21 rest camps, as well as 7 private lodge concessions, and 11 designated private safari lodges.

How to get from JHB International to Kruger

From Johannesburg it is about a 5 hours drive to Malelane gate. Getting out of Johannesburg onto the right highway can be a bit daunting, so a detailed route can be found here. New visitors are advised to print that out and bring it along.
Note that the main routes to Kruger, like the N4, are toll roads, so keep some cash ready. You can find the current fees on the SANRAL Website.

The weather
You can find some info on the weather here. This is the weather for Skukuza. For information about the central or northern sections of Kruger, choose the Province of Limpopo and choose the towns of Phalaborwa or Musina.

Health - Malaria


The Kruger National Park is a high risk area. For advice visit this page, if you have more questions this topic is about malaria.

NOTE: We can not take responsibility for any advice given in the forum, it is just that, advice. Please visit your own GP for professional care.

Kruger Camps

General information about all Kruger camps can be found on the main website; Kruger camps. On the forums you can find lots of advice and personal accounts of people who have been there. In the Camps & Roads forum every camp has its own topic with heaps of information. Feel free to ask any question you have about a camp in the related topic.

Best camp for first timers

This is a difficult one to answer upfront as it's all about personal preferences, how long you'll be there and where you're coming from. Have a look at this Poll which others rate as their favourite main camp and this Poll about favourite Bush Camps. A good rule of thumb is like with most other things: if everybody says it's good, they can't all be wrong, can they?

As a rule of thumb:
- the south is the best for sightings, but can be quite busy,
- the middle is great for cats, but less good for other sightings, less busy, and
- the north is great for birding, poorer for other sightings, and very nice and quiet.

When planning your vacation keep in mind that you are on vacation. Unless you really want to, do not plan a camp a day, but instead stay 2 or 3 nights per camp, that saves you packing and unpacking everyday. And don't pick camps that are too far from each other! Kruger normal speed is around 25 km/h, not including stopping for sightings, lunch and such. So realisticly 150 kilometers between camps is a lot, though it can be done.


Please read the Code of Conduct on this website.
There are a few rules that we wish to highlight.
Please don't talk loudly in a car at a sighting or at a waterhole.
Please slow down while passing someone else on a sand road (dust blowing in).
Please don't follow closely behind another driver (we want space, especially if there is an elephant in front of us!!).
Please approach a sighting slowly and quietly, turn down the radio if it is on, switch off the engine!

Getting out of the car is not only downright dangerous, it may get you into the Gallery of shame... Do you have photo's to add to the Gallery of Shame? Email them with details to [email protected].

Discuss about etiquette? You can do so here and here.
Here are some examples of fines.

Unfortunately we have to point out a bit about feeding animals. It happens, and gives huge problems, and even creates danger to humans. SANParks has signs posted with this text:
You feed them, we shoot them!
This is the complete truth! So if you love them, don't feed them...

Advice on how to find animals - driving etc

Don't speed, keep your windows (and ears and eyes) open. Look at the sightings boards at the entrance of the camps, that may give a hint where to find what. Talking to other visitors may also help you find that sighting you otherwise may have overlooked.
Looking with your peripheral vision (looking out of the corners of your eyes) will help you find animals as well, as that is very good in finding motion. That flick of an ear, the leaf betraying the little cat, you name it...

It is not worth speeding in the KNP! Not only will you see less animals, and run the risk of hitting animals, read this:
"I want to assure motorists that we are going to crack down on those elements who insist on speeding on the KNP's road network" says Protection Service head, Mr Prego Reddy, "we will adopt a zero-tolerance attitude and there are no excuses for speeding in the KNP."

The press release stating that, with photo's of the speedtrap officers.

Activities (bush breakfast & bush braai, game drives & guided walks, golf etc.)

First of all, have a look at the activities page of the site to see all the possibilities and pricing. On the forum we have this board for discussing them.


Photography and video is one of the things you are very likely to do a lot in the parks. There is a section called Wildlife Photography Enthusiasts where you can find almost everything from what to bring to photography hints and Photoshop tutorials.
In general: you will have lots of light, so ISO 100 is enough during the day. You will need a beanbag or windowtripod to get the best photos. A normal tripod is not needed as most animals will flee (or attack!) when you put something out of your window.
For birding you will need a long lens, 500 mm or more, for general wildlife a zoomlens like a 100-400 is usually enough. Inside the camps you can have great photo options, birds, bushbabies, bushbuck, etc, so do walk around with a camera and say a 70-200 zoomlens.
Roads can be corrugated, dust abounds in dry season, so equipment does break down. Buy, loan or hire a second body!

Most of the rest camps have restaurants (snacks are available from Crocodile Bridge and Orpen shops). The latest Kruger menu can be found here.

If you are considering self-catering then you might want to read here and here? Worst Kruger food to eat? Read about it in the infamous skilpaadjies topic.

All of the park's main rest camps have retail facilities for both curios and basic provisions (the Bushveld and Satellite Camps have no restaurant or shop facilities). The larger camps have a better selection of stock.

Advice about the supermarkets in and around Kruger.

If you are looking for presents to take home, there are Curio shops run by the local communities at Numbi, Crocodile Bridge and Phalaborwa gates.

Cell phones
The use of cell phones is permitted only in camps, gates and in cases of emergency.

Views about cell phone reception in Kruger. In this thread you can find advice about renting a cell phone or buying a simcard.

What can you do if your car breaks down? Quite a few forummembers have had the unfortunate experience of a flat tire.
Call the The Kruger Emergency Call Centre number which is 013 735 4325. If you have cell reception that is, otherwise you will have to wait for another car. Do not walk to camp!
This number is also the number to call if you see people speeding, littering, crowding sightings and other such nasty stuff. The call centre will pass your information on to the nearest camp or rangerpost. Have a look here for more information on how to report transgressors.

More electricity
The camps are fenced, and electrical wires run through or next to the fence. These cables carry quite a stun, with 6.000 to 10.000 Volts! Even though this sounds like a lot, it is only produced initially from a 12v supply, so the amount of power in it, and hence damaging effects are negligible .
It pulses the power on and off as it generates the power (similar to a cars spark plug), so the shock you feel, is as the pulse comes along briefly every second or so.
So if you want to take photos over or through the fence, watch out for the wires! (And leaning against it is probably not a smart thing to do.)


When will I see yellow ribbons in KNP?

See what...? If you have not heard of that, a little history:
Acekam wrote:I would like to propose that all forum members tie a yellow ribbon to the side mirror of their vehicles when traveling through the park. That way, forum members can be easily identified by other forum members and greet each other.

This has been widely accepted by the forum members, and a lot of them have actually met each other that way.
There is a schedule posted on the forum with the dates members are in Kruger, have a look here or here for all other parks. If you are going to visit a park and you want to have your schedule entered send a Personal Message to Jazil or Dotty by clicking here or here

Copyright The SANParks forum 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012
Last edited by DuQues on Tue May 02, 2006 1:31 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Honorary Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
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Re: SANParks - The FAQ

Unread post by DuQues »

Please note that changes have been made to the Creditcards and petrol, and the Telephone and Internet sections.