Kruger National Park Overview
|Things to Do||People come to Kruger National Park to witness “The Big Five” animals wander their natural habitat. If you come to Kruger for anything else, you’ve come to the wrong place.|
|Lodging||I recommend staying in a game lodge in Kruger Park. Warning, they are pretty expensive (hundreds of dollars per night), but man is it worth it. The lodging cost at most places include all your meals and game drives. There are also game lodges outside of the park that may be less expensive.|
|Getting Around||All of our transportation needs were included with our game lodge. Based on being a passenger, I wouldn't want to navigate the way on a safari tour. I took a quick internet search, and it looks like you can rent a car from some places, but most rental car companies suggest or require hiring a driver.|
|Getting There||There are four regional airports near Kruger National Park, which means you can get direct flights from other South African cities, but not outside of the country. We used Hoedspruit Airport to fly from Johannasburg and on the return to Cape Town.|
|Afford-ability||Staying in a game lodge in Safari National Park is one of the most expensive experiences I've ever had. It's also one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. It was worth every penny.
Staying outside the park will save you a significant amount of money.
Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary
The hubs and I wanted to take the ultimate vacation for our 5th year wedding anniversary so we knew it had to include a Safari at Kruger National Park. I mean, what’s more special than experiencing “The Big Five”- lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and the cape buffalo- in their natural habitat. Our complete South African adventure started in Johannesburg for two nights, Kruger National Park for three nights, and Cape Town for three nights. Get my South Africa Travel Guide for the ‘must do activities’ in this beautiful country.
Visiting South Africa, especially Kruger National Park, makes for an ultimate vacation. There is nothing like witnessing animals of this stature in their natural habitat. I honestly think everyone should be able to have this magical experience, at least once.
1) Select Your Game Lodge In Kruger National Park Wisely
From my experience, once we arrived at our Game Lodge, we didn’t leave, unless we were with someone from the lodge. Honestly, I don’t think you could’ve paid me to go outside our game lodge without one of the guides. Let’s just say, the game lodges are within or extremely close to the natural habitat of the Big Five and other wild animals. I’ll pass on having a 1:1 experience with one of them.
With that said, I was extremely sad to leave Naledi Game Lodge; I just wanted one more night!
Let’s start with the food (I mean…do I need to explain why 😋). All your meals are provided by the game lodge, and for that, I’m thankful! Every single meal was AMAZING…fresh, creative, and beyond tasty. And the thoughtfulness of the staff was first class. During our three night stay, every dinner was in a different location of the complex, from the dining room, to the candle lit deck overlooking the river, to the private dinner in each guests’ room. They made you feel so special.
When we were not on a game drive, there was the option to do a game hide, game walk, or hang out at the beautiful lodge. The game hide is situated above a scenic waterhole, allowing you the potential to witness various animals from a safe and fully covered position. This is the only experience you can do outside of the lodge without a guide.. You can view the livestream of the waterholes here.
During a game walk, you are accompanied by an armed guide to walk in the bush. Imagine that, walking in the bush, the location where wild animals roam. Since it’s during early midday, the chances to run into an animal is rare. The walk gives the amazing opportunity to learn about the ecology of the bush and the evolution of the park and game drives. The hubs and I did the game walk. I must admit, I was a bit nervous but our guide made us feel comfortable with his knowledge of the bush and animals. The knowledge and fearlessness of the guides are unmatched.
2) Get Your Mind Right For Your Game Drives
Early Morning Vacations
To me, vacation is where I can sleep in and slowly start my day. Well, this is not that type of vacation. There are two game drives each day. The first one LEAVES at 6AM and the other, mid-afternoon, an hour or so after lunch.
The “discreet” 5AM wake-up knock on our door always came a bit too early for me, especially since I was experiencing jet lag. If you’re anything like me, this may be a challenge for you as well, the temptation to stay in bed and let the first game drive leave without you. But don’t let the temptation get you. Go on the drive. The good news is that your sleepiness will soon disappear as you climb into the open-air vehicle. The cool morning air will soon hit your face as you witness the sun rising over the bush. Such an amazing view.
The Animals Get Close. REAL Close.
Similarly, I had to “get my mind right” on how close we would get to these wild animals. Picture this, riding in an open-air vehicle and driving up on a herd of African elephants. After watching them eat and learning about their massive size (over six tons), one of the elephants turns to another vehicle witnessing this experience with you. The elephant gets so close to the other vehicle (at least in my head) that it looks like he could easily reach out his trunk and flip over the vehicle. Let’s just say my heart was in my stomach. I was praying that I wouldn’t do anything stupid to make matters worse (there are simple safety rules, like keep everything inside the vehicle, including all body parts). But the elephant didn’t even notice our vehicles. He continued to walk and stopped at the next delicious tree to continue his dinner.
3) Prepare To Relax And Disconnect At Your Game Lodge
Days at the game lodge are consumed with game drives (about three hours each drive) and delicious food. Outside of the aforementioned activities and the optional game hide or walk, there is no additional entertainment or things to do. The rooms do not have televisions and the WiFi is too slow to stream anything (remember we’re in the middle of one of the world’s oldest and largest game reserves.) So, make sure to pack your favorite books and or download any entertainment that you might want to have.
Bring Kids To An African Safari Game Lodge?
I literally cannot wait for the boys to experience a game ride for themselves. The lodge mentions on their website that they welcome children of any age but they do not offer any childcare services. Personally, I will wait until the boys are old enough to follow the simple safety rules because mama will not stay at the lodge with the boys and miss the game rides