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With nearly 2 million hectares of unrivaled diversity of life forms fuses with historical and archaeological sights - this is real Africa. The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa.
The park was first proclaimed in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve by the then president of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger. He first proposed the need to protect the animals of the Lowveld in 1884, but his revolutionary vision took another 12 years to be realized when the area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers was set aside for restricted hunting.
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Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
5 - 7
Sabi Sands Private Nature Reserve
I have been visiting the park for my entire life and still jump at every opportunity to get up there with family and friends a few times each year.
We wanted to showcase a tip that encompasses what we have experienced and love about Kruger and have thus designed it in a way that combines the national park experience along with that of the private reserves that make up the Greater Kruger National Park.
This trip offers some of the best Big 5 game viewing opportunities in all of Africa, without pushing your budget.
Bespoke Safari Planner
Conservation Safari Company
The Greater Kruger National Park is an all-year-round destination, one could argue that the winter months, between April and September, are more favorable. During this period temperatures are mostly pleasant (with nighttime temperatures dipping into the high 40s and daytime temps occasionally reaching into the mid-80s). Animals are more active in the cooler weather and with the lack of rain tend to congregate around water holes, making for some exceptional sightings. However, the summer rains bring full waterholes, lush bushveld, newborn wildlife and the summer migrant birds.
Whatever time you decide to safari in the Kruger National Park - you will not be disappointed!
Price per person sharing (for 2 people)
from R00 000.00
[$000.00 @ ZAR14 = 1USD]
Before we can provide a detailed itinerary, we require a 10% booking fee, after which we book accommodation and propose your itinerary. If we can't provide a satisfactory itinerary we will refund the booking fee, but once you are happy we then collect a top up deposit on confirmation and full payment is required 90 days prior to travel.
Day 1, Hoedspruit
Upon arrival at Hoedspruit Airport, you will be met by our transfer representative and road transferred to the Lodge situated on the outskirts of town in a Nature Reserve.
Subject to your arrival time, you will have the rest of the day at leisure to recover from your travels and soak up the nature of your surroundings.
Day 2, Kruger National Park - Letaba
The adventure begins, It's an Early in the morning start as you venture out in an open 4x4 game viewer to the world-famous ‘Kruger National Park’ to experience Africa’s magnificent wildlife. Today you head north, entering the park at Phalaborwa Gate and game driving towards Letaba rest camp.
After brunch take a leisurely stroll through the Elephant Hall. The museum covers elephant evolution, biology, behavior, ecology and research. It also showcases the ivory of eight of Kruger's greatest tuskers (including six of the Magnificent Seven). This site introduces you to these, and some of Kruger's other big tuskers. It also has fun and games for kids and information for schools and educators. Check out our recommended reading for some excellent elephant publications, or our links page to access other useful sources of information on elephants.
Day 3, Panorama Route Tour
After breakfast at the lodge, you head out with your guide to explore the diverse region between the Kruger National Park and the Drakensburg Mountains. The historical Panorama Route is a scenic Highlands Meander drive in the Mpumalanga Province. The route features sensational views of natural wonders including fascinating rock formations and impressive waterfalls and boasts numerous scenic hiking trails alongside a myriad of fauna and flora. The quaint little town of Graskop serves as the gateway to this wonderful route. Panorama’s undoubted highlight is the Blyde River Canyon, one of the world's largest green canyons, filled with lush subtropical vegetation. Some other popular attractions along the route include the spectacular Lisbon, Berlin, and Mac Mac Falls; Bourke's Luck Potholes; the Three Rondavels; and the astonishing God’s Window. Don’t miss the world-famous Kruger National Park and the picturesque gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest, a historic living museum.
Following the tour, you will be dropped back at the hotel in the late afternoon.
DAY 4, Kruger National Park - Satara
Today you head back into the Kruger National park, this time your guide will take you South, entering the park at Orpen gate and making your way to Satara, regarded as one of the best game viewing areas in the park and is particularly noted for the big cats, with lion, leopard and cheetah recorded regularly.
Day 5 Plettenberg Bay to Storms River
Another amazing drive today. We recommend taking in nature's Valley as you exit from Plettenberg Bay turn down towards 'Nature's on a beautiful winding road through the forest until you get to the lagoon and ascend the forest up again towards the main road.
A little further on is the Bloukrans Bridge, one of many epic bridges crossing the deep chasms carved out by rivers over thousands of years - on the national road of our famous Garden Route! Here you can launch yourself off the bridge with a stretchy rope strapped around your legs [crazy people] and shout 'bungee'...but even if you don't, the view point of the famous bridge has a great restaurant for a coffee stop!
Continue onward and head towards the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours. Located in the magnificent Tsitsikamma indigenous rainforest, where secure platforms are built high up in the canopy around giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees that are up to 700 years old! From the moment you launch off the first platform, a new world unfolds as you slide on a steel cable across to the next viewpoint. Once you arrive at each platform you are encouragde to stop for a while and enjoy the view while your guide points out interesting features or facts about the surrounding ecology. If you are fortunate enough, you will spot a pair of Knysna Loeries or the brilliant red plumage of the elusive Narina Trogon. Whatever happens, we’re quite sure you’ll be back again!
If you still have time and or are looking for an alternative to sliding between tall trees, why not stay on the ground and take to a segway - which is fun in itself, but you can tour the village and forest as well - and even the famous Tsitsikamma Big Tree. Included in their 1 hour Segway Tour is a 15-20 minute training session and then you journey through the quaint Stormsriver Village and follow one of a selection of routes among cool pine forest, indigenous forest, or even explore the historical Witteklip bridge or the local township. If you are up for more, join the 2 hour tour which enters the ancient indigenous Tsitsikamma Forests to the famous and majestic 800 year old Tsitsikamma Big Tree and back to the village.
You could also just drive to The Big Tree, close to the village of Storms River. Here standing guard over the treetop canopy in the heart of the forest is an eight hundred - year-old Yellowwood. This majestic tree towers over the rest of the canopy; standing 36+m tall and with a trunk circumference of 9m – this is a giant among giants.
Once you have had your fill of the forests, head to your luxury accommodation for the evening, which has enchanting views of the rugged coastline, river gorge, and surrounding plantations. Cap off a wonderful day with a drink while watching the sunset over the ocean or a relaxing spa treatment...
Day 6, Storms River
Your last day to connect with the ocean and what a fantastic day it can be, spend it down at the Storms River mouth, where booming breakers of the Indian Ocean relentlessly pound rocky shores, where temperate high forest and fynbos roll down to the sea in an unspoilt verdant carpet, where ancient rivers carve their paths to the ocean down rocky ravines.
There are some fantastic trails;
Waterfall Trail: (6km). This 6 km walk is the start of the Otter trail, and takes one along the rocky shoreline for 3 km to where the Tweeriviere River falls 50m into a large pool before cascading into the sea. You return along the same path. Suitable footwear is vital as there are sections over rocks. Allow at least 3 hours. Great picnic site and swimming is possible n the large pool of the waterfall.
Stormsriver Mouth Hike (2km). Cross the small beach and then follow a boardwalk as it meanders up and down through coastal forest, allowing views of the sea, coast and river mouth. The highlight is the 77m long suspension bridge crossing the Storms River Mouth, taking you to a pebble beach, before ascending steeply to a viewpoint over the coast – well worth the effort! One does not have to go to the viewpoint, but can return immediately via a circular route that takes one over 2 smaller suspension bridges before rejoining the boardwalk.
Kayaking and Lilo adventure up the Storms River is a two and a half hour Kayak & Lilo Adventure up the Storms River Gorge. You’ll get to explore deeper into the hidden world of the Storms River Gorge than most people ever do and experience the long, bottomless pools, deep caves and ancient indigenous forests with nothing but the quiet noises of nature around you.
Snorkelling in Storms River Mouth. Experience what lies beneath the ocean around the Storms River Mouth by snorkeling across the ocean’s surface, marveling at the spectacular marine life from above, chasing fish over the reefs and spotting sun rays on the ocean bed. The coastline along the Tsitsikamma National Park is a conservation area and remains untouched. All the marine life is protected and means that you will not only see more but get much closer too.
Head back to your lodge after an action-packed day for a final night in view of the ocean...
Day 7- 9, Shamwari Game Reserve
This will be the longest of the drives you take on the garden Route Self Drive, and it is only two hours or so and on good quality highways most of the way! Leave the mountains and forests behind, passing the city of Port Elizabeth, and on to Shamwari Game Reserve. There is one thing we won't compromise on and that is quality game viewing at verified and quality destinations. There are plenty of cheaper and smaller reserves claiming a lot of things but rest assured the additional money spent on a good reserve is well worth it. This may well be the highlight of your trip, spending time watching Africa's iconic wildlife, while being pampered in 5 star accommodation and looked after by their warm hospitality team.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve is a premier safari and holiday destination in South Africa’s ecologically and culturally significant Eastern Cape Province.
Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of private game reserves and home to the coveted Big 5. It’s a place where guests can exist in harmony with nature, however fleeting the moment, where wildlife roam the landscape under the relentless African sun.
Shamwari has 7 lodges and 1 explorer camp; each providing distinct experiences. From exclusive tranquillity, effortless family enjoyment or the back-to-nature appeal of a luxury tented camp.
For a luxurious, malaria-free experience, we love their tented camp, offering guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in utter tranquillity, surrounded by the rich vegetation of this unique location that provides privacy and a feeling of seclusion with spectacular views of the African bush.
Game drives typically take place in the early mornings and afternoons. Surveying the variety of habitats, witnessing birds of prey or spotting the Big 5 from the comfort and safety of an open game viewing vehicles. Their rangers and guides are passionate about wildlife and knowledgeable in their respective fields of expertise. Expect to take away new insights, an appreciation for Africa, and an unforgettable experience.
Day 10, Departure
After your final activity and breakfast, head back to the airport an hour away, to check in for your departing flight.
The end of an amazing Garden Route self drive trip!
Notes about driving in South Africa
South Africans drive on the left-hand side of the road. If it’s your first time driving on the opposite side, start slow and don’t feel pressured to drive fast.
There are also lots of roundabouts, so make sure you brush up on how to safely use a roundabout!
As a general rule, on single-lane highways, if you are driving slow or have a car trailing behind you that wants to pass, you should drive slightly (and safely) onto the left shoulder make way and let vehicles pass.
Alternatively, you can pass someone in front of you if it is safe and there are no “no passing signs.” The car in front of you will likely pull into the left shoulder to give you more room to pass. Once you’ve completed the pass, turn your hazards on for 2-3 flashes as a “thank you” (you’ll see other people do the same if they pass you and you give them space by pulling slightly onto the shoulder).
The main signs you need to know are the speed limit signs with cameras (the speed limit is enforced with cameras & fines), no passing signs, and no stopping signs. Brown-colored signs are for tourism and will usually list turnoffs for rest stops, national parks, wine farms, and major tourist attractions.
I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the road safety signs of South Africa. You can also download the image and keep it handy on your phone.
What to bring
Before you touch down in South Africa, check the weather predictions for your travel dates and use that as a guideline to pack for your trip. The Garden Route is in a coastal region, so you should pack for cooler temperatures, even in the summer.
There are countless hikes, rivers, and lakes, so if you’re adventurous, you’ll want to pack accordingly. You don’t need a super crazy hiking boot, but something that will keep you safe and comfortable on long hikes is recommended.
Here are some essentials that I recommend bringing along, so you’re prepared for anything!
Hiking boots, a casual shoe (for horseback or cycling), and flips flops
Binoculars (whales, dolphins, birds and of course wildlife)
Zoom lenses (if you’re a photographer, don’t forget your biggest zoom lenses for this trip!)
Refillable water bottles (tap water in South Africa is drinkable)
Sunscreen and insect repellent (malaria-free but mosquitos still bite!)
Dry Bag (you may do a lot of water activities so maybe also a dry bag for your phone and camera)
Layers (pack enough layers for warm to cold weather)
Swimsuit and sun/rash vest (lots of water activity options!)
Travel Insurance (covers car rental + medical)
ID (You don’t need your passport, but you’ll need an ID for checking into hotels and activities)