Pretoriuskop has huge sentimental value for those that know the history of the Park and takes its name from the nearby “kopje” (hill) where Voortrekker Willem Pretorius, a member of Carl Trichardt’s 1848 expedition to Delagoa Bay, is buried. It is the park’s oldest rest camp, situated in the region of the park that receives the highest rainfall and the area is dominated by a veld type known as Pretoriuskop sourveld. The tall, coarse grasses growing here are not too palatable, so the area does not hold large numbers of grazers, though it is particularly good for the rare and beautiful Sable Antelope.
Some 3,500 million years ago, molten rock forced its way through the earth’s crust and solidified to form the spectacular granite outcrops where Pretoriuskop camp is now nestled. The most impressive of these, the granite dome known as Shabeni Hill, is not far from the camp, and this is a great area in which to search for Leopard and even Long-crested Eagle.
It is immediately apparent to any visitor that Pretoriuskop is unique as brilliantly colourful bougainvilleas adorn the camp, pre-dating the decision to make exclusive use of indigenous plants in laying out rest camp gardens. Nostalgia prompted an exception to the rule for Pretoriuskop, and exotic flowering plants were allowed to stay, enhancing the strong sense of the past that is so pervasive.
It is one of the more convenient rest camps for local South Africans as it is less than 10 kilometres from Numbi Gate (closest gate to the town of White River). The famous Afsaal picnic spot can easily be reached via the game-rich Voortrekker road, and the beautiful Phabeni area north of the camp is a spot renowned for fantastic game viewing encounters. Top mammals in the area include Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Common Eland and African Wild Dog. The area around Pretoriuskop is also very good for many interesting bird species and a number of species are found here that are not seen anywhere else in Kruger. These include Red-throated Wryneck, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and Amethyst Sunbird.
The camp itself, with its huge Sausage Trees, is also a good spot for all sorts of interesting fauna and flora species, especially on the Sable walking trail. These include Brown-headed Parrot (they love the brilliantly red Common Coral-trees dotted all over the camp), Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Cape Golden Mole and Smith’s Bush Squirrel.
Pretoriuskop has ample accommodation options, including basic huts, bungalows, camping/caravan sites and top-of-the-range guesthouses. Most bungalows are grouped into 3 circles with lush green lawns in the middle. The camp has a restaurant, petrol station and cafeteria, and is also disabled friendly. And don’t forget that fantastic swimming pool!