Lake Panic

There are eleven bird/game-viewing hides in the world renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa. Probably the most famous one, the one at Lake Panic on the Mafunyana Creek, is located on the S42 road near Skukuza camp on the road to the Nursery.

The name Lake Panic was given shortly after completion of construction of the dam around 1975 when, during a massive thunderstorm, it was feared that the dam wall would give way, creating panic amongst the staff in Skukuza.The almost constant presence of Nile Crocodiles, Hippopotamus, Nile Monitors, terrapins and various insects on the water lilies in front of the hide, makes Lake Panic one of the most scenic and productive spots in all of Kruger. Sunsets are particularly stunning!
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The hide is ideal for photography and large mammals like African Elephants are seen on a daily basis. There is a high incidence of Leopard sightings at Lake Panic, even during daytime! It is also a birdwatcher’s haven, with regular sightings of Grey, Purple, Striated and Goliath Heron, Malachite, Woodland and Pied Kingfisher, African Fish Eagle, Thick-billed and Southern Masked Weaver and of course African Jacana. Such rarities like Western Osprey, Lesser Moorhen and African Openbill also turn up at Lake Panic every now and then.
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Sometimes when one arrives at a hide it appears as if there is little movement. Yet sitting patiently for a few minutes will reveal a steady stream of activity. People who sit in a hide all day long often see much more than those who drive around searching for game. The beauty of the hide at Lake Panic is that almost anything can turn up!

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We offer day trips to the Kruger Park with experienced guides with years of time spent in the Lowveld bush. Our team will pick up guests early in the morning from where they are staying, as game viewing is best before it gets too hot. Kruger Park gate times vary throughout the year, but most pick-ups will be at around 5am depending on where you are staying. We can arrange pick up from your accommodation venue in Nelspruit, Malelane, Marloth Park, Hazyview, or even from your rest camp inside Kruger if you are already in the park. We can also arrange to pick up guests at all the Kruger Park entrance gates in southern Kruger.

Your guide will focus on finding you the best of the Park, this including the majestic Big 5, different types of antelope, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodiles and many others. Your guide will also show you many different kinds of interesting local birds, like hornbills, eagles, the famous Secretarybird, colourful rollers, along with many different water birds. Learning about the trees, insects and general bush and nature around you is also on the cards. We will stop at picnic spots and rest camps throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and restroom breaks. A stop at famous Lake Panic is also guaranteed – you might even see the “resident” Leopard!

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Depending on your personal preferences and budget, we can customise a day safari that meets all your requirements. To get more information about this trip or to enquire about a personalised Kruger day trip, get on touch with our expert team at info@naturetravelkruger.com and have a look at our Kruger Day Trip for more information.

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Piccadilly Circus

One of the most popular roads in the Kruger National Park, and with good reason, is the H4-1 tar road connecting the equally popular Skukuza and Lower Sabie Rest Camps.

This 43 kilometre long road is sometimes called the “Piccadilly Circus” (after the equally busy road in London) due to the high numbers of visitors that drive it. The nickname is quite apt, but remember, if you have more visitors’ eyes staring into the bush you have a higher chance of seeing something spectacular.

The road follows the course of the Sabie River, and boasts a mix of riverine forest, woodland and thornveld, attracting a wide variety of bird and animal species. There are many small gravel loops turning toward (and away from) the river, and the road also has the famous Nkuhlu picnic spot, N’watimhiri dam and Sunset dam alongside it.

The H4-1 is especially famous for its large herds of African Elephant and Impala, as well as some of the best Leopard sightings in the entire park. It is also virtually guaranteed that you will see lots of Chacma Baboons and Vervet monkeys along this road, along with avian specials like White-crowned Lapwing, Black Cuckooshrike, Half-collared Kingfisher, Red-faced Cisticola and maybe even an African Finfoot!

One of our guides had the best wildlife encounter of his life recently, when he saw a Martial Eagle attack and kill a Steenbok (by diving into it at high speed) and then promptly fly off with its prize in its massive talons!

Piccadilly Circus features prominently in many of our Kruger itineraries, including our 9 day/8 night Kruger Lux Safari, offering the perfect South African safari experience. We have combined two great camps (Skukuza and Satara) in Kruger with a lodge in the adjacent luxurious Sabi Sands Game Reserve, offering you the best of both worlds and a chance to see the Big Five and so much more.

For your chance to see something spectacular along the Piccadilly Circus, join us on one of our fantastic Kruger trips. Enquire directly at info@naturetravelkruger.com or browse to the website on Nature Travel Kruger for more information.

Grand Kruger Safari

The Kruger National Park lies in the heart of the Lowveld in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province and is the country’s largest game reserve. It is also undoubtedly one of the top 5 game reserves anywhere in the world. The park has nearly two million hectares of unfenced African wilderness, in which more mammal species roam free than in any other game reserve anywhere on earth. The Kruger has excellent infrastructure and offers visitors fantastic Big Five sightings and birdwatching of over 500 bird species. This world-renowned park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa.

With this 12 night guided safari we want to show you the best of the Kruger Park. Prime Big 5 sightings, general wildlife viewing, birding, fauna and flora and of course the fantastic African landscapes and vistas will be included, along with unforgettable memories, superb local cuisine and great South African hospitality.

We have chosen this itinerary with care, minimising travel time between camps and ensuring maximum time out in the African bush on your safari vehicle. All accommodation will be in comfortable chalets in main camps, and you will experience diverse habitat and exciting biodiversity during this superb safari. In the south you will see the classic African bushveld, with thorn trees and dense bush along the rivers. The central portion of the park will feature the expansive grassland savannah where the predators roam. In turn, the northern part of your trip will feature two camps with spectacular vantage points on two impressive rivers.

Get ready for the Kruger trip of a lifetime! Get in touch with us at info@naturetravelkruger.com or browse to our Kruger Grand Safari for more information.

Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Pretoriuskop rest camp in the southwestern area of the world renowned Kruger National Park is most famous for its spectacular swimming pool, built in and around a massive granite rock plate. But the camp offers much more than just a place to cool down in…

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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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Northern Kruger Safari

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The huge Kruger National Park is undoubtedly one of the best wildlife reserves in the world. The park welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors every year. All the famous Big Five game animals (Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion and Leopard) are found in “Kruger”, as it is affectionately known, along with more species of other large mammals than any other African game reserve (almost 150 species). Over 520 species of birds have also been seen in the park, along with vast numbers of reptiles, insects and other interesting fauna and flora.Probably the best kept secret of the world famous Kruger National Park is the vast northern section, from the Letaba river towards the far north at Pafuri and the Makuleke concession.

Of all the regions of Kruger, the vegetation in the north is the least diversified and much of the region is blanketed in Mopane shrub. It is also, however, home to the strange and mythical Baobab tree. There are also several river corridors, the favourite habitat of many species of special mammals, like the exquisite Nyala. This is also the area of the park for rare antelopes, and Roan Antelope, Tsessebe and Sable Antelope are most easily spotted here. Herds of African Elephant and African Buffalo depend on the rivers for water, and predators such as Lion, Leopard and Spotted Hyaena concentrate where prey is abundant.

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Further north there are some fascinating ecozones containing many very localised species of fauna and flora, and the Pafuri region is unlike any other in the park. The Pafuri area is regarded by some visitors as the most enchanting corner of the Kruger, and is undoubtedly the most important locality for birds in the park, especially for rare vagrants and birds from tropical Africa.

On this 6 night safari, we will spend two nights each in Mopani Camp (with its stunning setting on the Pioneer dam), Shingwedzi Camp ( a hotspot for rare birds) and Punda Maria Camp (with its charming old school feel). Each camp has been carefully chosen to provide you with the best chance of seeing all that Kruger has to offer, both in terms of fantastic animal sightings and beautiful classic African landscapes.

For more information on this fantastic 6 night safari to the North of Kruger, get in touch with us at info@naturetravelkruger.com or visit browse to Northern Kruger Safari

Shy 5

Here at Nature Travel Kruger we have told you about the Big Five, the Ugly Five and the Secret Seven before, but today is the turn of another interesting group of Kruger’s animals; the Shy Five.

These five mammal species are known for their timid and nervous disposition, both in front of human visitors and other animals. They are all difficult to spot in the wild, but as always the fantastic Kruger National Park gives you a good chance to see one or more of them, especially on a night drive!

Other publications and experts have different versions of which animals are included in the Shy Five, but after years of working in Kruger we feel that these are the five animals that most accurately reflect the true behaviour of the Shy Five.

The first member is the strange looking and almost mythical Aardvark, usually found in open savannah landscape near to termite mounds where it uses its 30cm long tongue to find termites and ants. Normally an Aardvark will be of a colour similar to the soil in the area in which it lives. This one-of-a-kind pig-like creature is active only at night and can walk very far in search of food.

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The solitary and nocturnal Aardwolf may look like a miniature, striped hyena at first glance, but this dog-like animal, and number two on our list, also lives on a steady diet of termites. Aardwolf means “earth wolf” directly translated to English and they are in fact members of the Hyaena family. However, they do not have the powerful jaws and large teeth of the other members of the family, and instead make do with pegs for teeth, perfect for consuming the 250,000 termites per night they regularly do.

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The third member of the group, the Side-striped Jackal, is not only nocturnal but also extremely timid and rarely seen. They are solitary dog-like animals, foraging for carrion, fruit and insects during the early evening or at dawn. It can change its diet based on environmental conditions, and in certain areas almost exclusively eats fruit. As the name suggests, the jackal has a distinct black stripe running along its body and a white-tipped tail.

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Also known as the Cape Genet, the South African Large-spotted Genet is next up. It is a small cat-like creature that actually belongs to the Mongoose family. They are naturally shy and very nocturnal in nature, hunting for birds, lizards, rodents, snakes and insects. Being good tree climbers (using the black-tipped tail for counterbalance), they are usually found in mixed woodland areas where they can scramble along tree branches.

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Lastly, the odd-looking Cape Porcupine is actually a rodent, the largest in the region. The entire back and flank area of a porcupine is covered with sharp, black and white quills that can grow up to 50 cm long. The quills can be made to rattle when the animal is threatened and can get stuck into its enemies if they try to attack the porcupine. They are also shy and nocturnal, coming out at night to feed on roots, bulbs and other vegetarian matter.

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For your chance to see one, or more, of these fascinating but shy animals, join us on safari in Kruger! For more information browse to our Nature Travel Kruger Website or enquire at info@naturetravelkruger.com

 

Olifants Rest Camp

Olifants Rest Camp is undoubtedly one of the Kruger National Park’s most beautiful camps. It is perched high above the impressive Olifants river with views that are breathtakingly “out of Africa”. The modern lookout platforms allow visitors to observe the river many hundred feet below. The camp has a reputation for being the best place to go in Kruger when you don’t want to do a lot of driving but still want to see the park’s wildlife. All you need is a good pair of binoculars and a zoom camera! 

Because Olifants (the Afrikaans word for “elephant”) is situated in a transitional zone in central-northern Kruger, 2 distinct types of vegetation can be found, offering a wide range of game. To the north, the low lying Mopane shrub provide cover for Plains Zebra, Impala, Greater Kudu and African Elephant. To the south, rolling plains are dotted with big trees in the surrounding savannah, good habitat for African Buffalo and Giraffe. Along the Olifants river itself, wildlife such as Lion, Nile Crocodiles and Hippopotamus can be viewed, as well as an abundance of birdlife such as Martial Eagle, owls, storks and many others.

The camp grounds are well foliaged and there are some lofty trees, and is therefore a great place to spot the Grey-rumped Swallow, Brown-throated Martin and Common Dwarf Mongoose. The camp also has a swimming pool reserved for overnight guests, and in the heat of the day this is a welcome spot indeed! Olifants is also a good camp from which to do a night drive, and on one of these exciting excursions visitors could see Cape Porcupine, Serval, South African Large-spotted Genet or even a Pel’s Fishing Owl.

There are two luxury guesthouses in the Oliphant’s Rest Camp, as well as two, three and four-roomed bungalows complete with en suite facilities. There are also two huts available that are wheel-chair friendly, and a 20-delegate conference room.

The camp is one of the few in Kruger that offers guided tours down to the river, walking trails in the wilderness region (the Oliphant’s River Backpacking Trail) and mountain biking trails with armed guards. Everything you need in one camp – that is Olifants!

For more about our Kruger Safaris visit www.naturetravelkruger.com or get in touch with us on info@naturetravelkruger.com.

 

Central Kruger Safari

The Kruger National Park covers a vast area of 19485 square kilometres (7523 sq miles) and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. It is the tenth largest game reserve on earth, and undoubtedly one of the best.

All of Africa’s famous Big Five game animals (Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion and Leopard) are found in “Kruger”, as the park is affectionately known, along with more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve (at almost 150 species). Over 520 species of birds have also been seen in the park, along with vast numbers of reptiles, insects and other fauna and flora.

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This safari will cover the vast and mostly flat central section of Kruger. This region spans nearly 30% of the reserve’s territory and supports a huge amount of game. It is made up of mostly grassy plains, filled with animals like Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest and many species of antelope, which attract an array of predators. The open savannah habitat also makes for great photographic opportunities, and the region is especially famous for photos of classic African sunsets. Five seasonal rivers meander across the central region and, as wildlife is abundant, during intense dry cycles water supplies are often depleted. As a result many man-made dams and water holes were established in the central region. Many of the water holes and dams have become popular tourist attractions as they act as a gathering point for animals. The concentration of predators, especially Lions, in the Central Region ensures that it remains a popular tourist destination.

On this 6-night safari, we will spend two nights each in Satara Camp (with its famous circles of bungalows), Olifants Camp (with stunning views of the plains below) and Letaba Camp (built right on the Letaba river). Each camp has been carefully chosen to provide you with the best chance of seeing all that Kruger has to offer, both in terms of fantastic animal sightings and beautiful classic African landscapes.

For more information, visit our revamped website at www.naturetravelkruger.com or send us your query at info@naturetravelkruger.com

Secret 7

Many visitors travel to the famous Kruger National Park specifically to search for the “Big 5” mammals (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). Of course, these animals are incredible to look for and see on any African safari, but don’t forget about the “Secret 7”…All members of this exclusive club are extremely rare and solitary nocturnal animals, and are known to live extremely private lives. They are far, far more difficult to see than the “Big 5”.

Hunting mostly at night, the elegant Serval hides away and sleeps during the day in the thick deep bush, almost always close to water. A medium sized cat with a yellowish-fawn coat, black spots and stripes, the Serval is identified by its shortish tail, strong slender body and the longest legs relative to their body size. It adopts a characteristic pouncing technique when hunting small mammals, birds and other prey.
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Looking very much like a domestic cat, only bigger and much meaner, the Southern African Wildcat is a shy nocturnal animal that hunts mainly in dense bush and long grass, making it even more difficult to spot. It feeds mostly on small rodents, birds, hares, lizards and insects. Wildcats unfortunately readily interbreed with domestic cats where their respective habitats overlap.

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The strange looking and almost mythical Aardvark is usually found in open savannah landscape near to termite mounds where it uses its 30cm long tongue to find termites and ants. Normally an Aardvark will be of a colour similar to the soil in the area in which it lives. This one-of-a-kind pig-like creature is active only at night and can walk very far in search of food.

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A fascinating, rare and unique animal, the ant-eating Temminck’s Ground Pangolin is easily identified by their bronze coloured tough scaly bodies and small head. These skittish animals are easily spooked and will roll up into a Lion-proof ball if they feel threatened. They are unfortunately being hunted in alarming numbers for their scales and other body parts; in fact, pangolins are the most trafficked animal on the planet!

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Also known as the Cape Genet, the South African Large-spotted Genet is a small cat-like creature that actually belongs to the Mongoose family. They are nocturnal in nature, hunting for birds, lizards, rodents, snakes and insects. Being good tree climbers (using the black-tipped tail for counterbalance), they are usually found in mixed woodland areas where they can scramble along tree branches.

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A solitary nocturnal animal, the raccoon-resembling African Civet is found mostly in forested woodland areas. Its unique feature is its secretions, which are used for the musky smell in perfume. Civets survive on a varied diet of rodents, reptiles, insects, eggs, fruit, berries and birds. Interestingly, although mostly terrestrial, the African Civet is a very good swimmer!

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The largest rodent found in southern Africa, the Cape Porcupine is well-known for its beautiful but super sharp black and white quills which they use for protection against predators. Spending most of the day sleeping hidden away in communal burrows, porcupines are herbivores and eat the bulbs and roots of plants as well as berries, fruit and tree bark.

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For a chance to see one (or even a few if you are extremely lucky!) of these “Secret 7” animals, join us on a Nature Travel Kruger safari. For more information, enquire directly at info@naturetravelkruger.com or visit www.naturetravelkruger.com

Southern Kruger Safari

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Whether you look at the Kruger National Park from a wildlife, historical, ecological, birding, biodiversity or geological viewpoint, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest game parks on the planet.

It covers a huge area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq miles) and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. It is the tenth largest game reserve on earth.

The park welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors every year yet never feels crowded. All the famous Big Five game animals (Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion and Leopard) are found in the Kruger National Park, which has more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve (at 147 species). These special species are seen with relative ease in “Kruger”, as the park is affectionately known. Over 520 species of birds have also been seen in the park, along with vast numbers of reptiles, insects, amphibians and other fauna and flora.

Our Southern Kruger safari will cover most areas of the southern section of Kruger. It is the most visited part of the game reserve, and with good reason. Most people enter the park in this region, simply because, for many, it’s the closest part of the park from wherever they’re travelling from. It’s also the area where it is the easiest to see all of the Big Five animals, along with plenty of others when you’re in this area, such as the very rare and endangered African Wild Dog.

The southern section is bordered by the Crocodile River in the south, the Sabie River in the north, and the Lebombo mountains in the east, along the border with Mozambique.

On this 6 night safari, we will spend two nights each in Berg en Dal Camp, Skukuza Camp and Pretoriuskop Camp. Each camp has been carefully chosen to provide you with the best chance of seeing all that Kruger has to offer, both in terms of fantastic animal sightings and beautiful classic African landscapes.

For more information, browse to our Southern Kruger Safari or send your query directly to info@naturetravelkruger.com