At a glance: Greater Lux Safari
Everything that can be said about the Kruger National Park has probably already been said, but suffice to say that it is undoubtedly one of the greatest game parks on the planet.It 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. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of South Africa in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
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 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 and other fauna and flora.
This safari will cover the most important 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.
This safari will also visit the luxurious Sabi Sands Game Reserve, a 65,000 hectare reserve, pioneered by local landowners in the 1950s, that shares an unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. Wildlife in the Sabi Sands Reserve is well habituated, resulting in extraordinary close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive Leopard. The Sabie and the Sand rivers run through the reserve, which add further dimension to the incredible biodiversity of this area. Sabi Sands offers a perfect bed to everyone on safari, and for every budget, ranging from mid-range to ultra-luxurious. As there is quite a number of lodges to choose from in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve you can be sure to enjoy an exclusive experience guaranteeing an absolutely unforgettable time in the African bush!
ITINERARY – KRUGER LUX SAFARI
Next Departure date: To be confirmed
The Kruger National Park, Skukuza Camp
Your Nature Travel guide will meet you at Kruger / Mpumalanga International Airport near White River, a small town on the southwestern corner of the park, and then head straight in to the Kruger National Park and make our way to Skukuza Camp.
Skukuza is the park’s administrative headquarters, its largest camp and sometimes feels like a small town compared to the other camps in Kruger. It is situated on the southern bank of the Sabie River. This is a perennial river and one of the largest and most biologically diverse in the park. The habitat here comprises riparian zones, with large trees lining the river banks, and Sabie River thickets away from the river courses. The permanent water source here attracts large numbers of Impala, one of the main prey items of Leopard, and we will be on the lookout for these and other predators such as Lion, African Wild Dog and Spotted Hyaena.
African Elephant and African Buffalo are also common in the area, usually heading down to the river as the day heats up. The area is, however, not really suited to large numbers of grazing animals and small herds of browsers such as Greater Kudu and Bushbuck are more common here.
We have two nights at Skukuza, spending time in the mornings and afternoons out in the field looking for mammals, birds and anything else that attracts our interest. We will traverse the southeastern section of the park, going down to Lower Sabie Camp (with its tranquil Sunset dam nearby) or even venturing further south to Crocodile Bridge Camp.
Our daily routes will depend on what we have seen so far and what the general weather and other wildlife conditions are like. We might also visit the famous Lake Panic hide near Skukuza’s nursery; a great spot from which to see aquatic bird species and animals drinking from close up. Your expert guide will make the decision as to where to point the nose of the safari vehicle to ensure your maximum enjoyment!
When we are not out on safari in the park it is important to look around for interesting creatures even inside the camp fence. The camp grounds are well foliaged and there are some lofty trees along the river’s edge. Activities and facilities are diverse, as are the animals and plants found both within the camp and in the surrounding areas. The camp is a great place to spot the dove-sized Wahlberg’s Epauletted Fruit Bat and the very cute South African Thick-tailed Galago.
The camp also houses the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library And Museum (James Stevenson-Hamilton was the first warden of Kruger National Park) which has some fascinating artefacts on display. You’ll get to know some things about Kruger Park that you’d never imagined! There are also very engaging stories to read, like the miraculous tale of Harry Wolhuter, one of Kruger’s very first game rangers, complete with real-life props showing his escape from a lion attack while patrolling on horseback.
The Kruger National Park, Satara Camp
Our next destination is Satara Camp, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) north of Skukuza. Satara itself, although fairly large, has a rustic charm, with the bulk of the accommodation set out in a series of circles. The nightly fires burning in front of the bungalows are a special sight. The ambience of the camp, Kruger’s third biggest, recalls the mood of colonial Africa with red-roofed public buildings, thatched chalets and neatly raked paths.
We will spend two nights here, going on morning and afternoon game drives, thus maximising our chances of seeing animals, birds and other interesting fauna and flora. Will definitely explore one of the most famous roads in the entire park, the S100, that runs east-west from Satara towards the Lebombo mountains and Mozambique. Many long-time visitors to Kruger swear by this road for spectacular sightings of the Big Five, many species of raptors and other rare creatures. Will also venture to the nearby Nsemani and Sweni dams that are always worth a “stop-and-scan”.
The sweet grasses that grow on the fertile soils formed on shale and volcanic basalt, and an abundance of excellent browsing trees, sustain the largest Impala, African Buffalo, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Waterbuck and Sable Antelope populations in the Park.
Satara, however, is Lion territory, as no fewer than 50 prides occupy home ranges in this area, with an average pride size of 12 lions. Within a 20 kilometre radius of Satara, 22 lion prides have been counted! Satara is rightly known as “cat camp”. Lions are inevitably followed by scavengers, and this area also contains large numbers of Spotted Hyaena, Black-backed Jackal and vultures. It is also one of the best areas in the entire Kruger to see Cheetah.
The camp itself is always worth exploring, and a walk inside the fence perimeter might give us views of Honey Badger, African Scops Owl and Red-billed Buffalo Weaver. An optional night drive from Satara might yield Cape Porcupine, Leopard and even the elusive Aardvark.
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve
After a last morning drive and breakfast we will wish Kruger well and exit via Orpen Gate and enter the adjacent Sabi Sand Game Reserve, a 65 000 hectare private conservancy that is open with Kruger National Park, allowing game to move freely between the two. With breathtaking scenery and luxury lodges, expect high quality service, excellent cuisine and world class facilities during your Sabi Sands safari.
We’ll check-in in time for lunch and have time to relax before our first afternoon safari, led by an experienced local field guide and tracker. The Sabi Sand Game Reserve offers what is widely considered the best cat viewing in Africa, with regular close-up encounters with both Lion and Leopard to be anticipated. Cheetah and African Wild Dog are also found in the reserve, though they are usually fairly nomadic within their large home ranges which takes them out of the reserve and into the neighbouring Kruger National Park and Manyaleti Game Reserves, so the chances of seeing these two predators depends on them being in the area at the time of our visit. Sabi Sands is rightly considered as the best place in the world to see the Big Five, and your four night stay basically guarantees that you will see them all; some of them more than once.
Over and above the wonderful animals we are likely to see here, a true highlight will be observing the Shangaan tracker practising his craft as we track the big cats. Superb wine and excellent local cuisine will be enjoyed in the evenings after the afternoon safari, and all together this will add up to a truly awesome experience. We have four nights in the reserve, divided between two different camps, which will give ample time out in the field studying, photographing and just generally enjoying our subjects. You will enjoy a morning and afternoon game drive daily, with ample time to relax in the camp during the hot hours of the day. Some camps will offer a camp walk, or even a short bush walk while out on your game drive!
After your 9 day southern Kruger and Sabi Sands safari extravaganza, your Nature Travel guide will transfer you back to the airport (or your chosen point of departure) for your onward journey.
Customize your safari:
Although the above is a finalised itinerary, we can customise this itinerary in order to create the perfect Kruger National Park safari for you.
You are more than welcome to change anything from the length of your stay, to the number of days in a specific camp, to the order of your stay at the various camps. You can also choose to take a road transfer from O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg or fly straight into the new Skukuza Airport inside the Kruger National Park.
We can also add a luxury option for you at one of the lodges in the adjacent Sabi Sands Game Reserve on Kruger’s western border or inside the park itself if this is within your budget, or we can add an exciting activity like a bush walk, bush breakfast or a night drive to your stay.
We can also accommodate various special interest you might have on your safari. For instance, if you have a specific interest in photography, birdwatching, or maybe even want to focus on trees or insects, we can make this happen for you. We can even have our guide focus on specific species, like African Wild Dog, for the duration of your safari!
In terms of food, most of the safari will be self-catering, with your Nature Travel guide doing the cooking or coffee-making. We will provide breakfast and dinner (you will get to experience the classic South African barbeque!) and coffee and tea, and lunch will be for your own account in the various restaurants in the camps or at picnic spots.
We here at Nature Travel Kruger pride ourselves in individualising each safari according to your specific requests or needs. We are here to make your Kruger Park safari dreams come true!
To book this safari or customize your own, contact the Nature Travel Kruger team at firstname.lastname@example.org