Southern Kruger

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At a glance: Southern Kruger 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 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.

ITINERARY – 6 NIGHT SOUTHERN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK SAFARI
Next Departure date: To be confirmed

Day 1 & 2:The Kruger National Park, Berg en Dal Camp
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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 the beautiful Berg en Dal Camp.

Berg en Dal, meaning ‘mountain and dale’, is aptly named for its superb location on the bank of the Matjulu spruit and is surrounded by rocky hillsides. It is one of the new generation of camps and was opened in 1984. Great care has been taken to preserve the natural vegetation in the camp area, which comprises Malelane Mountain Bushveld (woodland), attracting a variety of grazers. The area hosts high numbers of White Rhinoceros, Greater Kudu, Impala, Giraffe, some African Elephant, Southern Reedbuck, Klipspringer, Grey Rhebok and Common Warthog. Leopard and African Wild Dog are also regularly seen in the region.

We will spend two nights in the area, going on morning and afternoon game drives. We will look for all sorts of interesting animals, birds, plants and anything else that catches our eyes! We might venture north towards the famous Afsaal picnic spot, or eastwards along the Crocodile river on one of Kruger’s most productive dirt roads.

As always in Kruger, it is important to explore the rest camp itself for some fascinating fauna and flora. Berg en Dal is especially suited to extra exploration. On one of the days we might try the Rhino Perimeter Trail walk that goes around the rest camp. Not only is it a beautiful, relaxing and informative exercise, we might get to see something interesting! Recently on this walk there have been sightings of the rare White-backed Night Heron, the ferocious Honey Badger and the sought-after Thick-billed Cuckoo, to name just a few.

The camp has a beautiful swimming pool to cool off in, as well as good restaurant facilities and a nightly video show with some interesting local nature programmes if you are interested.

Day 3 & 4:The Kruger National Park, Skukuza Camp
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Next we will move to Kruger’s most well-known 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.

Day 5 & 6:Kruger National Park, Pretoriuskop Camp
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Our next destination will be Pretoriuskop Camp, near the western border of the southern section of the park.
Pretoriuskop 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 White Rhinoceros and the rare and beautiful Sable Antelope.

When the world was still young, 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.

It is immediately apparent to any visitor that Pretoriuskop is unique as brilliant red Common Coral trees 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.

We will enjoy our last two nights in Pretoriuskop Camp, going on morning and afternoon game drives, and looking for interesting fauna and flora. We will venture down to the famous Afsaal picnic spot via the Voortrekker road, and explore the area around the camp for Leopard and rare antelope species. We might also explore the beautiful Phabeni area north of the camp, a spot renowned for fantastic game viewing encounters. 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.

Once again, be sure to keep an eye out inside the camp for all sorts of interesting fauna and flora species on the Sable trail, like Brown-headed Parrot, Cape Golden Mole and Smith’s Bush Squirrel. The camp has what many visitors consider to be the best swimming pool in the entire park. We might take a dip in the heat of the day to cool down a bit!
After your 6 night southern Kruger 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.
Special interests:
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 info@naturetravelkruger.com