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Kruger National Park

By Guest
Posts: 36

Posted on: January 30, 2011 at 7:07AM

It's the best South African experience you can get - so without any doubts - do it! Many people enter through the southern Paul Kruger gates, stay at southern camps and tour around in the southern Kruger. We did it vice-versa. The best is to plan your trip that you'd be arriving at northern Punda Maria gates at 5 p.m. (if you are driving from Johannesburg, it takes about 7 hours to get there) and stay overnight at Punda Maria rest camp. This means that you won't be staying in Limpopo, which is the poorest region in South Africa - even driving through it sometimes gives chills and you'll be able to start your safari experience the next morning as the rest camp gates open. In summertime it's 4:30 (the main gates to Kruger opens 5:30, giving you that precious hour advantage). At first it may sound pretty impossible and way too early, but soon you'll get into that 9 p.m.-4 a.m. rhythm as the gates open early and once the rest camp gates close, there is not much to do, but go to sleep. All the game viewing is at it's best early in the morning when it's not hot and animals are not hiding from the sun and late in the afternoon - from around 4 p.m. (all rest camp gates and Kruger gates close at 6 p.m. in summertime). Especially, when you are staying in central or southern Kruger - getting up early and being the first car on the road gives you a good chance to see lions up close as they like to sleep on the roads which keep them warm in nighttime, they move away once they see cars coming. So, if you are the first car to on that road, you and only you are lucky. For the second night stay in central Kruger. Speed limit in the park is limited to 50km/h on major roads and 40 km/h on the dirt roads. If you speed, rangers will drive up and then drive in front of you, so won't be able to hurry. Not even if that means you'll be late to your rest camp. So have that in mind when planning where you wanna stay. However, don't hurry - if you drive slowly and watch carefully, you'll see way much more wildlife than driving fast. Best speed is 20 km/h. Take detours on the dirt roads (4x4 is not required, regular jeep would do fine even after rain) as there are less cars and more shy animals. There also places to get out, buy coffee, cook breakfast. Also, note that all rest camps accept day visitors, so you can always fill up on gas, buy essential groceries in the shop or buy some souvenirs, eat at the restaurant, in some camps, even take a swim in the pool. Some people have tactics to get up and leave as the gates open, then when the animals hide in shades, return and chill near the pool and once the heat is decreasing, take another drive around. This is very convenient if you can stay at Kruger for a longer period. Your last overnight stay should be in the southern Kruger. Many people come to southern Kruger because it's a shorter drive from Johannesburg, it has more facilities like cafes and rest camps and all the wild cats are tend to be in this part of Kruger. Northern Kruger is not so full of tourists and cars - big cats don't live there, but it is home to zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, elephants, hippos and lots of birds. Central Kruger has all mentioned above and some big cats as the velds begins. The right way to find certain animals is to know the eco zones (you can buy a cheap guide in one of the rest camps), there are 12 of them. For example, if you are looking for elephants - go to the waterholes - they like to take showers when it's hot, hippos usually lie in the rivers, giraffes like tall trees, buffaloes - big open grassy areas. The big cats hunt in open veld. Leopards like to lie on the branches, cheetahs in the grass as do the lions. This means that it's quite hard to spot them as the grass is tall, but the prides live in the same places for years, so usually they are in the same spots everyday. Go to the animal spotting board in the rest camp in the veld and see where people have marked the animals they have seen yesterday or today - drive there and lions should still be lounging :) just don't expect to see them close to the road, it may be that tails and ears will be all you see, but hey, it's the king of all after all :) they can lie in tall grass for hours. Rhinos hide in the bushes as they have bad eyesight, so drive very slowly and watch very carefully to spot a rhino some 100 m away in the bushes. Lastly, plan everything in advance and reserve. The rest camps don't have lots of houses, especially during high peak periods like New Years and Christmas. Note that you'll be paying conservation fees only for the number of overnights, so for example - you drive three days and sleep two nights and pay fees only for two days. report a problem

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