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Budget Kruger National Park Safaris

Budget Kruger Park Safari offer all the fun without too many of the frills to keep the price as low as possible. We choose quality 3-star accommodation in a combo of safari tents and treehouses and make certain activities, meals and drinks optional.

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Budget Kruger Park Safari Holidays 

The best thing about Kruger Park is you can do it on a budget and still have a fantastic safari holiday. Kruger is South Africa’s favorite national park for a reason; it’s affordable for your average family on a budget both from a travel and accommodation perspective.

Kruger Park is a state-supported national park that’s managed by South African National Parks (SANParks). The bulk of Kruger accommodation is budget-friendly, self-catering units in large rest camps. You also have the option of satellite and bushveld camps that are located off the beaten track and offer a quieter, more authentic safari experience. 

3 reasons why Kruger Park is perfect for a budget safari holiday

Whether you’re spending hard-earned South African Rands or foreign currency, Kruger National Park offers visitors a wide choice of affordable accommodation, it allows self-drive safari tours and the Park is easy to get to Johannesburg. The three things that make an African safari holiday more affordable.

Kruger Park offers a wide range of affordable self-catering accommodation

Kruger Park has 27 accommodation options, ranging from the main rest camps and satellite camps to bushveld camps, bush lodges, overnight hides and a remote camp site. There is also the option of caravan and camping sites in the big camps which are very popular for local South African visitors.

Kruger’s self-catering accommodation allows visitors on a safari budget to bring their own food and drinks, and they can cater for their holiday based on their financial means. There are restaurants or takeaway eateries at the main rest camps for those that want a break from self-catering.

 

Kruger Park is easy to get to from Johannesburg and country towns

Relative to game reserves in countries like Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya; Kruger Park is easy to get to from Johannesburg by car or tour vehicle.It’s a 5- to 6-hour drive from Johannesburg to southern Kruger and a 40-minute drive from Nelspruit or Hoedspruit. These are the two large towns that serve as the safari hubs in the north-eastern region of South Africa.

Southern Kruger is the closest section to Johannesburg and the most popular for day visits and longer safari holidays. Five out of the 9 Kruger entrance gates are located in southern Kruger and they’re all easy to reach off the main highways.

For overseas visitors, there is a big cost savings when you book a safari tour to Kruger Park because it doesn’t involve multiple flights. For example; a direct long-haul flight from London to Johannesburg is about 11 hours, compared to London to Maun in Botswana which is 16 hours. Once in Botswana, you then need to budget for a connecting flight to Kasane and either a private charter or safari shuttle to Chobe.

The costs of multiple flights and shuttles to safari destinations in countries like Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania add up which is why these destinations are significantly more expensive for safari tours than the national park and private game reserves in South Africa. 

 

Kruger Park allows self-drive safaris tours

Being able to take your own car or rent a car for your safari holiday is a major cost saving on a Budget Kruger Park safari. The safari lodges on private concessions and the private reserves in Greater Kruger don’t allow self-drive safari tours. While it’s wonderful to spend the morning in the bushveld in an open safari vehicle, this privilege comes with an eye-watering price tag.

Having your own car means you’re free to explore Kruger Park at leisure and you can stop at popular bushveld sites for a picnic or braai (BBQ). Pack a cooler box with snacks and drinks and park at one of the many popular waterholes in Kruger Park. You’ll enjoy wonderful animal and bird sightings without it costing you an arm and a leg.

Types of accommodation in Kruger Park for a budget safari 

Kruger Rest Camps

The rest camps in Kruger Park offer a choice of self-catering rondavels (round huts) or bungalows, chalets and family cottages. The main rest camps have caravan and camping sites.

Hut facilities:

  • one room with single beds
  • linen, blankets and bath towels
  • fan or air-conditioning
  • communal ablutions
  • communal kitchen
  • fridge
  • no utensils
  • braai (BBQ) area

Bungalow facilities:

  • one room with single beds
  • linen, blankets and bath towels
  • fan or air-conditioning
  • small fridge
  • hotplate
  • sink
  • utensils
  • ensuite bathroom
  • braai (BBQ) area

Family cottage facilities:

  • 2 bedrooms with 2 single beds
  • linen, blankets and bath towels
  • air-conditioning
  • fridge
  • fully equipped kitchen
  • no smoking
  • veranda
  • shared bathroom
  • braai (BBQ) area
  • television with limited DSTV channels

Kruger Bushveld Camps

Kruger bushveld camps offer self-catering accommodation in more remote areas. Loyal Kruger visitors love to stay in the bushveld camps because they offer a more intimate, rustic and off-the-grid safari experience in pristine wilderness. The bushveld camps are so popular, they’re often booked up to a year in advance.

There are 5 bushveld camps in Kruger Park:

  • Bateleur – northern Kruger, south-west of Shingwedzi Rest Camp
  • Biyamiti – southern Kruger, between Berg-en-Dal and Crocodile Bridge rest camps
  • Shimuwini – northern Kruger, north-west of Letaba Rest Camp
  • Sirheni – far-north Kruger, south-east of Punda Maria Rest Camp
  • Talamati – central Kruger, south-east of Orpen Rest Camp

Access to the Kruger bushveld camps is limited to paying guests. There are no day visitor facilities or camping sites and no restaurants, shops or fuel pumps. The access roads to the bushveld camps are private as well as the roads around the camp. It’s the ideal place to stay in Kruger Park to truly immerse yourself in the bushveld without the tourist crowds.

Bushveld camp facilities:

  • self-catering units
  • 1 or 2 rooms with single beds
  • linen, blankets and bath towels
  • electricity for lights and fridge, no plug points for electric equipment
  • open veranda with small kitchenette
  • cutlery, crockery and basic kitchen utensils
  • four-plate stove (oven in bigger units)
  • communal freezing facilities
  • braai (BBQ) area

Kruger Bush Lodges  

There are 4 Kruger Bush Lodges, located in the northern section of the Park. The self-catering bush lodges are booked on an exclusive-use basis and offer families and groups of friends an intimate and private safari experience.

Each bush lodge has a camp manager and a dedicated game ranger who takes guests on guided bushveld walks. Located in remote areas in stunning bushveld surrounds, the Kruger Bush Lodges are perfect for avid wildlife and birders who want an authentic safari experience without low tourist numbers.

The lodges sleep a maximum of 8 people and have modern amenities for comfort and convenience. This includes a daily housekeeping service and a personal cook. Daily guided wilderness walks are the main attraction but guests are also taken on game drives in an open safari vehicle. Guess must be 13 years and older to participated in guided bushveld walks.

Bush lodge facilities:

  • 3 to 4 rooms, sleeping up to 8 guests
  • ensuite and shared bathrooms
  • linen, blankets and bath towels
  • fully-equipped kitchen
  • open-plan lounge and dining area
  • outdoor entertainment area
  • braai (BBQ) facilities
  • daily housekeeping service and personal cook

Kruger Park Satellite Camps

There are 4 satellite camps in Kruger Park. They’re very popular with the backpacking, camping and caravanning community and are booked well in advance.

Each satellite camp is located close to a main rest camp but far enough away to escape the busy crowds. They’re limited to a small number of self-catering units and camping facilities. There are no restaurants, shops or fuel pumps at the satellite camps.

The four satellite camps are:

  • Malelane Camp, next to Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
  • Maroela Camp and Tamboti Camp, next to Orpen Rest Camp
  • Balule Rest Camp, next to Satara Rest Camp

Bungalow facilities:

  • single beds
  • linen, blankets and bath towels
  • bathroom with a shower
  • air-conditioning
  • small fridge
  • communal kitchen
  • cutlery, crockery and utensils

Top 10 Kruger Park activities that won’t break the budget 

Game drives in your own car

Daily game drives are the main Kruger Park activity and having your own car means you can leave the camp when you want to and stay out as long as you like, getting back in time before the gates close.

Kruger Park is vast; it covers an area of 2 million hectares (20 000 square) kilometres and it’s a maze of main roads and gravel roads. Buy one of the glossy Kruger Park Map & Guide books on sale at the entrance gates; they’re very detailed and are an excellent resource, particularly if you’re visiting Kruger Park for the first time.

Guided bushveld walks from the main rest camps

Early morning and afternoon guided walks are offered by most of the main rest camps. Up to 8 people at a time are taken on a walk in the company of an armed field guide to explore the bushveld around the camp.

Guided bushveld walks are an opportunity to learn more about the delicate ecosystem and the small but vital elements that are often missed when driving around in a car.

The walks are relaxing and not too strenuous. Your guide is extremely knowledgeable and makes your safety a priority. Guests must be 13 years and older to participate in guided bushveld walks in Kruger Park. Only guests who have booked accommodation in Kruger Park can book a guided walk.

Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes or boots and clothing suitable for the bushveld. Wear muted colours like the famous safari khaki, not bright colours that will make you stand out in the dry bush.

For more information, speak to the person in charge at the camp reception.

Picnics and bush braais (BBQ)

One of the best things about a self-drive Kruger Park holiday is you have the freedom to drive where you want to go and stop when you want at the many popular picnic spots dotted around the Park. You have a choice of loads of lovely picnic spots in Kruger Park as well as hides, lookout platforms and scenic vantage points.

They’re safe spots to get out of your car as long as you follow the Park’s rules and keep to the designated areas. Buy one of the glossy Kruger Park Map & Guide books on sale at the entrance gates to find the picnic sites in Kruger Park.

Birdwatching in Kruger Park

There are 900 recorded bird species in southern Africa and approximately 500 are found in Kruger Park. The national park attracts an incredible diversity of birds because it covers a vast area and comprises a number of unique ecozones. In summer, between November and February, about 200 migrant species arrive in the region from Eurasia and elsewhere in Africa.

Far-north Kruger Park is regarded as one of the finest birding destinations in southern Africa but you don’t have to travel that far to tick many birds off your list. In fact, you’ll see a wide variety of birds in the rest camps and surrounding bushveld.

Look out for the Big 6 of the birding world in Kruger Park:

  • Kori bustard
  • Martial eagle
  • Lappetfaced vulture
  • Pel’s fishing owl
  • Saddle-billed stork
  • Southern ground hornbill

Mountain bike trails from Olifants Rest Camp

Take a break from sitting in the car and enjoy something totally unique in a national park; a guided mountain bike trail. The mountain bike excursions are run out of Olifants Camp and need to be booked in advance.

The bike trails are similar to guided bush walks where up to 6 people are taken out by two qualified and armed field guides. Olifants Rest Camp supplies the mountain bikes as well as water bottles and helmets if you don’t bring your own. Snacks are also supplied for a picnic break.

Olifant’s mountain bike trails are conducted in the early morning and mid-afternoon, departure times vary depending on the season. The length of time on the bike varies between 3 to 4 hours and the guides take you on one of three different routes which are graded according to difficulty. The cost of a mountain bike trail in Kruger Park is reasonable, ranging from R450 to R800 depending on the time and length.

Play golf at Skukuza Golf Club

Playing golf while on a safari holiday in Kruger Park is a dream come true for avid golfers. Kruger Park is the only national park in southern Africa that has its own golf course. Skukuza Golf Course is located in southern Kruger, just across the river from Skukuza Rest Camp.

The 9-hole golf course is legendary. It was established in 1972 as a recreational facility for Skukuza staff members and later opened to the public. It’s not the most pristine golf course in South Africa but everyone loves playing it. The 19th holes is the best hole.

The golf course isn’t fenced and is open to the Sabie River, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing the fairway with antelope, giraffe and zebra. Watch out for hippo and crocodiles in the water holes.

Overnight hides in Kruger Park

There are 2 overnight hides in Kruger Park which are hugely popular for bushveld sleepouts. They’re booked well in advance so don’t leave it too late to make a booking. The overnight hides are open to the public during the day and become sleepover hides by night.

The facilities are very basic but it’s wonderful to spend a night out in absolute isolation and soak up the peace and tranquility of the beautiful bushveld.

Sable Sleepover Hide is located in northern Kruger, about 10 kilometres from Phalaborwa Gate. It overlooks Sable Dam which attracts an abundance of animals, particularly in the dry winter months.

Shipandani Sleepover Hide is located in northern Kruger, a short 5-minute drive from Mopani Rest Camp. It overlooks the Tsendze River.

Camping in Kruger Park

Camping in Kruger Park is a great way to save money if you’re on a budget. It’s also a huge amount of fun, particularly for families with children. There’s loads of space to play and the main rest camps have a large swimming pool.

The campsites in Kruger Park are well-maintained and the communal ablution and kitchen facilities are serviced daily. You have the choice of a site with or without an electric point. The campsites offer a combination of sites for caravans and tents.

Guided wilderness walking trails

For something far more exciting and challenging than a regular bush walk, put one of the popular Kruger wilderness walking trails on your safari bucket list. This involves serious walking in remote bushveld with the real risk of wild animals all around you. They’re safe because they’re conducted by highly-qualified armed field rangers.

The 6 guided wilderness trails are:

  • Bushman Trail

In southern Kruger near Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp

  • Metsimetsi Trail

East of the N’wamuriwa Mountain near Tshokwane

  • Napi Trail

Between Skukuza and Pretoriuskop in a game-rich area

  • Olifants Trail

Around Olifants and Letaba rest camps in the Big Tuskers area

  • Sweni Trail

Near N’wanetsi, overlooking Sweni River

  • Wolhuter Trail

Following in the footsteps of the legendary Harry Wolhuter, between Berg-en-Dal and Pretoriuskop

Learn about the history of Kruger Park

Kruger Park is rich in history and you can learn more about its cultural and conservation history by visiting various archaeological sites and the Stevenson-Hamilton Museum. To learn more about the Park’s legendary elephants known as the Magnificent 7, you can visit the Letaba Elephant Hall.

Kruger Park as over 300 archaeological sites and is rich in cultural history. There’s evidence that the region was inhabited over two-and-a-half million years ago and artefacts found in the Park date back to the Stone Age and Iron Age.

The three most significant archaeological sites in Kruger Park that are open to the public are:

  • Albasini Ruins

Albasini Ruins are the remains of the 19th century trading post that was established by a legendary Portuguese trader, Joao Albasini. Located close to Phabeni Gate, Albasini’s settlement at Magashula’s Kraal is believed to be the first European settlement in the disease-ridden Lowveld.

  • Masorini

This late Iron Age site is located on a prominent hillside about 12 kilometres from the Phalaborwa Gate on the tar road to Letaba Rest Camp. The site was inhabited by a Sotho-speaking Ba-Phalaborwa tribe during the 1800’s who developed an advanced and sophisticated industry of mining, smelting iron ore and trading in these iron products.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What type of accommodation can I expect while on a Budget Kruger Park Safari?

There are many accommodation options to choose from while on a Budget Kruger Park Safari including cottages, affordable guest houses, bungalows, comfortable tented camps, caravan parks and even a treehouse for the more adventurous.

 

Which rest camps in the Kruger Park is best suited for a Budget safari?

There are 6 rest camps in the Kruger Park regarded as the best for a Budget Safari namely: Berg-en-Dal in Southern Kruger, Lower Sabi in Southern Kruger, Satara in Central Kruger, Skukuza in Southern Kruger, Olifants rest camp in Northern Kruger and Shingwedzi in Northern Kruger.

 

Is self-drive safaris allowed in the Kruger Park?

Yes, many visitors to the Kruger Park prefer to do their own driving in their own vehicles because it is much friendlier on their budget than organized, guided game drives in the company of a tour operator.

 

Why is Lower Sabi so popular among visitors to the Kruger Park?

Lower-Sabie is located in the Southern part of the Kruger, well-known for its high concentration of wildlife. The rest camp is very family-friendly, and self-catering orientated which make it well-suited for visitors on a Budget Kruger National Park Safari.

 

Which camp in the Kruger National Park is the largest?

The largest camp in the Kruger National Park is Skukuza. It can accommodate up to 1000 visitors in self-catering bungalows (huts), family cottages and guest houses. There are two very good restaurants, a shop, library, outdoor cinema, photographic studio, a playground for the kids, a swimming pool and a river walkway to enjoy. The Skukuza staff village boasts a beautiful 9-hole golf course and an Olympic size pool. Skukuza Airport is a very convenient 10-minute drive from the camp.

 

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Budget Kruger Park Safari Enquiry