orpen rest camp

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Orpen Rest Camp

Orpen Rest Camp is one of the main rest camps of Kruger National Park (KNP) which is located in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo province of South Africa.  The camp is situated about a third of the way up the western border of the park.

Orpen Rest Camp - Self Catering
2 Sleeper - Bungalow (BD2)

Date Range Rate 
2023 – 2024 R2495 for 2 persons

Rates quoted per night.

Include:  Self catering, Shop, En-suite, 1 bedroom with 2 single beds, Air-conditioned, Fridge, Hotplate,  Sink, Utensils

Exclude: Daily Conservation fees, all safari drives, all meals, No restaurant or shop onsite

Orpen Rest Camp - Self Catering
6 Sleeper - Guest Cottage (GC6)

Date Range Rate 
2023 – 2024 R5895 for 4 persons

Rates quoted per night.

Include: Self catering, No restaurant onsite, Shop, En-suite, 2 bedrooms, each with 3 single beds, Airconditioned, Kitchen, Utensils

Exclude: Daily Conservation fees, all safari drives, all meals, No restaurant or shop onsite


It might be smaller than most of the other camps but has its own appeal and is certainly not unpopular. The camp is right at the entrance gate and set amongst rock gardens alive with Aloes and Barberton Daisies.

Orpen rest camp and the gate did not exist in the early days of the KNP, but the entrance gate is today one of the principal access points to the central part of the park and the quickest way to reach Satara rest camp.

Provision of water was one of the biggest needs in the beginner years of KNP. JH Orpen, a surveyor and member of the National Parks Board helped sponsor boreholes for the park. His wife Eileen bought seven farms to the west of Rabelais gate during the 1930s and 1940s. She donated the ground to the park extending the total area by almost 24 500 hectares.

Rabelais use to be the entrance to the park from 1926 to 1954. It was moved 10 km to the west in 1954 and a rest camp was established beside the gate. It was named in honour of the Orpen family. Today, a small, white rondawel is the only indication of where the gate once stood. It is now a museum dedicated to the family.

The rest camp has a designated day visitor area where day visitors and visitors from other camps can braai (barbecue) and picnic. Visitors can also stop at the picnic sites at Muzandzeni and Nhlanguleni southwest of the camp, and at Timbavati northeast of the camp.

Staying in any of the camps of the KNP is a top experience where you can be guaranteed to see the Big 5. It is one of the more affordable safari vacations that you can book in South Africa.


Why would you want to visit Orpen?

Spending a few days in the Orpen camp provides a true African experience and is definitely something to add to your safari vacation.

The Orpen entrance gate leads you into a small peaceful camp that is situated in a flat area with scattered Marula trees and grass plains. The Rabelais Dam is 7 km from the rest camp. It is about 100 km to Olifants rest camp and 140 km to Skukuza rest camp.

The camp is located in the very dry open gate plains of the central Kruger National Park. Tall Acacia and Marula trees provide shade for the accommodation huts, which is set amongst rock gardens brightly coloured with aloes and Barberton daisies in the flowering season.

Although an extremely dry area it offers excellent opportunities for a safari. Driving from Orpen to Satara you will see herds of zebra and wildebeest grazing next to the road. Giraffe, impala, warthog and elephant are also common sightings. Driving northwards towards Olifants camp on the Timbavati river road takes you through beautiful scenery where you would most likely see lion, cheetah and leopard.

Trees found in the region is Round Leafed teak, Buffalothorn, Sycamore Fig, Magic Guarri, Marula and Jackalberry. Immediately outside the fence of Orpen is a small waterhole, where wildlife can be seen throughout the day from within the camp fence. It is mostly impala and baboon that frequent the waterhole, but elephant is often seen in the late afternoon coming to quench their thirst.

Going out on an open vehicle safari is the preferred way to see animals but the best way to spot animals in Orpen is from inside the camp close to where the waterhole is. The camp offers great bird watching opportunities as it provides a walking route on the inside perimeters of the camp. You will get a general offering of fauna and flora and being close to animals that you might catch a glimpse of on the other side of the electrified fence.

Where is Orpen located?

Orpen is located about a third up on the western border of the KNP, right at the Orpen entrance gate. The GPS coordinates for the camp is S 24 28′ 29″ E 31 23′ 28″.


How to get to Orpen

Travelling time from Johannesburg to the Orpen entrance gate by car takes at least four to five hours. Head toward Nelspruit on the N4 and take the R540 Belfast turn off. Reaching Lydenburg turn left onto the R36 heading in the direction of Hoedspruit.

Approximately 30 km before Hoedspruit turn right onto the R531 and head on to Open gate. The Orpen rest camp is right at the gate in Kruger National Park.

Flying in to Open can be done via the Eastgate airport in Hoedspruit which is situated 68 km from the gate. It is served by SA Express with daily flights from Johannesburg and from Cape Town.

A map of KNP can be bought at the entrance gates or any of the camps in the park.

Be aware of the gate times for entering and departing from the park. It is as follows:

Entrance gates:

  • January, February, November and December – gates open at 05:30 and close at 18:30
  • March and October – gates open at 05:30 and close at 18:00.
  • April, August, and September – gates open at 06:00 and close at 18:00.
  • May, June, and July – gates open at 06:00 and close at 17:30.

Open’s camp gates open and close at the same times as the entrance gates, except for January, November and December when the camp gates open as early as 04:30.


What to do while staying at Open

There are many activities on offer at the camp that will ensure an exciting bush experience. All bookings, and further details for these activities are available from reception.

The following is on offer:

  • Guided Bush Walks
  • Game Drives in the morning, afternoon, or evening in the company of trained field guides
  • Visit the Timbavati Picnic Site that is located about 55 km from the camp
  • Visit the Ratel Pan Bird Hide that is located about 58 km from the camp
  • From time to time wildlife videos are also shown

Various open vehicle safari operators are available to book a trip with. They offer affordable yet exclusive safari trips for singles, couples, families with children or small private groups.


What to watch out for when staying at Orpen

Staying at Orpen is an exciting experience and guests will experience the flora and fauna that this area offers.

The abundance of wildlife on the open plains in the area makes it ideal for game viewing. The plains around Orpen are wide open spaces as a result of the bush being cleared for agricultural purposes before the area became part of the KNP. The sporadic trees and wide-open plains with sweet grass attract many browsers like zebra, wildebeest, various antelopes, kudu, and many more. In turn the grazers attracts the predators like lion, cheetah, and leopard.

The area also offer close encounters the rest of the Big 5 like elephant, rhino, and buffalo in their natural environment. Packs of wild dog is also found in the area.

The water hole outside the fence of Orpen provides excellent game viewing at just about any time of day with impala, baboon and elephants regularly seen to arrive to quench their thirst.

The most scenic route around Orpen is the area along the Timbavati River where the chances to see leopard in the riverbed is always a possibility. Many wildlife can also be spotted at the Rabelais Dam.

For birders, the area offer an abundance of birds to look out for. Whitefronted and Whitecrowned Plover, both of which can be seen in the riverbed. The Pel’s Fishing Owl and Rufous-bellied Heron has also often been spotted in the area. Red-winged Starlings, Trumpeter Hornbills and Pied Barbet are often seen in camp, and when the many aloes start to flower, they attract sunbirds.

What type of accommodation does Orpen offer and what amenities/facilities are available at the camp?

Orpen provides a variety of accommodation types for singles, couples, and families with children. Although small, the camp offers comfort with two types of accommodation.

Accommodation availability changes from day to day and all inquiries about general availability are subject to change without notice. Last minute reservations in less than 31 days prior to arrival date, are payable within 24 hours after receiving a confirmed provisional reservation via e-mail.

Your accommodation is only guaranteed once you receive a provisional reservation confirmation and to secure your reservation full pre-payment is required a.s.a.p.

At Orpen the following accommodation types is available:


The small camp offers 6 air-conditioned bungalows with 2 single beds each. The units are fully equipped with en-suite bathrooms with shower, basin and toilet. Each have an open air kitchen with cooker top, combined fridge/freezer as well as cutlery, crockery and utensils.

Guest Cottages

Three air-conditioned 6-bed units with two bedrooms and three single beds in each is provided. One bedroom has an en-suite bathroom with bath, WC and wash basin. There is also a separate WC, shower and wash basin for communal use. All the cottages have fully equipped kitchenettes with a combined fridge/freezer, sink, cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery. The outside veranda serves as a lounge.

All bungalows and cottages come with linen, towels and braai facilities.


At Orpen the following facilities are available:

  • Information at Reception
  • Public Telephone
  • Post Box
  • Shop
  • Laundromat
  • Filling Station
  • Communal Kitchens
  • Communal Ablutions
  • Swimming Pool
  • Cutlery and Plates Hampers (from Reception)
  • Basic First Aid Assistance
  • Day Visitors Picnic Area in camp
  • Cellphone reception
  • No ATM facility available

What do you need to know and bring for a safe and comfortable stay at the Orpen?

Plan properly for your stay at Orpen to make it a relaxed trip and stay. Bookings need to be done well in advance from your planned date of arrival. KNP is a popular game reserve and accommodation is not readily available, especially in the holiday season and during the winter months.

Orpen does not offer any bed and breakfast facilities and guests must bring their own food and drinks. The fully stocked shop provides most items that will be needed on a daily basis.

Most parts of the KNP is situated well within a malaria area. This is much more than just an unpleasant illness but can be fatal if left untreated. Since it is being spread by mosquitoes, the best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent the mosquitos to bite you.

You can avoid mosquito bites if you take the necessary steps, such as wearing long sleeves and trousers in the evening, using a reputable kind of insect repellent.

The best way to totally avoid a malaria scare is to get the necessary preventative medication prescribed by your doctor before journeying into the African bush.

Although it is basically impossible for larger, more dangerous animals to enter the camp, it is best to always be alert. Nocturnal animals like the civet, porcupines, and others are frequent visitors.

Ensure your stay is happy and safe by taking note of a few simple warnings. You will be sharing your stay with many unusual and dangerous creatures, such as bats, spiders, snakes, scorpions, to mention but a few, and without knowledge some of them could be dangerous.

If you must walk around at night, please do not do so without a torch. Although there is streetlights, it is not very bright and only along the footpaths.

Under no circumstances are you allowed to feed the animals. By feeding any wildlife, you are signing their death warrant as they become lazy and do not seek for food themselves which can cause them to starve. Some also become aggressive.

When to visit Orpen

The best time of the year to make your trip to Orpen in the KNP is either early spring or late autumn. Kruger is a summer rainfall area and such precipitation is usually convectional and can result in heavy downpours.

The hot summer months from October to April can make any safari tour unpleasant. Fortunately, Orpen does come with swimming pool where overnight visitors can cool down in.

The winters are warm and mild during the day and can sometimes be quite cold at night. If you are planning a trip to KNP in the winter that include a night-drive be sure to pack warm clothing that include a warm jacket, beanie, scarf and gloves.

Even animals sometimes shy away from the heat. During the summer months they tend to look for shade during the hottest time of the day and is not always easy to spot, especially since the bush is very dense.

During the winter months, wildlife tend to stay in the vicinity of water sources and can often be seen at the watering holes, rivers and dams. The bush is also less dense, and animals are spotted more easily than during the summer months.


Where is Orpen located?

Orpen camp is located a third up in the KNP on the western border right at the Orpen entrance gate. It is about 68 km from the nearest town of Hoedspruit.


What to expect and look out for when staying at the Orpen camp?

There is various organised activities like morning, sunset or night game drives and guided walks offered from Orpen camp.

From time to time wildlife videos are also shown and you can walk the perimeter trail of the camp spotting birds and wildlife.

The water hole outside the fence of Orpen provides excellent game viewing at just about any time of day with impala, baboon and elephants regularly seen to arrive to quench their thirst.


What facilities are provided at Orpen and what do you need to bring along?

All accommodation are equipped with linen, towels, and braai facilities. Cooking utensils or crockery are provided. All you need to bring is your own food, insect repellent, camera, binoculars, and torch.

The camp has a shop on the premises that provide basic everyday items and food. There is cell phone signal at the camp, a petrol station, swimming pool and laundry facilities. Take note that there is not an ATM at the camp. It also has a day visitors picnic area in the camp perimeter.


When is the best time to visit Orpen?

The best times of the year to stay at Orpen is during early spring or late autumn, when temperatures are mostly pleasant, and water is scarce in the veld, so more animals may come for a drink in the dam.


Does the Orpen Rest Camp have a swimming pool?

No, the camp does not have a swimming pool.  


Does the Orpen Rest Camp have a restaurant?

No, there is no restaurant in the camp.  


Is there a shop in the Orpen Rest Camp?

Yes, there is a shop in the Camp. 


What is the closest gate to the Orpen Rest Camp?

The Orpen gate is the closest entrance gate to the camp. 


Is there WiFi Connection at the Orpen Rest Camp?

No, there is no WiFi Connection at the camp. 

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