BEST PICNIC SITES IN KRUGER PARK
One of the best things about a Kruger Park holiday is you can go on game drives in you own car. This means you have the freedom to drive where you want to go, stay out as long as you want before gate closing times 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 along as you follow the Park’s rules and keep to the designated areas.
Do yourself a favour and buy one of the glossy Kruger Park Map & Guide books on sale at the entrance gates. Kruger Park covers an area of 2 million hectares and is a maze of tar and dirt roads. A good, detailed map is an excellent resource for first-time visitors.
Southern Kruger picnic sites
Southern Kruger is the most popular section of the Park because it’s easier to get to from Johannesburg and towns like White River and Hazyview and because it has the highest concentration of game. Most visitors go to the southern section for a day tour of Kruger which means it’s also the busiest part of the Park.
This area is called the Marula Region and lies between Crocodile River at the southernmost tip of Kruger Park and Sabie River which flows in front of Skukuza Rest Camp. The Marula Region receives the highest rainfall and is lush and fertile. With good sources of permanent water, the Marula Region is home to an abundance of animals and prolific birdlife.
Afsaal Trader’s Rest
On the junction of H3 and H2-2, between Malelane Gate and Skukuza Rest Camp
Afsaal Trader’s Rest is a popular and busy picnic spot in southern Kruger. The name ‘Afsaal’ means “a place to break the journey” and is the perfect place to stop for breakfast after a morning’s game drive or for a mid-day meal. There are plenty of birds and small animals in and around the picnic spot so relax and enjoy the sights and bushveld sounds.
Afsaal is located on one of the most popular main roads for game viewing in an area with a high concentration of game. It’s situated on the bank of a dry riverbed and it’s not uncommon to see the Big 5 in the surrounding bushveld as well as a resident pack of wild dog. The picnic spot is not fenced so keep an eye on young children and stay close to the picnic facilities.
Picnic tables are laid out under the trees and there are braai (BBQ) stands if you want to cook up a good breakfast or enjoy a ‘boerie’ roll. You can also hire a gas skottel for a nominal fee. If you don’t feel like cooking or preparing a picnic, Afsaal has a take-away eatery and a well-stocked shop for food and drinks.
Mlondozi picnic site
Off S29 overlooking Mlondozi Dam, about 15 kilometres from Lower Sabie Rest Camp
This stunning picnic site is located on top of a koppie (small hill), situated just off the main road that runs between Letaba Rest Camp and Satara Rest Camp. It overlooks the Mlondozi River and dam, providing panoramic views of the savanna plains and the Lebombo Mountains in the background.
You should see wonderful animal and bird sightings at the river and dam, including large herds of elephant and buffalo. The birds in the picnic area are lovely and there’s always a gathering of small antelope and monkeys in the surrounding bushveld.
The picnic tables are laid out under thatched umbrellas which provides much-needed shade and benches are set up on the edge of the building for wonderful views and photographs. Visitors can hire a skottel for a cook-up. There is no shop at Mlondozi picnic site so bring your own food and drinks. There are toilet facilities.
Nkuhlu picnic site
25 kms east of Skukuza Rest Camp on H4-1 and 23 kms west of Lower Sabie River on H4-1
Nkuhlu picnic site is a hidden gem in southern Kruger, in an area that has a high concentration of animals, beautiful birds and incredible scenery. It overlooks Sabie River so you should see lovely sightings of animals coming down to drink and hippos wallowing in the water.
There’s a small shop at Nkuhlu picnic site that sells snacks and drinks. Gas skottels are available to hire.
The picnic tables are placed under the shade of large Natal Mahogany trees from which the picnic site gets its name. Nkuhlu is laid out on different levels and the best spot is the lower level where you can get eye level with the river. It’s the best seats in the bushveld theatre.
Albasini Ruins picnic spot
Start of S1, 100 metres from to Phabeni Gate
This simple picnic site is located at the Albasini Ruins which is the historic site of Joao Albasini’s trading store, dating back to 1846. Information boards and a humble display give you insight into the history of Albasini and his trading site as well as the story of ranger Chauke who is buried there.
After a long drive from Johannesburg to Kruger Park, it’s a good place to stop to stretch your legs and have a bite to eat and drink before continuing on to your accommodation in Kruger Park.
There are a few picnic tables under shady trees, taps and dustbins. There is no shop at Albasini Ruins. Visitors use the toilets are at Phabeni Gate.
Pretoriuskop picnic site
On H1-1, before entrance to Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
Pretoriuskop Rest Camp has a designated picnic area for day visitors. It’s a great place to stop for a break, particularly if you have young kids in the car. There are picnic tables under shady trees and braai (BBQ) facilities for a cook-up.
There is no shop at the Pretoriuskop picnic site so either bring your own picnic or pick up a take-away or snacks and drinks at the shop at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp. The picnic site has toilet facilities that are cleaned daily.
Central and northern Kruger Park picnic sites
Central and northern Kruger are the driest parts of Kruger Park but there are a number of major rivers that run through this section. The thick riverine forests provide an oasis for the animals and birds and you should see fantastic animal sightings on the lush riverbanks.
Central Kruger is known as the “Big Cat Capital” of Kruger Park and the northern section is home to large populations of hippo and elephant, including the famous Great Tuskers. If you have time, pop into the Letaba Elephant Hall at Letaba Rest Camp to learn more about the Magnificent 7.
The section of Kruger Park is known as the Nkayeni Region. It lies between Sabie River and Olifants River, two important rivers in the Park and vital water sources for the animals and birds.
Tshokwane picnic site
On H1-3, mid-way between Skukuza Rest Camp and Satara Rest Camp
Tshokwane picnic site is a favourite place to visit for regular Kruger Park visitors and it can get very busy over the local holidays. It’s ideally located between the two most popular rest camps, in an area that’s home to a large array of animals and birds.
Tshokwane has recently been revamped and is looking fabulous, with charming thatched bomas and comfortable seating on a big patio. It has a lovely farm stall-type shop that sells everything from delicious coffee and milkshakes to burgers, toasted sandwiches, healthy salads and homebaked cakes and pastries.
The picnic site has braai (BBQ) facilities and gas skottels are available for hire. Tshokwane has toilet facilities.
Nhlanguleni picnic site
On S36, mid-way between Skukuza Rest Camp and Orpen Rest Camp
Nhlanguleni picnic site is a quiet, unassuming picnic site. It’s about a 3-kilometre drive from Lugmag Dam, also known as Airforce Dam. You should see lovely animals sightings at the dam and around the picnic site.
It’s not the most scenic place to stop because the bushveld is dry and stark, but it’s perfect if you want a break from driving, stretch your legs and have something to eat and drink. It’s a small, sandy site with very few big trees so it can get very hot. Bring hats and sunscreen for your picnic at Nhlanguleni.
There are a few picnic tables and basic braai (BBQ) facilities as well as toilet facilities. There is no shop at Nhlanguleni, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel.
Muzandzeni picnic site
Between S36 and S126, about 30 kilometres from Satara Rest Camp
This section of Kruger Park is remote and more isolated with fewer visitors. The picnic site is basic but quiet and peaceful. It’s the perfect place to stop when you’re exploring central Kruger, to stretch your legs after covering long distances or enjoy a cook-up after an early-morning game drive.
Muzandzeni picnic site is situated on a seasonal stream in an area close to Imbali Private Concession. It’s a short 2-kilometer drive from Shimangweni Dam, another great spot for animal and bird watching.
Picnic tables are laid out under tall shady trees and there are braai (BBQ) facilities for a cook-up. There is no shop at Muzandzeni, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel. Bring all your own provisions, including ice on scorching hot days if you want cold drinks.
N’wanetsi picnic site
On H6, about 25 kilometers from Satara Rest Camp
N’wanetsi picnic site is the most popular place to stop if you’re staying at Satara Rest Camp or at the luxury lodges on Singita Private Concession. It’s also rated as one of the top 5 picnic spots in the Park. N’wanetsi picnic site lies on the far-eastern boundary of Kruger Park on the scenic N’wanetsi River.
The picnic site is divided into two areas. The first is a typical Kruger picnic site with tables under shady trees and braai (BBQ) facilities. The second is a lovely view point under a thatched roof with a panoramic view of the river below and surrounding savanna plains. You can see Lebombo Mountain in the distance.
Bring your binoculars to look for animals coming down to drink and birdwatching. There are toilet facilities at N’wanetsi but no shop, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel for a cook-up.
Timbavati picnic site
On the junction of S40 and S127, on the banks of the Timbavati River
Timbavati picnic site is a favourite place to stop for visitors staying in the Satara, Orpen, Olifants and Letaba area. In fact, it gets really busy of the local holiday period. It lies north-west of Satara Rest Camp which is the biggest rest camp in central Kruger, an area known for its strong Big Cat populations.
The region receives very little rainfall and is semi-arid and stark. The picnic site can get very hot in the middle of the day in summer so it’s more popular as a breakfast spot after early-morning game drives. It does look over the dry Timbavati River which is fairly lush in the rainy season.
Picnic trees are placed under shady trees or thatch umbrellas and the site has braai (BBQ) facilities. There is no shop, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel. The picnic site has toilet facilities.
Masorini picnic site
On junction of H-9 and S51, 10 kms east of Phalaborwa Gate
This picnic site is located close to a prominent hill that is the site of the Masorini Ruins. The ruins are an important archaeological site which dates back to the Iron Age. Visitors who have booked a guided tour of the Masorini Ruins stop at the picnic site for food and drinks before or after the tour.
There are picnic tables under thatched umbrellas and braai (BBQ) facilities as well as toilets at Masorini. There is no shop, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel. Bring all your own provisions because you’re a long way from any shops.
Makhadzi picnic site
On H-15, north-east of Letaba Rest Camp
Makhadzi picnic site is located close to Malopenya waterhole, off the road that takes visitors to Giriyondo Border Post. It’s a very quiet picnic site with few tourists so enjoy the peace and tranquility of the wild, untouched bushveld.
Makhadzi was an important post during the Anglo-Boer War as it was where the mounted unit of the British Forces was stationed. The main purpose of the station was to prevent the supply of arms and ammunition reaching the Boer commandos from Portuguese East Africa.
It’s a neat picnic site with friendly staff who’ll spend time telling you stories of the army regiment and the Makhadzi people who lived in the area. Picnic tables are positioned among apple-leaf trees and there are braai (BBQ) facilities for a cook-up. There is no shop, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel. The picnic site has decent toilets.
Mooiplaas picnic site
On H1-6, 7 kms from Mopani Rest Camp
This pretty, neat picnic site overlooks the Tsendze River. It’s a remote area with fewer tourists than the busy southern section so enjoy the peace and tranquility of the beautiful bushveld surrounds.
There are a few picnic tables positioned in a grove of shady trees as well as a seating under a large tee-pee-styled thatched boma. There are no braai (BBQ) facilities but you can hire a gas skottel from the small kiosk for a cook-up.
A short walk from the main picnic site is a beautiful view point. You have an wonderful view over the Tsendze River and a small waterhole. Time it right and you should see amazing sightings when the animals come down to drink.
Far-north Kruger Park picnic sites
The far-north section of Kruger Park is remote and tourist numbers are very low. You don’t get the large numbers of animals like you do in southern Kruger but its incredible birdlife and beautiful scenery more than make up for this for avid nature lovers.
The area around Punda Maria and Pafuri is regarded as one of the finest birding destinations in southern Africa. It’s an incredibly beautiful part of the Park with a unique ecosystem, with stunning groves of giant baobabs and vast fever tree forests.
This area is known as the Nxanatseni Region. It lies between two major water sources, the Olifants River and Limpopo River. The latter forms the northern boundary of Kruger Park, separating South Africa from Zimbabwe.
Babalala picnic site
On H1-7, 14 kms from Sirheni Bush Camp; midway between Shingwedzi Rest Camp and Punda Maria Rest Camp
This little-known picnic spot is located in a dry, flat area which means it’s not the prettiest picnic spot in Kruger Park but it is the best place to stop on the long drive from Olifants or Letaba to Punda Maria Rest Camp.
It’s typical of a basic Kruger picnic site with tables set out under shady trees. There’s a lovely picnic area under thatch that runs around a large tree. There is no shop, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel for a cook-up. There are toilet facilities at Babalala. Bring all your own provisions because you are far from eateries and shops.
Punda Maria picnic site
On S98, 8 kms from Punda Maria Rest Camp
This picnic spot is a designated area for day visitors. It’s located next to the main gate and a short drive from Punda Maria Rest Camp. It offers visitors basic facilities for a picnic or braai (BBQ). There is no shop, only a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and hire a gas skottel for a cook-up.
The area is very hot and humid so bring hats and sunscreen. For something fun to do, pop across to the rest camp and follow the Flycatcher walking trail which takes you to the Punda Maria hide and waterhole.
Pafuri picnic spot
On the junction of H1-9 and S63, close to Pafuri Camp and Crooks Corner
Pafuri picnic site is located in beautiful bushveld surrounds overlooking the Luvuvhu River. The area is remote and tourist numbers are low so enjoy the peace and tranquility. This site is more lush and tropical than the picnic sites in the dry central and northern region and you’re sure to see a selection of Pafuri’s incredible birds in the tall trees.
The picnic tables are positioned under shady trees or thatched umbrellas and there are braai facilities for a cook-up. There is a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and firewood or hire a gas skottel. The toilet facilities are neat and clean. Look for a mark on the bathroom wall that indicates the highest water level from the 2000 floods.
What to pack for a picnic in Kruger Park
Kruger Park picnic sites offer basic facilities where visitors can relax, have something to eat and drink and use the ablutions. Most of the main camps have an area set aside for picnics and day visitors. You can buy take-aways from the restaurant or snacks and drinks from the onsite shop before stopping at the picnic site.
If you’re planning to stop at one of the more remote Kruger picnic sites, you need to take all your own provisions. Most picnic sites have a small kiosk where you can buy soft drinks and either firewood or hire a gas skottel for a cook-up. A skottel is a mobile frying pan on a stand and is perfect for cooking sausages, bacon and eggs for a hearty breakfast.
Other things to pack in your basket for a picnic in Kruger Park include:
- paper plates
- plastic cups
- paper napkins
- braai tongs