Tsendze Rustic Camp
Tsendze Rustic Camp derives its name from the Tsonga word ‘tsendzeleka’ that means ‘to ramble around like someone lost in the bush’.
Tsendze Rustic Camp - Self Catering
6 Sleeper - Camp Site (CK6P)
|2023 – 2024||R565 for 2 persons|
|R715 for 3 persons|
|R865 for 4 persons|
|R1015 for 5 persons|
|R1165 for 6 persons|
As one of the newest accommodation additions to the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa it has already been named up amongst the best places to stay in the game reserve. It is a favourite with all kind of campers.
As the name implies, the camp provides an extra rustic experience in the natural African bush, with 30 individual stands laid out in two circles around the ablution and kitchen facilities under beautiful ancient Leadwood, Mopane and Apple Leaf trees.
Two prominent seasonal water courses, the Nshawu Creek and of course the Tsendze River, run through the area and many large buffalo herds and elephant bulls made their home here.
With its location under large trees, Tsendze offers great birding opportunities right from the convenience of your caravan or tent.
The campsite has no electricity or generators with the only facilities comprising two ablution blocks featuring ‘open-air’ showers and two camp kitchens. Only the very basic services are provided, such as warm water from gas geysers and lighting in the kitchens and ablutions provided by a solar system. No generators are allowed to operate, ensuring the lowest possible noise levels in the camp.
Why would you want to visit the Tsendze Rustic Camp
Firstly, the Kruger National park is big – in fact the third largest National Park in the world – and houses unspoilt African bush plains. Visitors from over the world consider the reserve as one of the best national parks in the world and this camp surely complements that feeling.
The Kruger National Park caters for all tastes and budgets when it comes to accommodation, offering some of the most renowned private lodges and the pristine and basic natural experience as can be found at Tsendze.
The park is easily accessible, as is Tsendze Rustic Camp, since you can travel via road or fly in to Skukuza by scheduled flight from Johannesburg or from Cape Town.
The KNP is home to five vegetation zones, each with their own diverse fauna and flora. Tsendze falls in the Mooiplaas Ranger Section area that is known for its very large buffalo herds and many elephant bulls. With its huge trees the camp offers fantastic birding opportunities right in camp, while the surrounding area offers even more birds.
There are very good game viewing points, waterholes and game viewing roads in the area, and you can go on an early morning bushwalk or sunset drive from Tsendze, with a guide from Mopani coming to pick you up from the entrance gate if you had previously arranged it.
There is a picnic site behind the Camping site.
Where is the Tsendze Rustic Camp located
The Camping site is situated in the Mooiplaas Ranger Section of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, about 7 km (4.34 miles) south of Mopani Rest Camp along the H1-6 road to Letaba Rest Camp.
The camp is about 20km (12.42 miles) north of the Giriyondo / Makhadzi turn off on the H1-6 main road between Letaba and Mopani rest camps.
The GPS co-ordinates for the camp is -23.555950 S, 31.440820 E.
How to get there
It is easily accessible, since you can travel via road or fly in to Skukuza, Phalaborwa or Eastgate Airport near Hoedspruit by scheduled flight from Johannesburg or from Cape Town and use a rented vehicle to reach the camp.
From Johannesburg or Gauteng it is best to enter the park at the Phalaborwa entrance gate.
From Gauteng you take the N1 toll-road to Polokwane (previously known as Pietersburg) until about 40 km before Polokwane where you turn right onto the R71 and head east in the direction of Tzaneen. From Tzaneen you head towards Phalaborwa and the gate on the outskirts of the town. You should allow between 7 to 8 hours for the trip to the gate.
This site is approximately 70 km away from the Phalaborwa entrance gate but you should allow about 3 hours or more for the drive to the camp, to give you enough time to enjoy some game viewing. You should also keep in mind that you must check-in at Mopani at least 1 hour before gate closes before you can proceed to the camp itself.
The gate times related to Tsendze are as follows:
January to March: Camp gates open at 04:30 and close at 18:30; April to September: Camp gates open at 06:00 and close at 18:00; October: Camp gates open at 05:30 and close at 18:00; November to December: Camp gates open at 04:30 and close at 18:30.
What to do while staying at the camp
The camping site is ideal for campers and backpackers who want to experience the wildlife of the Kruger Park on a safari in a rustic environment on a self-catering bushveld experience.
There are no activities offered in or from the camp itself, but campers can explore the area which is famous for its large herds of buffalo and many large elephant bulls and tuskers or they can book activities from Mopani Rest Camp. All further details, as well as bookings for these activities, are available from reception at Mopani.
The campsite is managed form Mopani and has no reception area of its own, but guided game walks or game drives can be pre-arranged with Mopani camp subject to availability.
There is two water courses that run through the area, the Tsendze River and Nshawu Creek, the latter being a shallow marshy drainage channel, a popular refuge for buffalo and elephant during hot weather.
The abundant birdlife in the trees in the campsite makes for excellent birdwatching.
What to watch out for when staying at the Tsendze Rustic Camp
Many visitors prefer staying in the camp and enjoying self-drive safaris through the area in the mornings and evenings.
Fauna and flora around the camp offers a large biodiversity. Some of the flora that guests can see include, leadwood, apple leaf and mopane trees, as well as many kinds of shrubs. Guests can look out for ground hornbill, buffalo, elephant, brown snake eagle and waterbuck in the area, although even some of the more elusive members of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) may also be spotted.
Tsendze is perfect for bird watchers and you won’t even have to leave the comfort of the camp to spot some of the parks most famous birds.
What type of accommodation does the Tsendze Rustic Camp offer and what amenities/facilities are available at the Camp
The only accommodation option provided at Tsendze is for camping – in either campers, tents or caravans. The site has 30 shady camp sites, but sites do not have power points.
Each campsite is equipped with braai (barbecue) facilities and a refuse bin while water is provided on tap, with a tap shared among every three campsites.
Each site is marked out in the natural bush which gives you some privacy and a heightened sense of being ‘in the wild’ even though there is a perimeter fence for your security. Many of the sites are along the fence, so you may be entertained by passing hyenas, elephants or other animals.
The campsites are large, with ample room to spread out and braai, with a water tap nearby and shade for a large part of the day. A maximum of 6 persons are allowed per site.
There is no shop, ATM facility, restaurant or fuel station, but there are communal gas freezers for those who are not equipped with their own battery-powered fridges.
The two ablution blocks feature unique ‘open-to-the-skies’ showers (traditionalists can use the standard indoor versions) and facilities are also wheelchair friendly.
Probably the most famous feature about it, is its management couple, Rodgers Hobyane and Elina Mona, who look after the camp in such a friendly and helpful way that they have not only won numerous hospitality awards, but also the hearts of many campers.
Tsendze is clearly marked as a low noise impact facility, so no generators are allowed, and people can enjoy nature and listen to the sounds of the bush uninterrupted.
Tsendze campers need to check in at the nearby Mopani Rest Camp reception where a site will be allocated to them. Guests are allowed to reserve a specific site when booking, although that is always subject to availability and with its popularity, some sites are already booked up to a year ahead.
What do you need to know and bring for a safe and comfortable stay
It is listed among the top places to stay in the Kruger National Park if you are equipped to camp. It offers a completely rustic experience in a pristine area and even visitors who are new to the general camping experience, may tend to fall in love with the idea while staying at Tsendze.
The campsites are spread out under ancient Mopane, Leadwood, and Apple Leaf Trees for shade during almost all the hours of the day and the Tsendze and Nshwau Rivers, although both seasonal, pass close enough to the camp to lure animals of all kinds to the vicinity, which makes for more than the occasional phenomenal wildlife viewing experience.
Stayover guests should realise that, facilities are absolutely limited and with no restaurants or shops at the camp itself, they will have to travel to Mopani Rest Camp to stock up on food and other supplies when they need any.
Warm water is provided by gas geysers and lighting is provided by solar power, so there is no use bringing all kinds of convenience appliances because the camp has no traditional electricity supply.
Although the camp is fenced, there is always the possibility of wildlife getting into the camps. It does not happen often, but guest should not be scared if they wake up in the morning to find some smaller or larger antelope eating grass their tents.
Regardless of the kind or size of such an animal, you should never attempt to approach it, feed it or even just try to touch it. The camp official will remove any animal from the camp if they feel it poses a threat.
Guests should also never feed any animals through the fence, since by doing it they actually end up doing more harm than good as these animals may then pose a threat to humans in future. By feeding any kind of wildlife, you are actually signing a death warrant for them as they usually become aggressive in the long run.
There may be a variety of snakes, spiders and scorpions living in the camp area, and those small enough love to make their homes within the ablution structures.
Although not all of them are poisonous, some of their bites may be very painful. Since they will most probably bite when threatened or accidently stepped on, it is advisable that guests wear shoes when walking anywhere around the camp, and at night carry a torch with them to light the way.
Kruger National Park is situated within a general malaria area and summer times in particular can leave guests exceptionally vulnerable to this deadly infection. Malaria is carried by mosquitos and guests visiting the area must make sure that they protect themselves against being bitten and infected by this sickness.
It is wise to use reliable insect repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net. Both are great ways to prevent infection, but if you want to make double sure, using preventative medication, prescribed by a doctor, would be the best way to totally avoid the sickness.
When planning a vacation that includes a stay at the camp, the season and temperature should also be considered. Summers can be very hot and humid, even if it doesn’t really rain, while winter days are cool to warm with cool to cold nights and mornings.
When packing your caravan or camping equipment for your trip, keep that in mind, as well as the fact that there is no electricity for air conditioners or fans.
Apart from the cost of the accommodation, guests should be aware of the daily conservation fees payable. There are different rates for South African citizens and residents (with ID), which is currently R100 per adult per day and R50 per child per day; for SADC Nationals (with passport), which is currently R200 per adult per day and R100 per child per day and the standard conservation fee for all other guests which is currently R400 per adult per day and R200 per child per day.
When to visit
The best time of the year to make your trip to the Kruger National Park in general, may either be early spring or late autumn, since summers in the game reserve can get very hot and humid and often end with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon.
Such hot summer weather can make any safari experience unpleasant, even more in a campsite where there is no electricity – and therefore any electric fans or air-conditioning.
Even animals sometimes shy away from the heat. Winters are usually mild, but the days can get very cold and the nights even colder – especially when sleeping in a tent.
A good time to stay over is at the beginning or end of the region’s dry season, which falls between April and September. During this time temperatures are mostly pleasant, and water is scarce in the veld due to the lack of rain, so you will have a better chance of spotting animals coming for a drink in the Tsendze River.
Where is the Tsendze Rustic Camp located?
Camp is located approximately 7 km south of Mopani Rest Camp in the in the Mooiplaas Ranger Section of the KNP.
The camp is about 20km (12.42 miles) north of the Giriyondo / Makhadzi turn off on the H1-6 main road between Letaba and Mopani rest camps.
What to expect and look out for when staying at the Tsendze Rustic Camp?
The large trees are home to may bird species and the area is known for large buffalo herds and elephant, but most other game species may be found in the area.
What facilities are provided at the Tsendze Rustic Camp and what do you need to bring along?
This is a camping site, with only communal ablutions provided. There is no power points at the campsites and campers should be self-sustained with regards to their equipment and supplies.
When is the best time to visit the Tsendze Rustic Camp?
The best time of the year to camp at Tsendze may either be early spring or late autumn, since summers in the park can get very hot and humid and often end with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon. Winter days are usually mild, but the nights can get very cold for camping.
Does the Tsendze Rustic Camp have a restaurant?
No, the camp does not have a restaurant.
Does the Tsendze Rustic Camp have a shop?
No, the camp does not have a shop.
Is there Electricity at the at the Tsendze Rustic Camp?
No, the camp does not have electricity.