We rented a small Toyota Tazz from Budget at Johannesburg airport and drove to Kruger via the town of Sabie and a tour of The Escarpment. The highway system in South Africa is very similar to the Interstate highway system in the US. The roads are in excellent condition and getting around is very easy. Rest stops along the way are clean and well run. It took us 4 hours to get to Sabie, where we spent the night. The next day we took our time touring the Escarpment (Blyde River Canyon) before heading down to Hazyview toward Kruger.
Our original plan was to stay at one of the all-inclusive resorts inside of Sabie Sand Game Reserve, which is adjacent to Kruger on the western side. But what we didn't know was that in order to get through the gate to Sabie Sand, you have to have already made reservations at one of the resorts.
With no reservations, we were out of luck. So we decided to spend our first night inside of Kruger. We made it to the Paul Kruger Gate a little after 5:00 PM. Since it was so late in the day and the park gates, as well as the camp gates close at 6:00, the reception office called ahead to Skukuza Camp for us to make a reservation since Skukuza was the closest camp. It all worked out fine and we had a good stay at Skukuza before moving on.
We entered Kruger through the Paul Kruger gate near Skukuza Camp. From there we drove north for our first night at Satara Camp. The next day we meandered north by way of Olifants and Letaba Camps before reaching the new Mopani Camp where we spent two nights. Following that, we exited Kruger near its centre at Phalaborwa and then, because of time constraints, drove south on highways outside the Park. We then re-entered the Park at the Numbi gate near Pretoriuskop Camp, from which we drove across the very dry southern part of the park before exiting at Crocodile Bridge. By then, it was getting late in the day and we were lucky to find great accommodations in Nelspruit (see my South Africa page for details on that one!).
Let's face it, getting to South Africa is not cheap and Kruger National Park is MASSIVE. It has well laid out and signposted roads, free road maps and plenty of places to stop (meals, toilets, etc.). There are plenty of places to buy guidebooks on the animals and their habits. A good guidebook even tells you where in the park to find the animals you want to see during different times of the year. Do you need to spend big money on an animal expert who drives you around the roads? NO! Invest your savings in a better camera and get driving! And stay in the car (if you wish to stay intact)!
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The picture was staged to show you the dangers and what not to do. We risked our safety to help fellow VT’ers!
Our no frills rental car served us well during our 2-week 4000 km (2500 mile) excursion around a small part of South Africa! You will find that the roads in Kruger are a combination of very good paved roads as well as not so bad unpaved ones (this could change during the rainy season!). All of the Camps have petrol (gas) stations where you can fill up without problems. Note that the speed limit in the Park is 50 kph (30 mph) because you never know when game will decide to exercise its right of road-crossing! In our case, we had no Transportation problems at all (for more details on our car, see my 'South Africa' page). This photo shows a friendly Dik-Dik that was wandering around Letara Camp while we recharged our video camera batteries - they had conked out just as we saw a lion about to try to mate with a lioness!
HI GUYS I JUST BOUGHT A PICK UP CHECK IT OUT ON MY HOME PAGE I JUST GOT BACK FROM THE PARK AND BOY IT MADE SUCH A DIFFERENCE BEING SO HIGH UPIN THE TRUCK THE ROADS WERE FINE THE DIRT ROADS WRE EVEN A BIT BOUNCY FOR THE TRUCK BUT I COULD SEE SO MUCH FATHER AND OVER THE GRAS AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD THE GRASS IS JUST TO HIGH TO SEE CLEARLY FROM THE HEIGHT OF A CAR SO THE TRUCK WAS MUCH BETTER ...........
THIS WEB SITE CAN RENT YOU ANY VEHICLE THAT YOU NEED FROM MOTOR HOME TO CAR TO 4X4 ANY THING ON WHEELS SO THEY SAY I HAVENT USED THEM YET MYSLF BUT THATS WHAT THEY SAY THEY CAN DO ............................
Kruger Park has been designed as a self-drive game park, therefore, to get the most out of your game park experience, I would advise driving/hiring a car when visiting.
As we live in South Africa, we haven't yet had a need to hire a car while on our visits to the park. However, that is not the case for everyone, and I have found a very informative link on the official website for Kruger National Park, describing the kind of cars available to hire and how to go about it.
The best way to see Kruger (and the rest of south africa) is, by far, to rent your own car and drive yourself. South Africa is a modern country with excellent car hire services. I rented a car from Tempest car hire for 1 month, a Toyota sedan for about 9500 rand or so. In Jeffrey's bay on the coast, the reverse went out ... I called and they brought me a new car from Port Elizabeth in a couple hours. Great service.
In Kruger, driving yourself allows you to explore at your own pace, which is what it is all about. Much better than being stuck with a bunch of gawking tourists. The downside is that it may not be easy to see smaller game ... including leapards, cheetah and lions ... but don't get hung up on marking off "the big 5". Enjoy the beauty of the park and drive slowly.
The main roads in Kruger are paved, but the majority are not. The secondary roads are dirt and gravel, generally well-maintained. Unless there is some serious flooding, you do not need a 4x4.
If you are American (not sure about other nationalities), I suggest you get an international drivers licence before coming. I believe that's required by law in SA but I'm not 100 percent sure. I only had my American licence, and I was not stopped once. You could probly pull it off without an int'l licence, but best to be safe and get it if you can. Also: don't ever go more than 10 km above the speedlimit in SA .. there are plenty of speed traps around the country (for good reason, lots of people die on roads there).
I drove to Kruger from Joburg. It took about 4.5 hours.
Driving around Kruger in your own car is easy to do, as the park has a good network of paved and unpaved roads throughout it. We drove a number of the dirt roads with a 2-wheel drive vehicle and had no problems. However, I would advise it on a very rainy day (it was dry while we were there). While driving through Kruger, there a few things to keep in mind:
1. Stay in the car while out on the roads. You don't wan't to become a lion's lunch.
2. Don't drive too fast. Going slowly gives you a better chance to spot the animals. Also, animals walk out onto the road, and you want to be going slowly enough to be able to stop in time to avoid hitting them. An elephant can put a pretty large dent in your vehicle.
3. Always have plenty of gas. While there are service stations at the main camps scattered throughout Kruger, they are usually at least 30 km apart. If you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, you could be stuck for a while.
Obviously I feel the best way to see the Kruger is to go with a professional guide. You can do a self drive but will miss a lot of important stuff and even miss a lot of animals as you are not trained to spot animals effectively in the bush. However, roads are all in very good condition and a normal vehicle is sufficient to get you everywhere you need to be. Excellent maps are available throughout the park and it is very easy to navigate yourself around.
DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE!!! unless at a designated picnic or viewing spot. i have often come across people out of their vehicles trying to get a better view of animals not realising a leopard or lion is only 40 metres away! Its serious guys, this place is not a zoo and animals will attack if they feel threatened or cornered. There are picnic spots throughout the Kruger where you can get out, stretch legs, go to the toilet or cook yourself breakfast or lunch.
Take some of the more adventurous dirt roads, you will encounter fewer people and have more of the Kruger to yourself.
How higher you are the more you can see. Because you are not looking straight in the high grass but over it. That is why the safaritrucks are high. If you want to have your own transport a 4x4 will do the trick. You can see over the grass and over other cars in front of you.
The average speed limit is about 30kms an hour... going up to 40km an hour when you are just outside a camp.
Although this may seem really slow to you, these speed limits are there for a reason. Many animals just dart out in front of your car from thick bush on the side of the road as you are travelling, and keeping to the speed limit will ensure they arent harmed, as you will be able to brake in time!
If you see someone being irresponsible in this manner, please take down their number plate number and report them to the next ranger you see driving past, or at the next camp you visit.