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Old 06-13-2019, 06:29 AM
 
236 posts, read 70,940 times
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Has anyone here been to Kruger National Park in South Africa? If so, what was it like?

I am in the early stages of planning a trip and would love to hear about otherís experiences.

Did you worry about malaria? Did you take medications to prevent it? Take other precautions?

What time of year did you go?

Did you see a lot of wildlife? Could you actually hike or did you have to basically stay on the road (to stay out of the way of all the possibly dangerous megafauna out there? We are actually primarily interested in birds and are wondering if we will be able to get close enough for good shots ó a particular concern for smaller songbirds.

Did you go on your own or as part of a tour?

Where did you stay? In the park or outside? There seem to be many lovely lodges in the park, but they look expensive, really expensive! Did you find some inexpensive yet nice option for lodging?

Thanks!
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,060 posts, read 18,985,577 times
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When we visited SA a few years ago, we decided against visiting Kruger to avoid dealing with the preventative malaria meds. We also wanted to avoid Johansburg entirely. It wasn't a safe place to visit then, and even worse now.

Instead, we went to Cape town - and LOVED it. We did a 4 day your down the Garden Route (spectacular scenery) to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Wendy's our safari in one of the parks North of there (they picked us up)

Cape town had two additional benefits: penguin colonies (now under threat of extinction) and wine country that beats them all for variety, friendliness and cost.

It was the trip of a lifetime!
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:00 AM
 
236 posts, read 70,940 times
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Thanks for the report. It sounds like you had an amazing time. Penguins ... that sounds interesting!

I’m concerned about malaria prophylaxis too.

On the other hand, I can’t drink (and miss wine tremendously) so being in wine country might not be right choice for us.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,677 posts, read 8,588,145 times
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i've spent a few days in Kruger, I absolutely loved it. I took a side trip from there to visit the Blyde River Canyon which is a popular day tour, really great as well.

In Kruger you cannot get outside of your vehicle for safety reasons.. personally I would just do the game drives with the rangers, that is the way to do it... they know where to look for wildlife otherwise you just roam around aimlessly.

Malaria meds are not too much of a problem, yes I took them but Malaria risk when I went was minimal... this was September. Don't let the risk of Malaria stop you, as long as you have some DEET repellent it's usually good enough.

Yes, saw tremendous amount of wildlife.. rhinos, giraffe, African Buffaloes (different from the domesticated Asiatic Buffalo), wild dogs, antelopes, deer, a lion (although these are hard to spot), crocs, hippos.

I went with Outlook Safaris https://www.outlook.co.za/ (I booked through a broker - African Budget Safaris https://www.africanbudgetsafaris.com/). I highly recommend both, they did an outstanding job with everything. I did stay in a tent for a more authentic experience but you have the option of staying in a cabin as well. It was a tour, everything was taken care of, I didn't have to do anything except show up in Jo'burg. They have a lodge in a very nice part of Jo'burg.

Jo'burg is a bit rough but it's definitely a very interesting city, there is Gold Reef city and the Gold mine if you care to visit it. The Apartheid Museum is a must if you are into museums. Also don't miss Mandela square with the giant Mandela statue
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:03 PM
 
236 posts, read 70,940 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k374 View Post
i've spent a few days in Kruger, I absolutely loved it. I took a side trip from there to visit the Blyde River Canyon which is a popular day tour, really great as well.

In Kruger you cannot get outside of your vehicle for safety reasons.. personally I would just do the game drives with the rangers, that is the way to do it... they know where to look for wildlife otherwise you just roam around aimlessly.

Malaria meds are not too much of a problem, yes I took them but Malaria risk when I went was minimal... this was September. Don't let the risk of Malaria stop you, as long as you have some DEET repellent it's usually good enough.

Yes, saw tremendous amount of wildlife.. rhinos, giraffe, African Buffaloes (different from the domesticated Asiatic Buffalo), wild dogs, antelopes, deer, a lion (although these are hard to spot), crocs, hippos.

I went with Outlook Safaris https://www.outlook.co.za/ (I booked through a broker - African Budget Safaris https://www.africanbudgetsafaris.com/). I highly recommend both, they did an outstanding job with everything. I did stay in a tent for a more authentic experience but you have the option of staying in a cabin as well. It was a tour, everything was taken care of, I didn't have to do anything except show up in Jo'burg. They have a lodge in a very nice part of Jo'burg.

Jo'burg is a bit rough but it's definitely a very interesting city, there is Gold Reef city and the Gold mine if you care to visit it. The Apartheid Museum is a must if you are into museums. Also don't miss Mandela square with the giant Mandela statue
Thanks so much. Very informative! Iím glad you had such a great time!
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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Been there several time, both in the park and in nearby private reserves.

There's a wide range of accommodations within the parks at "rest areas," including some very reasonably priced self-catering accommodations. https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ In the surrounding private reserves (which abut KNP and aren't fenced, allowing free movement of the animals) there are some reasonably affordable lodges (and plenty of ultra-deluxe ones too.) The benefit of the private reserves is that (a) they're inclusive of meals (usually terrific) and (b) allow nighttime and off-road game drives, while KNP requires you to stay on the roads, and not at night.

My preferred time to visit is late winter - August and September. It's the dry season, so the animals come to the water, and the absence of foliage allows for better viewing without too many leaves in the way. The days are usually pleasantly warm, the nights chilly, and the bugs are very few. You can take malaria prophylaxis if you want, but not mandatory.

For birders, obviously it's catch as catch can. You'll need a long lens, but the range of birds is pretty spectacular.

I will mention a couple of other things, given the birding theme.

One is that there are two other national parks that might be of interest. Addo Elephant National Park is located near Port Elizabeth on the Indian Ocean coast. It's also a self-drive park, but also with some decent private lodges (not as pricey as the ones near Kruger) and a wide range of animals including the "big 5" but also a whole lot of elephants (as in the name.) You could visit Addo, then drive the gorgeous "Garden Route" along the Indian Ocean coast to Cape Town. We've also done this in the spring and had a pretty great time - it's gorgeous country.

The other is West Coast National Park, on the Atlantic an hour or two north of Cape Town. This (and the surrounding area) is famous for its birding opportunities, and if you can travel in the spring (September is best) you'd be there when the wildflowers are in bloom - absolutely stunning.

Here's a couple of maps indicating some possible driving routes. (If you're concerned, driving in SA is quite easy, safe and affordable.) Google the places shown.

Joburg - Panorama Route - Kruger - KMI airport: https://goo.gl/maps/bZc16PJK45cTXPu98

Garden Route - Cape Town - West Coast NP - Paternoster: https://goo.gl/maps/AfKJ1dfo5tGuAKoL8

Some photos just to illustrate -

Lilac Breasted Roller, Kruger area



Ground hornbill, Kruger



Two hornbills, Kruger



Ostrich, Addo Elephant NP



Sunbird, Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route



West Coast National Park



Penguins, Simon's Town (near Cape Town)

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Old 06-14-2019, 04:01 PM
 
12,255 posts, read 18,390,529 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill_Schramm View Post
Has anyone here been to Kruger National Park in South Africa? If so, what was it like?

I am in the early stages of planning a trip and would love to hear about other’s experiences.

Did you worry about malaria? Did you take medications to prevent it? Take other precautions?

What time of year did you go?

Did you see a lot of wildlife? Could you actually hike or did you have to basically stay on the road (to stay out of the way of all the possibly dangerous megafauna out there? We are actually primarily interested in birds and are wondering if we will be able to get close enough for good shots — a particular concern for smaller songbirds.

Did you go on your own or as part of a tour?

Where did you stay? In the park or outside? There seem to be many lovely lodges in the park, but they look expensive, really expensive! Did you find some inexpensive yet nice option for lodging?

Thanks!
Went there over a decade ago so my info might be woefully outdated.
Kruger is amazing, let's just say you will never want to go to a zoo again.

Malaria? - yes we took malaria pills, not a big deal for us. Some people don't adapt well to the malaria pills - bad dreams as I remember being one of the side effects. No problem for us.

Time of year? - I think it was fall which was early spring for them. Cool nights, mild dry days. I remember it being very dusty and after a day in the range rover we were just covered with dust.

Wildlife? - Oh yeah, lots of it. Expect to see 'the big 5' - lions, rhino, elephant, maybe cheatah. Bunch of other animals as well - girraffe, ostrich, etc. Don't remember many birds but I am sure they are out there.
Remember most of Kruger is very dry savannah. You cannot hike, you aren't allowed to get out of your car except at designated spots. You can take a day hike with a ranger (who is armed) - highly recommended and one of the highlights of the trip. We literally approached lion on foot. You can also take a night drive - with a ranger only. We did that as well. But that's the big cats time, they rule the night, even with a ranger at night you don't get out of the car. Ranger told us a story of a night drive, ranger got out to pee, took his rifle and walked a little bit so passengers wouldn't see him. Passengers in the car only heard the sound of his rifle dropping - ranger was eaten.

Alone or tour - both. We had a rental car and Kruger is very developed for self-touring. That's what we did. But for 3 or 4 days we went with an organized "camp out safari" of sorts with a very small tour, traveling off road in a range rover. Not sure they still have it, it was experimental at the time where they allow well trained rangers to camp out with there group in the wilds. It was an amazing experience, not sure if they still have it. They protected the camp with a boundary of electric wire and told us strictly not to leave our tents at night. This worked well until our ranger told us, after a few drinks, that the electric wire would do nothing to keep a lion from getting into our camp.

Stay? - all of the above. We stayed in tents in the wild as indicated above, we also stayed in a very comfortable lodge within the camp boundries and had a great meal of nyala I think it was (African version of antelope/deer), the lodge is surrounded by a very sturdy electric fence (not the portable one wire deal we got in the camp). Then we also stayed in a B&B in a little town right outside of the park on our last day.

Expense? - Nope, South Africa is very inexpensive and affordable.

There was another park we stayed in as well in Kwa-zulu. I can't remember the name but that was a bit more tropical and green and just as amazing. Elephant almost ran over our rental car but otherwise all good.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Haiku
4,056 posts, read 2,566,050 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill_Schramm View Post
Has anyone here been to Kruger National Park in South Africa? If so, what was it like?

I am in the early stages of planning a trip and would love to hear about otherís experiences.

Did you worry about malaria? Did you take medications to prevent it? Take other precautions?

What time of year did you go?

Did you see a lot of wildlife? Could you actually hike or did you have to basically stay on the road (to stay out of the way of all the possibly dangerous megafauna out there? We are actually primarily interested in birds and are wondering if we will be able to get close enough for good shots ó a particular concern for smaller songbirds.

Did you go on your own or as part of a tour?

Where did you stay? In the park or outside? There seem to be many lovely lodges in the park, but they look expensive, really expensive! Did you find some inexpensive yet nice option for lodging?

Thanks!
I just returned from 3 weeks in Namibia and Botswana, both of which border South Africa. Botswana in particular is similar to Kruger in climate, wildlife and terrain.

I did a self-drive Safari, with a rented 4x4 truck set up for camping and extended back-country touring. It had a stove, refrig, freezer, solar panel, 40 gallon fuel tank and about 20 gallons of fresh water. I camped in five different national parks and saw more than 30 different animals including all the biggies - elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino.

I used an agency to help me with the itinerary and reservations. I highly recommend that as they can tell you if you should stay longer of less in certain areas and what the driving conditions are like. The agency I used is called Drive Botswana, based in England and Botswana. But they also cover South Africa.

I took malaria prophylaxis but hardly saw any mosquitoes (it is the dry season there now) so not sure it was necessary.

I only went for a hike once and that was with a guide. The animals are indeed dangerous and unpredictable so you really can't be away from your car in places that have lions and hippos and wild dogs. The camp grounds I stayed in Botswana have no fences and big animals wander through them. I had a close encounter (like within 10' of me) with an elephant wandering through my camp site. I would get out of the car occasionally to take a pic but mostly stayed in it. There are also some very poisonous snakes in Africa.

Good luck! Africa is probably one of my best trips of my life, so definitely go for it.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:58 PM
 
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Visited SA a few years ago but skipped Kruger.
Stayed in Cape Town, Durban and a couple of days in Josie.

Did a couple of Safaries (strictly stayed in the car) and saw all different kinds of animals - including lions. Cheetah, Hippo, Rhino, elephants and whatnot.
They also had a petting area at the safari where we played a little with lion cubs.

The quality of food in SA is at a different level! Absolutely fantastic at a reasonable price.

The air and atmosphere has this natural and organic aroma to it, that is just so soothing and SO BEAUTIFUL !!

There was a wildernesses area in the back of our hotel - and my favorite part of this fantastic trip was to get up early in the morning and just to listen to these amazing and heavenly beautiful bird songs.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:11 PM
 
Location: STL area
990 posts, read 498,020 times
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We are about to go (July). I can report back. Itís low mosquito season but we are taking the meds. I visited the passport health office and I was pretty reassured that the current meds are much better tolerated and it was recommended we take them with dinner. We are all up to date on vaccines and the only other discussion was typhoid. This is a high end trip and the company we are traveling with doesnít give me (or the doctor I met with) any reason to believe this was necessary. I will report back. This is a bucket list trip, canít wait!
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