The Kruger Park Budget Safari Experience! (Part One)

Kruger National Park - South Africa's premier game park - delivered an all-round fantastic safari experience!

On a recent safari to Kruger Park, straddling the Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces of South Africa, I finally saw all of the Big Five, in one go. This accessible and affordable Kruger Bungalow Safari is an excellent choice for international visitors and South African travellers alike.

Elephant bull crossing road in Kruger Park

Pre-Kruger Safari Lodge Experience

My budget Kruger Safari ran very smoothly, starting with a punctual short transfer to the pre-tour safari lodge in a leafy part of Benoni, ten minutes from OR Thanbo International Airport.

The safari lodge, set in a peaceful garden near a golf course, was even nicer than it looked on the Internet. The lodge was spacious and comfortable, with an incredibly friendly and accommodating staff taking good care of visitors! 

After a delicious vegetarian dinner served in the dining room area of the lodge, I retreated to my comfy and well-appointed en suite room. This affordable accommodation included linen, soap, towels and complimentary tea and coffee facilities in the room, as well as a TV. The twin room had a pleasant view of the lodge gardens and felt private and secure.

In the morning I was awoken bright and early for coffee and a scrumptious breakfast out on the cool veranda.

(Special dietary requirements were advised for me, the vegetarian, before arriving at the lodge, which means I was well catered for on my safari).

Driving to Kruger National Park

After breakfast, our luggage was loaded onto the air-conditioned mini-bus and our safari group set off for Kruger Park (see all tours departing from Johannesburg). Along the way, we stopped regularly to stretch our legs, take bathroom breaks and stock up on drinks and snacks.

Arriving at Kruger Park we crossed the Sabie River where evidence of the floods could still be seen in the riverbed.

Sabie River at Kruger Park's Paul Kruger gate

We entered the world-famous Kruger game park via the Paul Kruger gate, closest to Skukuza rest camp.

Kruger Park's Paul Kruger gate

Shortly after entering the Kruger Reserve we encountered a pack of African Wild Dogs – a lucky wildlife sighting, as these endangered carnivores are usually very tricky to spot.

Our first stop in Kruger Park was Skukuza’s restaurant and curio shop area, beside the flowing Sabie River. 

We enjoyed lunch from the cafeteria and restaurant under shaded thatch (own account). The variety of food available included salads, sandwiches, cooked meals and local style “pap and boerewors”. Some of our safari group tucked into the local fare - South African style meals prepared on an open-air barbecue (ideal for the hungry as the portions were huge).

Skukuza Cafe & Resaurant Area in Kruger

After lunch, we made our way to the nearby safari accommodation in Skukuza rest camp, the largest camp in Kruger. We had enough time for a quick dip in the camp’s swimming pool, before embarking on our sunset game drive.

Photo below: the open-sided Kruger Park Safari vehicle used on our first sunset game drive.

Kruger Park Game Viewing Truck

Staying inside Kruger Park at Skukuza

It was pretty hot in Kruger Park when we visited earlier this month (February), so staying in air-conditioned chalets with en suite bathrooms and overhead fans was a great choice! Although the permanent tents at camp also feature fans, the air-conditioning was most appreciated in the African heat.

The bungalows at Skukuza were clean and comfortable, fitted with mosquito netting over the doors and windows. The bungalows are set among shady trees and lawns, each featuring a little veranda with a bar fridge, table and chairs.

Kruger Bungalow & safari mini-van transport

This affordable safari accommodation included linen, towels; soap and an unexpected, yet welcomed, cleaning service. 

Kruger's Skukuza Restcamp is big (lots of accommodation options) and offers an array of facilities, from restaurants and shops to swimming pools and an internet cafe. There is even a petrol pump for refuelling at Skukuza.

Browse our Budget Kruger Safaris, including affordable camping, bungalow and lodge safaris to Kruger Park. Or take a look at the Kruger Park Bungalow Safari I did, in more detail.

And .... Part Two of the Real Budget Safari Experience in Kruger Park.

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