An excellent Big Five Wildlife Safari to private reserves of Greater Kruger Park and Kruger National Park, South Africa's leading game viewing destination.
This budget-friendly safari offers an exciting mix of activities, including a morning game walk; open vehicle game drives in Balule Game Reserve and Tshukudu Game Reserve; a bush braai, visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Centre and two full days of 4x4 game viewing in Kruger Park proper.
Accommodation is at a basic backpacker style lodge, conveniently located in Greater Kruger Park.
On the morning of day one, our preferred shuttle service collects you from OR Tambo International Airport or your hotel in Gauteng. Leaving the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg behind, we drive into the famous Lowveld region, where many of South Africa's best game parks are found.
We head to our lodge on Balule Game Reserve in Greater Kruger Park, the safari capital of South Africa. This is one of the prime Big Five game reserves sharing open boundaries with Kruger National Park, allowing wildlife to move freely between the two. After settling in at the lodge, we embark on our first thrilling game drive in Balule. This sunset game drive is conducted in an open 4x4 Land Cruiser, offering excellent visibility and immersing you in the bush.
Late afternoons are ideal for game viewing and we spend about three hours on the game drive. Your guide tracks down wildlife and birds, telling you more about the incredible flora and fauna of the Kruger region. With some luck we may experience our first Big Five encounter, coming across lion, leopard, rhino, elephant or buffalo.
After watching our first beautiful sunset in the wilds of Africa, we make our way to the remote boma for a bush braai (barbecue). As darkness falls we use a powerful spotlight to light the way and spot nocturnal animals. Dinner is a hearty South African style braai with food prepared over the open fire in the middle of the untamed bush. After our bush dinner, the game viewing adventure continues with an exciting night game drive back to the lodge. Retire to your rustic chalet with an en-suite bathroom and air-conditioning for a good night's rest.
Day two kicks off with an early morning bush walk. Driving to Olifants River at sunrise, we set off into the Greater Kruger wilderness from there.
We spend the next four hours exploring Balule Game Reserve on foot, with your guides leading the way. The guides are armed to ensure your safety as this is big game country, inhabited by some potentially dangerous animals. The game walk takes us off the beaten track to enjoy the bush up close and personal, away from the crowds. As you go, the rangers point out fascinating details of the unspoilt bush around you, showing you signs of animal activity, such as spoor, droppings and markings.
After our exhilarating walk in the wilds, we return to the lodge for brunch. Then you are free to take a dip in the pool, unwind in the lapa or nap in your chalet. We meet up for lunch in the lapa and prepare for our afternoon game drive, which departs at about 15h30. Venturing back out into Balule, we spend about four hours looking for wildlife and birds. During our game drive in Greater Kruger, we stop for sundowners and watch another glowing sunset over the bushveld. Then we return to the lodge for dinner and leisure time.
The whole of day three is set aside for game viewing inside the world-famous Kruger National Park!
Our custom-built game viewing vehicle has open sides, providing unobstructed views over the game-rich bush. The open-sided safari vehicle immerses you in the wilderness, offering excellent photographic opportunities and a raised vantage for wildlife and bird spotting.
We explore the Orpen-Satara-Nwanedzi region of Kruger Park, an area renowned for its exceptionally high concentration of lions. Numerous herbivores are drawn to the open savannahs of this region, with regular sightings including herds of antelopes, giraffes and zebras. Your experienced guides take you in search of the Big Five and other animals, pointing out interesting sightings and finer details along the way. Rated one of Africa's finest game parks, Kruger is home to an unrivalled diversity of flora and fauna.
At the end of our memorable day in Kruger National Park, we retrace our steps to the lodge in Balule for dinner and a laid-back evening.
Today we have breakfast and travel to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, near Hoedspruit.
We take a tour of Moholoholo, getting a closer look at some of Africa's remarkable wildlife species and finding out more about wildlife conservation. The wildlife rehabilitation centre rescues injured, abandoned and orphaned wildlife, taking in vulnerable and distressed animals from across South Africa. These animals are then cared for at the centre and, if possible, rehabilitated for release back into the wild. Resident species include lion, cheetah, serval, honey badger, eagle, hyena, leopard, vulture, and more.
After visiting Moholoholo Wildlife Centre we return to the lodge for a light lunch. Take a quick nap and relax at the lodge, until our afternoon game drive, departing at about 15h00.
This afternoon we head into Tshukudu Game Reserve, an excellent Big Five game reserve bordering on Greater Kruger Park. In this compact game reserve our chances of sighting the Big Five are high, especially given that the expert rangers keep in constant radio contact with each other. Here we may venture off-road a little in order to get a closer view of remarkable wildlife action.
After our three-hour game viewing adventure in Tshukudu Game Reserve, we drive back to the lodge and have dinner.
This morning we are up early for a second full day of game viewing in the world-renowned Kruger National Park! This massive national park is similar in size to many small countries, covering more or less the same area as Israel or Wales, so expect a whole new experience today!
Kruger Park hosts an awe-inspiring variety of wild animals, plants, reptiles, birds, trees, amphibians and even fish across its wide range of landscapes and ecosystems. We may pass through various vegetation zones, such as open savannahs, dense woodlands and riverine bush. The vastness and wildness of Kruger are simply astounding. On our game drives, we may see some of Kruger's endangered and rare animal and bird species, such as African wild dogs, rhinos, bateleur eagles, and southern ground-hornbills.
We end our day back at the lodge, enjoying a final dinner together.
This morning we get up bright and early for a final game drive in Balule. We set off early enough to catch the sunrise - a beautiful time of day to be out in the African bush.
After our last exploration in Greater Kruger, we return to the rustic lodge for breakfast. Then it is time to hit the road, travelling back to Johannesburg via the Panorama Route. As the name suggests, this route offers incredible scenery, taking us through Blyde River Canyon. Along the way, we pause to admire the breathtaking views over this massive canyon and see the rock formations of the Three Rondavels.
Late this afternoon, we arrive back in Johannesburg, where you are transferred to the airport or your post-tour accommodation.
This budget-friendly lodge offers excellent value for money accommodation in Greater Kruger, making Kruger Park more affordable and accessible.
Accommodation is of a similar standard to regular backpacker lodges, providing basic amenities and simple rooms. The lodge has 18 thatched chalets and a two bedroom guest house, all rooms featuring en-suite bathrooms and air-conditioning. The en-suite bathrooms have a shower, toilet and basin. The chalets have tea and coffee stations for making your own cuppa and the windows are fitted with mosquito netting to keep the insects out. Each bed also has a mosquito net above it.
The lodge has a swimming pool in its lovely shady gardens and an open-air boma for dining and relaxing around the campfire. There is also a lapa that looks out onto a nearby waterhole where a variety of animals and birds can be spotted. Electric fencing keeps big game out of the lush gardens, ensuring the safety of guests. Vervet monkeys are, however, regular visitors, along with birds.
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