This affordable Big Five Wildlife Safari explores private reserves of Greater Kruger Park, as well as Kruger National Park, South Africa's prime game viewing destination.
A variety of exciting activities are included, such as open vehicle game drives in Balule Game Reserve and Tshukudu Game Reserve, a morning game walk; a visit to Moholoholo Wildlife Centre and a full day of game viewing in Kruger Park itself.
Our basic backpacker lodge, where we also enjoy our meals (including a bush braai), is ideally situated in Greater Kruger Park.
On day one you are collected from either your hotel in Johannesburg or from OR Tambo Airport by our shuttle service provider. Setting off on our journey we travel through Highveld grasslands to the Lowveld with its subtropical climate. The Lowveld is home to a number of South Africa’s most acclaimed game parks.
We head to our lodge in the Balule section of the Greater Kruger National Park – a reserve that prides itself on being home to healthy populations of the Big Five, with wildlife moving freely between the reserve and Kruger National Park itself. You will have some time to enjoy the bar, pool and lovely gardens at the lodge before we depart on an open Landcruiser for an exciting three-hour game drive.
Experienced guides will inform you about the wonderful African plants and animals you encounter. These may include the Big Five - lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. Sunset in the bush is an exceptional experience and is followed by a stint of night time game driving, where we use spotlights to point out the nocturnal animals on our way to the boma. Dinner will be prepared over an open fire at the boma out in the reserve. Before we retire there will be yet another chance to spot animals in the dark as we drive back to the lodge. We retire to rustic chalets with en-suite facilities and air-conditioning for your comfort.
Day two starts early as we drive to the nearby Olifants River for a special four-hour exploration of the bushveld on foot. Experienced armed rangers will ensure your safety in Big Five terrain while sharing their expert knowledge of the veld.
After our walk, brunch will be served at the lodge and you will have time to relax. A late lunch will precede our four hour afternoon game drive through the reserve, looking not only for the Big Five but also for antelopes, birds and the smaller mammals that form part of the complex ecosystem. Back at the lodge, we enjoy dinner together before retiring for the night.
Day three is set aside for us to experience the magnificent Kruger National Park. This is one of Africa's largest game reserves, comparable in size to Belgium! It spans two of South Africa's provinces (Limpopo and Mpumalanga) and borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Already established in 1898, it is home to an amazing number and variety of animals. These include the Big Five, and also some very rare and endangered species like the African Wild Dog. Entering at Orpen gate, we will be transported in a special open-sided vehicle. This area is renowned for the large numbers of lions that are spotted. They are attracted to the savannah landscape by big herds of herbivores that include antelopes, giraffes and zebras. This up-close encounter with wildlife and bushveld will ensure a memorable day, after which we return to our lodge for dinner.
On the program, this morning is a tour of the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre. Here injured and orphaned animals and birds are rehabilitated for release back into their natural habitat if possible. This is the ideal opportunity to get more information and close-up pictures of a wide variety of animals, including lion, hyena, leopard and many more.
After a light lunch at the lodge, we drive to Tshukudu Game Reserve. This private reserve is fenced off, which makes the possibility of spotting the Big Five on our three-hour drive very high.
Before breakfast on our last day, we rise early for one last sunrise drive in the Greater Kruger Park! This is one of the best times of day to spot animals.
We breakfast at the lodge and then drive back to Gauteng via the Panorama Route. Along the way, we see beautiful landscapes, including the Three Rondavels and the Blyde River Canyon. Back in Gauteng by late afternoon, you can be dropped off at the airport in Johannesburg by arrangement.
The lodge offers budget-friendly accommodation in Greater Kruger that is excellent value for money. Kruger Park thus becomes both affordable and accessible.
Accommodation is typical of backpacker lodges, with basic amenities and simple rooms. The lodge comprises 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. There are tea and coffee stations in the chalets and the windows are fitted with mosquito netting for peace of mind. Each bed also has a mosquito net above it.
There is a swimming pool in lovely tropical gardens and an open-air boma. At the nearby waterhole, a variety of animals and birds can be spotted. Electric fencing also ensures the safety of guests, but does not keep out the vervet monkeys that are regular visitors, along with birds!
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