Explore the southern region of Kruger National Park, offering excellent game viewing in the rugged African bushveld. Highlights on this budget lodge safari include:
Stay at an excellent value-for-money tented camp in the private Nkambeni concession of Kruger National Park and either Shalati Safari Camp in the Manyeleti area of Greater Kruger or Boulders Safari Lodge in a private reserve near Kruger's Malelane Gate.
This morning you are collected from the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at about 07:45 and transferred to White River in the Mpumalanga Province. In White River, you meet up with your guide and transfer to the nearby Kruger National Park. We head to our tented camp, located inside the Nkambeni Private Concession Area within Kruger Park.
In the late afternoon, we set off on our first game drive in the private wildlife concession area inside Kruger. Nkambeni Concession Area hosts an array of wildlife species, including the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant, along with numerous bird species.
After our first game viewing adventure, we return to camp for dinner and leisure time.
Nkambeni's private concession area incorporates about 11 000 hectares of untamed bushveld inside the borders of Kruger National Park. The concession area, which is owned by the local Nkambeni community, is located near Shabeni Koppie and the Pretoriuskop Rest Camp.
Open vehicle game drives, nature walks and bush barbecues (braais) are conducted in the Nkambeni private concession area, which has traversing rights in Kruger Park. Elephants, giraffes, buffalos, baboons and various antelopes are often spotted in the area, along with other wild animals and birds.
Day two is set aside for game viewing in Kruger National Park. We have breakfast at the tented camp in Nkambeni and set off into the legendary park.
Spend a full day exploring Kruger National Park on open 4x4 game drives, encountering a diversity of wild animals and birds with the help of our expert guide. The premier safari destination in South Africa, Kruger is a world famous game viewing destination.
Later, we stop for lunch (own account) at one of the rest camps and make use of the facilities available. The Kruger camps typically feature a shop, restaurant, swimming pool, ablution facilities, picnic areas and curio shop. You can buy snacks and light meals from the cafeteria or shop, or eat at the camp restaurant, depending on the rest camp and your preference.
After lunch we continue our search for the wild and wonderful inhabitants of Kruger Park, stopping to watch any wildlife action that we come across as we make our way out of the park. We are sure to encounter some large mammals, as Kruger hosts plenty of Africa's classical big game species, from giraffe and zebra to lion, buffalo and elephant.
Tonight we dine at the tented camp and relax around the campfire in the open-air boma.
South Africa's flagship national park and one of Africa's best game parks, Kruger National Park is a world-renowned safari destination. The national park covers a massive 19485 km² of unspoilt wilderness in northeastern South Africa - an area similar to the size of Wales or Israel.
Kruger boasts healthy populations of the Big Five, making it a top Big Five game viewing destination. Due to its large scale and geographical location, this park incorporates several biomes, hosting an unusually high diversity of animals, plants and other creatures. Some 147 mammal species, 507 bird species and 114 reptile species have been recorded in Kruger Park. Large mammals include hippopotamus, cheetah, hyena, giraffe, zebra, African wild dog and numerous antelope species.
Today we transfer to one of two safari lodges, looking out for wildlife as we drive through Kruger Park.
We either make our way north to Shalati Safari Camp in the Manyeleti Game Reserve area, or we head southeast to Boulders Safari Lodge, near the Malelane Gate of Kruger.
If we are staying at Shalati Safari Camp, the first part of our drive takes us south through the national park, via Skukuza and Satara rest camps, offering excellent game viewing en route. Then we drive to the Orpen Gate of Kruger Park and on to Shalati, just outside of the Manyeleti Game Reserve, bordering Kruger National Park. Along the way, we stop to photograph wildlife and watch the interesting animal interactions that we encounter.
When staying at Boulders Safari Lodge, instead of Shalati, we drive north through Kruger, game viewing en route. Exiting Kruger Park we proceed to the 7000-hectare private game reserve where Boulders Lodge is situated. The private reserve is located only 10km's from the Malelane Gate of Kruger Park.
Tonight we settle in and enjoy dinner at the Shalati Tented Camp next to Manyeleti Private Game Reserve, or at Boulders Safari Lodge close to Kruger.
The 23000-hectare Manyeleti Private Game Reserve lies between the prestigious Timbavati and Sabi Sands private game reserves of Greater Kruger Park. The reserve shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park, but is not open to the public, providing an exclusive and uncrowded safari experience.
The word Manyeleti translates from Shangaan as 'Place of the Stars' which befits this comparatively undeveloped wilderness area. Manyeleti is owned and run by the local community of Mnisi, featuring very few lodges and maintaining low visitor numbers.
The park is known for its excellent leopard sightings, as well as regular sightings of the rest of the Big Five - lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo.
On day four we visit two acclaimed wildlife centres near Blyde River Canyon, in the Limpopo Province.
At Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre we get up close to various animals that have been rescued from across the country. Sick, injured and orphaned animals are treated at the centre and released back into the wild when possible. In cases where the rescued animals cannot be released, they stay on at Moholoholo, where they play an important role in wildlife conservation. We get to see lion, leopard, lynx, honey badger and African wild dog at close range. We will also see the elusive serval, as the centre runs a highly successful serval breeding program.
We also visit the nearby Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, a well-known wildlife conservation centre hosting a variety of rare, endangered and vulnerable species. The sanctuary runs successful breeding, research and conservation education programs, as well as rehabilitating rescued animals. Cheetahs are one of the key species at the centre, being bred and rehabilitated for release into the wild. In addition to cheetahs, the sanctuary is home to buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard, African wild dog, lion and serval. Bird species include the endangered Cape vulture and ground hornbill.
Our visits offer valuable insight into the species that are being cared for, treated and bred at the wildlife centres, at the same time enabling us to get a closer look at these fascinating creatures. At about 15:00 we return to either Shalati Camp at Manyeleti Private Game Reserve or Boulders Safari Lodge near Kruger's Malelane Gate.
On our final morning, we are up early for one last game drive in the rugged Lowveld of Limpopo.
If we are staying at Shalati Safari Camp then we head into the Manyeleti Game Reserve, watching for animals and birds beginning to stir in the bush. If we are based at Boulders Lodge then our game drive takes us into the private game reserve in search of resident wildlife and birds.
Then it is time to pack up and say farewell to the African bushveld, transferring to Hazyview where the shuttle collects you. The shuttle takes you back to OR Tambo in Johannesburg, bringing your unforgettable Southern Kruger Safari to a close.
This itinerary provides an overview of the safari but the actual order may vary depending on availability at the lodges. For instance, the itinerary may run in the reverse order - visiting the Manyeleti area or Boulders' private game reserve first and then Nkambeni in Kruger Park, depending on availability at the lodges when the booking is made. Regardless of the order of the itinerary, you will still embark on all of the included activities stated on the itinerary.
This permanent tented camp is situated in the Nkambeni Private Concession Area, accessed via Numbi Gate, and falls within the borders of Kruger National Park.
Accommodation is in en-suite tented rooms raised on wooden platforms with deck areas. The luxury timber and canvas suites have been designed to have a low environmental impact on the natural surroundings. Each permanent tent features air-conditioning and is fitted with comfortable beds, basic furniture, tea and coffee stations and mosquito nets. The en-suite bathrooms are fitted with showers, a toilet and a basin.
The tented camp has a big swimming pool with deck chairs beside it. From the pool area, hippos, other wildlife and birds are often spotted at the nearby dam. The main lodge facilities include a bar and lounge area, a curio shop, a spacious restaurant with an outdoor dining deck and open-air boma areas.
In the Manyeleti area, we stay at Shalati Safari Camp. The tented camp is located on a community-owned concession at the entrance to Manyeleti Game Reserve. The Mnisi tribe owns the land and many of the local community members work at the safari camp.
The camp features outdoor boma areas for dining under the stars and relaxing around the campfire at night. Accommodation is in comfortable tented rooms with fans and en-suite bathrooms (shower, basin and toilet). There is a spacious dining-and-lounge area with wooden decks and a bar, set beside the swimming pool and deck chairs.
These twenty canvas and timber structures are designed to provide more comfort than camping, whilst still immersing you in the African bush.
Boulders Safari Lodge is located in a 7000-hectare private game reserve, near the Malelane Gate of Kruger National Park. This compact Lowveld game park is home to a variety of animals and birds, including rhinos, zebras, giraffes, buffalos and antelopes such as nyala, kudu, impala, roan, tsessebe and sable.
Accommodation at Boulders is in spacious rooms with air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms (shower, toilet and basin). These thatch-roofed rooms feature tea-and-coffee-making facilities and comfortable beds. The safari lodge has spacious grounds with natural vegetation and a rock pool. Facilities include a large, open-sided dining room, a lounge and bar area, and an open-air boma.
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