The cool thing about the different camps in the Kruger Park is that they all offer something slightly unique, whether intentionally or not. Within each camp, there is a range of different accommodation options to suit either the number of people in the group, and/or your budget.
Booking accommodation is an interesting art, which I leave to my husband to work out. Due to demand and large group sizes, not all accommodation types (chalets, permanent tents, camping sites etc.) are available at short notice. We, as a family, are ALWAYS on short notice. We, therefore, always end up juggling with different accommodation types at the different camps to try to produce an itinerary of sorts, which is still practically attainable and enjoyable. There isn’t much point in booking consecutive nights in different camps that are so far apart that you cannot physically drive the distance (whilst maintaining the required speed limit) between them.
Our first three nights of this trip were spent in a chalet in Berg en Dal, in the south of the park. Inside the chalet there is a bathroom, kitchen and sleeping area all completely kitted out with bedding, towels and kitchen utensils etc. We then headed north towards Skukuza for our fourth night, where we were housed in a permanent tent structure.
It’s as simple as it sounds. Literally, it’s a large tent with four single beds in with just enough space to squeeze in a wardrobe and a fridge/freezer. Whilst bedding and towels were provided for us there was no private kitchen, nor bathroom. Here, we were situated in the camping area so we made use of the communal ablution block and kitchen block. You have to be a little more prepared for this type of accommodation than for a chalet. Not only must you remember to pack all the food and drink for your trip, you have to remember to pack any pots and pans, mugs, plates, utensils and cutlery that you think you might need. There is always the park shop as a back up… and a restaurant or two to choose from if self-catering isn’t your cup of tea. We braai (BBQ) every night. Being in South Africa, famed for its braaing culture, there is always somewhere to braai! Every chalet, hut, tent and campsite in the Kruger Park has a designated braai-grid. Firewood/charcoal and fire-lighters are always available at the park shops too!
Our fifth night was spent at Oliphants (Afrikaans for elephants) Camp in a “Rondaavel”, which is a round hut-like structure with a thatched roof.
Essentially, this is just a room with an en-suite bathroom. There is a stoep / porch outside your front door where there is a fridge/freezer and a table to sit at. It, too, has a braai!
Heading further north still, our final four nights were based in a completely kitted-out chalet at Mopani Camp. We didn’t trek up to the most northern part of the park: this park is too massive to try to cover in one trip!
Berg en Dal had us enjoying rhino, bushbuck and elephant while sitting outside our own front door. At Skukuza, we were also lucky to be based right on the perimeter fence. After dark, we had the pleasure of seeing spotted-hyenas patrolling the other side of the fence by firelight. It is quite possible that we saw up to four different hyenas stroll past us, although it was quite difficult to tell in the dark. One had a collar on. Maybe there were only two, but they were very busy! I, unfortunately, don’t have any photos of these beasties as I don’t believe in “flash”-photographing nocturnal animals.
At Oliphants, we weren’t treated to so much game viewing as we were in the south, but what makes Oliphants Camp special is where it is situated. Upon a hill-top, the camp overlooks the mighty Oliphants River (presumably where the camp gets its name from). The view is stunning! On a lucky day you can see elephants crossing the Oliphants (yup… elephants crossing the elephants…!). We weren’t so lucky on this trip, but it still is an amazing view looking out over the vast countryside.
At Mopani Camp (next post) the view from the restaurant deck overlooking the dam was serene enough as it was; sipping sundowners at sunset was the cherry on the top!