• Noni


Planning the perfect Safari trip can be a headache in Africa - there’s so much conflicting advice, and it’s so hard to know how to get the most bang for your buck.

If you’re after an amazing Safari experience, take a trip to Kruger National Park and you won’t be disappointed. Here’s how to make the most of a self-driven trip to Kruger National Park in just 5 days.

Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest game reserves just along the border between South Africa and Mozambique. Start off in Johannesburg where it’s easy and cheap to hire a car from the airport - choose a compact SUV for the best view once you get to the park.

Day 1:

Instead of following your GPS straight to Kruger, you’re going to want to take a detour and head towards Graskop, where you can explore the ‘Panorama Route’ - some of the most beautiful views South Africa has to offer.

A good halfway point (if you need it) is Dullstroom. Treat yourself to a little R&R at Fox Hills Guest before an early start the next day to make the most of the Panorama Route.

Day 2:

From Dullstroom, head up through Sabie and Graskop from where you’ll find spectacular views known as The Pinnacle, God’s Window, and Wonderview.

All the official viewpoints charge between 30-70 rand per person, so make sure you have cash on you. Also keep an eye on the weather - extreme fog is common and you can find yourself just faced with a wall of fog instead of a view.

God’s Window is particularly prone to fog, but you’ll also want to visit the rainforest trail stemming from the lookout, so even in bad weather it’s worth a visit.

Stop for lunch at Potluck Bokombuis, a traditional African restaurant along the Blyde River serving local cuisine cooked traditionally on an open fire. There’s no electricity or mod-cons here, just great hospitality, delicious food, and an incredible setting.

Ignore Google Maps when it tells you it will take ages to get there - it’s literally just off Route 532.

When you’ve filled your belly you’ll be ready to visit Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels (beside the Blyde River Canyon).

At the end of the day, head back down to Hazyview and get an early night because you’ll be heading into Kruger National Park early the next morning.

Day 3:

Kruger National Park opens its gates at 6am and you don’t want to be there much later than that, as game is best viewed in early morning/late afternoon - particularly the big cats.

Enter through the Phabeni Gate and do the southern section of Kruger on your first day, as this is where most of the animal sightings are.

Take the S1 road towards Skukuza - this is where we saw our first lions, zebras, and elephants.

Grab a coffee at Skukuza and check out the ‘sightings’ board before heading off to Lower Sabie. Take the H4-1 if you want follow the safari tour groups, who are good at spotting wildlife, or the S30 if you prefer to have the road to yourself.

Have a lunch stop at Lower Sabie and then go south, where you have the best chance of seeing some big cats. Lions, leopards, hyenas, hippos and wild dogs can all be found along the H4-2.

If you’re still good for time, go all the way down to Crocodile Bridge, otherwise get onto the S25 and make your way to Berg En Dal rest camp for an overnight stay (and a peek at the resident rhinos just around the corner).

At Berg En Dal cook your own dinner and enjoy watching the impalas and monkeys explore the camp site. Try book a perimeter room as you will have the best chance of seeing game while eating dinner.

Day 4:

Get an early start again and make your way back north towards Afsaal. The H2-2 between Asfaal and Pretoriuskop is a dirt road with frequent sightings, then you can get on the H1-1 back to Skukuza for lunch.

Head back out through the Phabeni gate and spend the night at one of the nearby lodges. You get far more quality for money if you stay outside the park. We chose Sabie River Bush Lodge, which overlooked the National Park so we could watch the hippos playing in the river from our luxury tent.

Day 5:

Your final day! Spend the morning enjoying your lodgings. Have a coffee, read a book, and relax.

After lunch head back into Kruger via the Paul Kruger Gate. As you’ll be entering in the heat of the day, keep an eye out for a spectacular view of a herd of elephants playing in the river.

This afternoon, explore the central part of the park. The H-1 route from Skukuza to Satara is known for predator sightings, so take your time along here. Once you get to Satara, head west to exit via the Orpen gate, and enjoy the sunset on the way!

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading straight back to Joburg. Or, if you’re not ready for your adventure to end, retrace your steps on the Panorama Route and soak up the beauty of one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes.