WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK BUDGET SAFARI TOURS
Kruger National Park can be enjoyed on any budget. You can book a caravan or camping site, one of the self-catering bungalows, guest houses or permanent tents (glamping) at the popular Kruger Park rest camps or treat yourself to an exclusive safari experience at a luxury safari lodge operating in a private Kruger Park concessions.
Budget Kruger safari tours may either be the self-drive option or a guided safari tour; both staying at budget-friendly SANParks accommodation. The main Kruger rest camps have a large restaurant and shop on the property so there’s no need to pack provisions if you don’t want the whole self-catering experience.
Self-drive safaris give you some independence and they’re popular with local holidaymakers, but a budget Kruger safari tour with MoAfrika Tours is not only a safer and more convenient option if you’re an overseas visitor, but you’ll also get so much more out of it. We can also arrange for bus tours, transfers and arranged transportation from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
Your MoAfrika Tours guide has been taking visitors to the Kruger Park for many years; he has loads of stories to tell about the history of the park and knows the best spots to take you to for great game viewing and bird watching.
Let’s take a look at what Kruger National Park has to offer visitors travelling on a budget.
WHY VISIT THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
Kruger National Park is an iconic safari destination in southern Africa. It’s the oldest national park in Africa and the largest protected wildlife reserve on the continent; known for its outstanding biodiversity, archaeological significance and incredibly rich fauna and flora. There are 21 national parks in Southern Africa and the Kruger Park is our flagship park.
The national park is almost 19 500 square kilometres (2 million hectares) in size; with no less than 6 diverse ecosystems and 17 biospheres. Located in the north-eastern region of South Africa, it stretches across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. It’s 352 kilometres from north to south and 65 kilometres east to west; with Mozambique lying on its eastern border and Zimbabwe lying on its far northern boundary.
The Kruger Park is home to the famous Big 5 which includes elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard and is a protected wildlife sanctuary for an abundance of African game as well as some 500 recorded bird species. The region is rich in history and world-renowned for its San rock art paintings and significant archaeological sites such as Thulamela and Masorini which can be traced back to the Stone and Iron Ages.
On top of all that, the Kruger National Park is the core of the Kruger2Canyons and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres, and the core of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTP Treaty, 2002) which will eventually span some 35 000 square kilometres of the most valuable wildlife region in the world.
VISITING KRUGER PARK ON A BUDGET
The most budget-friendly accommodation available in the Kruger National Park is SANParks accommodation. You have a choice of a wide range of affordable accommodation ranging from camping and permanent safari tents (glamping) to single-room bungalows and 4- to 6-sleeper guest or family friendly cottages that come standard with a lounge area, kitchen and braai (barbeque) facilities.
South African National Parks (SANParks) is the governing body responsible for managing South Africa’s national parks. It was formed in 1926 and currently manages 21 national parks in the country. The accumulative land area is some 37 500 square kilometres which represents 3% of the total area of South Africa.
All SANParks self-catering accommodation, ablution and kitchen facilities are serviced daily by cleaning staff. Bedding, towels and soap are provided as well as cooking utensils and cutlery (there are some exceptions). The single-room bungalows have a small kitchenette outside the unit which is stocked with basic crockery and cutlery.
Kruger accommodation is mostly geared for a self-catering holiday but if you’re visiting from overseas and on a safari tour with MoAfrika Tours, you’ll eat out at the restaurant on the property. The larger Kruger Park rest camps have a fully-stocked shop where you can stock up on basic provisions like tea, coffee and snacks to enjoy back at your bungalow or guest cottage.
Types of budget accommodation in the Kruger Park
Kruger National Park offers a wide range of accommodation for visitors travelling on a budget. You’ll find something suitable for solo travellers, couples, groups of friends and families.
Kruger Park bungalows (rondavels/round huts)
The Kruger Park bungalows are one- or two-room units sleeping between 2 to 6 guests with communal ablution and kitchen facilities. Some have a small kitchenette with a fridge, hot-plate and sink and basic crockery and cutlery is provided.
Bungalows are available at Berg-en-Dal, Crocodile Bridge, Letaba, Lower Sabie, Malelane, Mopani, Olifants, Pretoriuskop, Punda Maria, Satara, Shingwedzi and Skukuza.
Kruger Park Guest Houses
The Kruger Guest Houses offer secluded accommodation for larger groups within the main Kruger rest camps; comprising 3 or 4 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. Each guest house has a fully-equipped kitchen, lounge area, open veranda and outside barbeque facilities.
You’ll find affordable guest houses in the following Kruger Rest Camps:
Berg-En-Dal Rest Camp
- Rhino Guesthouse (8 persons)
- J le Roux Guesthouse (6 persons)
Letaba Rest Camp
- Fish Eagle Guesthouse (8 persons)
- Melville Guesthouse (9 persons)
Lower Sabie Rest Camp
- Keartland Guesthouse (7 persons)
Mopani Rest Camp
- Xanatseni Guesthouse (8 persons)
Olifants Rest Camp
- Lebombo Guesthouse (8 persons)
- Nshawu Guesthouse (8 persons)
Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
- Doherty Bryant Boma (9 persons)
- Pierre Joubert Guesthouse (8 persons)
Satara Rest Camp
- Rudy Frankel Guesthouse (8 persons)
- Stanley Guesthouse (9 persons)
- Wells Guesthouse (6 persons)
Shingwedzi Rest Camp
- Rentmeester Guesthouse (7 persons)
Skukuza Rest Camp
- Moni Guesthouse (8 persons)
- Nyathi Guesthouse (8 persons)
Waterkant I (8 persons)
- ABSA Guesthouse (12 persons)
Kruger Park Guest Cottages
Kruger Park guest cottages offer visitors two- or three-bedroom units with at least 2 bathrooms, one ensuite. They have a fully-equipped kitchen and linen, towels, soap, crockery and cutlery are provided. The guest cottages are serviced daily.
You’ll find affordable guest cottages in the following Kruger Park Rest Camps:
- Skukuza Rest Camp
- Mopani Rest Camp
- Olifants Rest Camp
- Lower Sabie Rest Camp
- Satara Rest Camp
- Orpen Rest Camp
- Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
- Letaba Rest Camp
- Shingwedzi Rest Camp
Kruger Park Family Cottage
Kruger Park family cottages offer one-, two- or three bedrooms with one bathroom and a partially-equipped kitchen. Family cottages are found in Skukuza Rest Camp, Berg-En-Dal Rest Camp, Pretoriuskop Rest Camp And Olifants Rest Camp.
Kruger Park Bush Lodge
Kruger Park Bush Lodges offer exclusive, private accommodation in more remote areas. There are no shops or restaurant facilities in the bush lodge camps and visitors bring their own supplies for a complete self-catering experience. The small kitchen is equipped with a stove, refrigerator and freezer that runs on gas and cutlery, crockery, fresh linen, towels and soap are provided.
Gas units for barbeques are provided but wood needs to be purchased from a shop at one of the main Kruger Rest Camps for a genuine bush braai. The camp runs off solar power but only for lights and fans. There are no plug points available.
- Boulders Bush Lodge: accommodates a maximum of 12 people
- Roodewal Bush Lodge: accommodates a maximum of 19 people
Kruger Park permanent safari tents
The permanent safari tents (glamping) are found in Skukuza, Letaba, Tamboti, Crocodile Bridge and Pretoriuskop rest camps. They are equipped with comfortable beds, a cupboard, table and chairs, fridge and electric fan. Guests use communal ablution and kitchen facilities.
Kruger Park caravan and camping sites
Caravan and camping sites in Kruger Park are popular with local South African holidaymakers. They are available at Balule, Berg-en-Dal, Crocodile Bridge, Letaba, Lower Sabie, Malelane, Maroela, Pretoriuskop, Punda Maria, Satara, Shingwedzi and Skukuza. All sites have power points except for some sites such as Lower Sabie and Punda Maria. Guests use communal ablutions and kitchen facilities.
WHERE TO STAY ON A KRUGER PARK BUDGET SAFARI TOUR
Where you stay in the Kruger Park depends on what you want animals and birds you want to see. The Park is home to an incredible array of fauna and flora where climatic conditions create 6 different ecosystems with as many as 17 biospheres.
Five rivers cross the Kruger Park from west to east which naturally create animal corridors. Birders usually head far north to some of the best birding destinations in the country, and wildlife enthusiasts tend to explore the central and southern regions which support larger populations of wild animals.
Southern Kruger Park
Southern Kruger is bordered by the Crocodile River in the south and the Sabi River in the north. It’s the busiest part of the Kruger to visit because it has the highest concentration of game and it’s the easiest region to access from Nelspruit and Hazyview.
Massive granite slabs lie under more than 80 percent of the southern Kruger which creates large ochre-colour granite outcrops (known as koppies) such as Shabeni, Shirimantanga and Napi. These massive rounded hills are a signature feature of the south and home to klipspringer (rock climbing antelope), baboon and leopard as well a groupings of rock hyrax in the western parts.
Most of Kruger Park’s white rhinos are found in the southern region. The best sightings are around Pretoriuskop, south of Lower Sabie and close to Mbyamiti River.
The best budget-friendly accommodation in southern Kruger Park:
- Skukuza Rest Camp
- Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
- Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
- Lower Sabie Rest Camp
Central Kruger Park
Central region is known as the ‘Big Cat Capital’ of Kruger Park because of its strong populations of lion. The high numbers of predators in the region are attracted by the availability of prey, mostly because the majority of central Kruger is vast savanna grasslands which support large herds of zebra, impala, wildebeest, buffalo and giraffe.
The best budget-friendly accommodation in central Kruger Park:
- Satara Rest Camp
- Letaba Rest Camp
- Olifants Rest Camp
- Orpen Rest Camp
Northern Kruger is characterised by vast open savanna plains and archaeologically-rich hills. The region is best known as a birders’ paradise with many rare and endemic bird species found in these parts. In fact, the northern region has far fewer animals than the central and southern sections of Kruger Park but makes up for it in exceptional bird sightings.
One of the top birding destinations in the country is the Shingwedzi flood plains. There are sleep-over hides near Phalaborwa Gate and Mopani Camp which put you in the heart of birding heaven, close to important grasslands east of Mopani.
What northern Kruger is famous for is its strong numbers of elephant, including the legendary big tuskers. Most of the Magnificent Seven inhabited the Shingwedzi flood plains, which you can learn more about at the Letaba Elephant Museum located in the Letaba Rest Camp.
The best budget-friendly accommodation in northern Kruger Park:
- Mopani Rest Camp
- Shingwedzi Rest Camp
- Tsendze Rustic Campsite
- Punda Maria Rest Camp
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE BEST KRUGER PARK BUDGET SAFARI TOUR
The national park is truly impressive for its array of biodiversity. A big drawcard to the Park is the Big 5 which includes elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and elephant but don’t let that detract you from the wealth of flora and fauna you’ll find on your safari tour of the Kruger Park.
Official figures note that there are 49 species of fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. But that’s not all; there are 400 different kinds of trees and shrubs and well over 1 000 species of plants. About half of southern Africa’s known species of insects are found in the Kruger which adds up to a mind-boggling 20 000 insect species, including 169 species of ants. The insects sustain 39 different species of insectivorous bats.
2-day Kruger Park budget safari tour
A 2-day tour is a whistle-stop trip that offers you a chance to experience the scenic wonders of the national park and its bounty of natural resources, although you’ll experience just a tip of the proverbial ice tip.
Guests are picked up from Johannesburg and usually taken to the southern section of Kruger Park where they stay overnight at a popular Kruger rest camp.
You’ll have time for a late afternoon and early morning game drive. If you’d like to stretch you time out in the bush a bit longer, you have the option of booking a night drive in an open safari vehicle run exclusively by SANParks who provide a professional ranger to accompany you. It’s a great opportunity to experience the bushveld at night and spot the elusive nocturnal animals.
3-day Kruger Park budget safari tour
A 3-day tour offers you one full day in the Park; with two late afternoon game drives and two early morning game drives. You wake up early as the sun is rising and enjoy coffee/tea and rusks (South African breakfast biscuits) before departing for a leisurely 3-hour game drive.
You’ll either spend the whole day out in the bushveld with a pitstop for lunch at a popular Kruger rest camp or you’ll return to your rest camp to spend time relaxing at camp. Late afternoon, it’s time to depart for a 3-hour afternoon game drive in search of game and birds you didn’t see earlier and returning to camp as the sun is setting.
4-day Kruger Park budget safari tour
A 4-day tour gives you ample time to extend your game drives to explore other sections of the Park. If you’re staying in southern Kruger, you can spend one of the two full days in the central region which is known as the “Big Cat Capital” of Kruger. Central Kruger is characterised by vast open savanna plains which are rich in nutrients and attract an abundance of antelope which in turn attract strong numbers of lion and other predators.
Likewise, if you’re staying in central Kruger, you can head southwards to explore areas around Skukuza, Lower Sabie and Pretoriuskop with have higher concentrations of game and are also important historic areas. Skukuza Rest Camp is the largest rest camp in the Kruger and is the administrative hub of the national park.
5-day Kruger Park budget safari tour
A 5-day tour gives you three full days in the Park and you might want to use one of those to explore the highlights of the Greater Kruger. This region is an extension of the Kruger Park and is made up of 19 unfenced private game reserves. Wild animals from the Kruger Park are able to roam freely across this unfenced protected conservation region which makes the private game reserves sought-after Big 5 safari destinations.
Highlights of the Greater Kruger region include a visit to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre; both are unique conservation facilities that care for rare, vulnerable and threatened species including cheetah and orphaned or injured birds of prey, rhino and predators such as wild dog and hyena.
If you don’t want to leave the Kruger Park, things to do on a 5-day Kruger Park safari tour include visiting:
- the Elephant Museum at Letaba Rest Camp: showcases the skulls and bones of the Magnificent 7
- the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library at Skukuza Rest Camp: houses a fascinating collection of memoirs, paintings and memorabilia donated by Kruger’s first and most famous game warden
- the Engelhard Dam: a large concrete weir in the Letaba River that attracts an abundance of game and birds; named after the American millionaire businessman who donated funds to the national parks board for its construction
- Masorini settlement: a site situated some 11 kilometres from the Phalaborwa Gate on the road to Letaba, where you’ll find a collection of artefacts and signs of inhabitation that date back to the Stone Age
- Thulamela: a 500-year old walled archaeological settlement in Pafuri Triangle which is a late Iron Age site that forms part of the Great Zimbabwe culture; when Great Zimbabwe was abandoned, several groups moved south across the Limpopo River and established smaller chiefdoms such as Thulamela
- Albasini Ruins: located close to Phabeni Gate, you’ll find the 19-th century ruins of a famous Portuguese trader named Joao Albasini; he opened the trading post in 1847 is believed to be the first White person to settle in the Lowveld and the first Portuguese person to trade with the Voortrekkers
6-day Kruger Park budget safari tour
A 6-day tour can be split between time in the southern and central Kruger which is rich in game and the northern and far north region which is world-renowned as a birders paradise. Travelling so far north is a rare opportunity for your average Kruger Park visitor and it takes you to a remote corner of the national park that perfectly devoid of safari vehicle congestion.
The northern region of Kruger stretches from Shingwedzi Camp to Crooks Corner on the border of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It’s characterised by eerie fever tree forests, massive baobabs and lush riverine forests. It’s home to some of the most rare and endangered bird species and other species that are endemic to the region. A walking trail with an armed and experienced game ranger is highly recommended to truly appreciate the scenic wonders of this birding paradise.
THINGS TO DO IN THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
MoAfrika Tours is a leading African safari tour operator based in Johannesburg. We’ve been taking local and international visitors to the Kruger National Park for the past two decades and have an intimate knowledge of where to go and what to do in South Africa’s favourite national park.
Speak to us when you’re planning a safari tour to the Kruger Park and we’ll recommend a range of packages to suit your travel budget as well as an itinerary filled with adventure and sightseeing. MoAfrika Tours also offers affordable Big 5 safari tours to destinations in the Greater Kruger National Park. Contact us for our 2019/2020 rates and availability of our budget holiday packages.