Wild life enthusiast and keen birder. Travelled extensively in the USA and Southern Africa.
Kruger Camping Holiday
For many, a visit to the Kruger National Park in South Africa is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Accommodation in the self-catering huts and bungalows is the obvious option. These cost about R1000 per night for two people. As an overseas visitor, you are also charged an R300 conservation fee per day per person. South Africans pay R60 per day for the same.
As South Africans, we go to Kruger as often as we can, and on a limited budget, camping becomes an option if not a necessity. A wild card, at R845 per year, saves a huge amount in entrance fees and daily conservation fees and so that is what we do. We have bought a tent and stretchers that enable us to camp comfortably in the various main camps at a very reasonable price.
On occasions, we also visit the Addo Elephant Park that is much closer to our home in East London. As pensioners, we pay R 305 for a campsite in season, or R183 out of season. This then is for both of us. It includes a power point so that we have access to electricity. The shared communal kitchen and bathrooms are always well maintained and so a visit of a week becomes very pleasant and reasonable.
For many overseas visitors, camping is also an option. On our recent visit, we camped next to visitors who arrived with a small tent or, on the other end of luxury, in camper vans that they hired on arrival in the country.
In between camps are well-organized picnic areas where you can hire a 'skottel' (a gas-heated large pan) to cook your breakfast on or buy a variety of food from the caterers. I always stop at 'Afsaal', between Berg en Dal Camp and Skukuza for a plate of kudu sausage, pap and bredie, a typical South African soul food meal.
What I enjoy about camping is that you experience the African wilderness in a more real way. Shut up in your air-conditioned bungalow you miss the sounds of Kruger, like the call of a hyena, or the roar of a pride of lions hunting at night. Next to our tent at Satara, we watched a water monitor in the tree above our tent and during the night we heard a honey badger feeding on chicken bones he had salvaged from a nearby rubbish bin during the night. The sounds of jackals and hippos also reminded us that we were in one of the really great game reserves in Africa.
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Seeing the 'Big Five' is always a challenge, and while in the southern part of the park elephants, rhinos and buffalo are reasonably easy to see, the big cats are always more of a problem as they hunt at night and rest during the day. We were lucky enough again to see all five, plus a pair of cheetahs.
We also saw a group of army ants, a dung beetle, a bush baby and a dead elephant—sightings that are not often noticed or seen. We still do not know what killed the elephant or what was done with it.
As birders, we often find enjoyment in seeing and listing the birds in Kruger. On any day it is relatively easy to list more than 50 species and on our recent weeklong visit, we compiled a list of 107 species out of the 500 plus species present in Kruger. It is also the small things that we enjoy. On the visit last week we saw five groups of southern ground hornbill, an endangered species that seems to be making a come-back. We were also fortunate to list a large number of raptors that are always a pleasure to see. Some we do not have in the Eastern Cape where we live and so this creates some excitement.
For anyone on a tight budget we recommend that you buy a tent and two deck chairs, a pair of blow-up mattresses and sleeping bags, a braai grid and a pot or two, and hit the road for an experience.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.