Self Drive Africa

Kruger National Park – September 2013

What a wonderful holiday, we rented a vehicle with a Roof Top Tent for our 7 day trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa.  We were collected from the Airport by Self Drive Africa Rentals and taken to their premises.  When we arrived they gave us a thorough tour of the vehicle and how to set up the tents.  It was amazing, the vehicle was as complete as could be without throwing the kitchen sink into it.

We set of for a town called Nelspruit which is about 4 hours from Johannesburg, this quite large town had a number of shopping areas and we found a grocery quite easily where we could buy all our supplies for our camping holiday.  Once we had done this we left on our holiday route through the entrance of the park called Malelane.  This was fairly straightforward and as soon as we crossed the Crocodile River we could feel we were in a totally different environment.  It was a short drive to camp and we did not see many animals, but there was lots of poo on the road.

Hippo in Crocodile River

Hippo in Crocodile River

Our campsite was spectacular (Berg en Dal) and we felt totally safe as the entire camping area is fenced to protect you from dangerous animals.  We set up our vehicle right by the fence and we had a good view beyond the fence.  The ablutions were clean and fresh and were not busy at all, this made our day as we had been on an overnight flight from London and we were tired and felt grimy.

Our first night was very peaceful, we had a barbecue by the fence and had a wonderful sighting of a Hyena wandering along the outside of the fence.

After a really peaceful night spent listening to the sounds of the wild we had a wonderful breakfast of Bacon and Eggs cooked on the gas hob that was included in the 4×4 vehicle.  Packing our rooftop tents away too less than 10 minutes and was really easy with the 2 of us.  We then headed of into the African Wilderness in search of the famous Rhino’s that the Kruger park is known for.  We had been driving for about 1/2 Hour when we saw a movement at the side of the road and a huge Leopard came out of the bushes and crossed right in front of our vehicle.  It was a magnificent sighting and unfortunately we were not prepared with our camera so did not manage to take a great photo.  This was a lesson to us and we very quickly became accustomed to setting up our cameras before we set off on a game drive.

The rest of the day we spent recovering from Jetlag and had a nice peaceful afternoon in the serene campsite.  We did book a night drive with the friendly camp staff and this would be our first ever night drive and hopefully a chance to see more of Kruger Parks wonderful wildlife.  During our night drive we saw many types of Antelope who were all jumping around but the most impressive sighting was a buffalo who was loitering near the road.  He did not seemed worried about us.

We packed up our Tents on Day 3 and after a light breakfast we headed on to our next campsite which was a camp site called Pretoriuskop.  Which has a huge Rock outcrop which is called “Shabeni Hill”  This was magnificent and had wonderful views.  We were very luck on the way in to see a Sable Antelope and a Kudu these were beautiful sightings and we were well prepared with our camera after the previous disaster.

Pretoriouskop is a beautiful campsite which is very different to Berg en Dal and as we were only here for the 1 night we decided to set up camp and shower early.  One of the best memories I will take away from this holiday is the amazing sounds at night and at about 2 o’clock in the morning we were awakened by a Lion roaring.  It was spectacular and all the other animals seem to go quiet when a Lion roars.  I am not sure how far away he was but I was certainly much happier that we were behind the camp site fence.

Elephants near Pretoriouskop

Elephants near Pretoriouskop

We decided to leave early the next day for our next camp and search for the Lions that we had heard the previous evening.  We left the campsite at 6 o’clock in the morning en route to Skukuza campsite where we would spend the next 2 nights.  As if they were reading my mind the Lions were lazily lying on the road not more than 3 miles from our camp.  There was one large male and 2 lionesses and they were oblivious to us gawking through our lenses at them.  They had obviously eaten something during the night and their bellies were full.  We spent a blisfull 20 minutes in the company of these magnificent animals and then continued our drive to Skukuza.

Buffalo near Skukuza

Buffalo near Skukuza

Skukuza was a big campsite and a little busy.  It is the headquarters of the park so there is lost of traffic.  In truth we did not like this campsite as much although we saw lots of animals around the camp.  We had our fist sighting of Elephant on this drive and it was wonderful watching them browse in peace.  Skukuza has a swimming pool and as we had been in the car most of the morning we decided to have a dip.  That afternoon we headed of to another of the entrance gates called Paul Kruger and running along the border of the park is a dirt road.  we decided to follow this and were richly rewarded with a sighting of Wild Dog.  They were trotting down the road for about 100m and then suddenly in harmony ran into the bushes at great speed.  It was a wonderful and special sighting and one that we will treasure.

That night we were close to the fence and again found the Hyena’s patrolling the fence.  There were several during the night and you could see that they often are fed scraps even though there are many signs prohibiting this.

We then headed from Skukuza to our final campsite of this wonderful holiday, we stayed for 1 night at Satara campsite which was in a totally different environment to Skukuza, it is much more open and easy to see animals.  We saw many elephants on the road as well as Zebra and Buffalo.  We headed out towards Orpen gate and at a waterhole on the side of the road we came across a very old lioness.  She was leaning against a car without a care in the world.  There were a few cars nearby so we did not stay long but carried along our route.  we had seen a sign in the campsite indicating a Cheetah had been sighted on one of the dirt roads near Satara so we headed off in search of this elusive animal.  We drove around the areas indicated and sadly did not manage to catch a glimpse of the cat.  We did see many other fabulous animals like Buffalo, Waterbuck, Zebra, Giraffe etc etc so it was not a wasted drive.

Giraffe near Satara

Giraffe near Satara

Sadly our last night in this wonderful paradise but we will be back.  It was a wonderful Self Drive Holiday and I would heartily recommend this to anyone.  The team at Self Drive Africa were wonderful and provided us with many hints and tips as well as a vehicle that would have taken us across Africa if we had wanted to (Maybe nextime :))

Chad & Jane – Bishops Stortford, UK

Our Final Sunset

Our Final Sunset