Safaris Places

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Kruger National Park

Timing

How and where you tackle Kruger will depend on your time frame. With excellent roads and accommodations, it's a great place to drive yourself. If you don't feel up to driving or self-catering, you can choose a lodge just outside the park and take the guided drives—but it's not quite the same as lying in bed and hearing the hyenas prowling round the camp fence or a lion roaring under the stars.

If you can spend a week here, start in the north at the very top of the park at the Punda Maria Camp, then make your way leisurely south to the very bottom at Crocodile Bridge Gate or Malelane Gate. With only three days or fewer, reserve one of the southern camps such as Berg-en-Dal or Lower Sabie and just plan to explore these areas. No matter where you go in Kruger, be sure to plan your route and accommodations in advance (advance booking is essential). Game spotting is not an exact science: you might see all the Big Five plus hundreds of other animals, but you could see much less. Try to plan your route to include water holes and rivers, which afford your best opportunity to see game. Old Africa hands claim that the very early morning, when the camp gates open, is the best time for game-viewing, but it's all quite random—you could see a leopard drinking at noon, a breeding herd of elephants midmorning, a lion pride dozing under a tree in the middle of the afternoon. You could also head out at dawn and find no wildlife at all. Be sure to take at least one guided night drive; you won't likely forget the thrill of catching a nocturnal animal in the spotlight.

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