Airport near Kruger NP?

Jun 9th, 2003, 02:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
Airport near Kruger NP?

OK I have been surfing this site for a few months and I finally registered and got my screen name. I also just booked my flight from ATL-JBurg via SAA from December 2-15.

My question is: We want safari in/around Kruger NP (I think). What is the name of the nearest airport to there? Nelspruit, I think, but all my maps suck. And can I drive to lodges from there?

Still haven't booked a lodge so some recommendations are welcome. It is our honeymoon and I want luxury (at least for a few nights) but I don't need someone to feed me grapes and fan me with a palm frond. Know what I mean? Will NOT spend $1,500 per night. I was hoping for $600 per night total somewhere special, private with limited people and lots of animals. I was thinking 3-4 nights there and then on to somewhere beachy for some diving and R&R perhaps Mozambique. Again, any/all recommendations are welcome.

I also want to talk with Rocco when he gets back. He knows EVERYTHING.

kewilliam is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 09:15 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20
The airport is the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport just outside Nelspruit - see There is no doubt that you will be able to drive to the lodges from there but other Fodorites will have to help with this. Remember it is malaria area.
Local_John is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,719
Last year we spent four nights at Garonga safari lodge ( It was absolute heaven. We flew from Jo-Burg to Hoedspruit, and were picked up from there and driven to the lodge.
The camp accommodates a maximum of sixteen people, either in beautifully designed, luxurious "huts", or in the honeymoon "suite". The guides were excellent, and we had great game sightings. The emphasis at the camp is relaxation - there's even a small open-walled thatched hut where you can enjoy a massage. When my mum was having a foot massage there, a couple of elephants wandered past - only 2 metres away!
The food was absolutely wonderful - worthy of any restaurant in paris i've ever been to. They also arranged for us to picnic up on a deck in a tree. Every evening they arranged something different for dinner - a braai in the boma under the starry sky, candle-lit tables here and there around the dining area for "tete à tete" dinner...
They called it "safari for the soul" and I really think they've hit the nail on the head!
hanl is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 251

You're up early John (even with the six hours time difference).

Kruger is huge. Nelspruit caters for the southern part and the Phalaborwa Airport for the northern part. There are regular connecting flights on SA Express between JIA and these two centres. Now I'm going to do my pscyhic act and predict that Roccco is going to advise that you cannot come to SA without including Cape Town on your itinerary. If you do, there is a direct flight from Nelspruit to Cape Town. But do remember that all this travelling diagonally across the country will impact on time.
The following are recommended places that should be in your price range and meet your requirements:
You may also want to e-mail Getaways ([email protected]), detail your requirements in terms of dates, area, facilities and price and see what they have.
If you really want to cut down on travelling time you can have your safari section of the trip in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Venues in this area are as good as (and in some places better) than Kruger. You would need to fly into Richards Bay airport. Phinda in KZN always gets rave reviews. It is part of the Consveration Corporation Group ( They have venues in Kruger as well, and are not shy with their rates but you may get a good deal with the seasons. If you do opt for KwaZulu-Natal for the game portion then you can go diving at Sodwana, the mecca of SA diving. Rocktail Bay in this area is also lovely. If you really want to go to Mozambique then Ponto d'Oro is reputedly the best spot for diving.
A general tip to get good rates - do not let on that you are an international visitor when making enquiries. It is a shameful practice that not all, but many, venues are guilty of in that there are different rates for local and international visitors. Stick to e-mail if you can, don't use any typically American expressions in your correspondence and don't worry too much about a .com address, many SA businesses have .com addresses.
I just thought of something with your international air. Most Atlanta/Johannesburg flights stop in Cape Town first. If you use that as your port of entry you can fly direct to Nelspruit from Cape Town which will cut down on your travelling time by a few hours.
traci_local_in_sa is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 02:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20
Howzit Traci, ja, I was a little early this morning, but it is postings like yours that makes me jealous - all the information. I always just relate KP to Nelspruit well knowing about Hoedspruit/Phalaborwa but anyway... (Blame it on the miserable weather today here in Pretoria)

We stayed at the Ithala Game Reserve in Nothern KwaZulu-Natal a few years ago and it was a very pleasant experience. Will go back there. At the time they did not have lion out of the Big 5 but I saw more rhinos on the way to the camp than in all my life before.

We are flying to Richards Bay this weekend. Have driven there before but the flight will be a first timer.

I see you are also "local in sa", where are you from?
Local_John is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 04:44 AM
Posts: n/a
On the inbound flites from ATL to JNB not all stop at CPT.

Depending on where the camp/lodge you select in Kruger or private reserves is located, determines the airport closest to fly into. We used Hoedspruit (HDS) to fly to Honeyguide on the Manyeletti Reserve (kind of midpoint of Kruger)- did a land transfer to Singita on the Sabi Sandi reserve; leaving we drove south through the Panorama Drive to depart Nelspruit (NLP) - which is south of Kruger - back to JNB and connected back to the States. Currently the r/t air JNB/HDS/NLP/JNB is running about $250/person - but these can change down if the USD gets stronger (we paid only $190).

I'm sure once Roccco returns from his trip he'll have a review of the places he stayed in/around Kruger. But there are a number of luxury camps with own plung pools that are not that expensive. A new camp in Manyeletti area is Bambabolli (sp) which looks nice and Roccco has been raving about Djuma Vuyatella.

In the meantime using a guidebook along with websites where there are lots of pictures you'll have some idea of prices and if these camps meet any other criteria you might have. Once you've made a few selections, come back here for imput from posters so you can make your decision.

Weather in December will be warm during days, with likely amazing rain showers during afternoon - which do blow over fast, but early morning and evening drives can be cold with the wind blowing at you from all directions.

See what other recommendations you get and do some more research on your own; then get back to us and, of course, Roccco will be home to impart his recent knowledge.

There's also Skukuza airport at the entrance to Kruger.

Jun 10th, 2003, 12:34 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
Lots of good suggestions...thank you.

Tenative plan is as follows:

Fly ATL-Capetown-Jburg-Nelspruit or Hoedspruit...safari for 3-4 days somewhere nice. Then rent a car and drive to Mozambique.

Question: If I were to drive from SA to Mozambique, what are the roads like and are the border crossings easy? I know we need VISAs ahead of time. I want to drive from the safari lodge to some beach places in Mozambique. Maybe Bazaruto, Benguerra Island...someone mentioned Ponto d'Oro and that sounds nice but I could not find much info on it. How long will it take me? Again we want great diving and no crowds, beautiful scenery...honeymoon, you know? Again, willing to spend $ but nothing outrageously extravagant.

Oh and Rocco will be gald to hear we are ending our trip in Capetown. Only 2 days worth but still....
kewilliam is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 12:52 PM
Posts: n/a
I can advise you that roads from SA to Swaziland are rough and uneven, so drive with care.

Be sure your rental company understands you're taking the car outside SA.

Be sure to leave much extra time if you'll do border crossings. They can use up your time amazingly. Great fun in bureaucratic fumbling.

When planning travel through rural areas, try to avoid times when kids are on the roads to and from school. You must constantly be alert and vary your driving speed. Also, watch for animals.
Jun 15th, 2003, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Well, I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying Cape Town, even in June. The weather has been very cooperative.

I must say that my wife and I are spending our time on this visit to Cape Town the proper way...and by that I mean that we are not wasting our time with any subpar restaurants and we are not hesitating to have the hotel chauffeur us around in their fancy cars, whenever possible.

We enjoyed an incredible lunch at the Cape Grace's restaurant yesterday that spanned 3+ hours. We spent about 90 minutes in the restaurant followed by having dessert in the library.

I must say that The Twelve Apostles is a great hotel. The food has been excellent and the service has been excellent, as well. Our room is as close to the ocean as possible, divided only by about 10 meters of landscaped hillside and 15 more meters of highway and then it is nothing but ocean.

Our room is amazing. It is a 1 bedroom seafacing suite with a living room and really nice deck (balcony). I fell asleep last night on the reclining patio chair on the deck last night to the sound of crashing waves.

I would not hesitate to stay at this hotel again in a heartbeat but would probably only do so if I could get similar rates. The room that we are staying is $500 USD per night during LOW SEASON but through I got a four night package for $550 and that includes breakfast daily, one dinner, one high tea and flowers/champagne in the room as well.

Although the hotel is separated from the rest of Camps Bay by about 3 miles, that is its entire charm that you are isolated in one of the most beautiful spots imaginable, all while only being 5 minutes outside of Camps Bay and 15-20 minutes from the Waterfront.

I would only advise that while you are in Cape Town not to waste your time on bad restaurants. You cannot go wrong eating breakfast al fresco at The Twelve Apostles Hotel overlooking the ocean. Have at least one lunch or dinner at the Cape Grace. The presentation is amazing, as is the food and the price is not much more than any other decent restaurant in the Waterfront or Camps Bay would be.

You are going to love your trip to South Africa!
Roccco is offline  

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