confused ... should I add Kruger ?

Oct 21st, 2004, 06:06 PM
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confused ... should I add Kruger ?

I am starting to get boggled down and need a bit of clarity from those in the know.

I have been considering visiting SA around Sept or Oct 2005 for approx 3 weeks and had originally settled on the idea of spending the whole 3 weeks doing a thorough road trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, exploring the region at leisure.

Now I am beginning to think it rather foolish to miss the opportunity to visit Kruger Park while I am in the country.

I had intended to visit game reserves in the area .. Addo, Schotia (??), Botlierskop as well as visit some of the places where you can get close to the animals. Knysna Elephant park, lion park etc.

Do you reccommend adding a few days in Kruger to complete the trip or do you think I would have had a "true" wildlife experience with my original trip.

Christa is offline  
Oct 21st, 2004, 07:07 PM
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Hello Christa,

With 3 weeks, I believe you would have time to do Kruger + Garden Route + Cape Town, and you would not be rushed.

You could consider spending approximately a week in each region. If you're going in the southern hemisphere spring, I recommend starting with Kruger in the north, moving on to the Garden Route, and ending up in Cape Town.

I also recommend that you fly between Kruger and the Garden Route. When it comes to flights, you could access the Garden Route by landing in Port Elizabeth or George.

It's true that, if you were to visit 3 or 4 game reserves along the Garden Route, and especially if you were to include Addo in the mix, those game reserves in combination would expose you to South Africa's major animals.

The Garden Route game reserves also have the advantage of being malaria-free, which obviously is a big advantage. Some travellers really have a "thing" about taking anti-malarial meds, and for them the Garden Route game reserves can provide a solution.

But, in my opinion, a small game reserve or game farm cannot offer a wildlife viewing experience on the same scale as 2 million hectare (ha) Kruger can. Botlierskop, by way of comparison, is 2,500 ha.

Addo is a respectable 125,000 ha, and plans are underway to expand it to nearly 492,000 ha. When that comes to pass, it'll be nearly a quarter the size of Kruger, which certainly is big. And Addo has added interest because of the part of it that is a marine park.

There is something that Kruger has that Addo doesn't have, though, and that is the bushveld vegetation. Maybe I'm biased, but there is something magical about the bushveld ecosystem. The Garden Route is beautiful in its own way, but it is not the bushveld. When it comes to South Africa, you need to go to the province of Mpumalanga (where Kruger is) or KwaZulu-Natal (where parks such as Hluhluwe are located) to experience the bushveld.

If you agree to the concept of splitting your vacation amongst Kruger, the Garden Route and Cape Town, you might consider using Selwyn's classic Cape Town / winelands / Hermanus / Garden Route itinerary as a jumping off point for your planning. However, I suggest you take this itinerary and reverse it, starting in the east at Port Elizabeth and working westwards towards Cape Town.

A warning about Cape Town in the spring, between September and November. It gets some lovely days, but the weather in spring tends not to be stable. It can get what the tourist literature refers to as "bracing" winds (up to 120 km/h or 75 m.p.h.). The southern hemisphere autumn (March, April and even May) usually provides pleasant, stable weather. However, if you can only get to South Africa in September - October, I would say take a good windbreaker jacket and go for it.

The weather in Kruger and the adjacent private game reserves should be pleasant in the southern hemisphere spring.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 21st, 2004, 10:28 PM
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Hi Judy,
Thanks SO much for your very detailed reply. This has given me much food for thought.
I have always dreamed of visiting South Africa and seeing wildlife so I guess, if I want to experience the SA of my dreams, I should definitely consider including Kruger.
As an NZer I wont be too put out by Cape Towns weather,it sounds a bit like Wellington.

I will see how the budget pans out and if possible, do the flights. Otherwise I guess it will be one big driving adventure.

Thanks once again, much appreciated.
Christa is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2004, 06:46 AM
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Hello Christa,

You're welcome.

Flying between the northern and southern parts of South Africa may be cheaper than driving. South Africa's budget airline, Kulula, currently is showing airfares from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth or Johannesburg to George ranging from 80 USD to 105 USD.

For a first time visitor, the most interesting and scenic places in South Africa are those towards the eastern and southern edges of the country.

The interior of South Africa generally is rather flat, has few trees, and quite a bit of it is fairly arid. If you have only 3 weeks in the country, I don't think it would be the best use of your time to drive the 1,065 relatively boring kilometres along the interior route from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, for example, when you could fly Kulula for between 80 USD and 100 USD.

To make the drive interesting, you would need to drive the coastal route, but that would be a longer, and therefore more rushed, drive.

Since you have 3 weeks, you could consider extending the Kruger portion of your trip to include KwaZulu-Natal and Durban. In that case you might divide your time something like this:

10 days : Drive from Johannesburg to scenic Blyde River Canyon, through Kruger, through or around the country of Swaziland to get to KwaZulu-Natal, through one or two of the KwaZulu-Natal game reserves, to Durban. Fly from Durban to Port Elizabeth.

5 days : Drive Port Elizabeth to Hermanus along Garden Route

6 days : Cape Town / winelands

Kavey did that route in reverse in May 2004. That is, she drove much of the way, but flew between PE and Durban. You could look for her trip report (which is almost, but not quite, complete ).

Well, Christa, you have almost a year to plan this, so I'm sure your ideas will evolve.

To help you along, here are some airline websites:

Here is a website that shows driving distances in South Africa, but note that it gives distances for the most direct routes, which are not necessarily the most scenic ones:
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2004, 07:01 AM
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Christa, I concur most heartily with Judy about the bushveld ecosystem. Do spend some time in Kruger, I'm sure you won't regret it. Her suggestions for an itinerary and flying/driving etc. are really good ones.
Celia is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2004, 11:09 PM
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Thanks guys,

You have convinced me that I must take the opportunity to visit Kruger Park.

Would 2-3 days be long enough to have a good look around? [ maybe 2 nights inside the park, 1 night just outside to allow for a full day in the park ]

I'm not sure about taking on the full trip you outlined Judy.
It looks like fun but lots of driving.
We did a full-on 3 week road trip in the USA a few years ago and even though we loved every mile of it, it was quite hard going.

At this stage I was planning on buying an Auckland (NZ) - Cape Town return ticket and seeing if I could ... Open Jaw ... it for the P.E - Johannesburg leg.
If not, we would have to hightail it back to Cape Town for the return to Johannesburg but I gather that distance could be done in day if neccessary.

I am assuming I could fly into Johannesburg and add a 'stopover' there to allow me the chance to do a self drive to Kruger before heading home.
Anyway, thanks for your help and as you say, I have plenty of time to plan so who knows, my whole itinerary might change afterall.

Hmmmm, Durban you say ?

Christa is offline  

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