Divided opinion on Kruger

Jul 22nd, 2008, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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gigib and others planning a Kruger visit. I've heard that SA school holidays make Kruger busy. Anyone know if true? But, so, if you can book around them it is better. Here is SA school calendar for 2008/2009 showing all school holidays. The light pink days are school holidays. Put your mouse cursor on a day and it will describe it.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:03 PM
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Thanks Tom,

We will be there on a Sunday and the last full week in March. It was the weekend days that were giving us problems, but only at Olifants. It must be a favorite restcamp.
cwn is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 09:25 PM
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Last Sep 2007 we stayed four nights at Letaba Rest Camp, not too far from Olifants, north maybe 20 miles. We drove down towards Olifants several times, good area. (The bridge over the Olifants River is spectacular). I'd go back. Better area than Mopani I think. Many people prefer the southern camps, Skukuza and south but I haven't stayed in that area.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2008, 10:56 PM
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Sniktawk wrote: "Kruger Park was never intended to be a destination for rich tourists who worry about what to wear for dinner."

No use expressing in extremes. Kruger may be somewhat at one edge of the spectrum, while Sabi Sands may kinda be at the other. It's still not black & white. It's still shades of gray. See my remark in my first post in this thread. There's no need to "look down" on other people's choice of accomodation.

No matter what type of tourism is intended, to me the most important thing is the welfare of the animals. Having experienced Kruger myself (including a traffic jam of 20+ vehicles to see a leopard's tail), and having read extensively about it, I stay by my views; far too much wildlife management is needed in Kruger.
pixelpower is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 12:14 AM
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We spent seven nights in Kruger in April 2008 and had superb time. Primary reason to choosing Kruger was cost but we were also swayed by the fact that in a PGR one has to share vehicles and limited time at sightings etc. I would go nuts if I had to leave a group of Ground Hornbills in say 10 minutes! Self driving in Kruger we had a tremendous feel of freedom and wilderness all on our own. Some sightings when on the main roads were crowded and many more sightings on quiet gravel roads were very private too.

We entered from Malelane gate in the South and worked our way up north over the 7 days, staying 3 camps, Berg en Dal, Satara and Oliphants, finally drove up to Letaba and exited via the Phalaborwa gate.

Berg en Dal is a large camp with nice family cottages, each with private courtyard and BBQ facilities etc. Kruger is very much a life style that encompasses the great outdoors feel with just the right bit of comforts thrown in between to make life very comfortable too. We really enjoyed doing our own BBQs at dinner. Marinated meats, salads, drinks, BBQ wood etc etc is all available in camp shops and the accommodations are well equipped for this. If you dont want to do your own catering the restaurants and cafes serve decent food, steaks, burgers, pies, some nice sandwiches etc etc. Although we had pre planned to do one or two BBQ;s and use the restaurants on other days, we finally ended up doing our own BBQs everyday, it was such fun and the kids just loved it. Between Berg en Dal and Skukuza you get a picnic area called Afsal. These picnic areas are dotted all around the park and make for excellent daytime stops with a brunch, or lunch etc. they also have gas BBQs if you want to do your own cooking and some have cafes serving nice hot snacks. Afsal even had some great Castle beer on tap. We also met up with nice people at such places, made friends, exchanged ideas about my own country Sri Lanka, and all in all the South Africans were really friendly nice people. Some of the people we met were real serious birders and wild life enthusiasts so the information gleaned was really valuable. These interactive experiences made Kruger very special for us. Often we left the main camp at dawn and were out the whole day on safari, spending the mid day time in a picnic area.

Satara is a lovely rustic camp and was my favourite. The area is vast flat plains savannah and very famous for Lions. Lots of other game too, with some nice wild routes to drive on. Since we had booked very well in advance we had a choice rooms on the perimeter of the camp and it was awesome in the evening to do a BBQ under the stars by the fence with a Hyena for company.

Oliphants is a beautiful camp and amazing views from a high cliff over the Oliphants river and the Valley of the Oliphants wilderness for miles and miles and miles on end Here too we had river view rooms.

All camps rooms were very comfortable with a fan and a/c, clean linens, bathrooms, adequate towels, and since we had all self catering units the small but neat kitchenettes were clean and well equipped. I must also specially mention that all the public toilets we went to in Kruger, some of these in far flung wilderness picnic spots, were very clean and had water, paper etc

As for game viewing, Kruger is vast and there is lots of game. We saw lots of lion, black rhino, white rhino, some huge tuskers very close up, and many other nice things however we did not see a leopard , wild dog and cheetah. Leopards are not that uncommon in Kruger and sighted often especially around Berg en dal and Skukuza, however wild dog and cheetah are very endangered and rare. I must add that we did not really spend time searching for the leopard as we have seen many in my own country Sri Lanka. The bird life is very good and we did see plenty.

Do have a look at my trip photos at http://www.abidally.com/mp/South%20Africa%20Album/

Mohammed is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 07:27 AM
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I really enjoyed looking at your photos early in the planning stage and reading your comments. Thanks for taking the time to post.

In fact your information is what helped us finalize our plans for Kruger. We are looking forward to our time in Kruger.

My husband likes the idea of the freedom the self drive affords. Plus we have a small RV and love spending time in the state and national parks here in the US.
cwn is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Thank you for the link, Rockdassie!

As a many-time visitor to Kruger, I have always experienced that wonderful bush feeling, but only occasionally the "start your engines, the gang's all here" atmosphere. I've been twice to private reserves on the edge of a national park. To me, the Kruger experience is so superior that I probably won't ever consider a private reserve again. There is nothing to compare with being all alone in the morning watching a hyena mother nursing her three cubs; and then, in the evening, being on a drive with the ranger who can find an African wild cat and lions on the hunt during the same drive, meanwhile explaining the variations in the ecosystems that you encounter.

In Kruger you can have dinner alone, or you can enjoy discussing your day's sightings with others. You can stay at a sighting as long as you like. (Remember, if a private reserve guarantees no more than three vehicles at a sighting, that means those three vehicles have to leave after a certain amount of time so other guests get their guaranteed semi-privacy.)

I know Kruger is often criticized for over-managing, but at least you know the leopard you're looking at wasn't baited.

Gigib, no, it isn't rude to type Jo'burg. I put in an apostrophe, but I don't know if that's the preferred way or not.

You'll have a wonderful time in Kruger, I know!

Celia is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 10:59 AM
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Our favorite accommodations have been Mopani and Punda Maria, but sightings in both of those areas were pretty scarce. We have also stayed at Olifants (spectacular views over the river), Lower Sabie (ditto, and great viewing deck), Shingwedzi, and Satara and have also visited Skukuza once and Letaba twice but have not stayed there, just visited for meals. We found the best areas for game viewing were in the southern part of the park around Lower Sabie, and also around Olifants. The farther north you go the scarcer the game, but some of the most delightful accommodations are in the north.

You can see some of our Kruger photos including some of the camps at:

Enjoy your trip -- Kruger is magic -- and the sanparks.org forums are full of advice. (We have reservations at one of the other SANparks, Kgalagadi, this December.)
lisa is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 11:36 AM
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what a coincidence !!

We also stayed at Lower Sabie and Satara, which is my favourite due to the location in the lions area !
What another coincidence that we will be leaving in 3 weeks to Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti for a 9 days trip combined with a 3 days in Masai Mara !! I can't wait to be on aug 19th !!
Would be nice to read your report once you will be back after march !

have a wonderful trip !!

Fabio is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 12:41 PM
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[sniktawk=quote]Comparisons with Sabi Sands area is strange as there is far more animal management there (baited leopards), and costs are around 10 times as much per day.[/quote]

Baited leopards? Which lodges is Sabis Sands do this then?

And what other wildlife maanegment goes on there?
Tanky is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Mohammed, your photos are marvelous, I cannot WAIT to get there.

I see you stayed at the Blyde River Lodge, it looks very nice. How is it located for a one night stay, is it a close drive to the usual sights?

I am really enjoying this thread...
gigib is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 01:34 PM
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@ snit
i would also like to know which concession does the baiting.

i know lots of people who spend their vacation there, we also travel on a regulat basis to SS and furthermore i know some of the owners and i heavily doubt that at any SS concession there is baiting going on!

therefore some more detailed information rather then just "mentioning" would be highly appreciated!

ref to tourism in krueger but tourism in general:

i hate if animals must be shot because of tourism interfering with wildlife.
humans have to acknowledge that they are just visitors in THEIR habitat!
so doing walking safaris means ALWAYS putting wildlife in danger as a guide must shot any animal which gets confused or feels threathened by these human visitors.

last may in krueger some selfdrive tourists cornered a leopard which was so terrified by these intruders that it jumped into an electric fence and was grilled.

when one drives through krueger there is not one day that one cannot observe stupid human behaviour. and it's always the animals which pay the price!

regarding snit's remerk that krueger is for people who don't need to worry about clothing for dinner is simply discriminating!
you CAN find such people at either place SS a n d krueger!
it's like always in live: you find idiot all over the place - high-end lodges but also low key DIY!

divine54 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2008, 03:48 PM
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"i hate if animals must be shot because of tourism interfering with wildlife. humans have to acknowledge that they are just visitors in THEIR habitat! so doing walking safaris means ALWAYS putting wildlife in danger as a guide must shot any animal which gets confused or feels threathened by these human visitors." div

I think there are very few cases of rangers shooting animals on walks - we asked all our Kruger guides if they had ever shot an animal and they never had, but thats not to say it hasnt happened. The human/wildlife conflict problem exists all over the world wildlife is always at risk when it comes into contact with humans, but I imagine that overall the wildlife is safer inside the Kruger than outside.

tockoloshe is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 12:45 AM
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As always there is a vast disagreement on this forum, luckily in this case the majority of people come down in favour of Kruger and accept it for what it is. It is after all a vast area of bush that was of little use for farming and was thus utilised as a game reserve. The biggest problem is a lack of permanent water other than that artificially created by dams.

I am however puzzled by the comments on overmanagement, given the fact that many of the waterholes are overgrown , empty (blue-green algae problems), what is it that the management do that is not natural and how does this change the animals.

As for Divine 54 comments I can only say that she has demonstrated her knowledge of these matters by stating that SA is planning to cull elephants so that they can sell the ivory.
Jul 24th, 2008, 03:24 AM
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So which lodges in Sabi Sands bait leopards?
Tanky is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 04:05 AM
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For those of you whom are genuinely interested in debating the issue and desire the facts, have a look at the management document that governs SANP's activities, you can download it from the this link:


And for those who wish to be better acquainted with the plan for the Kruger:


I believe that after digesting these documents the critcs will be well satisfied that what goes on behind the fences of SA's parks is more than a miracle and I am sure many will be quite aghast at the activities that are required to maintain SA's wild heritage.

That IS what sets South Africa's National parks apart from it's private neighbours, whom I will add use the resources found at Skukuza to assist them in their conservation efforts.

Someone took a stab and eluded to leopard baiting in the Sabi Sands... firstly I think that statement is inflammatory and is based on an ancient habit popularised at Mala Mala where predators were attracted to a carcass tied to a tree for the benefit of their guests. That has long since stopped and is not tolerated in the Sabi sand at all.

You will however find in the Samburu of Kenya that this is regarded as acceptable....
mkhonzo is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 04:10 AM
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Thanks for clearing that up, if it has stopped I am pleased to hear it.

It is many years since I first heard of this practice.

Thanks also for showing everyone where to find details of the amazing work undertaken by SANPARKS
Jul 24th, 2008, 05:51 AM
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Mkhonzo, I too thank you for clearing up the baiting question.
Celia is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 03:51 PM
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So it seems opinion is not so divided after all, as Sniktawk said, the majority have come down in favour of Kruger and accept it for what it is.

The Sanparks Mission statement:

To develop and manage a system of national parks that represents the biodiversity, landscapes, and associated heritage assets of South Africa for the sustainable use and benefit of all.
Jul 24th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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It seems that The Kruger is meeting that mission beautifully.

It is clear that all around the world we need more wildlife habitat conserved. Kruger and Sabi Sand have very different models but both contribute toward the need to protect habitat. It is critical that people have a place to experience wildlife and be moved to conserve it. National Parks best fill that role of protecting large land masses that can absorb a higher tourism density and thus typically provide affordable access allowing a wide range of people to visit. One thing that often goes overlooked about parks like Kruger and Yellowstone is while they may seem crowded on the roads there are vast back country areas that support wildlife where people rarely if ever access.

High dollar/low tourism private concession areas are able to limit people but by charging a lot they can still support protection of sizeable lands making them another valuable conservation mechanism.

We need both protection schemes to succeed and continue to strive for additional protected lands by any of the various means that conserve wildlife. One may fit your tourist desires better than another but both are valuable and needed.
PredatorBiologist is offline  

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