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doughtwi Dec 27th, 2010 11:38 AM

Kruger National Park - Best months to go
I am planning a trip to Kruger National Park, is May a good month to go? any suggestions on the best months to go are appreciated. thanks!

sdb2 Dec 27th, 2010 11:55 AM

Best months for game viewing in Kruger are June-September. May should have good viewing. See the following link for a bit more info:

doughtwi Dec 27th, 2010 12:27 PM

thank you! would you rate mid April?

sdb2 Dec 27th, 2010 12:48 PM

I was there once in mid-April; stayed at Exeter Dulini, a small camp with great accommodations. It stormed one evening pretty heavily, washing out the pm game drive. Generally speaking I thought the game viewing was only fair (and not made better by the occasional queue), although I was lucky enough to see a wild dog and a leucistic impala (white, but not albino). That my viewing was only fair could just have been the way the ball bounced that year. Still, If I had a choice I'd probably go with May rather than April.

cary999 Dec 27th, 2010 12:53 PM

Been there three times but all in Sept so can't compare with other months.
Do stay away from the periods of school holidays as I've heard Kruger is very popular with locals. Here is a calendar showing holidays for 2011 -

You could also ask at the Kruger web site.

regards - tom

atravelynn Dec 27th, 2010 01:05 PM

Weather above.

Also check for rates. As I recall in South Africa, you can get low season rates even in better game viewing time frames, such as June.

cary999 Dec 27th, 2010 01:44 PM

Oh, May you said, I was next door in May of 2007, in the Sabi Sand reserve. Weather was nice, sunny, no rain, but very cool mornings. In fact, if my upcoming Feb safari (to Tanzania) hadn't come about, I was planning to go back in May 2011 to the reserves next to Kruger, Timbavati and Sabi Sand reserves.

As for low season rates in Kruger National Park? I thought not, rates are fixed for the year there? Again go to Kruger web site, a ton of great info there -

regards - tom

atravelynn Dec 27th, 2010 02:18 PM

Maybe fixed year round in Kruger, but other parts of South Africa get a break in months like June because I took advantage of it.

sdb2 Dec 27th, 2010 02:46 PM

doughtwi, in my previous post I had meant to add that Dulini is located in Sabi Sand Reserve, which adjoins Kruger National. Many people say they are visiting Kruger but often their lodges/camps are actually in Sabi Sand or Timbavati, another reserve that adjoins Kruger.

cary999 Dec 27th, 2010 03:14 PM

I know, Kruger has confused me before. Kruger, Kruger area, or greater Kruger, to me encompasses Kruger and adjacent reserves (Sabi Sand, Timbavati, etc.). But when said as Kruger National Park, as was title here and in text, then I take it to mean just that. But maybe the poster didn't :)

regards - tom

doughtwi Dec 27th, 2010 04:10 PM

We are staying at the Ezulwini lodge, which I belive is in Kruger.

doughtwi Dec 27th, 2010 04:12 PM

as for our rate, this is a trip that we bid on at a local conservation fundraiser for diamondback terrapins, however we still need to book flights (from NJ).

christabir Dec 27th, 2010 04:54 PM

Are you booking at tented, river or Billy's lodge? And for how long? That's a long flight for just a few days. Sign up for South African Airways e-mail specials. Good deals can be had! Lots of affordable options at other camps nearby and in Kruger National Park. Flying or driving from Jo'burg?

tom - it's greater Kruger, in Balule Game Reserve. Just west of Klaserie. Here's a map:

As above, June - Sept is the best time to go for wildlife, but it can get cold. We got wet in mid June 2009, too. No telling these days. If you watched the World Cup this year in June/July, everyone was wearing coats!

Diamondback Terrapins? Please share!

cary999 Dec 27th, 2010 04:56 PM

Ezulwini Lodge -

Located in the Balule private reserve -
"The Balule Private Nature Reserve was created when a few enterprising farm owners decided to drop the game fences between their farms. This has since grown into a 35000 ha Private Nature Reserve with the perennial Olifants River flowing for approximately 20km through the centre of the reserve."

Seems not adjacent to Kruger, closer to town Hoedspruit than Kruuger. So they toss Kruger name around to impress you?? It is not in Kruger, nor adjacent to Kruger, nor can Kruger wildlife cross over into it. Shame on them.

regards - tom

sdb2 Dec 27th, 2010 07:15 PM

Tom, I hadn't heard of Balule before but, then again, that's the beauty of this forum; i.e., learning new stuff all the time.

I picked the following off this site ( ). I can't attest to the accuracy but here's what it says.

"Balule Private Nature Reserve was established about 10 years ago and is made up of several individually-managed but unfenced reserves on both sides of the Olifants River. Balule Private Nature Reserve consists of the Greater Olifants River Conservancy, Olifants West Game Reserve, York Game Reserve, Parsons Game Reserve, Olifants North Game Reserve and Grietjie Game Reserve. Its fences got dropped in 1994 with the Kruger Park, adding about 140,000ha of veld for animals to traverse over. Timbavati and Umbabat dropped fences in 1988, and the Timbavati and Klaserie dropped their internal fence in 1992. The Balule Private Nature Reserve lies to the east of Mica. This exclusive reserve of roughly 50,000ha borders the Kruger National Park."

Looking at maps it's not clear to me where Balule touches Kruger (i.e., "borders the Kruger National Park"). It may be that when they say its fences got dropped with KP they mean via its dropped fences with Timbavati and Klaserie.

Best, Steve

cary999 Dec 27th, 2010 09:05 PM

Thanks sdb2. I've spent some time trying to find a map of it but came up with nothing but words. Like this-
"Balule Nature Reserve is situated inside the greater Kruger National Park, with no fences to provide a physical boundary between the areas. It is a 3500-hectare conservation area bordered by the Clifants River to the north, Klaserie Nature reserve and Kruger National Park to the east and the R40 national road to the west."

It seems to be between Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa. I've been in the Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa areas and they seemed to be rather developed and inhabited. Hard to image the big 5 romping around there!!

regards - tom

pixelpower Dec 28th, 2010 02:49 AM

>> It is not in Kruger, nor adjacent to Kruger, nor can Kruger wildlife cross over into it. Shame on them.

Hey Tom,

You are wrong on the above. It is considered to be in the greater Kruger area, hence why they say "in the Kruger". See this map:

Balule is a little bit "less attractive" as it does not border Kruger NP directly (Klaserie is in between) but there are no fences between Kruger and Klaserie and between Klaserie and Balule. It is not the only "Kruger private reserve" like this; Thornybush does not border Kruger either.

True, it is between Hoedspruit & Phalaborwa, but still: there's plenty of game. I assume it's because there's plenty of water (waterholes & Olifants river (perennial)). I haven't been there myself but a colleague has been. She went to Mohlabetsi for three nights and saw all the usual suspects, including wild dog ...but no lions (apparently just bad luck).

In fact, I think the presence of water is a bigger factor to safari success than the location of the game reserve itself. Even in one particular reserve, you have better and less attractive spots.

To give but one example; Pungwe camp lies in what would be a perfect spot (according to your criteria); bordering both Sabi Sands and Kruger NP, and no fences. However, that part of Manyeleti is very dry, so what we experienced there were either gamedrives "in the dry corner" (not that much sightings, but very nice when you have a good sighting to yourself for as long as you like), or gamedrives "in the wet corner" (one animal after the other, but always jeeps around and top sightings had 3 vehicles at all times).

My experience is that you cannot dismiss a lodge by it's location. There are so many factors that influence your overall experience: water nearby, experience of guiding, traversing rights, feel of the camp, focus during the gamedrive (aimed towards newbies or not), the food, the guide's personality, the state of the vehicles, the season & current weather, etc etc... location is just ONE parameter.



doughtwi Dec 28th, 2010 05:56 AM

thanks for all the discussion, this is very helpful. We will be there for 6 days/5 nights and can split our stay b/t "river lodge" and "billy's lodge"...any suggestions on which may be better?

Regarding northern diamondback terrapin (ndt's) conservation. NDT's natural range runs along the eastern seabord down to louisana. They live in tidal waters (b/t barrier isles and the mainland). The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor NJ is a leading conservation group and beacon of hope to save this species....check out for more info.

christabir Dec 28th, 2010 07:26 AM

Thanks for the info, doughtwi.

I would add another day and stay at both! Or you could choose 2/3. River Lodge has a river (duh) where animals will come hang out. Billy's is smaller and more intimate. I'd like both of them, but I'm a water girl and like to stay in camps with water so the animals visit. It all sounds very luxurious and there seems to be a resident lion pride! Since none of us had heard of it, you'll have to do a trip report and tell us all about your experience.

If you decide to stay in S Africa for a few more days (highly recommended with the long flight from NY), there are lots of other camps nearby in greater Kruger and Kruger NP. It's a big, beautiful country with lots to see/do.

cary999 Dec 28th, 2010 07:32 AM

Thanks J.
The way the Ezulwini web site talks about themselves you'd think they were in the heart of Kruger. Did you check it out?

Your map link shows it clearly, thanks. In fact I've been there and didn't know it! Driven highway R40/R526 which goes between Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit through(?) Balule. (Driven it twice in fact). You can call that a nature reserve if you want but we sure didn't see any wildlife at all along 40/526. But do remember seeing a lot of fencing. Oh, wait, did see lion and cheetah!!! At the Tshukudu Game Lodge ( ) . But they were fenced in pens. Still hard to imagine the big 5 along there, very civilized, oh well . . . .

regards - tom

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