Starting to plan: so many questions!

Mar 26th, 2019, 12:35 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 828
Hi peg,
You mentioned potential lodgings on the periphery of Kruger. We enjoyed Drifters Game Lodge, which is 30km north of Hoedspruit. Affordable, well-organized and no probs.
Bon chance.
I am done. The end.
zebec is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 01:00 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,434
Originally Posted by pegtrav View Post
Qtwo more questions: if you had a choice between November and May for Kruger, which would you choose?
Can you give me the names of some of the least expensive camps in the private reserves?
Thanks again. You all are so helpful!!
I would definitely pick May; November is hot, humid, buggy and rainy. By May temperatures have cooled off (even chilly at night) but things will be far more comfortable. Best Time To Visit Kruger National Park | Kruger Park Seasons...

I've stayed at a couple of "affordable" lodges in the Sabi Sand reserve, Elephant Plains and Nkorho. For 2019, both have "rack rates" that are under US$400 per night, but, as stated, a safari planner or South Africa specialist TA might be able to do better. A quick check shows that all of the lodges listed above have rack rates under $500 pppn for this year. One needs to add tips and transport cost to these figures of course. On the tipping front, it's customary to tip the driver $10 per person per day, the tracker (if you have one) maybe half that, and $10 or $20 daily for the lodge staff (housekeepers, restaurant staff, etc.) Tips are usually pooled.

In general (and generalizing is difficult) in places like Sabi Sand, the wildlife viewing is generally quite good, but much depends on the specific "traversing" rights the various lodges possess. This means your lodge has the right to view game and "traverse" neighboring lodges' properties, as they do yours. Some lodges are quite liberal in granting these, and some are less so. All the drivers in a given area maintain constant radio contact with other drivers (including from other lodges) so that when someone comes upon a particular sight, for example a leopard with a recent kill, the drivers and guides "self manage" the viewings so that several vehicles don't all show up simultaneously, thereby annoying the animals. But I've had just as many terrific encounters at the cheaper lodges than at the more expensive ones (like Chitwa Chitwa, now more than double the cost of the others) so rest assured the viewing will be terrific regardless of where you choose.

I know it sounds a lot, but let me just say it's good value for the money. The experience is quite simply unforgettable.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 27th, 2019, 09:43 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,064
Summer season is not as big a deal as some would make out. Many of the lodgings have air conditioning, even the bungalows at the public rest camps. You aren't out walking around, you're in a vehicle which will have a canvas top. So heat and humidity isn't a big deal. (I was just there in February). The nice thing about summer is that the grass is green and there are lots of baby animals around, the rivers are flowing so you'll see hippos, crocs and ellies there. A lot of South Africans visit Kruger during off season since the rates are lower and availability is better Also it isn't so cold in the morning. We were pleasantly surprised that the summer weather was NOT unbearable. Even in the north there were only a few mosquitoes seen. But we all did take Malarone and use DEET.

By the way, if you don't want to waste time driving from JNB , you can fly into Skukuza Airport and there is a shuttle service from that airport operated by Avis. So if you are worried about budget, I'd definitely look at the public rest camps inside Kruger. You can also book game drives operated by SANPARKs. As far as pricing I'd say $200 per person per day would EASILY cover lodging in an air conditioned bungalow, meals and two daily game drives. The bungalows have kitchens and the rest camps have convenience stores. Skukuza has a branch of Cattle Baron restaurant.

Wild Wings which I referenced above charges approx $250 pp for their 5 day/4 night Kruger package with some meals included. Not bad, really.

There are travel agents who do combined public and private camp safaris if you don't want to do your own bookings. Of course you'll pay more that way, but it may be worthwhile. Cellphone reception inside Kruger is very limited. Skukuza does have wifi at Cattle Baron Restaurant. Elsewhere you may have no connection even with an international service plan, so not sure how much having a local travel agent contact will help other than if you miss flight connections in JNB.

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 27th, 2019 at 10:02 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 10:27 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 22,016
I'm not sure if you pay more using a travel planner. I would think otherwise, actually. The planner takes their cut from the lodges, not from the client, if I understand correctly.

Prices depend on so many factors...and include so many disparate elements.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 11:08 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,064
I imagine that applies to the private lodges, but what about the public Rest Camps?
mlgb is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 05:14 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 22,016
Yes, mlgb, I'm sure you are right about that..I was referring only to the private lodges...sorry to be unclear.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 29th, 2019, 06:18 AM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 213
Hi pegtrav!

Just adding a few thoughts here...

I agree that May is better due to the start of the rains/heat/humidity. Summer can yield wonderful things in the bush (for example, birding) but when vegetation gets thicker, it is harder for tracking the animals and there are more waterholes for animals to frequent.

If you opt to do both SAN camps and stays at lodges in Kruger's abutting private reserves, then do the private reserves as last. You will learn a lot from the guides in the jeep and between the off-road driving and night/early AM drives, you will be truly gifted by the wonders of the bush. So save this for last! I actually am crafting a similar itinerary for a couple about the same age combining SAN and private reserves.

There are lodges to fit most budgets in the private reserves BUT it is best to work with a travel planner who has a solid understanding of the density of lodges in the different sectors as well as the size of their traversing area. A number of lodges have been mentioned but they are all different on many fronts: cost, quality of food/service/accommodation, size of area to traverse, max number in the jeep, guide knowledge etc etc..

Safari Travel Planners have many different business models. Some charge a consulting fee. Some do not. They receive something from the lodges. You should ask this question when comparing notes. I would also ask whether the planner has actually been to the lodges themselves. Most have never seen them. I think this is a differentiator. Having an extended team based in Africa is a positive too. In the end, you should have your questions answered promptly and feel really comfortable with whoever assists you.

Happy to help!
Dianne
diannelovestravel is offline  
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