Umkumbe vs Skukuza for Game Viewing

Reply

Oct 19th, 2012, 05:10 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
Umkumbe vs Skukuza for Game Viewing

Hi,

I'm looking to decide between the two lodges and am mainly concerned about game viewing. Which should be better for probability of seeing the big 5 and some crocodiles?

Thanks
Daniel
Danielm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 09:09 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 437
Hello,

This is kind of like comparing apples to oranges, they are really very different. Umkumbe is a small, all-inclusive camp in Sabi and Skukuza is a large government run rest camp in Kruger where most people do self-drives.

What type of safari experience and for how long ?

I stayed at both last year as well as 2 other rest camps (Berg en Dal and Lower Sabie). In 6 nights in Kruger, we saw 4 of the Big 5 (no leopard) and lots more. I don't think we saw any crocs near Skukuza, but there were a lot at Sunset viewpoint near Lower Sabie and also some at Hippo Pools and Ntandanyathi Hide (between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge). While I enjoyed all 3 rest camps, Skukuza was my least favorite.

I loved Umkumbe, since it is private/guided you can go off-road and you can get usually get closer to the animals. We stayed 3 nights and saw all of the big 5, though no crocs. While we had a lot of great sightings in Umkumbe, I would say the variety and number of animals we saw in Kruger was greater.

I was really glad we had the opportunity to do both. Tell us more of what you are looking for and maybe I can help more.

Kelly
kellyee21 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 09:55 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
Good question, i dont think we will do travelling on our own, unless it is easy to just rent a vehicle and drive without a guide? I liked the Umkumbe lodge better (judging by photos) but reports indicated it was very limited for game viewings and repetitive.

We are spending 3 nights and read that Skukuza covers a bigger area and so probability for game viewing is better.
Both are within our budget.

What do you think?

And what did you not like about each?

Thanks!
Daniel
Danielm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 12:37 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Skukuza like kellee23 says is in Kruger National Park, different from a private reserve that borders Kruger.
We have been Kruger NP three times and love it. Always rented/hire car in JNB and drove ourselves over and around Kruger. But a private camp on private reserve, like camp Umkumbe is in Sabi Sand reserve, is a very different safari experience. You may or may not see the big 5 in Kruger. You will in Sabi Sand (given three days there). If I had to chose from the two - it would aabsolutely be Sabi Sand reserve. Umkumbe or any of the other great safari camps there, e.g. MalaMala, Leopard Hills. Lion Sands, Dulini, Kirkmans, and several more.

regards - tom
ps - crocs are more likely seen in Kruger, usually sleeping on river sand bank. I'd say probably least active of any animal in Kruger.
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 12:38 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Oh, was going to add link web link to Kruger -
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/default.php

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 02:04 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
So Umkumbe is outside Kruger and Skukuza is inside? I think both are in the same area inside the park?

Danielm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 05:35 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Hmmm, are we talking the same Umkumbe? Is it this one? Umkumbe Safari Lodge
http://www.umkumbe.co.za/
Whose intro says -
"Umkumbe Safari Lodge is located in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, considered by many to be the premier wildlife reserve in South Africa. Located on the banks of the seasonal Sand River, Umkumbe Safari Lodge is perfectly situated in one of the best Big Five game viewing destinations in Africa."

Sometimes it is confused here about Kruger National Park and the Greater Kruger Area. Hopefully your travel agent or whomever you are working with is not confused.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 05:54 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
Great comment Tom.

kellyee21 and the rest: Can you please share your experiences with Skukuza? Considering that this will be my first time in South Africa and I want to see the greatest number and variety of animals, while still getting fairly good quality accommodation, will Skukuza be a good choice (Joining a group that is going to Skukuza, so either that or taking a few friends with me to Umkumbe)?

I didn't think about renting a car before. Is it reasonable to take a car for one day within Skukuza for just a daily trip, and how easy is it to drive around? I'm usually good with directions , just thought I needed a guide to get around the park.
Danielm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 06:35 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
KNP is easy to drive in, excellent roads, good maps, well sign posted. Only a few roads so difficult to get lost. Most of KNP visitors are South African families with family cars. As for renting a car for only one day, well maybe, at Skukuza there is an Avis office.

Will say again, if you can budget it, ($300 per day per person for Umkumbe) go to a Sabi Sand camp. It is worth it over KNP. Unless you/friends are like my Mom was, she cared next to nothing about wildlife!! (Of ANY kind !!! ).

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 07:16 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 642
I was at Umkumbe last year and had a great time, and in Kruger this year.

I'd say the difference was the quality of the sightings. For eg. in Kruger this year we saw the Big 5 in a day but some of the sightings were distant and because Kruger is a national park there is definitely no off roading. At Umkumbe, we had a close, memorable leopard viewing and got very close to buffalo.

Ideally, if you could do 2 nights at Umkumbe and 3 at Skukuza you would have an excellent chance of seeing both the Big 5 and crocodiles.

Its easy to rent a car at either Nelspruit or Hoedspruit and make you way through Kruger and Umkumbe. Given the pressure on Kruger accommodation and Umkumbe in the high season, its best to book as soon as your travel dates are decided.

I have written a trip report about Umkumbe (with photos) here http://safaritalk.net/topic/7275-ele...e-and-mashatu/ and am in the process of concluding this year'r report here, http://safaritalk.net/topic/9372-saf...and-elsewhere/.

Happy planning,


Pol
Treepol is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2012, 09:43 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 437
If you aren't planning to self-drive at Skukuza I would go with Umkumbe then. But yes, it is very easy to do (I don't know about renting for only one day we rented from Johanesburg). If you were planning on just doing the park offered drives I think you will for sure get a better experience at Umkumbe. We didn't do any of these in Kruger as we had such a great time driving ourselves and saw so much.

Tom described the logistics of self-driving so I just want to add that another great thing about self-driving versus the guided safaris in Kruger are being able to stop at the various hides where you can get out of your car (never get out anywhere it is not authorized) and sit and observe. From Skukuza we headed up to Orpen Dam one morning and there were a ton of hippos there. We had just missed 7 leopards as well. I also love going at our own pace, usually we end up staying out most of the day from gate opening to closing. We would drive for 3 hours in the morning or so, stop for breakfast at a picnic site, later lunch at another picnic site or camp and then back to camp as the gates were closing.

As for the accomodations at Skukuza, we had a 2 person rondavel with a kitchen. It was fine but more basic than the other 2 places we stayed. Also quite small. The camp itself is huge, almost a mini-village, thought it didn't really feel crowded as there is a lot of space. I just preferred the more intimate Berg en Dal or especially Lower Sabie. Lower Sabie we had a newly redone chalet with a river view and were awoken by Hippos calling in the morning.

Is the only Kruger camp choice Skukuza because you know people going there? I would stay there again, but it wouldn't be my first choice. It is however, very central and if you self-drive for 3 days you should see a lot.

As for Umkumbe there is nothing at all I didn't like. If you want a guided safari I would do that. They will really try and make sure you see the Big Five and more and they are also a lot of fun. It is a very laid back camp. We had very close encounters with 2 lions at night, and a leopard one afternoon. Also mock-charged by an elephant one night.

No matter what you decide, do try and fit in a walking safari, these were one of the highlights of the trip. We did one from Berg and another at Umkumbe.

I have photos of the camps here if you are interested :

http://kellyee21.smugmug.com/SouthAfricaApril2011-1

I would also suggest checking out the sanparks forums if you haven't already done so, a ton of great info there.

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/index.php?style=2

Hope that helps !
Kelly
kellyee21 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 20th, 2012, 03:39 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
Thanks everyone! Judging by your amazing photos, there are a lot more animals to be seen around KNP than in Umkumbe though. Would you agree?

Also, can you rent a car and self drive from Umkumbe as well or they dont do that? (does not say on the website).

D.
Danielm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 20th, 2012, 07:53 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 437
You can arrive and depart Umkumbe by car but you can't go driving around on your own safari.
kellyee21 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 20th, 2012, 09:15 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
FWIW, my last shot, we've spent total of 19 days in KNP, three different years, 2006, 2007, 2009. Seeing the big 5 - We have seen leopard only once, never rhino, lion about 8 times, buffalo often, elephant often. Also many, zebra, giraffe, impala, baboons, hyena and others. But in Kruger you may not leave road(s) so if the lions are 200meters away, you stay 200 meters away. At a private camp you will drive over to the lions and see them up close and personal!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:49 AM.