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visiting Kruger in October '14 and totally excited!

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Hello all

I will be doing my very first visit to kruger coming October '14 and just wanted to get some input on the current itinerary!

My partner and I will be flying into JNB around 2pm, hence we plan to stay the night at Johannesburg. The next morning we will make our way to Kruger.

After much reading up online and checking our many many lodges, we will be spending
- 2 nights at Africa on Foot as the walking safari appeals to me,
- 2 nights at Shindzela and
- lastly 2 nights at Skukuza (because Lower Sabie is no longer available and this area according to research has the highest likelihood of game viewing disregarding personal luck)

On our last day at Kruger we would be flying to port elizabeth (transit at JNB) from Hoedspruit to take a drive down the garden route to cape town.

Just some questions:
1) we are thinking of taking the road transfer from JNB airport as mentioned by AOF. Has anyone taken that and can comment on the comfort level of the transfer? Alternatively we may choose to take a flight instead. Still open to both options.

2) Transferring from Shindzela to Skukuza, I will have a car (our driving friends will meet us at shindzela), however is this drive feasible? the recommended driving time on the sanparks website is 5h35m from Orpen gate. Should I pick another camp instead?

3) For Kruger to port elisabeth, I cannot find any direct flight. There is only a flight to JNB followed by a separate flight to PLZ. Is there any other option?

4) On our last day before we fly to port elizabeth, we would like to take a short visit to blyde river canyon. Is this feasible or recommended? Or should we just forgo that in lieu of more time within the park before our flight?

5) Oh and how would the weather be like in mid october? What kind of clothes should we wear?

We are super excited for this trip, and would love to hear from you any feedback about our plans!


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    It looks like a super itinerary to me, although I prefer a minimum of three nights per camp so you really get to take in the feel of the camp and don't feel so rushed. AOF and Shindzela are great camps (at that price point) and should be lots of fun. Don't worry about the transfer from Shindzela to Skukuza - it will only take that long if the road is blocked by elephants, lions, rhinos and buffalo. They want you to drive slowly, and you should, but it rarely takes as long as they say. Enjoy your morning game drive, head into Hoedspruit for supplies if you need to, and you'll make it by gate closing. Or go in a gate closer to Skukuza if you are running late.

    The drive, until you get close to AOF, is on highways so it's comfortable enough. I would fly, since you don't need a car, to eliminate any chance of missing the afternoon game drive - you have to leave very early to guarantee arriving in time. Compare the cost difference - I don't think it's very much - and decide the time vs money thing.

    Keep checking if you really want to stay at Lower Sabie. You can change your reservation as many times as you need to. You will just pay the highest amount for the rooms you have ever booked. I made tons of changes on the website for our trip in June, and it worked out fine. I checked every day and finally got what we wanted. People cancel and change their plans every day. You will likely get LS if you work at it. We stayed in Skukuza this time and LS last time. I liked both, but there are other camps in the southern part of the park. Consider them all if there is availability. They are all good - if you need a restaurant you need to stay in a camp that has them. The website is surprisingly great - they have all the info you need to pick a camp. We did our own cooking on our last trip and it was fun. Most bungalos provide utensils, so cooking doesn't mean bringing every little thing. Just food, charcoal and a sense of humor. You have to be back to camp pretty early (it was 6PM in June - it changes all year, but it's not long after sunset), so there is tons of time to prepare food. You can do sunset and night game drives through the park. They can be fun if you get lucky.

    There are no direct flights - but check the other airports. There might be one through HDS or KMIA. Check on kayak - you can tell it to check nearby airports. Can you reverse direction and do the garden route Cape Town to PE? Easier flight connections. Skukuza airport was just reopened and has commercial flights now. Look into that - I have no idea about cost, but it's convenient.

    I would spend the time in the park instead of Blyde River Canyon, but you can play it by ear if you decide at the last minute to do one or the other. BRC is nice, but I'm a safari girl.

    It starts to warm up in October, but just like spring anywhere is unpredictable. Take lots of layers and prepare to be hot and cold. Don't overpack though. It just makes all of the transfers and going hotel to hotel or camp to camp more inconvenient. I do laundry any time I have more than 24 hours to let things dry. Not a big deal.

    Sounds like a nice trip. Are you visiting Addo while you are in PE? Another fantastic park!

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    In Shendzela, Timbavati Reserve, the game drive vehicles are allowed to go off road. Not so in KNP. So in the Timbavati you will see more of the big 5, and up-close and personal.

    From Shindzela to Orpen gate is 5h35m, you say? The how far/long from Opren gate to Skukuza? I'd say another 2 hours. Total time Shndzela to Skukuza then about 8 hours. Well, there goes that day!! But you probably will see elephants driving from Orpen to Skukuza. That leaves you only the next day for KNP.

    Spend the second two nights not in KNP but stay where you are in the Timbavati. Either at Shindzela or preferably move over to Kings Camp (quick 10 min jeep ride). Then fly on SAA, 2 flights a day, from HDS (Hoedspruit) to JNB.

    Blyde Canyon area. Are you from USA, have you seen the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, etc, etc etc? If so, Blyde Canyon will be a big ho hum. Try to use that time on safari.

    regards - tom

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    tom - I think you misunderstood. It's 5+ hours from Orpen Gate to Skukuza according to SanParks. The drive from Shindzela to Orpen is not far - maybe 1.5 hours. They have plenty of time. And they will see much more than elephants. I love Kruger Park - I think everyone should try it. I still can't believe they let us drive around with lions and elephants. It's an experience like no other.

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    You are right CB, 5h30m Orpen to Skukuza
    I also love Kruger, been there three times. But still, if I had only 4 days for safari, I would use them in the Sabi Sand or Timbavati reserves.

    regards - tom

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    Wow, thanks everyone for your generous replies. :)

    Many thoughts and considerations went into choosing these places. I would be meeting friends who would only be there for the last 4 nights, hence its easier to split it this way so my friends have the chance to experience both private lodges and self drive. I checked sabi sands, however the more affordable lodges are already fully booked for our dates. We do prefer a more "rustic" experience, so I believe our choice would be great for us.

    Good to know that the shindzela to skukuza/lower sabie drive is doable, as I was kind of worried about it. Thanks!

    I will definitely be checking back daily on sanparks website to get Lower Sabie! Which I actually have already been doing. So to check, if I change my booking to a cheaper option, do I get any refund? I tried reading the T&Cs, I thought it said that for changes made more than 30 days (by the power of deduction) one will get a full refund.

    "5. Downgrading (reducing the total value) of a reservation made here could result in modification fees. These are calculated on the difference between the reservation cost before and after the changes were made. Downgrading:
    6 days or less prior to arrival (or after arrival) will result in a 100% modification fee
    7 to 14 days before arrival will result in a 50% modification fee
    15 to 30 days before arrival will result in a 25% modification fee."

    I think I am a safari girl as well. :) Maybe I will just skip BRC!

    I will try to explore other options to go from Kruger to PE. I can't do the cape town to PE as I will be flying back from CT, so would be easier to end there.

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    Happy to help.

    I think if you book a R1200 bungalow and change it to a R1000 safari tent, you will pay the R1200 within the 30 day window. But in all honesty, it's less than USD20. Don't forget you have to pay the daily conservation fees - it's about USD25/day/person. You can pay online before you go or when you get to Orpen Gate (just two days, not three).

    Keep in mind that during the self drive portion, if you don't bring breakfast and lunch food with you (we brought cereal, fruit and stuff to make sandwiches in a cooler, along with lots of water) you will have to either leave Skukuza after you have breakfast in the camp restaurant (early is best time for cats on tar roads) or plan your drives so you can find food at a rest camp. We have had meals on the road while watching creatures do some pretty fun stuff. Glad we had the food with us so we could spend the whole day on the road. No cooking required, and all accomodations have a refrigerator. Food is also available in the camp stores, a bigger choice than I was expecting. We check a cooler on wheels on our flights, but you can buy one at Pick n Pay, Spar (both in Hoedspruit) and Woolworths.

    Have fun, safari girl. Hope you get LS, but other camps are nice too.

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