This was the part of the trip that I was anxiously waiting for – going to Kruger National Park! The night before we flew to Kruger we went to our hotel near the Johannesburg Airport to meet our son Chris, his South African born wife Haley and their 7 month old son. They were flying in from Washington DC and after a long, overnight flight we thought they would like us to take the baby for a little while so they have a little quiet time. It was a joyous reunion at the Protea OR Tambo Hotel. We had a quick dinner at the hotel, we went back to our rooms to go to bed since we would be leaving the hotel at 6:15 AM.
We arrived at the airport in Nelspruitt, one of several airports that service the Kruger. We picked up our rental car, a combi (a three row van with large glass windows around) and headed off to Kruger via Hazy View and the Paul Kruger Gate entrance. It’s a little less than 2 hours from the airport to the gate we used.
At Hazy View, there was a small shopping center with a grocery store where we picked up last minute snacks for our time in Kruger. Haley’s parents were going to be with us in Kruger and they had pre-ordered our meats from a butcher near another entry into the park. It was all packaged and frozen for us – made our shopping that much easier.
Blogger Hubby and I were going to be having two different types of safaris. With our family and extended family, we were going to do it the local way – we were going to be staying in a rest camp and then driving around the park by ourselves. The other experience we would be having would be with a guided safari with Camp Shawu. They have a private concession within Kruger National Park and that is the land that you travel on to view wildlife.
We entered Kruger National Gate through the Paul Kruger Gate. There are numerous gates all around Kruger like there are with our national parks. As we went into the building at the gate to get information, we saw our first animal – a warthog. There are conservation fees accessed at this park. If you are a day visitor you’ll pay the fee at the gate otherwise it is accessed with your reservation and you will pay when you check-in. Make sure you get the paper showing that you paid it – you’ll need it when you leave the park.
One thing that we picked up at the gate was a guide to the animals and birds in the Kruger. We found that it was invaluable for identification as well as checking off the animals that we saw. It also had maps of the Kruger and showed where all the rest camps were.
My next posts will detail the self-drive safari, what we saw, what we did and our impressions of staying in a rest camp. After that I’ll write about the guided safari and my impressions of that and what I think was best for us in terms of experience and for our budget.