Kruger & Panorama Route
Few names conjure up the image of an African safari like Kruger which has welcomed visitors since 1927 to experience the excitement of wildlife viewing.
One particularly memorable experience was when all four of us slept a night on our own up in a Tree House in the middle of the bush. We were able to watch a crocodile and antelope at the waterhole beneath us and fall asleep to the weird and wonderful noises of the night!
Kruger is classic safari country. You can choose between the national park where you can self-drive and stay in rest camps with the option of self-catering, or push the boat out and opt for a private reserve within or just outside Kruger where you are taken out on game drives and walks and enjoy more luxurious accommodation. A trip to the Panorama Route combines well with a Kruger safari and gives you the chance to look through God’s Window at a truly stunning view.
- Kruger National Park: At two million hectares this is the largest national park in South Africa and has a diversity of habitats and scenery. You can expect to see large concentrations of wildlife. Roads are well-maintained so self-driving is easy and you can see several locations in a day but traffic can be busy especially in the popular southern section. If you don’t have your own vehicle there are options for guided safaris. Kruger National Park is run by South African National Parks which abides by strict safari rules, so no off-road or night driving is allowed.
- Kruger’s private reserves: Around Kruger are various private reserves (three mentioned below), many of which have no fences between them and the national park thereby extending Kruger’s boundaries to make a vast Greater Kruger National Park. There are also some private concessions within the main park, such as Singita Lebombo and Makulele, which, whilst exclusively open to people staying in the lodges there, stick to national park rules.
Camps and lodges within the private reserves provide off-road and night safaris and some offer walks, all led by experienced guides, but no self-driving. Access is confined to those staying on the reserve and accommodation is of a generally high quality, making private reserve safaris more exclusive and expensive.
- Sabi Sands: This is the oldest of the private reserves and has some of most long-established lodges. The name derives from its two rivers, the Sabie and the Sand. These and the waterholes, originally created for irrigating farmland, attract large numbers of game and therefore predators, notably leopard. Activities include day and night game drives and guided nature walks. There’s a wide range of accommodation, all of a very high standard, some of which are designed with families in mind.
- Timbavati: This large private reserve is owned by a consortium of nearly 50 landowners. There’s a good choice of lodges and camps most of which offer guided walks as well as twice-daily game drives with both a tracker and guide. No lodge has full traversing rights of the whole park. One distinguishing feature of this reserve is the presence of white lions with the earliest recorded sighting in 1938.
- Manyeleti: Located between Timbavati and Sabi Sands, this small reserve is owned and managed by the local community of the Mnisi tribe, and has only a handful of places to stay so you pretty much have the bush to yourself. There is no off-road driving here, and no permanent water source.
- Panorama Route: West of Kruger, the Panorama Route will soon have you running out of superlatives. At 33kms in length Blyde River Canyon is vast, indeed its vegetation makes it the largest ‘green’ canyon on earth. Bourke’s Luck Potholes may resemble a gold digger’s frustrated efforts to find his fortune but were in fact created by water and stone erosion over many centuries. Very few places could live up the billing of God’s Window, but you won’t be disappointed as you take in the expansive view over the lowveld, hills, forests and Kruger National Park to the far-off Lebombo Mountains bordering Mozambique.