From April 8 to April 15 my wife and I will be vacationing in South Africa. We will be staying at the** Kruger Park Lodge**. Any information concerning South Africa in general and Kruger Park specifically will be greatly appreciated. It appears we will be arriving in Johannesburg around 8:45 PM and so will need to stay at least one night near the airport there. Then there is the problem of whether to rent a car or take a bus or train (which we’ve been told are available.) Are there any dopers from South Africa or that have spent time there? We will be flying from Memphis to Detroit, then to Amsterdam and on to Johannesburg. As much as I like Amsterdam I hope we won’t get delayed there (we will be flying standby). :smack: [sup]Don’t even mention being stuck in Detroit![/sup]
<forewarning>I will be boring everyone to death telling about the trip, when (and if) I return. ;)</forewarning>
It is so sad that you chose to fly halfway around the world and end up visiting the north of the country and not Cape Town
I have never had the fortune to visit Kruger, so I can’t offer you much advice I’m afraid - there will be plenty of hotels near to the airport, and plenty of transport available to get you there and back (all the usual "traveling in a foreign country "caveats apply about only traveling in licensed taxis).
I assume you mean to get you from Joburg to the Kruger? If you’re brave, I would go for renting a car (remembering that we drive on the left and Joburg is a big city which you’ll need to navigate out of, although you’ll be on motorways almost immediately) as this will allow you to see the countryside “up close” and give you more freedom to do your own thing once you get to the Park. Otherwise, there are more accidents with busses than on trains, but the quality of the trains in SA is not the best.
Pack sunscreen - it is hot (and wet) this time of year, and the sun may be stronger than you’re used to…
Rent a car. I love my country, but the public transport system is not great. Even the Greyhound is a bit dodgy
Wear stout shoes, carry lots of film/camera memory.
Do take the night drives and guided tours, they really are worth it.
If you don’t have any, binoculars are a must.
If in the malarial part of the park, do take precautions. I can’t emphasise this enough.
Try and visit Blyde River Canyon while there, it’s not too far, and quite spectacular (it’s a bushveld canyon rather than a desert one, but still cool).
Otherwise, everything you need to see will be pointed out by the Game Rangers, there’s not much more I can tell you if you’re only going to be in Kruger except…
…next time, visit Cape Town!
I’m not sure what they are studying. One of them is named Mlilo (surname, because noone can pronounce or spell his last name) and last I heard he was involved in student government, or some advocacy group on campus.
Rent a car kniz. South African drivers are totally insane but once you get used to the rules of the road you’ll be OK. Having a car in Kruger is a big advantage. I don’t know what kind of traveller you are, but having your own car means you set your own agenda and can stop wherever you want and go wherever you please. It’s an enormous park and driving around in it was one of the best experiences of my life.
There are many small camps in the park with lovely accommodation that is very inexpensive. We were going to camp, but found the rental “huts” were cheap enough to make the extra hassle of setting up and breaking camp silly. I mention this because the park is huge and you may want to explore further in the park than the area around your lodge. Driving at night is forbidden, so you may want to take a day trip to one of the other camps, returning by a different route the next day. If you do, for little extra expense you get what is basically a well kept motel room in a detached “hut”. (I keep saying hut because I can’t remember what they were called. They were small and charming and perfectly suited to their purpose.)
Driving early in the morning is a good time to see wildlife. Hell, anytime is a good time to see wildlife in Kruger. The walks and drives provided by the park staff are also totally worth the extra fee, as MrDibble stated. We purchased a book to help identify the boks and birds we saw, which I also recommend. Bring a camera with a good zoom or telephoto lens and enough binoculars so that you don’t have to share. You don’t want to be in a situation where something amazing is happening and you are fighting over the binoculars. Sorry for rambling on, but whenever I think of that trip I get excited. Driving around a corner and seeing a rhino, or a pack of hyena, or lions hunting giraffe, or the incredible way an elephant can seem to disappear into the trees- you’re going to have an amazing time!
I loved Capetown, one of those places you wish you lived. I also loved the Garden Route and loads of other wonderful places nearby. South Africa is a breathtaking country, but if I had only one week to spend there I would absolutely make it a trip to Kruger National Park.
Much to my very deep disappointment, I’ve found out that I won’t be in the Cape after all, but KwaZulu-Natal instead. KZN is nice, I’m sure, but I’ve had my heart set on seeing the Cape since the first time I went (right below seeing Pretoria in November).
Ah, well, there’s always next year, I suppose.
Surely there must be more South African dopers? An SA Dopefest would be such a cool thing!
Kruger Park is an amazing place - not to be missed. You should certainly have a car - it’s a huge place (about the size of Massachusetts, I believe) and you’ll want to be able to roam where you choose.
The “huts” that Quint mentions are called rondavels - they tend to be round and have thatched roofs. They are indeed a good choice for accommodation.
MrDibble is quite right that binoculars are essential. You’ll want a really good set - I’ve yet to meet anyone who regretted purchasing fine binocs. It would be almost a crime to go to Kruger without the ability to study what you see at a distance.
My best advice would be to get interested in birds. Southern Africa is astonishingly rich in bird life - absolutely one of the best places on the planet. And Kruger park is a great place to see these birds. So many people go there focused on the big animals: elephant, lions, rhino (rare), hippos, leopards, giraffe, antelope etc. These are present - many of them in abundance - but, oh the wonders you’ll be missing if you don’t also turn your attention to the birds. The minute you arrive in Jo’burg, buy a serious bird book and keep it with you.
I just love, love, love South Africa.
I have been there 2 times in the last 2 years and am looking forward to going again some time this year. (If finances allow it).
I would absolutely suggest renting a car.
Traffic is crazy, but not more crazy than in Italy for example.
Most rental cars are equipped with anti-carjacking stuff, which is probably a good idea in Joburg.
Make sure you don’t end up in downtown Joburg, as this makes South Central look like the Hamptons.
By the way : we drove from Joburg to Capetown both times I was there, and it was well worth the huge tripe (800 miles both ways).
Capetown has a very cool, laid-back atmosphere.
I haven’t been to Krugerpark (yet) as you should take at least a few days to go there.
I did spend some time at a lovely little wildlife-park right outside of Joburg.
Not only are the species of birds greatly varied, but the colors of the birds plumage vary tremendously from what I’m used to seeing at my parents bird feeders. I was particularly fascinated by the starlings- which are generally black in North America-but have dark blue and purple and green on them in southern Africa and the bee-eaters, which were small and significantly a leaf green color. Birds can be too small to photograph well, but if you keep track of which ones you see, you can show the pictures in the birdbook to people when you return.
Of course, then there are the cranes and flamingos and storks. They are big enough to see in a picture, if you get close enough.
Note, while I was in southern Africa for 3 weeks, I barely brushed the edge of Kruger Park so what I saw may not be what you are likely to see in Kruger Park.