Pssst … Kruger Secrets!
We’ve made dozens of guided Kruger game drives, and more than a thousand unguided self-drives in all parts of Kruger.
This is our advice based on that experience, and on the questions we're most often asked by guests.
Should We Stay Inside Kruger or Outside?
Outside. The accommodation inside Kruger is basic-to-shabby, and that’s being generous. In Marloth Park, a 3000 hectare bush reserve adjoining Kruger, the quality of accommodation and the value for money are much better. Plus Marloth Park offers lots of relaxed wildlife visiting you right at your house day and night, while in Kruger at night you’re stuck inside a fenced compound. There’s simply no comparison.
Is it Safari or Game Drive?
Same thing. Locals say “game drive”, while international visitors tend to say “safari”. So you can call it whichever you like, without fear of contradiction. But if you want to sound like a local, make it a game drive.
How Many Days?
The minimum experience of Kruger should be two days. So in accommodation terms, that’s three nights. But more is better for two reasons. First, you can see more of Kruger: different wildlife species, and different topography and environments. Second, an extra day quadruples your chances of having the wildlife encounters you most wish for! (See below)
Will We See The Big Five?
In our south-eastern corner of Kruger, the chance of seeing the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) is better than in any other region. We have more species, in greater numbers than anywhere else in Kruger.
But nothing is guaranteed. Our own experience says that about one guided game drive in every five (i.e. 20%) is likely to be a bit disappointing for close contact with the most iconic African species.
What about two game drives then? Any gambler will be ahead of me already … the chance of two consecutive disappointing days is therefore 20% x 20% which equals just 4%. So two mildly disappointing days in a row occur just once in every 25 times. And three days in a row? Hardly worth calculating, though I did and it’s once in every 125 times. That’s why adding just a day or two to your Kruger visit makes such a big difference to your success rate.
Guided or Self-Drive?
Ideally both. But take a guided game drive first because just watching an expert operating a vehicle in close contact with wild animals will make you vastly better prepared for both success and safety when you’re doing it yourself the next day.
You’ll see more on a guided game drive because the guide is very experienced (bordering on supernatural) at spotting wildlife and predicting wildlife movements in any situation. And in the case of the professional guides based in Marloth Park, there’s a discreet information sharing system going on between the guides the whole time. So you effectively have six or more pairs of experienced eyes spotting for you simultaneously and over a wider area.
What Kind of Vehicle?
The guided open safari vehicles carry up to nine passengers, though around six is more normal. They have three rows of three seats.
For self-drive adventuring, any normal vehicle is fine for both Marloth Park and Kruger. You don’t need 4x4. If you’re renting a car, a good choice is a 2WD SUV-style vehicle, simply for the extra space and slightly higher viewing position. But a regular sedan or hatchback is also OK, and won’t look at all out of place in Kruger. Don’t rent a Ferrari; they’re just too low to the ground and also the elephants will laugh at you, which is embarrassing.
What To Bring?
Binoculars, camera, snacks & drinks (non-alcoholic). There are quite a few Rest Camps in Kruger, with shops, cafes or restaurants, take-away food, and clean toilets. These Rest Camps are an hour or so apart. Get a Kruger map book at any of the Rest Camp shops, because they have excellent recognition guides for Kruger wildlife including mammals, birds and reptiles.
What to Wear?
Whatever you feel comfortable in. Loose casual. Add a hat. Avoid strident colours. Take a light jacket; the early mornings can be chilly. You don't need to look like a 19th century African Explorer. In fact, you'll look a lot more convincing if you don't.