If an awe-inspiring, gold tinged, orange and blood red sunset over the plains of the Lowveld is a sight you deeply cherish, then a trip to the Kruger National Park should be placed at the top of your priority list. Although the Park offers day-trips, it is always advisable to book into an overnight camp (for as long as your constraints would allow) if you’d like to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the bushveld landscape.
There is nothing like hearing the calls of the wild at night, and enjoying an appreciated glass of rich red wine by the light of a myriad of stars and other unabashed celestial bodies. Unless you are fortunate enough to be checking out property for sale in the areas surrounding the park, you’ll have to find guest accommodation when visiting the Kruger. The Park itself contains 4 species of rest camp, and these include: main camps, private camps, bushveld camps, and camps where only tent camping is allowed. The three former camps (with the exception of the Olifants, Orpen and Mopani camps) all offer thatched permanent structures as well as temporary campsites. The ratio of campsites to thatched enclosures is more or less consistent and equal throughout the various overnight sites. Before heading off on your adventure, however, get a price comparison of your various options so that you can budget accordingly.
The main camps have all the trappings and amenities of modern day living, and as such, are equipped with restaurants serving meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, shops at which groceries, reading materials, alcoholic beverages and souvenirs can be bought, petrol stations for vehicle re-fuelling, and, for the sake of convenience, Laundromats. The only exceptions to this list are the Crocodile Bridge and Orpen camps which are without restaurants because they are very much smaller and are situated at Park gates.
The campsites usually have facilities for day-visitors, and some are further equipped with swimming pools and luxury private houses that mainly belong to corporate sponsors, but can be booked via the proper channels.
With an eye to widening the variety of selections available to patrons, the Park has recently included Bushveld camps into its storehouse of camp amenities. The Bushveld camps are designed to marry exclusivity with affordability: the camps are notably reduced in size when compared to other sites, and only contain between 32 and 50 beds. The tranquil mood that is meant to pervade each of the Bushveld campsites is aided by the fact that roads leading to the sites are for the exclusive use of camp patrons. Bushveld camps are without shops and restaurants, which should be borne in mind if you’re planning to make use of this facility. In terms of accommodation cost, the Bushveld camps are slightly more expensive than main camps, but the reservation procedure remains unchanged. The 5 Bushveld camps in the Kruger are as follows: Shimuweni, Biyamiti, Bateleur, Talamati, and Sirheni.
The advantage of a private camp is self-evident: the camp, in its entirety, can only be reserved a single entity on behalf of a specified group. Camps are thus small, intimate and only occupied by your exclusive group; in addition, there are no facilities for day visitors. Private camps sleep between 12 and nineteen guests in cottages, huts and houses. The cost of accommodation is independent of the exact number of guests (whether the camp is only half full etc.) and is instead a flat rate based on the individual site. The 3 Private camps include: Roodewal, Malelane and Boulders.
Camping only Sites
Camping only sites are reserved for the exclusive use of Park patrons who would like to make use of their own tents or caravans. The sites contain levelled individual sites that can host up to six persons. Whereas a small portion of the sites are grass, most are bare earth and virtually all have at least some degree of shade. The ablution, kitchen and dish washing facilities are communal but kept immaculately clean and are in pristine condition. The majority of Main Camps, as stated, offer both standard accommodation as well as camping only sites.
New features of the Park are the elite luxury lodges run and owned by private companies. Some of the new additions, like Nwanetsi, are built in locations that were previously Private camps.