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4 parks in 9 weeks, self-driving


wildcatzoo
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This was a seventh trip to South Africa for me, I love this country. Four years since the last trip, we wanted to repeat going to both Kgalagadi and Kruger parks. The dates were set by a project at work ending September 15, so we were on a plane the 17th, coming home the weekend before Thanksgiving. Yes, that makes the trip 9 weeks long! I went a little nuts on the planning this time. For the first time in 7 trips we spent a few days in Cape Town at first, followed by 22 days in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and then 5 weeks in Kruger. Originally I booked 5 of the wilderness trails in Kruger but we cut that back to 4, making the itinerary:

17-Sep 8:55 PM LAX-London

18-Sep 4 hours in London, fly to Joburg

19-Sep Joburg-Cape Town, 12:30 arrive, drive to Muizenberg

20-Sep The Muize. West Coast national park

21-Sep Penguins, cape, Road Lodge at the airport

22-Sep Early flight to Upington, get vehicle, shop, Twee Rivieren camping

23-Sep Mata mata camping

24-25 Sep        Rooiputs 4

26-Sep Kalahari Tented Camp

27-Sep URIKARUUS

28-Sep Rooiputs 4

29-Sep Nossob camping

30-Sep Mpayathutlwa 1

1-3 Oct            lesholoago 1

4-Oct   Nossob fancy camping

5-Oct   Gharagab

6-Oct   Grootkolk

7-Oct   Polentswa 3

8-Oct   bitterpan

9-10 Oct          Kielekranke

11-Oct Rooiputs 3

12-Oct Urikaruus HM

13-Oct Twee Rivieren chalet

14-Oct fly, JNB City Lodge

15-16-Oct        Punda maria

17-Oct Shingwedzi

18-20 Oct        Nyalaland walking trail

21-22-Oct        shimuwini

23-Oct shipandani hide

24-Oct Olifants

25-27 Oct        Olifants walking trail

28-Oct Tamboti

29-30 Oct        Gomo gomo

31-Oct satara

1-3-Nov          Sweni trail

4-7 Nov           talamati

8-10 Nov         Mathikithi trail

11-Nov            lower sabie

12-13 Nov       skukuza

14-Nov            berg en dal

15-17 Nov       biyamiti

18-Nov            late flight to London

19-Nov            London-LAX

 

For details please see:

Page 1 - Cape Town, Kgalagadi part 1
Page 2 - Kgalagadi part 2
Page 3 - Kruger part 1
Page 4 - Kruger part 2

 

And videos:

 

 

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Edited by wildcatzoo
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 9 weeks ... epic! Kgalagadi last September/October was filled with big cats sightings; I am surprised by the number of snakes you were able to see. Now to Kruger part.

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What a tremendous trip. I am jealous! Lovely images .

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so just a short trip with nothing much to see then @wildcatzoo  

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Just spent a very enjoyable lunch hour reading the KTP part of your report-what wonderful cat and snake  sightings- looking forward to the Kruger parts now! Thanks very much @wildcatzoo

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now read the Kruger part and your sightings just kept coming! Can you kindly talk a bit more about the Kruger wilderness trails-you obviously enjoy them-what is the accommodation like? are there long drop loos , shared facilities, do you think veggies would be ok?-it seems like a great way to break up the driving and do something a bit different 9 we really enjoy walking when we are on safari) Was impressed by how easy you made it sound to get from KTP to the Kruger! Thanks very much @wildcatzoo now with the rest of my lunch break, its back to the San park site!!!

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The Kruger part of your trip was equally impressive with sightings. If you would have 2 weeks only, which part of the Kruger park would you chose: north or south?

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2 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

now read the Kruger part and your sightings just kept coming! Can you kindly talk a bit more about the Kruger wilderness trails-you obviously enjoy them-what is the accommodation like? are there long drop loos , shared facilities, do you think veggies would be ok?-it seems like a great way to break up the driving and do something a bit different 9 we really enjoy walking when we are on safari) Was impressed by how easy you made it sound to get from KTP to the Kruger! Thanks very much @wildcatzoo now with the rest of my lunch break, its back to the San park site!!!

 

The wilderness camps are all different. The food was similar each time (and very tasty), beef stew one night, chicken the next, steaks & lamb chops the last night. All with a salad, pap or rice, and a pot of cooked vegetables. Tinned fruit and ultramel for dessert. Lunch on the trail was cheese, crackers, sausage, fruit. Breakfast was sausages or bacon, eggs, toast or pap. I think if you are vegetarian you need to tell them in advance.

 

Nyalaland- we were in a temporary camp, I think it's back to the permanent one now. The guides preferred our temporary camp. Safari tents of a decent size, each one with its own donkey shower out back. The zippers on the tents didn't work at all, good thing no bug or monkey issues. We were told not to keep food in the tents. Two long drop toilets shared by all, plus each tent with a chemical toilet for late night use. Camp not fenced. Lapa had a propane fridge for hiker use and we could get more ice as needed from the cook. Two chairs on your tent porch but we spent siesta time at the lapa, lots of chairs, choice of shady areas, birds to watch.

 

Olifants - small huts with two beds and a dresser for each person. Windows, but the overgrown vegetation did not allow a breeze so very hot inside usually. 4 shared flush toilets, 2 with hot water showers. Propane chest freezer for hikers, kept things much colder than the fridge at Nyalaland without actually freezing anything. Again nice lapa with river view and a birdbath that attracted lots of colorful birds.

 

Sweni - very small huts, just a bed and small table inside for each person. Porch area in back but hard to get to as you hang things on the door. They got more breeze than the huts at Olifants but still hot inside during the day. Ablution building with 2 flush toilets and 2 showers. Propane chest freezer for hikers. Great lapa and firepit looking over a waterhole and plains, lots of game, plus a birdbath.

 

Mathikithi - supposedly a temporary location but built very sturdily. Large safari tents on wooden platforms with a nice big porch facing the dry riverbed. Very comfortable beds and a dresser and even solar powered lights inside. 3 flush toilets, 2 showers. This is the only place I spent siesta time on our porch rather than the lapa. Propane chest freezer for hikers.

 

Next time I want to do the Napi trail. And we will do Sweni again for sure, can't beat the sightings.

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1 hour ago, xelas said:

The Kruger part of your trip was equally impressive with sightings. If you would have 2 weeks only, which part of the Kruger park would you chose: north or south?

 

That's hard! I liked Punda Maria, but not the drive to get there. I love Biyamiti, but not the OSVs of the south. So I'd pick middle of the park, staying at Tamboti or Talamati or Satara, if I could only go one location. But in 2 weeks I would do both middle and south.

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That is good as we have been to the north in October 2016. 10 nights staying at Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Shimuwini and Olifants. We liked the Bush Camps more then Main Camps. We could have 4 more nights in April/May. Your suggested itinerary would be ? We like them all but birds more then elephants.

Edited by xelas
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2 hours ago, xelas said:

That is good as we have been to the north in October 2016. 10 nights staying at Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Shimuwini and Olifants. We liked the Bush Camps more then Main Camps. We could have 4 more nights in April/May. Your suggested itinerary would be ? We like them all but birds more then elephants.

 

I've never been at that time of year. I would read trip reports on the sanparks forums from those months to see what appeals to you. In October, for birds Punda Maria definitely had the most variety - or at least different than everywhere else. Shimuwini also was good for birds with the long lawn in front of the chalets. Elephants were everywhere last year, huge herds of them. If you're really into birds you might actually want a few nights at Skukuza so you can do Lake Panic early morning and late evening. We always do a night or two at Skukuza just for the sightings in the area. It's a huge camp but quiet at night.

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thanks @wildcatzoo for your very helpful reply.Jane ( my wife) is busy preparing yet another itinerary for a trip next year we cannot afford! that will be the third so far

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Thank you for your amazing trip report, I really enjoyed it. Maybe even more because I am planning a trip to Kgalagadi and Kruger for 6 weeks in december 2018 :) I just hope we will have half the sighting you had. Especially Kgalagadi is just amazing. And your way of switching a lot have inspired me. Normally we stay 3-5 nights and then move on, so it was nice seeing it done in another way.

Edited by JayRon
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On 2/26/2018 at 1:15 PM, JayRon said:

 And your way of switching a lot have inspired me. Normally we stay 3-5 nights and then move on, so it was nice seeing it done in another way.

In Kgalagadi we didn't have a choice, had to take what we could get for Urikaruus and Grootkolk especially. It was a pain with booking Botswana camps separately as well and then adjusting Sanparks bookings after we got what we got there. We are actually returning to Kgalagadi this December, largely because I got 6 nights in a row at Urikaruus! Maybe we will overlap, we are in KTP Dec 3-18

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  • 1 month later...
On 28/2/2018 at 4:32 PM, wildcatzoo said:

In Kgalagadi we didn't have a choice, had to take what we could get for Urikaruus and Grootkolk especially. It was a pain with booking Botswana camps separately as well and then adjusting Sanparks bookings after we got what we got there. We are actually returning to Kgalagadi this December, largely because I got 6 nights in a row at Urikaruus! Maybe we will overlap, we are in KTP Dec 3-18

I have the exact problem, I am trying very hard to get spots at Rooiputs and Polentswa as most of the wilderness camps are of limits.  We can only stay in Kalahari Tented Camp( we are 4), and I booked that from 31.dec-4 jan so we will just miss each other. We plan to do around 17-18 nights in total in KTP and I can´t wait :) 

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  • 7 months later...

Just caught up with your report as I start gleaning any scrap of  information I can to help plan my September / October 2019 trip to Kruger. I must admit I jumped in rather quickly when I realised that accommodation was disappearing rapidly even 12 months ahead, well at least for the places I wanted to stay in.My other half Claire has generously agreed to a whole 25 nights in KNP and as she's not an avid wildlife photographer like I am I called it quits at a 28 night trip, 30 including flights, to stay within my travel insurance limits. ( Didn't bother enquiring how much it was to extend it)

I was very interested to read your account of the wilderness trails. My initial intention was to book one but in the rush to grab camps I didn't have time to think about factoring that in. Maybe next time. From what I read of your accounts I'm not bitterly disappointed but it's an experience worth trying I'm sure.

I think I have already got the message loud and clear that the southern end of the park whilst best for predators is also a bit of a circus when it comes to viewing so I'm pleased that I have booked to travel from south to north spending only 5 nights in the southern half with 3 at Crocodile Bridge and 2 at Lower Sabie.( I also saw the remark about the Bush view tent there, that's what we have booked as it was all that was available)

Anyway, forewarned is prepared so hopefully now rude shocks! If I see what you saw during the trip I will be more than happy.

Thanks for sharing. Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just re-read the TR again @wildcatzoo

Your SWENI Trail walk bought back wonderful memories - The amount of predators you saw on your Kruger trip is amazing.

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