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Old 19th February 2019
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DIY Kruger safari - admin

If youíre accustomed to turning left on boarding the aircraft and staying in five star hotels, please turn to the next thread. If youíve always fancied going on safari but are concerned about the cost, then this thread may be of interest. Regular forum members will know that The Wife and I are Kruger junkies. Weíve just paid our sixth visit in fourteen years and are already planning the seventh.

We organise our visits on a DIY basis (which is what South Africans do) and this time Iíve kept a record of the major costs, which may be of interest. In all cases the costs are for two people. Where payment was in ZAR I have used the rate prevailing on my credit card at the time and included the foreign charge made by the card company.

Iíve split this post into sections. This one deals with the admin. Thereíll be another with thoughts on equipment and then a further two or three with the pic of the day. Watch this space ....

Flight. Cost not included as there are so many ways of getting to Joburg. We fly BA (as in Branson Airways aka Virgin).

Car. We hire a RAV4 (2WD version) from Avis at the airport on an unlimited mileage basis, with two drivers and full insurance. By paying at the time of booking we get a discount. You donít need a 4WD, but an SUV is useful because of its extra height of eye and slightly greater ground clearance. For three or more itís worth considering a minibus because back seat passengers in a car donít get much of a view. Cost £505 for eleven days. Fuel in ZA is about 78p/litre and we used 207 litres.

Road journey
. The road from O R Tambo airport to the Kruger is a high quality one with much dual carriageway and not much traffic. Depending on the route you take there will be tolls in Joburg (collected automatically) and two or three tolls on the N4 which must be paid in cash as only ZA cards are accepted. Cost under ZAR250 each way. There are several service areas on the N4. As you descend from the high veldt to the low veldt the road splits and you can take either limb. Satnav is useful, especially for finding your way in and out of the airport Ė follow Boksberg if it hasnít found the satellites on leaving. We have added ZA maps to our usual Garmin.

Cash Youíll need some cash for tips etc. International credit and debit cards are accepted at all shops and restaurants in the park but, apparently the only cash machine that accepts them is in Skukuza.

Internet The only places in the park with WiFi are the Cattle Baron restaurant in Skukuza and the Wimpey in Pretoriuskop. An MTN SIM and 3Gb of data for my usual dongle bought at the airport cost £20. It worked in all the camps except Satara where the signal and usability were very poor.

Conservation fee.
Visitors must pay a conservation fee (a tax in disguise) for each day in the park. The rate for overseas visitors, £20.50 per person per day, is much greater than for residents. The alternative is a Wild Card, costing the two of us £201, which covers entry for 12 months. The break even point is a visit of five days. You also get a nice magazine with Wild Card membership.

Pre safari accommodation. On every one of our visits to the Kruger we have spent the first night of our holiday at the Rissington Inn outside Hazeyview. Itís run by an Englishman and is a marvellous place to unwind after the overnight flight and a car journey of about 5 hours. Itís 15 minutes from the Phabeni Gate. Cost £118 for B, B and EM. http://rissington.co.za/



Park accommodation. Book this in advance on the SANParks website https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/default.php The commonest unit is a bungalow (rondeval) sleeping two or three. They are fully kitted out for self catering Ė just bring food which you can buy at the camp shop. There are larger units and at the cheaper end there are some which use communal facilities. Cost for ten nights £712. These photos prove that Iím neither an estate agent nor an estate agentís photographer.








If you donít fancy a bungalow there is camping or more rustic facilities.



I hesitate to mention it, but the yellow Labrador has not been to the Kruger so if you like the paper it advertises take your own!


Catering.
Because weíre too idle to self-cater we stay in one of the ten rest camps that has a restaurant. They serve a range of food. You can have meat



or fish



And they cater for veggies too



Game drives.
Thatís why youíre there and have a car. Morning and evening are reckoned to be the best times but itís surprising what you see in the middle of the day. If itís very hot you may wish to lounge in the camp pool during the heat of the day.



Bush walks, night drives and other forms of transport are available.




The energetic could try arm wrestling.



Youíre limited to 50kph on tarmac and 40kph on dirt. Getting out of the car is not allowed except at picnic sites, hides and a few other clearly designated places. There is no shortage of hungry animals!

What will you see? There are 2,400km of roads in the park of which 800km are tarmac and the rest dirt. If the average visibility is 100 yards, it is said you will see 2% of the park if you drive them all (which will take several weeks at a game viewing average speed of about 25kph). The leopard crosses the road in about thirty seconds and if you happen to be on the road during those seconds you will be thrilled. If youíre not you may wonder if there are any in the park at all. In our six trips we have got two decent photos of a leopard but have more than half a dozen decent records of encounters with the much rarer cheetah. It depends on luck and even the most skilled safari operator is no better placed than you are when it comes to being in the right place at the right time. Animals are constantly on the move.

Daily routine. Gate opening times vary according to the time of year. We aim to leave camp about half an hour after the gate opens, having had a cup of coffee and a biscuit. We then drive for 2-3 hours before stopping in a camp, or one of the three picnic sites with a cafť, for breakfast. Suitably fortified we then head towards a picnic site for lunch (sandwiches or rolls bought in the camp shop). The sites are well kitted out with loos, tables and washing facilities. You can hire a gas braai, and some have boiling water available for tea or coffee. A further drive takes us back to camp before the light fades. It would not be unusual to cover >150km in a day.

Picnic site at Mooiplas

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Old 19th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

A first class thread, David, full of information and useful advice. Excellent pictures, too.
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

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Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
A first class thread, David, full of information and useful advice. Excellent pictures, too.
Absolutely

I fancy something like this ... as soon as I can stop this habit of working for a living we're off and the advice like this is very useful ... not sure about a Rav4 mind... it would have to be a Land Rover even if it was more likely to break down it would look better in the pictures and mean I wasn't drummed out of the club back home

Regards
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Old 19th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

With an LR you'd stand out like the proverbial - hardly anyone uses one in the park!
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Old 19th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

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Originally Posted by Melaka View Post
With an LR you'd stand out like the proverbial - hardly anyone uses one in the park!
Yes, but you're not going to get Lara Croft in a Rav4 are you

What do you recon is the best time to visit if you are only going to be able to do it once ?

Regards
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Old 20th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

I don't think The Wife would approve of Lara being in the car with us!

Our visits have been in September, November and February/March. September is always dry because it's the end of winter but in 2016 there had been a drought too. The effect was that there was hardly any vegetation and you could see a long way and some animals were close to starving. If you do a forum search on Kruger or safari you'll find the pix I posted then.

Avoid mid December to early January because that is the peak ZA holiday season. This will tell you why https://www.sanparks.org/about/news/...t.php?id=57710 There are other useful posts on that forum.

Animals start to produce young in November/December and there are still quite a few around in February, as my soon-to-come posts will show. If you want to see certain migratory bird species such as swallows, rollers and storks then early in the year is good before they return to Europe. There are no mass migrations in the way you get in Serengeti or the Mara.

In short, apart from avoiding the crowds, any time will do.
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Old 20th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

Thanks for this.


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Old 20th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

Good info.
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Old 20th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

My wife and I and two friends let someone else organise it (Titan Holidays) when we did four areas last July (Entabeni, Limpopo, Karongwe, and Kruger).
Probably more expensive, but less hassle. It was a brilliant two weeks.
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Old 20th February 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

There's not much hassle in the Kruger because what we do is what the South Africans do. Book flight, book car, book accommodation, rock up at camp restaurant.
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Old 5th March 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

In the original post I quoted some of the costs we incurred. I now have the final tally. In addition to the costs initially listed we spent £926.18. This included the 207 litres of petrol already mentioned, all meals and drinks in restaurants, sandwiches etc for picnic, WiFi and miscellaneous purchases at the camp shops. Excluding air fares the total for two for ten days in the park and one before entering was £2,462. I had a few rand in cash left over from a previous visit which was used for tips.
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Old 13th March 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

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Originally Posted by shenstone View Post
Absolutely

I fancy something like this ... as soon as I can stop this habit of working for a living we're off and the advice like this is very useful ... not sure about a Rav4 mind... it would have to be a Land Rover even if it was more likely to break down it would look better in the pictures and mean I wasn't drummed out of the club back home

Regards
Andy
With apologies to David, if you fancy a safari in Kenya in a Land Rover, you would be most welcome to join us. Land Rovers are a common sight in the parks and are freely available for hire. Most of the driving is off road on dirt or gravel roads. My sister-in-law has 2, a third one belongs to an American lecturer/friend at MIT and she only uses it for her visits to Nairobi. Sis in Law's husband has a Ranger Rover V8 for his work and for safari. Just a thought.
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Old 13th March 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

No apology needed! Of my five safaris in Kenya four were self drive in an LR - you need one for the roads there! The important thing is to go; you won't regret it.
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

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No apology needed! Of my five safaris in Kenya four were self drive in an LR - you need one for the roads there! The important thing is to go; you won't regret it.
Thank you David and your thread is great advice for anyone contemplating a safari in the Kruger. There is a lot of information and up to date details with the costs involved, thanks for taking the time in writing it up. I enjoyed looking at your photos immensely and reading about your adventure. Last week I went to a lecture here about a 5 day safari to visit the Gorillas at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 3 days if one does not want to walk up to the edge of the active volcano. The park has just reopened and it is heavily fortified with soldiers to protect the tourists from kidnapping. The lecturer suggested we visit and help support the economy of the DRC.

A photo of a rented LR on safari with the family having sundowners in the Maasai Mara.

Sun downers with the family in the Maasai Mara by philip Gate Keeper, on Flickr
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Old 13th March 2019
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Re: DIY Kruger safari - admin

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Originally Posted by Gate Keeper View Post

A photo of a rented LR on safari with the family having sundowners in the Maasai Mara.

Sun downers with the family in the Maasai Mara by philip Gate Keeper, on Flickr
Ah.. Limestone... the best colour - strangely the same as mine
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FL20, FL36 x2 , FL50, cactus slaves etc.
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