Self Drive South Africa Safari

Ralph & Lenny wanted a self drive South Africa safari to visit the famous Kruger National Park. We arranged everything for them while they were travelling elsewhere and they e-mailed us their review afterwards...

Giraffe drinking picture

Table of Contents
Safari arrangements
Accommodation
Food
Rental cars
Wildlife
Weather
Tips, advice & rating
Activities
Typical day

How did you find out about African Safari Journals?

On the internet, through Google.

Would you recommend somebody else use ASJ for their self drive South Africa safari?

Yes, we would recommend ASJ to other people. Why? Because you know the Kruger park inside out, have a lot of know-how about the animals and the surroundings. It's very handy for people that come from overseas who aren't familiar with South Africa, safaris etc. And what's very important for common people like us, you can save a lot of money and time by following the itinerary that's been made for you.

How did you experience the Kruger Park staff?

All the staff were very friendly and professional. The rooms were cleaned every day, they did a good job. They always wanted to help you, really sincere. It was surprising for us to see that people who earn so little can be so friendly and happy!


ITINERARY NOTE: A detailed day-to-day itinerary with suggested game drives was compiled, tailor-made for Ralph & Lenny's requirements (to see as much wildlife as possible!).

Self drive South Africa trip: rental cars

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We rented our cars at Alamo (a.k.a. Aroundabout Cars). These cars were in very good condition. There was enough space for the both of us. We would recommend it to other people. Having said that, when you come across very large elephants in the Kruger National Park you wish you'd taken a bigger car : )

Lioness watching impala

How did it go with regards to getting around on your own?

Kruger park was very easy because of the itinerary and the guide map. Johannesburg was a little bit tougher because it was busier. But we had a GPS, so everything went well.

... and with regards to game drives?

We saw a lot of different animals, most of them were pretty easy to find. But with most things you need a bit of luck. We were very happy to have a self drive safari, so we could make our own time schedule.


ITINERARY NOTES: Ralph & Lenny flew into Johannesburg, then took the City Bug bus to Nelspruit where they picked up a sedan rental car for their Kruger safari. They returned to Jo'burg by bus and picked up a second rental car to get around with during their few days there.

What were your impressions of the various accommodations where you stayed during your self drive South Africa safari?

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We stayed one night at Selati 103. It was a very large bungalow with two bedrooms. Everything was very clean and well maintained. They even made us breakfast for the next morning! Very good service by the staff. We would most definitely recommend it to other people.

[Inside the Kruger National Park,] we stayed at Pretoriuskop, Satara, Olifants and Skukuza Camps. All four camps were well maintained. The people were nice. Very good dining facilities, each camp had its own chef. All camps were surrounded by fences and the chalets were well protected from bugs.

We only used the laundry facilities once, they were fine. Every camp has these facilities, I assume they're all fine.

Lion Park [Johannesburg]: a simple permanent tent. It was warm enough and it was clean. Maybe not suitable for couples with a child. But for 2 adventurers it was great! You could hear the animals walking around the tent at night, awesome!

Rhino & Lion park [Johannesburg]: We had a chalet for 2 nights. Although a little chilly at night, the chalet itself was wonderful. It had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a living room. There was no electricity, just gas. But no problems for us, maybe again not suitable for couples with a child or spoiled people!


ITINERARY NOTES: Selati 103 is located 2km outside the Kruger, at the Malelane Gate, in a residential area. They spent 9 nights in the Kruger and 4 nights in the Jo'burg area.

How was the food during your self drive South Africa trip?

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Vulture picture - click to enlarge This is a real interesting question. For dinner, the camp restaurants were excellent! The food was freshly made on a daily basis. But for breakfast and lunch the restaurant wasn't suitable. Mostly fast food. The same for the little shops. So we lived on water and bread during the day. The bread was delicious, and we weren't that hungry during the day because of the heat.

Joburg: The food at the parks was fine, but you didn't have much choice. Mostly toasted sandwiches, bacon and eggs and hamburgers with fries. So the quality was fine, variety should be better. We were always looking for a supermarket, most times we succeeded.

Food and drink tips for a self-catering safari »

How did you experience the weather?

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We were very lucky! We only had rain for one morning on a morning drive. All the other days were bright, sunny and just pleasant to be in the park in that period of the year.

In the evening it cooled down to a acceptable 5° Celsius [41° F]. During the day the temperature varied from 15 - 25°C [59 - 77° F], very nice considering it was officially winter in South Africa.

What wildlife did you see while on your self drive South Africa safari?

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SELF DRIVE SOUTH AFRICA: THE KRUGER PARK

First of all the Big Five, especially the leopard was fun to watch. Besides that the blue wildebeest, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, hyena, warthog, serval, jackal, hippo, baboon, vervet monkey, large-spotted genet, common duiker, bushbuck, klipspringer, (many) impala, waterbuck, kudu, nyala, steenbok, tsessebe, mongoose, squirrels, scrub hare, crocodile and water lizard.

Birds: southern ground hornbill, southern yellow-billed hornbill, kori bustard, Burchell's coucal, all vultures, bateleur, African fish eagle, African scops owl, grey heron, great white pelican, great egret, yellow-billed stork, helmeted guinea fowl, African spoonbill and the cape glossy starling.

What would you say was your wildlife spotting highlight(s) in the Kruger?

The leopard was really great! We also saw some lions eating a zebra and vultures eating from a giraffe carcass.

All the different kind of cubs were great to see!

Were you satisfied with the amount of wildlife you saw on your self drive South Africa safari?

We saw more than we bargained for! On the first full day in the camp we saw 15 white rhino's, can't complain much after that do you?

Do you think you would have seen more animals with a ranger/guide?

Definitely not!!

It's just luck you need and a great itinerary! In each camp they have a map on which people can indicate where they've spotted animals. Sometimes you still find the animals at the spotted place.

Elephants in Kruger Park - click to enlarge Lion at kill - click to enlarge Hyenas at den - click to enlarge Grazing hippo - click to enlarge


SELF DRIVE SOUTH AFRICA: THE LION PARK (Johannesburg)

The convenient thing about the petting farms is that you don't have to search for the animals. When you drive around in the park, there are always some animals to see. The lions are in a separate area, where you can also drive with your car.

Especially the white lions are very extraordinary.

Petting the small lions was a lot of fun! They just could have told us that the little ones would target us when they don't have a toy to chew on!

The guides also gave us very interesting information about the animals. We stayed for one night, but that wouldn't have been necessary. The park is too small for that.


SELF DRIVE SOUTH AFRICA: THE RHINO & LION PARK (Johannesburg)

It was a bit the same as the Lion Park, but larger. We had no trouble spending a whole day here. Two nights was a bit too long, but we could take our time now.

The Rhino and Lion park also had more cubs than the Lion park and more animal species. Especially the baby rhino and baby hippo were very cute : )

Please describe a typical day during your self drive South Africa safari.

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Our alarm clock went off at 5:30 in the morning. At 6 o'clock we were at the gate. Then we started to drive till 9 or 10 o'clock.

Buffalo herd at water - click to enlarge Took a shower, ate breakfast and then to the car again. We drove around till the gates closed.

After that we ate something at the buffet. In our cabin we wrote our diary and went to bed at 8 o'clock.

So we did a lot of driving! We didn't want to miss anything!

Tips for game viewing on a self drive South Africa safari »

Self drive South Africa: other activities

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IN THE KRUGER

We had about 2 morning drives, 2 night drives and 1 morning walk. We were somehow surprised by the great knowledge the guides had. Especially the guide in Satara was excellent, he really knew everything.

The activities weren't expensive, they were 3 hours long and we saw a lot of wildlife! Great value for money.

JOHANNESBURG

We went to the Crocodile Farm. This is a 5 minute drive from the Lion Park. This was very interesting, we had a tour with full explanation. Very interesting animals!

We also bought two cans of croc cream. This is very good for the skin, helps for every skin condition.

Was there anything that didn't meet your expectations around your self drive South Africa safari?

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No disappointments or regrets! The only regret was that we didn't stay longer!

Can you offer any tips and advice to others planning a self drive South Africa safari?

The only thing that comes to mind is the fact that you really need a GPS to drive around Johannesburg and Kruger. Especially when it's dark. For example, the parks around Johannesburg were NOT indicated by road signs. We were very lucky to have the GPS to guide us to them. The maps they give you at the car rental aren't detailed enough, for about 60 Rand a day you can rent a GPS.

When evening falls, most people return to their home after work by foot. This can be hazardous when you are not used to that. These people use the entire road, so you'll have to watch out. Also the roads could use more lanterns, it was too dark at some stages.

What was the most useful item in your luggage?

There were 2 things we found most useful:

  • First of all you need a good camera (how ironic isn't it?). We had some troubles with ours, but it is a great camera. Wouldn't miss it in the world.
  • Secondly you need good safari binoculars. Sometimes animals are far away, the best way to observe them is with good binoculars. Especially when you are at a water hole, it's a joy to watch the animals drink through the binoculars.


How would you rate your total self drive South Africa safari, out of 10?

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Nothing can be perfect I always say, but this comes very very close! My girlfriend and I give it a 10 minus, just because we didn't see the black rhino (what are we complaining about : )

This was the trip of our lifetime, this can't be taken away from us!

We are planning to make another safari in 2 or 3 years, we just love the animals and the kindness of the people! But the destination will be Kenya or Namibia, people say it's beautiful out there.


Safari Location: South Africa: Kruger National Park
Safari Company Used: African Safari Journals: self-drive
Duration: Two weeks: 28 May - 11 June
Traveller Details: Ralph Scaf and Lenny Vermeeren, The Netherlands
Rates & Availability: Plan your own safari. Make a self drive South Africa enquiry

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