KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - SELF DRIVE VS GUIDED SAFARI
Driving in my own vehicle or tapping into the considerable knowledge of a safari guide begs consideration for a day visit to Kruger National Park
Nabana Lodge being a mere 22 km from two gates to the Kruger National Park, this is a question often asked by our guests. Both experiences have its merits in enhancing game viewing opportunities. For some this could be a once in a lifetime experience and the question needs careful consideration.
Self-driving in Kruger National Park is totally possible, even as a first experience as the routes are clearly marked and Park personnel are available at the gates and camps to assist with any questions. It is advisable to plan the trip prior to entry as the distance to travel can be deceiving if you do not keep in mind the maximum speed limit of 50km per hour on tarred roads and 40km per hour on sand roads, as well as the time spent at sightings. Maps are available for purchase at all the gates of entry.
As South Africans we have the privilege of a Wild Card membership that gives multiple free entries into the game reserve for an annual fee. This wild card can be presented whether on a self-drive of open safari vehicle, and is an option to stay outside the park and enter multiple times during your stay.
At Nabana Lodge we also have a fair knowledge of the park and have the book by van den Berg, Kruger Self-Drive,Routes, Roads and Ratings, available at reception to assist you in planning the drive. Bear in mind that quotas apply at gates of entry for day visitors in peak periods. It is advisable to pre-book you entry to avoid the disappointment of being turned back at the gate. This can be done on-line on the SanParks website. We keep gate check-in registration forms available for you at reception to complete prior to arrival at the gate for easy and quick entry. Nabana Lodge is 23 km from Phabeni gate, 22 km from Numbi gate and 45 km from the main Paul Kruger gate, giving you a number of options for routes.
For foreign tourists and local tourist that are unfamiliar with Kruger National Park, the open vehicle safari tour is a great option, especially if the visit is a once-off experience. Guides assist with the check-in procedures at the gates and during the drive will stop at either a picnic spot or camp for meals and refreshments. Here the knowledge of the routes, behaviour of animals as well as where the dens and hide-outs are of hyena, wild dog and leopard are situated is invaluable.
Most safari operators offer similar experiences, with all guides well trained and very knowledgeable about the bush, trees, flowers, birds and animal species. There are a number of reputable operators such as Elephant Herd Safaris and Echo Africa. Drives can also be booked through Tours & Tickets. Your guide for the day will answer your questions and if unsure, will find out and get back to you.
Safari operators offer a number of game driving options. For the morning game drive game you are collected at sparrow at your accommodation and returned there again early afternoon. This gives the opportunity to take in the sunrise and early morning wonder of the bush. For afternoon game drives you are again collected from the lodge at around 13h00 and return at about 18h00. For the truly enthusiastic game viewer a full day safari is also another option. Night drives can be booked through SanParks only, where you book online and self drive to the gate of departure. This is in itself a totally different experience with the possibility of nocturnal animal sightings.
The cost of a safari game viewing experience is determined by the number of persons on the vehicle. Although more expensive, the opportunity for a private experience for 2 persons only is possible.
Apart from the normal drives, Private Kruger Safaris offers specialist photographic safari drives where the guides are wild- life photographers in their own right, understanding the importance of light and positioning of the vehicle to optimise the capture of images. Their safari vehicles are equipped with photographic arm brackets and bean bags. Photographic equipment is available for rental through them. Specialised safari trips offering a multiple night stay in the camps of the Kruger National Park is another possibility and can be tailor-made to your requirements.
You can either make your reservation with Safari operators directly, or request reception at Nabana Lodge to book for you. Please remember to book at least a week in advance to avoid disappointment.