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Safari Tour Company to Kruger

I am looking for a tour company to take me from Johannesburg to Kruger for 3 nights. Any recommendations?
12 years ago, January 2nd 2011 No: 1 Msg: #125689  
I will be arriving in Johannesburg in February 2011. I would like to join a group to spend at least 2 full days/3 nights at Kruger.
Ideally, I would prefer lodging vs. camping. The amount of companies online is overwhelming, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you 😊 Reply to this

12 years ago, January 2nd 2011 No: 2 Msg: #125694  
Choosing a safari operator is overwhelming. I have not been to South Africa but there are some things I noticed about choosing a safari operator in Kenya which might be comparable. First, booking directly with the accommodation provider is better in many ways then trying to find a tour company (especially for such a short time). They can also include transfers as part of their package. If a provider has a couple of lodges, then a package with them can include stays and transfer in both places.

As for choosing accommodation, I normally head to TripAdvisor and check out the different options then - starting with the highest ranked and moving down the list. Many of the better places have their own website, so you can book directly with them.

Don't write off the idea of a tented safari, these are not tents as you would normally expect - I stayed in a couple in Kenya and the tents are huge - as big as an upmarket hotel room. They come with such luxuries as their own bathroom, wardrobes, and writing table. I should say I've also done the lodge experience, and they each have benefits, so it's not that I'm against the lodge idea, just wanted to give you some options ;-)

Reply to this

12 years ago, January 2nd 2011 No: 3 Msg: #125732  
N Posts: 4
It's a reasonably short drive from Johannesburg to Kruger. If you are comfortable renting and driving a vehicle in South Africa this can be a good option as it allows you to experience some of the country while travelling. The down side of driving is the fact that you have a relatively short period of time and ten hours of driving time round trip is going to eat into ti. You can fly from Johannesburg into Kruger for a reasonable cost

We have used several camps in Kruger over the years. It's important to remember that Kruger is an absolutely huge park with several different camps scattered througout it. Some are more remote and thus offer a little more seclusion and and opportunity to escape the crowds.

With the time frame you have available I would take a look at flying and at staying at the Skukuza Camp.
This is the main lodge of Kruger and they have several activities readily available. I believe this will allow you to experience the most in a short period of time. Reply to this

12 years ago, January 2nd 2011 No: 4 Msg: #125733  
Travel Camel - I definitely use Trip Advisor a bunch. I took your advice and emailed a few of the hotels to see what they have available in terms of packages/partners for transfers and safaris.

Tim - Unfortunately, I am a female solo traveler so renting a car is out of the question for me as I definitely don't feel comfortable driving around on my own. I am going to check out Skukuza as well as flights.

Thanks again! Reply to this

12 years ago, January 2nd 2011 No: 5 Msg: #125734  
N Posts: 4
I think that's a wise decision Reply to this

12 years ago, January 8th 2011 No: 6 Msg: #126204  
Traveling Oyster- Did you manage to find a way to get to Kruger? I'm arriving in J'burg with my sisters the first week of March and am trying to get info since I don't want to put ourselves in any bad situations.

We're considering renting a car since there is going to be 5 of us but I don't know too much about the road conditions. Any advice in your research?

Thanks. Reply to this

12 years ago, January 8th 2011 No: 7 Msg: #126210  
Hi there. The road from Joburg to Kruger (via Malelane Gate where you enter the Kruger in the south) is fairly straightforward and will take you about 5-6 hours by road. The gate where you enter also depends on which camp/s you are booked into. I suggested that you book into Berg-en-Dal camp if you haven't booked already. I have travelled that road many times with my kids and can recommend a few rest stops along the way such a 'Milly's Star Stop' and the larger garages (not the small ones) as they have lots of amenities such as clean fast food places, decent toilets, a shop and great coffee. (Don't stop at the small, grottier looking garages as the amenities are not as clean or looked after.)
It's an idea to also look into a guided Kruger safari that also includes transport from Joburg - if it's your first time in Kruger it's a good idea to investigate being guided by someone who knows the Kruger and can offer an interesting and insightful experience. Reply to this

12 years ago, January 8th 2011 No: 8 Msg: #126232  
Hello. After some research, I did find 3 companies that would do a tour from Johannesburg to Kruger that included accommodations, meals and safaris. I never realized how large Kruger actually is. One of the tours only used air conditioned vehicles (not going to happen). Another was basic camping (I am not made for that). The last... well, I changed my mind.

After emailing many lodges directly to see what they can offer, I found out that they don't offer transportation from Johannesburg. Some offered transportation from the airports, but the cost for a transfer was the same as the flights as they may be located miles away!

I talked to a friend's friend who is a ranger at Kruger and they couldn't strongly suggest enough that I just stay at a private game reserve. It is definitely out of my budget; however this may be a once in a lifetime thing! I decided to fly to Hoedspruit (East gate I believe). I am staying at Kapama. http://www.kapama.co.za/. The ranger recommended this reserve and/or Makalali (Garonga) for more 'budget' reserves. Initially, the following camps were recommended but totally too expensive: Sabi Sabi, Savanna and Nottens bush camp (but look super dreamy).

Anyhow, both Kapama and Garonga include all meals, early morning and early evening drives (the suggested way to do it when it is super hot outside... so you can sleep or relax by the pool during the day). Kapama offers free transfers from the airport and was a little less expensive and a little bigger than Garonga (was nervous I would be surrounded by people on their honeymoon).

As a reminder, I am a solo female traveler. Another friend did the drive with a female friend - she definitely didn't recommend it (then again we are slightly spoiled girls from New York)! If there are 5 of you - I would think the drive would be safe and you can have more of an option where to stay as I found some lodges do not serve dinner and you need a car to get food in the evening...

When looking at the prices, some private reserves may have a $500/night price tag but will include everything, even down to wine and laundry. The ones with the $100/night price tag may not include meals or drives in the park. The drives may be a'la carte and the costs can add up quickly.

It all comes down to budget, comfort level, etc...
Travelblog.org has people who do super budget travel and people who don't mind spending $1,000's on trips - so keep in mind what you and your friends are most comfortable with as your overall experience is the most important thing!

BTW - I chose to fly as I only have 3 days, so I wanted to make the most of it. If you don't mind the drive and have a few days you might as well do the drive as it is supposed to be very scenic. I remember many of the lodges having bungalows and such... so if there are 5 of you, you can get a catered bungalow or a self catering bungalow. Again - I don't know your budget, so this may or may not work for you...

Hope this helps! Oh and I live by Trip Advisor... so in all doubt, check out reviews of places as 99% of the time, I am happy with my choices. Reply to this

12 years ago, January 9th 2011 No: 9 Msg: #126249  
Thanks for posting this information, even if people aren't travelling to Kruger, it helps in understanding the process to follow when facing an overwhelming number of choices. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 13th 2012 No: 10 Msg: #158785  
B Posts: 7

In response to: Msg #126232
My friend and I are planning a trip to SA. We are going to be doing cage shark diving but we have a few days extra to do some safari. We were recommended to do Kapama. I think we are in the similar situation as you are. We have 3 days 4 nights to do safari. We can depart from Capetown or Mossel Bay.

My question is, how was your stay at Kapama. I know it is for budget minded travlers, which is perfect for me, but i would like to be safe and see all big 5.

Please le me know your experiences. thank you Reply to this

11 years ago, July 19th 2012 No: 11 Msg: #158976  
I flew from Johannesburg to Kruger (east gate) to get to Kapama. Kapama was incredible. I spent 3 nights there. It is NOT for budget travelers - it is quite luxurious; however it was worth every penny as it included all food, drives (morning and early evening).

I would recommend it in a heartbeat! No doubt about it. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 19th 2012 No: 12 Msg: #158980  
Just a recommendation re prices of safaris (based on my East Africa experience) - that it is worth spending extra on your safari. Apart from the standard accommodation difference the other major factor is the type of safari vehicle.

Cheaper operators tend to use standard off-road vehicles, which though great for driving are not so great for viewing. More expensive operators use modified vehicles, often with no windows, but large open side spaces, and they sit much higher as well.

I have used five different type of vehicles for my five safaris and without a doubt, the two that were modified specifically for safaris easily surpassed the standard road vehicles in terms of both comfort and the viewing experience. Reply to this

9 years ago, August 14th 2014 No: 13 Msg: #184276  
It is highly recommended going through a tour operator as for many journeys it just makes more sense to go with a Tour Operator Company that specializes in travel to Africa. The same could be said if you're visiting Cape Town for a week. You might miss out on some insider tips or discounts as specialized Tour Operator that can offer and handle all your requests.
Some people think they'll save money by booking a trip independently, but that's not true for many African itineraries. Yes, Tour Operator Companies get a percentage of what you pay for the trip. But the discounts they can pass along to their clients through their relationships with their preferred portfolio of lodges and hotels as well as ground operators, often more than makes up for it. Booking your itinerary to Africa with Tour Operator that utilize local transport, will save all travellers, tourist both time, less stress and money. The key is to find a Tour Operator that specializes in the region you wish to visit according to your interest, needs and pocket.

Reasons as why you should use a Tour Operator:

1. If you are planning to go on safari . It's almost impossible to plan a good safari itinerary without help from an expert, especially if it's your first time in Africa . There are an overwhelming amount of safaris to choose from, let alone destinations . There are many different types of accommodation, ranging from simple campsites to luxury cottages, safari tent complete with plunge pool and personal butler. You can enjoy a safari with a guided 4 x 4 trails self-drive expedition, hot air balloon and boat. You can spot wildlife from the back of a horse. You can walk amongst the big 5 in some of the most remote and wilderness ares, or spend an afternoon interacting with wildlife such as Elephants and cheetah. There are rainy seasons and dry seasons that affect the quality of roads, wildlife patterns and camp locations.
There's a lot to planning a safari, and it is very time consuming to figure it out on your own. So it is best to book through a local Tour Operators in Africa to ensure you get the best possible rates with updated information. <snip>
2. If you are travelling to more than one country, or have less than a month to travel. Africa is massive and the infrastructure is not so great in many countries. This means that getting from A to B can be difficult unless you are familiar with the transport options available. Even if you discover you can get from Okavango Delta, Khwai to Kasane on Mack Air, chances are the schedule may change at the last minute and you could miss going on that Chobe Sunset Boat Crusie. If you have several months to cover a region, then obviously time is not so much of an issue and waiting a few extra days to catch a ferry or bus is not a problem. But if you have just 1-4 weeks to spend in Africa, it's worth using a Tour Operator.
Airline schedules within Africa remain somewhat flexible, are not always easy to book independently, and charter services can also be sporadic. Booking all your transport within your safari/vacation with one Tour Company will help if plans change. Renting a car/minbus with a local driver from a reputable company is paramount, since you will be very dependent on them for their driving, navigating, guiding and language skills and making sure you do not get lost in the wrong places and ensuring clients are able to relax and see all the beautiful surrounding of landscapes. Even if you are planning to see a number of different places within the same country, using a tour operator will help you plan your time and in certain regions and national parks. You need the expert knowledge or you'll end up spending the whole time travelling between places and not enjoying them.
3. If you have specific needs and interests. If you are vegetarian, pregnant, diabetic, travelling with small children, unable to walk up steps, terrified of catching malaria, or have any special desires to see specific animals, people, cultural activities - use a tour operator. If you'd like your kids to eat at 6pm, need a fridge to store your medication, or would love to shop at a local market - a knowledgeable travel consultant can make it happen for you. It's your journey, let someone else do the worrying and planning for you with the expertise and knowledge. Using a tour operator also means that you have someone who is accountable to you if things do not go according to what you have planned and paid for and the Tour Operator is on standby 24/7 to answer any of you calls should any problems arise.
4. If you wish to travel responsibly. It's not always easy to figure out if a Lodge or Hotel is locally owned, if their staff is treated well, or if they are truly environmentally conscious. Since "eco-friendly" is almost a marketing term at this point, the best way to ensure your itinerary is truly responsible is to use a tour operator that vets each lodge or hotel and ground operator that you are paying for. African Safari Guru could be just that tour operator that I am familiar with.
5. If you are concerned about safety and security. Most countries in Africa are stable and safe, but politics and natural disasters happen. A good tour operator stays up to date with elections, weather hazards and high crime areas. A small skirmish in South Africa may not make headline news, but a specialized tour operator will know about it, and can redirect your safari to keep you safe. If the rainy season is looking very heavy in southern Africa - then perhaps switching your itinerary around to include more internal flights rather than road transfers would be a good idea. This would be very difficult to accommodate on your own. Many local lodges and hotels cannot accept foreign credit cards, so making reservations can lead to arduous bank transfers that also feel less than safe.
Moral of the story is to rather use a Tour Operator and ask around <snip>
[Edited: 2014 Aug 15 01:18 - Roosta:95057 - No commercial promotion in the forums, please. See TOS.]
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