My Next Trip To The Kruger: September 2013

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My next trip to my favourite place in the world – the Kruger National Park, is happening from the 20th to the 22nd of September. 1month and 1 day to go! I’m really keen – as always! We’ll unfortunately only be there for 2 nights this time around, but our first night will be in Satara, which I’m really excited about. I think Satara may well be my favourite camp, but I haven’t been up there for a long time.

We’ve got a marriage in the family coming up on the 19th of September, and having a lot of family in the same place at one time seems like the perfect excuse to go up to the Kruger together. So this won’t be one of my solo trips to the Kruger, but expect plenty of updates on @ExploreKNP anyway. There will also be a blog post coming up on “Camping at Satara” which will be cool, because I’ve never actually camped there before – although I have made use of some of their other types of accommodation in the past.

The only thing is that the weekend of the 20th to the 22nd of September also coincides with the first weekend of school holidays, so the Kruger Park is literally full to capacity, which is great – but it did complicate the booking process a little. So how things have turned out is that we’ll be in Satara for one night, and then Berg-en-Dal the next. That’s quite a long drive between camps (165km), but I think with such a short time in the park, it’ll be great to spend all of that time on the road, searching for our favourite animals.

What has also turned out in my favour is that the only possible way to accommodate all of us that are going will be if I camp. The rest of the family will be in huts, but I’ll be out enjoying the experience in a tent – the way I like it. Win-win, if you ask me!

So here’s how it’s happening: We’ll leave early on the morning of the 20th. Although we would probably have been up late the night before at the wedding, the adrenaline of heading to the Kruger will be more than enough to keep me awake behind the wheel, and I honestly don’t mind if everyone else just sleeps through the journey.

We’ll be driving up to Orpen Gate, which I’m very keen on because I’ve never entered the park through this gate. Not to my knowledge anyway. As a youngster, we used to visit the park sometimes as often as 4 times per year, so it is very possible that I have been through Orpen Gate – only it hasn’t been while I’ve been conscious of it. My plan for my next solo Kruger Adventure, though, is to enter through Orpen Gate, and then Camp at Maroela, Satara and perhaps Balule too if I have the time. But for now, I’ll be making do with one night at Satara.

So our aim is to be at Satara in time for lunch. It sounds like the family will then be taking an afternoon snooze, but I’ll take a drive down the S100 to see what I can see. I’m afraid that with such little time in the Park, I don’t see much value in spending too much time asleep. Just the bare minimum at night for me, thanks!

We’ll have an early braai (BBQ) that evening, as we’re already booked onto the Satara night drive. Satara is a fantastic game viewing area, and I thought it’d be best to try and capitalise on that by being out in the Park at night.

We’ll be up early the next morning. I’m only taking a very basic camping setup, as I don’t plan to spend too much time at the campsite this time around because of the time constraints. Once my tent is packed up, we’ll hit the road, and the plan is to then have breakfast at Tshokwane Picnic Spot. From there, we’ll drive to Nkumbe Lookout Point, because, as those of you who’ve followed my blog will know, it’s a spot that we, as a family, hold very close to our hearts.

From this point, I can’t decide whether to drive to Lower Sabie, and then down to Berg-en-Dal via the S25 that follows the Crocodile River, or to turn back, and then head down the H1-2 to Skukuza and then on to Berg-en-Dal along the H1/H3. The drive from Lower Sabie to Berg-en-Dal is beautiful, but it is quite a slow drive, as you spend a lot of time on sand roads. On the other hand, I did do this drive in June, so I think it might be better to go the Skukuza route. I’ll probably only make my mind up completely when it comes to leaving Nkumbe. Here are the 2 options – via Lower Sabie in green, and via Skukuza in blue:

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  One thing to consider is that most of the veld (grass) between Nkumbe and Lower Sabie was burnt to a crisp when I was there in June, which meant pretty poor game viewing – but by the 21st of September, our South African spring season will be in full-swing, so the grass will probably have recovered quite well by then. We’ll probably get to Berg-en-Dal a little after lunchtime, so the H1 might also be a good option because Afsaal Picnic Site is quite well positioned for a lunch break.

Once we’re at Berg-en-Dal, I’ll set up my simple camp again. I doubt that I’ll find too great a spot as Berg-en-Dal is fully booked. But then again, I’m taking a tiny tent, and I won’t need electricity because I’ll charge my phone in the car and won’t be cooking or using a fridge at my campsite because the rest of my family will have these facilities in their huts, so there is a chance I’ll be able to squeeze in next to the fence.

We’ll spend that evening in camp together as a family around the braai, which will be good – no better place in the world to sit around the fire with your loved ones, if you ask me!

I reckon we’ll probably leave as late as possible the next morning. I’d be quite keen to maybe make a late breakfast at Berg-en-Dal’s picnic/day visitors area on the morning that we leave. Last time I was there, I was very impressed by Berg-en-Dal’s picnic spot, so I’m keen to try it out, and I’ll be in no rush to leave the Kruger in any case. From there we’ll probably take a short game drive, and then head on home.

So unfortunately, it’ll be a very short visit to the Park, but it’s a privilege to spend any time there at all in any case. I’m really looking forward to this trip, and it’s coming at a great time – just when I’ll need a push to get through to the end of the year!

After that, I’m not sure when I’ll be visiting the Kruger again. I haven’t made any formal plans yet, but I can tell you, while it won’t be too long until my next visit, it’s never soon enough! There’s nothing better than being in the Kruger National park, and I know that if you’ve made it to the end of this post, then you’re the kind of person that agrees with me!

Keep an eye-out for plenty of Kruger updates a month from now. I’ll be documenting all of it as I go. Thanks for taking the time to read this – the aim of all of my posts is to make you miss the Kruger Park, and in-turn, head over to www.sanparks.co.za to make your next booking! So I hope this post has had that effect on you!

Take care,

ExploreKNP

Twitter: @ExploreKNP

E-mail: exploreknp@gmail.com

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