This self-drive tour starts and ends in Johannesburg and it will mainly stay in the iconic Kruger National Park and its neighbouring areas. The focus clearly is on safari activities paired with some scenic destinations and adventure activities nevertheless.
The distances are short for South Africa which makes the tour suitable for everybody, most accommodations are rather simple though and self-catering which requires a little bit of an adventurous spirit.
On the bottom of this page you find a map to help you locate the destinations.
Upon arrival at OR Tambo you can collect your rental car and drive about 4,5 hours to the most Southern gate of Kruger National Park.
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of over 2 million hectares, Kruger National Park is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. Truly the flagship of the South African National Parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Man's interaction with the Lowveld environment over many centuries - from bushman rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela - is very evident in the Kruger National Park. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and are conserved along with the park's natural assets.
In 1898 President Paul Kruger proclaimed the area between the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers as the Sabie Reserve because hunting mania had wiped out the Lowveld's huge herds of game. After the Anglo-Boer war, the British began clearing the way for the protected areas by the forced removal of between 2000 -3000 local inhabitants in1903. These removals continued throughout the Kruger's history. Major James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed the first warden. He was a short, quick-tempered Scotsman and was given the African name "skukuza" meaning "he who turns things upside down".
He waged constant war against poachers and was responsible for expanding the Kruger Park, incurring the wrath of local farmers who felt that the Reserve was a breeding ground for lions. Both domestic stock and people were often attacked. Piet Grobler, Minister of Lands in 1926 successfully passed the Bill on National Parks and named the area Kruger National Park. In 1927, three cars entered the Park. Two years later there were 850 cars. Over the next 50 years, 150 000 people visited the Park annually. Today, over a million people visit the Park every year.
Berg en Dal is one of the oldest camps in the South of Kruger, and also the only camp set in a rugged mountain environment. you spend the night here in a bungalow with your own bathroom, BBQ and small kitchen. The camp has a restaurant for meals, or you can self-cater.
You make your way through the Park to Lower Sabie which graces the banks of the Sabie River, one of the few perennial rivers to flow through the Kruger National Park. Visitors cannot but feel soothed by the view towards the river and the Lebombo Mountains beyond. You stay here in a comfortable safari tent, with your own bathroom, BBQ and kitchenette. The camp has a restaurant overlooking the river.
Since the southern part of Kruger National Park has the highest concentration of wildlife it is absolutely worth spending another day here, you overnight spot will be at Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger's biggest camp and the administrative headquarters.
Leaving Kruger National Park at Paul Kruger Gate, you continue west towards Hazyview. Ashbourne Country Escape is beautifully situated on the Sabie Valley, where you stay on a B&B basis. There are nice restaurants closeby. The next 1,5 days you can enjoy off-road mountain bike trails, geckoing in the river, joining an amazing elephant interaction program or you can do it all!
After two days of adventure you continue west towards the Blyde River Canyon, where Porcupine Ridge is situated just outside of the small town of Sabie. You stay here on a B&B basis and restaurants are closeby. You can explore the Canyon around Sabie that afternoon.
After breakfast you drive the famous Panorama Route, which runs along the edge of the Canyon. You can stop at various view points such as The Pinnacle, God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels. At the end of the Route you descend down into the Lowveld, and enter the private reserves that border Kruger National Park, also known as the Greater Kruger National Park. The next three nights you are staying at the eco-friendly and Fair Trade Umlani Bush Camp, in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which has become world-famous for its White Lions (a recessive gene amongst wild lions in this region). Your stay includes guided game drives in open Landrovers, bush walks, all meals and local drinks.
You will have learned a lot about the bush at Umlani, and today you head back into the public areas of Kruger again. The camp is situated a top a hill which towers several hundred feet over the Olifants river. Views from the lookout platforms allow one to see the river below, just as a soaring eagle would survey it, as it hunts from the skies. You are staying once again in a bungalow and the camp has a restaurant.
You continue north into Kruger, where you stay for one last night at Mopani Rest Camp in a bungalow. On the banks of Pioneer Dam, the camp is named after the mopane veld that surrounds the camp. Mopani Rest Camp nestles amongst the Mopani tree-covered koppies. A signature feature is the huge gnarled old baobab tree in the heart of the camp. The vegetation inside the camp is left as found in the wild, adding to the unique atmosphere of the camp.
Leaving the Park again, you head west into the Soutpansberg Mountains. Madi a Thavha is a 4-star lodge run by a Dutch couple Marcelle and Aart, who over the last 10 years have managed to establish sustainable working relationships with the local artists and communities. What you will see and experience here is real life, not a re-enactment for the sake of tourism. You will be taken by real people to real people living in real villages doing real work to earn real money. During your stay at Madi a Thavha mountain lodge you can tour through the area with one of the lodge's guides (which we highly recommend, and a lunch pack is included in the tours) or explore the area by foot or bike. Alternatively, various creative workshops and cultural performances can be organised by the artists and crafters in the villages on request. Activities such as star grazing and a visit to a traditional healer to learn more about medicinal plants are also possible. You stay here in one of their beautifully decorated rooms, with delicious breakfasts and dinners included. Lunch packs are included if you book a tour with them.
After a scrumptious breakfast it is a 4,5 hour drive back to OR Tambo where your journey will end.