Judith asks, is it OK for three women to take two children to the Kruger National Park by themselves, as it were? (That is, can they self-drive to Kruger, and self-guide during the Kruger experience?)
The simple answer to your question, Judith, is yes! The drive from Joburg to Kruger is easy, about 5 hours (though the sexist in me would put it closer to seven, with three women and two children in the car!) and a straight shot on the very well-maintained N4 toll road.
Once you’re in Kruger, the camps are extremely safe – even the risk of petty theft is quite minimal – and, with a few good guidebooks, many of which are available in the various Kruger camp shops, you’ll be able to pick up a lot of what’s going on around you, as you drive slowly in search for game.
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That said, planning your own trip to Kruger is a bit complicated – the factors include driving times, camping provisions (even for those who stay in chalets), and day plans (where to stop for lunch or bathroom breaks, etc.) – and it’s always easier to visit the park with someone who’s been before, and knows the ropes. Having expert advice to rely on can make the trip much less stressful.
But SA Logue encourages independent travel – so here are a few such ropes:
- To get to the N4 from Joburg, take the M1/N1 north, and follow the signs to Pietersburg/Polokwane, and then to the N4 and Witbank, not the signs to Pretoria. (The latter will take you into the Pretoria city center; the former will skirt Pretoria, making for a much faster route.)
- The only dangerous stretch of N4 is around Witbank and Middelburg, which are high-crime areas, so plan rest stops around these cities.
- Kruger camp gates close at 17h30 in winter and 18h00 in summer, so you must leave Joburg quite early (I like to start off at 5 a.m.) to provide enough “settling in” time during your first day in the park.
- If you’re self-driving through Kruger, each person must have his or her own bottle of bug spray, bottle of sunscreen, and flashlight. In winter, start spraying the bug spray at about 15h30/16h00; in summer, use it all day.
- Be sure to check in advance whether your accommodation has cooking utensils, or, if not, whether the camp has an in-house restaurant, or you could be stuck for supper!
- Booking at least one night drive during your stay is essential; make a reservation at the camp check-in desk.
- SA Logue recommends a three-night minimum stay for a self-driving tour, and it’s always nice to stay at different camps. The best areas for game viewing are the southern and central regions of the park.
- Leaving Kruger is a little more complicated than arriving, if you exit from a different place than where you entered; be sure you have a good, up-to-date road atlas for the trip back to the city, and expect to arrive late at night.
- Last, you don’t need a Land Rover to visit Kruger! Even the smallest VW Golf will guarantee a splendid trip.
Hope this helps and enjoy the experience – with or without the “paid male escort”!