Lazy drives in Kruger National Park, South Africa - Self-drive Safaris


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There is a plane leaving Bangalore direct flight to Cape Town on Friday at 06h00 your time. I will pick you up at Cape Town International upon your arrival. Don't forget your camera equipment and your book of photographic secrets. :)” …a casual remark from my South African friend, Tony from another forum a year ago started it all.

For my wife and me, a trip to Africa was always a dream. When my friend told me about Sanparks accommodations inside Kruger National Park, self-drive safaris, we got excited and started researching for the trip.
Planning started around September 2016. The plan was to reach the park on the 31st of August 2017 and leave the park on the 13th of September 2017.

First did a search for flights to Johannesburg from Chennai and found Saudi Arabian Airlines had cost effective flights – costing around 65k round trip for the 2 of us. We were surprised that it was so low.
Our friend had told us that around September was the best time to visit Kruger for game viewing as it was the fag end of winter, which means less water, more game near available waterbodies, no Mosquitos, less vegetation – easier viewing, no rains, not hot, etc.

With consultation with him, we zeroed in on four camps to spend 13 nights inside the park. We blocked the accommodation first as soon as it was open for reservation for this year. They get booked so fast, so better to be safe than sorry. The accommodation costs us around 92k. All the accommodations were with AC, fridge, kitchenette, microwave, toaster, kettle, and utensils.

The next step was to getting my wife’s passport renewed. That took some time as she is a government employee and she had to get proper NOC and other stuffs. That was done in March this year.
We bought the air tickets in May. We also paid half of the booking amount for the accommodation.
We then applied for South African VISA through VFS @ Bangalore. It was pretty straight forward. We got our passports with the VISA stamped by the end of June.

Then there was a change in the flight timings that we were not comfortable with and had to change our booking. So it was Bangalore-Jeddah-Johannesburg instead of Chennai-Jeddah-Johannesburg. And it cost us around 20k more.

Now, we had planned to do our own safaris in a self-drive rental car. The park is around 360 kms from Johannesburg. We rented a Toyota Corella Quest from Avis with unlimited kilometers and Zero liabilities with roadside assistance for the whole trip. Cost us around 33k. Pickup and drop at the Johannesburg airport. The car we got was neat with around 25k on the odo.

For mobile connectivity, we got one local Vodacom sim online from the site B4iTravel. I even got the mobile number 15 days before the travel and was to collect the sim from their outlet at the airport. Additionally, I also got the Tsim’ life time validity world sim. That also got delivered weeks before the travel.

Since everything was paid for before our travel, I didn’t take local currency. Instead I opted for ICICI World Travel card. I was watching the currency trend and loaded the card when the rates were 5 rupees to a Rand. Used the card for all the local purchases including petrol.

We did our own cooking. We bought groceries from Spar super market on the way to the park. Stocked up with long life milk, eggs, oil, bread, some veggies, etc. We took our own cooking utensils like the pressure cooker, frying pans, ladles, and a lot of Tupperware containers. We also took spices, rice, some noodles, soups, etc.

The cameras we took were, Nikon D90/18-105mm, Nikon D7100/70-300mm, Nikon D500/200-500+1:4TC, and a Panasonic camcorder.

D7100/70-300mm, f/5.3, 1/500, ISO120 @ 240mm

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Awesome Peter Sir!!
Let the show begin..
Thank you very much, Shantanu! :)

Thank you, Alpha! :)

Counting months turned to counting days and finally on the 30th of August 2017, we boarded the flight to Jeddah. We had to wait in Jeddah for around 6 hours for our onward flight to Johannesburg. Though the flight to Johannesburg was cramped and uncomfortable, I managed to get a few winks which was necessary as I had to drive all the way to Kruger on arrival.

The plane arrived around 1 hour late ( 8:45am, 31th August), and we walked through the immigration, collected our checked in luggage and walked through the customs, collected our sim card and got our car. Once we started out we didn't get our mobile GPS or internet on as we were in a closed place. Took a wrong turn and immediately understood our mistake and drove around 1km till we could get internet and a GPS lock. From then on, GPS took over and got us back on track in no time and we were on our way.

The traffic was very orderly and it was a pleasure driving there. The people we met in the Airport were also very friendly.

Kruger National Park is about the size of Israel. So with 14 days we new that we wouldn't be able to cover the whole park. So we decided on the southern part of the park.

The 4 camp that we picked were the Pretoriuskop, Satara, Lower Sabie and Skukuza.

The gate we chose for entry was the Numbi Gate. Our first camp, Pretoriuskop was just 9 kms from the gate. We reached the camp around 3:30pm. The park and the camp gates close at 6 pm. We finished the formalities at the gate and proceeded to the camp.

On the way to the camp...

Black-backed Puffback...



Glossy Starling...



Plains Zebra...


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We were very tired after the long flight and so just settled down in our bungalow and decided to take some rest. Anyway we can be out in the bush only between 6 am to 6 pm. It was almost 5 by the time we settled in.

The next day we packed our breakfast we out in the bush by 6:15 am. We drove around some dirt roads (the circle route) in the morning and returned to the camp for lunch.

Impala male...
The impala (/ɪmˈpɑːləˌ-ˈpælə/; Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. They are very common and can be found everywhere. They cross our path in hundreds and sometimes we have to wait around 5 minutes for a large herd to cross over.




Impala female...



Red-billed Ox-pecker...on an Impala
The red-billed oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) is a passerine bird in the starling and myna family, Sturnidae; some ornithologists regard the oxpeckers to be in a family by themselves, the Buphagidae. It is native to the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa, from the Central African Republic east to South Sudan and south to northern and eastern South Africa. Its range overlaps that of the less widespread yellow-billed oxpecker.


Where there are impalas, we find these Fork-tailed Drongos around


The common warthog is a medium-sized species, with a head-and-body length ranging from 0.9 to 1.5 m, and shoulder height from 63.5 to 85 cm. Females, at 45 to 75 kg, are typically a bit smaller and lighter in weight than males, at 60 to 150 kg. A warthog is identifiable by the two pairs of tusks protruding from the mouth and curving upwards. The lower pair, which is far shorter than the upper pair, becomes razor-sharp by rubbing against the upper pair every time the mouth is opened and closed. The upper canine teeth can grow to 25.5 cm long and have a wide elliptical cross section, being about 4.5 cm deep and 2.5 cm wide. A tusk will curve 90° or more from the root, and will not lie flat on a table, as it curves somewhat backwards as it grows. The tusks are used for digging, for combat with other hogs, and in defense against predators – the lower set can inflict severe wounds.


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Excellent!! Awesome!! Outstanding!!
You are the inspiration, Shantanu! ;)

great going
Thank you, Alpha! :)

Doing self safari without any guide is thrilling. We get to spot the wildlife by ourselves and we can go where we please and stop and enjoy a sight for however long we want. The only issue was the limited angle of view from the driver's seat. At times I had to pass a sighting and take a U turn to get into position for a good view.

Waterbuck are rather sedentary in nature. A gregarious animal, the waterbuck may form herds consisting of six to 30 individuals. These groups are either nursery herds with females and their offspring or bachelor herds. Males start showing territorial behaviour from the age of five years, but are most dominant from the age of six to nine. The waterbuck cannot tolerate dehydration in hot weather, and thus inhabits areas close to sources of water. Predominantly a grazer, the waterbuck is mostly found on grassland. In equatorial regions, breeding takes place throughout the year, but births are at their peak in the rainy season. The gestational period lasts for seven to eight months, followed by the birth of a single calf.

Waterbuck inhabit scrub and savanna areas along rivers, lakes and valleys. Due to their requirement for grasslands as well as water, the waterbuck have a sparse ecotone distribution. The IUCN lists the waterbuck as being of Least Concern. More specifically, the common waterbuck is listed as of Least Concern while the defassa waterbuck is Near Threatened. The population trend for both the common and defassa waterbuck is downwards, especially that of the latter, with large populations being eliminated from certain habitats because of hunting and human disturbance.











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