The most affordable way to experience Kruger is to do a self-drive safari in your private car or rental car while camping or staying in self-catering South African National Parks accommodation.
Set your own pace, choose your route, and cook your favorite food. A self-drive Kruger safari is popular among local South Africans who flock to the national park every year during the school holidays.
#2 Guided open vehicle Kruger safari
Another affordable option is to join a small group tour or book a private safari with a safari operator who specializes in conducting guided open vehicle safaris in Kruger. This option is slightly more expensive than a self-drive safari but you won’t need to self-cater and the visibility from an open safari vehicle is an enormous advantage.
Safari goers – especially first-timers – will also benefit hugely from the guidance of an expert safari guide. Don’t underestimate the value an experienced and knowledgeable safari guide adds to the game viewing experience. Many of these operators include return transfers from Johannesburg as part of the safari package.
#3 A private Kruger safari lodge
The Greater Kruger boasts a large number of private game lodges in different price ranges. There are a number of luxury concession lodges inside the Kruger National Park itself but most are located in the adjoining private reserves which share unfenced borders with the national park. These private safari lodges offer a wide range of accommodation, from low-budget tented camps to high-end luxury lodges.
Each lodge is limited to a traversing area so you won’t see as much of the Kruger Park as you would self-driving or with a small group tour but the bush and animals are the same. Some of the benefits of a safari at a private game lodge include luxurious accommodation, late afternoon open vehicle game drives which continue as night drives after sunset, the option of a guided bush walk with an armed ranger, and going off-road to get closer to prime predator sightings.
#4 A “Kruger safari” based outside of Kruger
Some budget-friendly “Kruger Park” safaris are not based inside the Kruger National Park but use affordable accommodation outside the park. Usually, the itinerary includes one or more day trips to Kruger Park.
The rest of the itinerary is used to explore other regional scenic attractions such as the nearby Panorama Route with its canyons, forests and waterfalls.
#5 A safari in a smaller private reserve that is not open to Kruger
There are some smaller private game reserves near the Kruger National Park which are fenced in and not open to Kruger. Strictly speaking, these game reserves don’t form part of the Greater Kruger. However, the bush and wildlife in these game reserves are similar to what you’d find in Kruger.
Being fenced in, some of these reserves are known for high concentrations of wildlife and consistently good sightings. But with only one herd of elephants or one pride of lions, a limited road network and occasional glimpses of a boundary fence line during game drives, they can sometimes feel a bit small and artificial. This doesn’t always detract from the safari experience and these smaller private game reserves remain a popular option for many safari enthusiasts.
However you choose to experience the Kruger National Park, we wish you happy travels and fantastic sightings!
Wild Wings Safaris is a specialist safari operator with offices in the UK and South Africa. We arrange custom safaris to all the top safari and travel destinations throughout Southern and East Africa, including the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta, Serengeti, Masai Mara and more. We do not merely sell off-the-shelf safaris. We are a bespoke tour operator and ground operator with our own vehicles and professional guides.