For the best self-drive safari holiday in South Africa, look no further than Kruger National Park. With its variety of landscapes, abundant and diverse fauna and flora, not to mention its sheer size, a journey through Kruger is an unforgettable experience. Combine this with a cultural visit to nearby Mapungubwe National Park and you have a unique African safari that captures some of the best wildlife and social heritage in Southern Africa.
Kruger National Park has over 3,000 km of well-kept roads inside a protected area of nearly 20,000 km2. The roads are accessible to all vehicle types although for the best game viewing it’s recommended to have a larger vehicle, with a bit of extra height. Although incredible sightings can be had anywhere in the park, maximise your chances by heading off the tarred arterial roads as often as possible, especially where they run along rivers or around dams. Predators in particular typically avoid the heat of the day so follow their schedule: rise as early as possible, have a nap after lunch, and stay out on the roads until the camp gates close.
Driving after dark is not permitted, although guided sunset and night drives are offered at most rest camps. There is nothing quite like the African bushveld under starlight, far away from the bustling camps, with lions roaring in the night.
For the more adventurous, even wilder experiences await. Kruger National Park offers a variety of guided walking safaris, ranging from half- and full-day walks and luxury, catered trails, to multi-day wilderness hikes, where you carry your own tent and sleep under the stars. There is even a half-day mountain bike trail at Olifants Rest Camp.
Many visitors stay only in the south of the park, but the drive north is incredibly rewarding. As the landscapes change from thicketed hills to boundless savannah, the roads empty and it can feel like you’re the only vehicle in the park. In the far north, the Makuleke Concession forms the northern border with Zimbabwe. Don’t miss an elephant spotting drive along the Limpopo River to the magnificent fever tree forest.
Leaving Kruger at its northern Pafuri Gate, it’s a 2.5h drive west to Mapungubwe National Park. Lions are very rare, but the rest of the Big Five are there, plus many other well-known species. The main attraction is Mapungubwe Hill, once the center of Southern Africa’s oldest kingdom which flourished around 1,300 AD. Heritage tours of the hill and surrounds provide a fascinating insight into a culture that produced a wealth of artifacts, including a famous golden rhino unearthed in 1932. The main areas of the park are accessible in any vehicle, but a 4×4 is required for the more remote roads.
If you would like to inquire about our car hire options, one of our consultants will readily assist with any questions you may have.