Easy 5 Step Self Drive Planning Guide For Kruger National Park

So you feel like going at it alone…roughing it and taking charge. Why not? I do it all the time. I have been doing self-drive safaris to the Kruger National Park for years now and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

For some though, the thought of doing it like this is a bit daunting and I will now provide you with a simple guide on how to do a self-drive that will provide you with the best experience inside the Kruger National Park.

For a list of things NOT to do while inside the Kruger National Park, click here.

Step 1: Planning where to stay

This is the easiest and most exciting part of the trip. Just google the words Kruger Park Map and click on images, or just follow this link. Select one of the maps that shows the various camp grounds.

I would suggest staying three nights at one camp site and then moving on to the next. I would also suggest at least nine nights or more inside the park.

The route I love the most is the following:

  • Skukuza
  • Satara
  • Olifants

This will provide you with a very large variety of places to visit, different biomes and it will give you a very good chance at seeing the Big Five.

Step 2: Booking your stay

This is very easy. Just go to the Sanparks website and book online. It is a very simple process and it is also the cheapest way.

Step 3: Choosing your vehicle to hire

No, you do not need a 4×4 inside the Kruger National Park. There are several tar roads and the dirt roads are extremely well maintained. All you need is a vehicle that isn’t very low. I have driven the roads in a Smart Car with no issues.

However, if you feel the need to rent a 4×4, be sure to get a Toyota…I am a bit biased on this.

Step 4: Camping equipment

Ignore this section if you plan on staying at some of the bungalows or ready set-up safari tents found within most of the camps at the Kruger National Park.

The place I would use to rent camping equipment is in Johannesburg and is called Camp Tent Hire, so you will need to pick it up in Johannesburg and drop it back off there. The reason I would use them as they are quite affordable and the quality of the products they rent out is quite decent.

Alternatively, you can always rent a camping trailer from Simplify in Nelspruit. You will also need some other gear, such as chairs, lights, coolers boxes etc. These can be easily purchased from 4×4 Megaworld in Nelspruit.

Another option would be to purchase everything you need at Outdoor Warehouse in Nelspruit.

Step 5: Things to note

The Kruger National Park sees several million visitors every year. The park is well developed with infrastructure to ensure that most of your needs are met.

The following is easily found in the park:

  • The variety might not be huge, but each camp has a store that has a range food products, from canned goods, bread, meat, fresh produce (tomatoes etc.).
  • From alcoholic to bottled water, each store is well stocked.
  • Their variety isn’t huge and they run out of popular brands, but there is usually some form of cigarettes available at the stores.
  • Barbeque equipment.
  • Basic spices.
  • Wood and charcoal.
  • Both petrol and diesel are readily available.
  • Varying in quality, the park does have restaurants at most camp sites.

Each camp site has a communal ablution block. These are kept clean and well maintained throughout the day by the camp staff. During summer though, dead insects can be littered on the ground in the early mornings before the camp staff have come to clean it up.

Each camp site has a fireplace, however we would suggest you bring your own grid (which are also sold in most camp stores). If you don’t know what a grid is, just click here.

I always find that the best place to setup camp is next to the camp fences. Quite often there are animals that walk past and it just adds to the atmosphere.

For a list of things NOT to do while in the park, read this blog post I made.


Closing thoughts

Going to the Kruger National Park on your own is a very viable and fun way of exploring the bush. It is quite simple and easy to do. Over the years, the park has evolved quite well to accommodate the self-drive tourist and sees well over a million such visitors a year.

If you think that I have left anything out, please let me know in the comments section below.

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