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Kruger National Park is world-famous for its great concentration of wildlife and the opportunity to observe some of Africa’s most iconic big animals, specifically the big five, in their natural habitat. Undoubtedly, no trip to South Africa can be complete without a visit to the park. Since, spending just a day in Kruger cannot be enough, there is a broad range of accommodations available within the park for all budgets. It can be tough choosing where to stay, so this guide to Kruger National Park accommodations will explain the different choices to help you choose the perfect base for your safari adventure.
For the majority of visitors staying in Kruger National Park, accommodation will be at one of the camps maintained and managed by the park itself. In this context, perhaps slightly confusingly, the word ‘camp’ does not refer to tents but actually means a collection of different types of accommodation buildings grouped together (although at many of the camps, there are tent facilities too).
There are three categories of camp:
Rest campA rest camp is the mainstay of Kruger Park accommodation, of which there are 12. Rest camps are collections of accommodation buildings along with a reception, shops and restaurants. In some ways, rest camps almost resemble small villages.
Satellite campSatellite camps are the second type of camp, of which there are four. These are also collections of accommodation buildings but do not have any shops or restaurants and are fully self-catering. These camps offer a more secluded and peaceful experience, closer to nature. Satellite camps have no reception and depend on rest camps or park gates for administration.
Bushveld campBushveld camps are the final type, of which there are five. These are similar to satellite camps in that they consist of self-catering accommodation only and depend on rest camps or park gates for administration. They are more remote and offer the ultimate wilderness experience deep in the bush.
The range of accommodation is standard across all types of camp. All rest camps, satellite camps and bushveld camps include some, although not necessarily all, of the following types of accommodation:
- Campsites: for tents or caravans. Most have electricity.
Huts: simple one-room buildings with shared cooking and washing facilities.
Safari tents: permanent canvas tents on stilts. Mostly with shared facilities. Luxury versions also exist with private facilities.
Cottages: a single bedroom in solid buildings with private facilities.
Family cottages: like cottages but with extra bedrooms.
Guest cottages: as family cottages but with two bathrooms and upgraded facilities.
Guest houses: include multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, upgraded facilities and views.
Note: Prices quoted are in South African rand and are subject to change. There is some variation in price depending on factors like view, orientation, etc., but otherwise, they are fairly standard across all the camps in the park.
Step 1: Which type of camp?
The first thing to decide is whether you want to stay at a rest camp, a satellite camp or a bushveld camp. The advantage of staying at a rest camp is that more facilities are available. You can buy things in the shops and eat in the restaurants and the atmosphere is generally livelier.
If you prefer a more secluded experience, a satellite camp might be preferable. These are generally smaller and there are no restaurants or shops – you have to cook your own meals and will need to take food with you.
If you prefer somewhere more remote where you can be at one with nature, far from the busier areas, a bushveld camp may be suitable. Again, you need to take everything with you as there is nowhere to buy provisions.
Step 2: Which camp location?
Having chosen the type of camp, the next step is to choose the location of the camp. Camps are found in various locations around the park, each offers a different type of landscape and each is associated with particular types of flora and fauna. We give you some of the popular camp locations:
- Lower Sabie is one of the most popular rest camps in the park and often gets booked up well in advance. It is located on the banks of the Sabie River and features views of the Lebombo Mountains. This camp is known for leopards, hippos, lions, goliath herons and giant kingfishers. It is a particularly good spot to see wildlife as the animals frequently come to the river to drink.
- Olifants is another of the most popular rest camps. Located on a hilltop with views of Olifants River below, it is known for sightings of elephants, lions, hippos, Nile crocodiles and martial eagles.
- Balule is a very basic satellite camp located deep in the park and offers close contact with nature. It is best known for hippos, elephants, Pel’s fishing owls, hyenas and goliath herons.
- Bateleur is a bushveld camp located in mopane/woodland savannah and is known for Bateleur eagles, hippos, leopards, elephants and blue wildebeest.
Step 3: Which type of accommodation?
Having chosen your camp, you then need to choose which type of accommodation you prefer. For the most budget-oriented, the cheapest option is to take a tent. Moving up from there, simple single-bedroom huts are available as well as similarly-priced permanent safari tents. For families or larger groups or for those hoping for more luxury, there are various classes of cottage, as detailed above.
Along with these standard types of park accommodation, there are other choices available too. Visitors can book a night in one of the two hides, which provide basic sleeping facilities and the opportunity to observe wildlife by night. There is also one area exclusively for camping.
For an all-inclusive five-star experience, opt to stay in a lodge on a private reserve within the park. Guests can expect the highest level of service, guided tours of exclusive reserve lands and facilities unavailable elsewhere in the park including swimming pools, fitness rooms and saunas among others.
Besides being known for the rich diversity of animal species present, Kruger is also one of the best run national parks in Africa. Kruger National Park accommodation is well managed and there are options for any budget. By choosing the perfect location for your stay and the most suitable type of accommodation, all that remains is to take advantage of the opportunities to head out into the bush to spot some of the magnificent animals that call the park their home.
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