Affordable Safaris in the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park offers a surprising array of mid-range safari options for the traveler who wants to avoid roughing it but is not partial to having the utmost in luxury.
Part of making your visit to the park more affordable lies in how you put your trip together: shave off a spa treatment here and a five-course dinner there, and soon you’re left with most of the luxury but much less of the cost one on your affordable Kruger Safari trip.
Instead of taking a charter flight or shuttle service directly to your lodge, hire a car at the airport and make a road trip out of the journey to the Kruger National Park.
The world’s third largest canyon, the Blyde River Canyon, is en route to the Kruger and certainly worth a visit, not to mention other nearby sites like Sabie’s Waterfall Route and the quaint village of Pilgrim’s Rest.
A great way to enjoy the Kruger National Park is to split your stay between one of the public camps of the park and a lodge within one of the private concession areas. This means you’ll have time to enjoy self-drive safaris in the park, which is a great hands-on game-viewing experience.
Once within the exclusive concession area, a seasoned guide will use their expertise to show you the very best of the African bushveld. As a bonus, these guides are allowed to conduct game drives outside of their concessions into the park’s public areas to give you an optimal chance of spotting elusive species such as the enigmatic leopard.
Several of the private luxury reserves along the unfenced western border of the park, known as the Greater Kruger, contain affordable lodges, guest houses, and tented camps aimed at a mid-range budget. Self-catering is an option in some of the camps and guest houses, many of which you’ll have exclusive use of if you book the whole camp or house.
Stay at these, and you’ll save on some of the over-the-top frills while enjoying treats like guided game drives and walking safaris. Here guides are allowed to track animals off-road and at night – something you are not allowed to do on your own in the public areas of the Kruger.
Practical Information for Affordable Safaris in the Kruger National Park
- Travel in the off-season when both flight and accommodation prices are lower. The winter season (May to September) is less busy in the Kruger yet still excellent for game viewing. Keep an eye out for package deals, as many of the lodges offer free nights and discounted offers.
- Rent an SUV or a 4×4 vehicle, as the added height is helpful for game viewing, especially in the summertime when the grass in the Kruger stands tall. The extra interior space is also welcome on long drives and for luggage storage.
- Several rental companies offer fully kitted vehicles that are camp-ready with rooftop tents, awnings, kitchen setups, chairs, and tables. Larger vehicles also cater to groups or families.
- Staying just outside one of the park’s main gates – in Hazyview, Phalaborwa, or Nelspruit, for instance – and making day trips into the Kruger is often comparatively more affordable.