Best Of Kruger & Kwa-Zulu Natal
From Kruger to Tembe, experience some of South Africa's best game parks, wilderness trails, and more on this incredible 12 day adventure.
Amazing Kruger and KZN
Enjoy the feel of an old fashioned safari experience in one of South Africa’s best known parks, Kruger National Park. Greater Kruger offers amazing wildlife viewing experiences over vast protected land! From there, you will dip down into Kwa-Zulu Natal to visit some lesser-known hidden gems. The perfect mix of old world and comfort awaits! See below for a day-by-day outline!
Kruger National Park
Ithala Game Reserve
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve
Tembe Elephant Park
A South African Experience You Will Never Forget
Day 1 - Arrive Johannesburg
Arrive at O.R. Tambo Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa, where you will be picked up by a representative of Africa Sky Guesthouse. Overnight Africa Sky Guesthouse. (accommodation and meals for your own account).
Day 2 - Morning departure for Kruger National Park – Talamati Bushcamp
After meeting up with your safari guide, depart for the Kruger National Park.
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares, (1 hectare = 2.5 acres) SANParks - Kruger National Park is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
We enter the Kruger at Orpen gate and proceed to Talamati Bushveld Camp.
Day 3 - Talamati Bushveld Camp, game drives
Talamati Camp forms part of a relatively new concept in bush lodges for Kruger National Park accommodation. Smaller, more luxurious camps are built in the more remote areas of the park.
Talamati Camp is private which means that only residents are allowed in Talamati camp and on the access roads to the camp.
Morning and afternoon game drives from Talamati Camp.
Day 4 - Rhino Post Safari Lodge
Morning departure for Rhino Post Safari Lodge
Rhino Walking Safaris is situated on a 12,000-hectare private concession in the Kruger National Park. It is approximately 10km northeast of Skukuza Rest Camp. The concession shares a 15km boundary with Mala Mala in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with game moving freely between the two reserves and comprises of environmentally sensitive areas, previously unexplored, with a huge diversity of both fauna and flora.
Rhino Post Safari Lodge is built on the banks of the dry Mutlumuvi riverbed using natural materials of stone, wood, thatch & canvas. Stilts raise the 8 spaciously appointed suites along the riverbank, allowing views of the Mutlumuvi riverbed from your bedroom, bathroom and private deck. The suites are set out in an open plan style with wooden floors, thatched roofs, canvas walls and glass fronted doors and windows. Each en suite bathroom includes a deep, freestanding bath, ‘his & hers’ basins, a separate toilet and an outdoor shower surrounded by thick reed poles.
The raised walkways linking the spacious rooms to the main area, allows wildlife to walk through underneath, undisturbed by mankind.
After settling into your room, you will enjoy a high tea at the main lounge whilst overlooking the water hole, before departing for your afternoon/evening game drive.
Game drive safaris at Rhino Post are conducted in specially adapted open Land cruisers, with professional guides. In addition to the private wilderness concession, they make use of the Kruger Public Roads. The Kruger National Park has strict gate closing times (before sunset) for their rest camps and access gates. Rhino Post vehicles are however allowed to utilise certain public roads for night drives well after gate closing times. At sunset the game drive will stop for drinks while watching an African sunset, before continuing on into the night, spotting nocturnal animals.
You will return to the lodge in time to freshen up, enjoy a drink before a sumptuous dinner on the deck or in the dining room, as you recount the day’s events, all the while accompanied by the night sounds of the bush.
Day 5 - Plains Camp
After an early morning wake-up and an invigorating cup of fresh coffee or tea with muffins in our lounge, the game drive will depart. Midway through the morning you will stop in the bush for coffee/tea/fruit juice before continuing to look for Africa’s finest wildlife. Upon returning to the lodge, enjoy a leisurely brunch. At about 11h30 you will check out of Rhino Post and be transferred through to Plains Camp.
Plains Camp is situated in the heart of the wilderness concession overlooking the spectacular Timbitene Plain & waterhole. Built in authentic pioneer tradition, it has the serenity of a 19th century naturalists rest, nestled in an Acacia Knobthorn thicket. Plains Camp offers 4 comfortably furnished African explorer style tents, with en suite & hot running water and the African Wilderness right on your doorstep. The concession is an environmentally sensitive area previously unexplored, with a huge diversity of both fauna and flora – an ideal setting for wilderness walking safaris in an internationally renowned Big Five area.
After settling into your tent and exploring the camp, high tea is served followed by a brief on the ‘do’s & don’ts’ of bush walking by your guide. Rhino Walking Safari guides meet the stringent requirements of the South African National Parks and senior guides hold the highest guiding qualification possible in South Africa. After the brief, you will depart with your 2 armed guides for an introductory walk, returning to the vehicle in time for sundowners and enjoying a short night drive before returning to camp for a delicious home cooked dinner.
Day 6 - Plains Camp
After an early morning wake-up, fresh coffee, tea and rusks (a South Africa tradition!), you will depart with the guides for the next safari walk. Nothing is predictable in the bush; therefore each safari offers a potentially new experience. Our guides will share their wealth of “bush culture’’ - the identification of animals, trees, grasses, insects, birds, the medicinal uses of plants, local folk lore and basic tracking & survival skills.
All walking trails are enjoyed in the early morning and late afternoon to avoid the midday heat, with the average duration of the morning walk being between 3 and 4 hours. The Guide will structure the trail taking into account the fitness level of the group and any special requests. After a light snack on the walk, you will be served a well deserved brunch on your return to the camp. Relax during the heat of the day, enjoying our small Africana book collection or the plunge pool overlooking the plain, which is often host to zebra, buffalo, giraffe, elephant, rhino and lion.
The afternoon safari activity is a short drive in the game vehicle to a specific location, after which you will depart on foot again for your trail. Upon returning to the vehicle, you will enjoy sundowners before returning to camp. Back at camp you will enjoy a sumptuous dinner, all the while accompanied by the night sounds of the African bush.
Day 7 - Exit Kruger for Hazyview
After a final morning drive in Kruger we travel on to Hazyview.
Upon our arrival at Casa do Sol hotel we will have balance of the afternoon to explore the magnificent hotel grounds and small private game reserve on which the hotel is situated.
Dinner and overnight Casa do Sol hotel.
Day 8 - Hazyview, optional hot air balloon flight and panorama route
Early morning departure for a hot air balloon flight.
Balloon flights take place at sunrise while the air is still cool and stable and before the earth heats up. In windy, rainy or otherwise marginal conditions the pilot will postpone or cancel the flight – safety is the prime consideration – but generally flying conditions are good and the cancellation rate is low.
Upon arrival at the launch site, passengers are offered tea, coffee and biscuits and have an opportunity to take photos of the preparation of the balloon for flight. When the balloon is ready and the passengers are on board, the pilot explains what to expect on launch, in flight and on landing. The flight is a scenic experience and lasts about an hour. On landing Cape sparkling wine (a Cap Classique Wine) to celebrate the flight in the champagne ballooning tradition will be served.
After the flight passengers join the pilot for breakfast at a country lodge (included) and for the presentation of flight certificates. (note, this is an optional extra excursion, and is subject to availability and appropriate weather conditions)
After breakfast we will explore the “panorama route” of Mpumalanga, only returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.
Dinner and overnight Casa do Sol.
Day 9 - Ithala Game Reserve
Early morning departure for Ithala Game Reserve.
We travel to Ithala Game Reserve via Swaziland, an independent kingdom within the borders of South Africa and Mozambique.
Swaziland is a small country, no more than 200 kilometres (120 miles) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 miles) east to west. The western half is mountainous, descending to a lowveld region to the east. The eastern border with Mozambique and South Africa is dominated by the escarpment of the Lebombo Mountains.
Leaving Swaziland we proceed to Ithala Game Reserve where we will be staying at Ntshondwe Camp for the next two nights.
Day 10 - Ithala Game Reserve
Morning and afternoon game drives in Ithala.
This magnificent reserve, tumbling from the heights of the Ngotshe Mountains a thousand meters down into a deep valley, carved over the eons by the Phongolo River revealing the world's oldest rock formations, is a game viewers paradise. Situated in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal, the reserve's multitude of habitats host a spectacular array of wildlife species. Its scenic beauty aside, Ithala's most characteristic feature is perhaps it’s astonishing geological diversity. Some of the oldest rock formations in the world are found here, dating back 3 000 million years. With a topographic profile varying from 400m above sea level in the north to 1 450m near Louwsburg in the south, Ithala's terrain extends over lowveld and densely vegetated riverine valleys to high-lying grassland plateaus, ridges and cliff faces.
Overnight Ntshondwe Camp, Ithala.
Day 11 - Depart for Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve
After a final game drive in Ithala we depart for Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve.
Overnight either Muntulu or Munyawaneni bushcamp in Hluhluwe/Imfolozi.
Day 12 - Hluhluwe, game drives/walks
Originally set aside by the Zulu Kingdom as a royal hunting ground, the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve is by far the largest - and arguably the best - game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Rhino Capture Unit of the park can take credit for helping save the endangered White Rhino from the brink of extinction. Today the reserve has over 1600 white rhino in the reserve and has relocated hundreds of these magnificent animals to game reserves around the world.
The Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve supports healthy populations of all Big Five, as well as dozens of other large game, and a wide range of other smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Morning and afternoon game drives, as well as guided walks from the camp will be offered for the duration of our stay.
Day 13 - Kosi Forest Lodge
Morning departure for Kosi Forest Lodge.
Kosi Forest Lodge is situated in the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. This 16-bed wilderness lodge offers the unique opportunity of exploring a pristine wetland environment by vehicle, guided canoes and boats.
A typical day at Kosi Forest Lodge:
When you awake in the morning at Kosi the suites are surrounded by beautiful trees which are a haven for a prolific bird life. You will be welcomed by a flask of boiling water and the weather report for the day – so you can decide where you want to explore that day over a hearty breakfast.
The highlight for many at Kosi Forest Lodge is the canoe trip on the Kosi Lakes. The best time for this activity is in the early morning and lasts for approximately 2hours. Guides escort you by canoe along the Sihadla channel where the bird life is very rewarding and the scenery peaceful and breathtaking.
You will return for a delicious lunch and a siesta before embarking on your afternoon activity.
On the afternoon you can enjoy a walk through magnificent Raffia Palms – the tallest in the world! Home to the Palm Nut Vulture and Pel’s Fishing Owl, the area can be explored by birders at their leisure.
When you return from your afternoon activity you will have time to freshen up before coming through to enjoy a delicious meal on either the main deck or in the Boma. The lodge is charming and as it is not on mains electricity, the pathways and eating venues are lit by lanterns and create a warm atmosphere to enjoy the sounds of the night.
The Kosi Lakes are a series of interconnected lakes which stretch over some 18km. The best way to see the system is by boat. The full day excursion leaves shortly after breakfast and travels through the lake system and estuarine waterways. The guides stop along the way and explain the traditional fishing trips and the traditions the Tsonga community have to live in balance with the lake system. A picnic lunch is served once you reach the end of the lakes and then you visit Bhanga Nek beach for a swim.
Kosi Forest Lodge guests are accommodated in thatched bedrooms, on raised wooden decks, hidden in the sand forest. There is no electricity, but that’s part of the charm! All beds have mosquito nets. The unique open-air, reed enclosed bathrooms with the bath and shower sunk into white forest sand, has been noted by many guests as one of the highlights of their stay.
Day 14 - Kosi Forest Lodge
A further day will be spent at Kosi Forest Lodge with morning and afternoon activities offered from the lodge.
Day 15 - Tembe Elephant Park
Tembe is situated in the north eastern region of KwaZulu Natal, now known as the Elephant Coast. This reserve was established in 1983 to protect the last remaining herds of “free-ranging” Elephant in South Africa, known as the “Great Tuskers”. These herds migrated seasonally between Mozambique and the north of Zululand; however they faced constant harassment over the border, and preferred to stay in the dense Sand Forest thickets of Tembe. Tembe is one of the few places left in South Africa where the true African wilderness experience can still be enjoyed.
Afternoon game drive in Tembe, overnight Tembe.
Day 16 - Tembe, game drives
Today will be set aside exploring this magnificent reserve. The reserve covers differing terrains and eco-systems, from dense Sand Forest thickets, woodlands, savanna and swamplands to provide an ideal habitat for the resident Elephant population. In addition to Elephant Tembe also supports a healthy population of Black Rhino, White Rhino Buffalo, Hyena, Giraffe, Leopard, Jackal, Wildebeest, Kudu, Waterbuck, Reed Buck, the scarce and diminutive Suni antelope, and much more.
Day 17 - Depart for Richards Bay
After a final game drive in Tembe we depart for Richards Bay, where the afternoon will be at leisure.
Overnight B&B Richards Bay
Day 18 - Fly from Richards Bay to JHB
Morning flight from Richards Bay to Johannesburg.
We enjoyed laughter, sunsets, elephants tussling and drinking water, hippos in St. Lucia estuary, dipping our toes in the Indian Ocean and so much more. It truly was a wonderful, memorable visit that will linger inside us forever. Thank you Outdoor Africa!
THANK YOU OUTDOOR AFRICA for providing me with the experience of a lifetime. Toby customized the trip based on our specific preferences and abilities. Hayden was truly a wealth of knowledge about all things South African and I learned to really appreciate nature in a way that I never had before.
We could not have had a better trip! My husband worked with Toby Brown in the U.S. who then coordinated with Hayden Elliott over in SA. We had three weeks with Hayden driving us the entire time. His knowledge of the area, animals, birds, etc. was amazing.