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Kruger private reserves + Panorama Route

 

This trip


For those who don’t feel like a full-time safari we have a 12-day schedule of which the first part is being spent on the Panorama route, followed by a safari in big five areas.



In a nutshell

Number of nights:

Lodges:



Price:











International flights:


12

Rukiya Camp (4 nights)
Africa On Foot Camp (4 nights)
Shindzela Camp (4 nights)

From 29.500 Rand / 2.205 $ / 1.740 £ / 2.050 € per person
Includes local flights from/to Johannesburg
Includes all inter-lodge transfers, and transfers to and from the airport
Includes full day excursion on the Panorama Route. See details below
Includes full day excursion to Kruger National Parks. See details below
Includes a lot of other activities while at Rukiya Camp. See details below
Africa On Foot; includes two daily game drives in Klaserie private reserve
Shindzela; includes two daily game drives in Timbavati private reserve

Based on double room occupancy
Price depending on season

Not included
Approximately 380 £ per person from UK, or 850 $ per person from US
See examples at the bottom of this page


Strong points

 

On the Panorama Route:
  • ◦   Ultra complete visit to the Panorama Route
  • ◦   Safari completely in private reserves open to Kruger
  • ◦   Including a boat trip on the Blyde River
  • ◦   Including a lot of other safari activities. No chance to get bored!

The safari-part:
  • ◦   Safari in private reserves with open borders to Kruger National Park
  • ◦   Off-roading, bush walks and night drives allowed
  • ◦   Qualitative wildlife encounters; maximum three vehicles per sighting meaning no "bush jams"
  • ◦   Experienced guides and trackers

In general:
  • ◦   Qualitative and very comfortable lodges
  • ◦   Local flights from/ to Johannesburg included
  • ◦   Can easily be extended with a Mozambique beach holiday
 



Lodges


 
 
 

Rukiya Camp

 
 
 
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Located between Drakensberg mountains and Greater Kruger Area, on the banks of the Blyde rivier (Which also flows through Blyde River Canyon).

This lodge is located in Wild Rivers Estate, a reserve just north of Hoedspruit. The airport is a mere twenty minutes away. The reserve is on the west side of the R40, which of course is a difference compared to reserves on the east side of the R40. The latter usually have open borders towards Kruger National Park. However, all wildlife can reach Wild Rivers Estate, via the Blyde- and Olifants rivers which flow under the R40. In other words; even though Wild Rivers is not known as a big five reserve, animals have made it their home. We haven't seen lions yet, but have heard them on the other side of Blyde River, across from Rukiya Camp. It is only a matter of time.

At Rukiya Camp your accommodation is a safari-tent with en-suite bathroom (with shower, wash basin and toilet), a fan, and a terrace with view on the Blyde River. The Camp is brand new (launched April 2016).
 
 
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Why this lodge? There's multiple reasons!

First of all; Rukiya Camp is a better lodge than any other lodge or hotel in the Drakensberg mountains itself. On the mountain it's much more chilly (and therefor less pleasant in the evening, which is the only moment when you spend quality time at your lodge), and the accommodation on the mountain is rather the "regular hotel room in a small private garden" type. A safari tent in pure nature is of course a step up from that. Traveling distances aren't a problem either. Rukiya is only a twenty minute drive from the start of the Panorama Route. And to get to any other tourist attraction nearby (example; Kruger National Park), Rukiya is actually a better choice compared to any lodge in the mountains; Phalaborwa gate as well as Orpen gate are easy to get to.

But there's more than just the location. The owner of Rukiya Camp is a very experienced wildlife guide. He's the one taking you to Kruger National Park. And he's the one accompanying you during all other safari activities. Only for the full day trip to the Drakensberg mountains, Rukiya seeks the (external) help of a specialised firm for this part of your trip.

What it all comes down to; The Africa Bug used to foresee a rental car for all customers who wanted to visit the Drakenberg mountains. But now, by using Rukiya Camp, this is no longer needed! they take you to all major attractions, provide professional accompaniment, and provide all meals (which is usually not the case if you choose any lodge in the mountains).

And the best news of all? Despite the fact that all day trips are now included (see itinerary in detail below; you will not get a chance to be bored), and despite the fact that now all meals are included ...this trip hasn't become one cent more expensive, when compared to it's previous version of this sample trip that we had on our site!
 
 
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Africa On Foot Camp

 
 
 
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Africa On Foot camp is situated in the south part of Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, where you can also find its sister lodge; nThambo Tree Camp.

This camp specialises in Big Five safaris and walking safaris in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve; a wildlife rich region in the heart of the Greater Kruger. The Klaserie shares unfenced borders with the Kruger National Park which means predators and other wildlife roam freely throughout.

The focus of the walking safaris is on animal tracks and droppings, trees, grasses, insects,… But you can also experience a big 5 encounter.

On a walking safari guests will be led by experienced and professional game rangers through a wildlife area rich in game. The game rangers are obliged to take a rifle on the walks, to be able to protect guests if needed (which would be highly unusual).
Please note that children younger than 16 are not allowed on walks. They have the option to do a game drive instead.
 
 
Africa On Foot Camp has 5 chalets ensuring an intimate and personal safari experience. On hot summer days guests can relax at the splash pool and enjoy a traditional South African barbecue (braai) around the camp fire area in the boma.

This camp has regular rooms which accommodate 2 guests, but they have two family rooms as well. These sleep 2 adults and 2 children. All chalets are with thatched roof. They have an en-suite bathroom which have an outside shower in the regular rooms.

For the more adventurous there is a treehouse which can be booked at no extra cost.

It is a real bush camp, they’re off the grid and supply power by means of solar panels and a generator. There’s no A/C on the room but each room has a fan. You can recharge your phone and batteries in the main area.
Free wifi is available.

Meals (buffet style or plated) are served at set times but the atmosphere is casual. They offer a style of dining where all the guests eat together and talk about their safari experience.
 
 
 
 

Shindzela

 
 
 
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Shindzela safari camp is a 12 bed tented lodge, situated in the middle of Timbavati Private Reserve, right next to the known Ngala concession from AndBeyond (where a night's stay is a lot more expensive; just google it) and very close to the Kruger National Park borders.

Shindzela tented safari camp was established by Dave, an old-school FGASA level 3 guide (of which there are only a few). He learned the ropes from the old hands in the safari business and from legendary game rangers in the Kruger National Park like Bruce Lawson. Shindzela used to be owned by the Transfrontier group, an well known safari company. When the owners separated, Dave bought the lodge and continued on his own. Dave kept the old-school approach; for him the number of sighting is less important than the quality. There's nothing in between you and nature!

By now Dave is enjoying his well deserved retirement and the camp is now owned by three brothers. These gentlemen Put the first "Gomo Gomo" lodge on the map (now called Simbavati River Lodge) and repeated that success with the current succes with the current Gomo Gomo lodge (in Klaserie Private Reserve).

 
 
They left Gomo Gomo lodge and took over Shindzela tented safari camp.  They also managed to pursuade legendary guide Johan Smalman to join them.

Shindzela tented safari camp is certainly a hidden gem. Extra attention has been paid to bush walks; each morning you can opt between a game drive or pure bush walk. During bush walks you learn a lot about tracks, animal droppings, plants and trees and the finer details of nature's ecological web. This is the guides' way to take you as close to nature as possible.


Meals are home cooked and hearty; this is another plus for Shindzela tented safari camp; their chef's ability to create awesome meals with simple ingrediënts and served with pride!

 
 
 
 



Safari
itinerary
in detail



 
 

Day 1


Day 2





Day 3




Day 4





Day 5




Day 6






Day 7






Day 8






Day 9






Day 10






Day 11






Day 12






Day 13






Day 14





Day 15

Morning (US) or afternoon (EU); depature. International flight to South Africa.


Morning: arrival in Johannesburg
Noon: flight from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and transfer to Rukiya Camp
Afternoon: game drive on Wild Rivers Estate. Sundowner with view on the mountains
Evening/night; dinner and overnight at Rukiya Camp


Morning: breakfast and game drive in Balule reserve (Excellence Farm)
Afternoon; lunch and game drive in Tshukudu Private Reserve
Evening/night; dinner and overnight at Rukiya Camp


Morning: breakfast
Whole Day: guided tour of the Panorama Route. Lunch pack included
(Blyde River Canyon, Gods Window, Bourke's potholes, lots of waterfalls, Pilgrims Rest, etc)
Evening/night; dinner and overnight at Rukiya Camp


Morning: breakfast
Whole Day: guided tour in Kruger National Park. Pick nick lunch included
Evening/night; dinner and overnight at Rukiya Camp


Morning: breakfast and boat tour on Blyde River dam
Noon: transfer to Hoedspruit airport and transfer to Africa On Foot Camp
Afternoon: light lunch and game drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Africa On Foot Camp


Morning: game walk in Klaserie Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Africa On Foot Camp


Morning: game walk in Klaserie Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Africa On Foot Camp


Morning: game walk in Klaserie Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Klaserie Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Africa On Foot Camp


Morning: game walk in Klaserie Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: transfer to Shindzela Camp, relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Camp


Morning: game walk or drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Camp


Morning: game walk or drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Camp


Morning: game walk or drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: relax in camp and have a light lunch
Afternoon: game drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Evening: night drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, followed by dinner
Overnight at Shindzela Camp


Morning: game walk or drive in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve followed by breakfast
Noon: transfer to Hoedspruit Airport
Afternoon; flight from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg
Evening: International flight home


Morning/noon: arrival in EU/UK/US

 
 

Included / not included

 

Included;

  • ◦   Local flight Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and back
  • ◦   All accommodation as mentioned above
  • ◦   All meals as mentioned above
  • ◦   All activities as mentioned above
  • ◦   All transfers between airports and lodges, and between lodges themselves
  • ◦   Accompanied by experienced wildlife guides and trackers at all times
  • ◦   At Shindzela & Africa On Foot: two safari-activities per day (game drives, bush walks, night drives)


Not included;

  • ◦   International flights
  • ◦   Travel insurance
  • ◦   Personal expenditure
  • ◦   All drinks (but prices are rather low. For example; a soft drink is about 1,5$)
  • ◦   Medical expenditure (vaccinations, malaria tablets)
  • ◦   Tips & gratuities
  • ◦   Conservation levies. Private reserves ask for a small contribution per person and per vehicle,
  •       either payable at the gate or added to your bill at the end of your stay at every lodge.
  •       These are small amounts of 15 to 20$.
 
 

About international flights

 

There are uncountable ways to get to Johannesburg.

From EU: via Schiphol, Paris, Heathrow, or Frankfurt. Or using middle-eastern airlines (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad); via Doha or Dubai.

The latter are the cheapest (starting at around 500€ / 380£), and they deliver amazing quality; prices are lower because their governments subsidize them, not because they deliver sub-par quality. If you use them, what you have to watch out for is that you do not end up with too long stopovers in Doha/Dubai. And that those stopovers are not in the middle of the night.

There is no stopover-issue if you fly with British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa or Air France, in the sense that you get just one long flight (in one go all the way to Johannesburg), and this one is typically a red-eye. But they are a bit more expensive. Prices start at about 800€ / 610£, or 650€ if you are from Belgium (no direct Johannesburg-flight from Brussels means that all airlines from neighbouring countries compete for the Belgian customer).

From US (let's take JFK as airport of departure) the cheapest is Qatar airlines at about 850$. Again; watch out for long stopovers in Doha.

Also posible is South African airlines. They can take you directly from JFK to Johannesburg. Prices start at 1050$. Jetblue and United offer this too, but are more expensive (1270$ and 1670$ respectively). However, SA Airlines offers slightly lower quality.

Other options are Emirates, United and British Airways, with stopovers in respectively Dubai, Frankfurt and London. Prices starting between 1030$ and 1140$.

 
 

Additional info

 

There is a single supplement for any person traveling alone.

This trip can be extended to your wishes. For example, extending with a beach stay in Mozambique is very popular.