Elephants, Kruger National Park
Elephants, Kruger National Park

Introduction: 

This is an exciting new offering from Lawson’s, taking in South Africa’s two largest and most authentic wildlife regions – the the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Greater Kruger National Park. We start off with a flight to Upington for 3 nights at a lodge on the Botswana side of the Nossob Riverbed in the Kgalagadi TFP. The trans-national park incorporates some 36 000 km² of semi-arid savanna habitat that is home to an array of nomadic herds of antelope and associated predators, where the open habitat and water scarcity make for a particularly exciting photographic destination. From there we head back to Johannesburg and on to Dullstroom for a night before we continue eastwards to the Kruger. The Greater Kruger concept incorporates the National Park and the neighbouring private game reserves, of which the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is undoubtedly one of the top big cat destinations on the continent. Our itinerary will include 3 nights in the Kruger itself, followed by 3 nights at a lodge in the Sabi Sands as a grand finale to what promises to be an exciting and rewarding wildlife and photographic safari experience.

11 – 21 May 2019 (10 nights / 11 days)

Starts in Johannesburg (O. R. Tambo International Airport) on the 11th May 2019 with a flight to Upington. Participants are advised to overnight in Johannesburg on the 10th, as it’s a long travel day if only arriving from international destinations on the same morning (though it is possible to arrive on the 11th on early morning international arrivals).  Tour ends at Kruger / Mpumalanga International Airport on the 21st May for afternoon flights back to Johannesburg. Please check with us before booking any flights.

2019: ZAR 72 895 per person sharing, ZAR 10 900 single supplement

Price subject to change based on external factors. Price is based on a minimum of 4 participants. Small group surcharge will be levied for groups smaller than 4 participants. Please contact us for more detail.

Includes
• Accommodation
• All meals
• Entrance fees
• Ground transport
• Bottled water in Lawson’s vehicle whilst travelling
• Personalised checklists
• Specialist guide fees

Excludes
• All airfares
• Travel and medical insurance
• All drinks
• Optional excursions where applicable
• Gratuities
• Items of a personal nature

Note
• This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions at the time and other factors beyond our control.
• The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of the possible ones we may see on the tour, however, none of these can be guaranteed even though every effort will be made where possible to locate them. A full list of possibles appears on your checklist.

Group size: limited to a maximum of 6 participants.

Areas visited: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

Expected weather conditions: Warm to hot in general; some chance of late seasonal rains. Can be cool to cold on open vehicles, especially on the morning drives.

Tour tempo: Medium, lots of early morning starts but full days in the same camp usually entail mid-day rest periods.

Accommodation standards: medium to high; National Park rest camps and private lodges.

Mammal viewing: excellent; mammals are the main focus of the safari. Tops for big cats. Chances for Wild Dog in Kruger and Sabi Sands.

Top mammals: The Big Five, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, African Wild Cat, Meerkat, Cape and Bat-eared Foxes, Gemsbok, Honey Badger, Nyala.

Birding in brief: excellent overall, good diversity; particularly good for raptors.

Top birds: Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Secretarybird, Lappet-faced Vulture, Red-necked Falcon, Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Lilac-breasted Roller, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.

Add-ons: Cape Town and Victoria Falls make good add-on options for this safari.

Kruger & Kalahari
Start Johannesburg / end KMIA. 1: Rooiputs. 2: Dullstroom. 3: Satara. 4: Lower Sabie. 5: Idube Game Lodge.

Days 1 – 3: 1 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Rooiputs
We’ll start off the tour with a flight from Johannesburg to Upington (participants are advised to overnight in Johannesburg on the day before, as it’s a long day of travel). On arrival we’ll get a transfer through to Twee Rivieren, where we enter the Kgalagadi Transfronteir Park, and from there we’ll continue on to Rooiputs Lodge on the Botswana side of the Nossob River, our base for the next few days. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) is an amalgamation of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park of South Africa and the Gemsbok / Mabuasehube Parks of neighbouring Botswana, creating a massive 38 000 square kilometre reserve comprising miles and miles of linear sand dunes, Acacia savannah, fossilised riverbeds and salt pans. There are two so called fossilised riverbeds running through the park, the Auob and Nossob Rivers, which only flow on rare occasions. There are numerous artificial water points along these riverbeds however, and this is where most of the game is concentrated, during the dry season at least. In between the river beds lies a vast expanse of undulating dune fields, where only the hardiest of creatures can survive through the dry season. Our routine will include morning and afternoon drives in open safari vehicles, and no doubt we’ll get to know the Kalahari very well indeed during our time spent here. Mammals to be seen include an exciting array of predators such as Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Cat, Honey Badger, Spotted and Brown Hyenas. Raptors can be prolific as well, and there is usually plenty of general game along the Nossob Riverbed to keep us occupied between predator sightings.

Day 4:  Dullstroom
Today we’ll wrap up our time in the awesome Kalahari and make our way back to Upington after breakfast for a flight to Johannesburg. From there we’ll take a couple of hours to drive eastwards to Dullstroom, a charming country town in the Mpumalanga Highlands, where we will spend the night, with time to freshen up before dinner in one of the town’s numerous restaurants.  

Days 5 – 6:  Kruger National Park, Satara
Today we’ll start off with an early breakfast before we make our way to the Kruger National Park, where our first stop is Satara Rest Camp, one of the top-rated camps for predator viewing. The Satara area is characterised by open plains dotted with large trees such as Knob-thorn, Marula and Leadwood, creating some classic African savannah scenery, while stands of Lala Palms grow on the alluvial soils and ribbons of riverine thicket line the dry river beds. There are no large rivers in the area but smaller creeks such as the Nwanetsi and Mavumbye usually hold water in standing pools even through the driest of seasons, attracting all manner of game species. The underlying basalt soils encourage good grass growth which favours the bulk grazers such as Burchell’s Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, African Buffalo and Common Waterbuck. These in turn support a healthy predator population, with numerous Lion prides and Spotted Hyena clans forming the top of the hierarchy while Leopard and Cheetah feed on the smaller prey species such as Impala, Warthog and Steenbuck. As with the other regions of the park Elephants are common here, and we hope to see some White Rhinos, which are more common south of the Olifants River. Large herds of Buffalo can be encountered in the area as well, some of them numbering well over 500 individuals. We stay in comfortable thatch chalets with en-suite bathrooms, and will spend time out in the reserve game viewing and time in camp just relaxing and enjoying life!

Day 7:  Kruger National Park, Lower Sabie
After a last early morning drive from Satara we will have breakfast and head south to Lower Sabie Rest Camp, 92 kilometres away. Lower Sabie is a wonderful camp, situated on the southern bank of the Sabie River in the south-eastern corner of the park. The river is the life-blood of the area, especially during the dry season, when much of the activity is congregated on or close to the river banks. In addition to the riverine habitat, the Basalt Plains extend in a long finger from Satara down to Lower Sabie, adding to the mix of habitats. The water in the river and the mix of habitats is the reason that the Lower Sabie region boasts some of the most consistent game viewing in the whole of the park. During the day time can be spent on the large wooden deck outside the restaurant overlooking a weir in the river which holds numerous pods of Hippopotamus as well as large Nile Crocodiles and water birds such as Yellow-billed Storks, Egyptian Geese, Pied and Giant Kingfishers, Water Thick-knees and many others. Just outside the camp gates is a well-known waterhole called Sunset Dam, which also provides a haven for Hippopotami, Nile Crocodiles and water-associated birds, and this is a great place to set up for an extended photography session during the day. We’ll probably only get to camp in the mid to late afternoon, and will have some time to relax in camp before dinner.

Days 8 – 10:  Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Today we’ll have the chance for a short morning drive before breakfast and departure on the journey out of the park, exiting at Paul Kruger Gat, with a last chance in Kruger for some game viewing as we drive. We then have a drive through the rural villages outside the western boundary of the park before we enter the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, a 65 000 hectare piece of private land that is contiguous with the neighbouring national park. This reserve has a long conservation history and now boasts what is arguably the best Leopard viewing in the world. The reserve is home to all six species of cat found in the eastern regions of the country, although it is most famous for its regular close-up encounters with Lion and Leopard. As Cheetahs have such large home ranges they are not always present in the reserve (moving freely between the Sabi Sands and the Kruger Park). Man’s activities have benefited them here in the Sabi Sands however, as the many small artificial dams and pans result in a large resident Impala population, which in turn attracts these roving predators into the area on a regular basis. Part of the thrill here in at the private lodges is observing the expert Shangaan tracker at work as he uses his incredible knowledge, skill and intuition to find these cats for us. On an afternoon drive a pride of Lions might be resting up almost invisibly in some long grass, but the morning drive may find them out on the hunt – each drive is a completely different experience and the three-night stay will give us enough time out in the bush to ensure ample cat sightings and encounters. The fantastic game-viewing will be complemented by optional bush walks, where we get a chance to get closer to the ground and learn about some of the smaller creatures and the links that hold the whole ecosystem together. Fantastic accommodation and superb dining will augment the experience – it doesn’t get much better than this! Each full day thus entails a morning safari, followed by breakfast, an optional bush walk (please see the section on walks below this itinerary for more on this activity), lunch and a rest period followed by an afternoon safari that returns to camp after dark, giving us the chance to observe cats moving about under the cover of night. All in all a wonderful way to end of this safari experience of a lifetime.

Bush Walks:
Bush walks are undertaken under the leadership of an armed guide and a tracker. The main point is not to see big game, as this is more easily done in the vehicle, but rather to get closer to the ground and learn about the smaller life forms, tracks and signs, birds and their nests and the general ecology. However, encounters with potentially dangerous game are possible, even if not actually sought out. The guides are trained to deal with such animals, but there are rare occasions when ‘evasive action’ is required, which may entail climbing trees, or running to the nearest cover. If you are not physically able to undertake such action, it might be better to not partake in the bush walk. Participation is also at the discretion of the lodge guide who will be leading the walk. 

Day 11: Departure
Today we wrap up the safari with a last morning drive followed by breakfast and departure for Kruger / Mpumalanga Airport for the flight back to Johannesburg.

Species list coming soon!

This is a new tour, so there is no trip report yet.

Join Kruger & Kalahari!