With Nelspruit as our base, we drove to Kruger Park on Sunday. This was a new adventure for us. Instead of a booking a luxury lodge in a private game reserve, we took our own rental car into the national park for the day.
Technically we only had half a day, as our flight back to Joburg was at 4pm but we woke up early and drove from Nelspruit to the Malelane Entrance Gate in less than an hour.
We bought a day pass for 2 adults and registered our vehicle at the Gate which costs a total of R600. Which is like nothing if you come from Europe and you’ve been to Euro Disney; not that I would compare the two but still. But I digress. The whole process was well organized and didn’t take long at all.
You get a book, a map and some do’s and don’ts and you’re on your way. Kruger National Park is enormous, so we only covered a minuscule part of it. Driving slowly and stopping many times when you (think you) see animals. But it is fun to do on your own and the game viewing is really good. We drove from Marakele Gate to the north, on some of the smaller roads, passed several waterholes and saw lovely zebra, giraffes, elephants, baboons etc.
It was not very busy and it is a nice custom to stop and exchange information with approaching vehicles so you know if there is something interesting to see in the area. You can also follow Twitter exchanges that will tell you about spectacular sightings, mostly very far away.
We stopped for a velvet monkey infested picnic lunch at Afsaal and then continued on the voortrekkers road and left the park via Numbi Gate on the west side of the park. From there, it is an easy 50 minute drive to Kruger Mpumalanga airport.
Best: Game driving on your own has an extra special feel!
Worst: Our time was too short