Tips on 3 Weeks in South Africa, including Self-Driving Safari at Kruger National Park

We’ve wrapped up our most fabulous South African adventure. After a week in Cape Town, we flew to Johannesburg and spent the rest of our time in Kruger National Park. We drove over 450 miles of Kruger roads, at 10-15 mph usually 7 hrs per day, slowly driving among wild animals. We’ve seen all the animals we expected to see and so many new ones I never knew existed.

We have been 3 ft away from feeding lions, 6 ft away from a young leopard and too close for comfort from an aggressive male elephant.

Planning this part of our trip was not easy and it required a lot of research to piece it together. We didn’t go for luxury safari option but have done this on a budget, staying in safari tents and cabins and doing our own game drives.

Looking back, we have all agreed 100% that we would not have enjoyed luxury safari half as much as we did the last couple of weeks.

Our time in South Africa is probably the most easily reproducible vacation and we could now guide others in creating an equally good if not better safari experience, on a budget.

There are too many links and resources to share in one post. Here are some links and tips:

Our Airbnb in Cape Town – (great neighborhood, any Airbnb around here would be fine, many are with swimming pools but July/August weather is not great for swimming, so not necessary).

Cape Town – don’t miss a hike up the Table Mountain, enjoy one of many outdoor markets, stop by the aquarium, definitely drive down the peninsula, in clockwise direction (that makes it easier to stop quickly (since you are driving on that side of the road) and see the sights). If going to Kruger later on, pay for the annual pass for national parks immediately at Cape Point park (tip of Africa) since a daily pass is pricey ($80 daily pass for 4 of us), eat in many of the restaurants on Kloof street, go to the botanical garden, do some wine tasting, etc.

Surf Lessons in Muizenberg –

Our accommodation between Johannesburg and Kruger –

Kruger National Park Reservations site – – we stayed in Berg-en-Dal, Crocodile Bridge, Skukuza and Satara and we highly recommend all four of these camps. Lower Sabie, Olifants, Letaba, etc. are also great. Making reservations on this site requires a bit of exploration but it’s reliable. Do not pay for the national park fee through the website, do so in person when you get there to get an annual pass (if you’ll be in parks for more than 4 days). Also, don’t book any morning or evening drives ahead of time, you’ll be able to do that at the camp, based on your mood and other circumstances).

Accommodations outside of the park –
App for tracking trip expenses (only for iOS) – Trail Wallet

Car rentals via Expedia – no issues with driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. You get used to it quickly. In Cape Town, we rented some midsize vehicle and for Kruger, we had a brand new Volkswagen Tiguan (good comfort and safety for 4 of us). Renting vehicles in South Africa is quite affordable and tolls and gas are inexpensive.

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