Camping in Kruger National Park
We have been to The Kruger twice now. Our first trip was in a rented a KEA bakkie (“truck” for my readers in the states) which had a camper/caravan. We stayed in campgrounds with it, and it was a nice experience. The bed was comfortable, it had its own refrigerator and freezer, and it gave us a higher viewing area for driving around the park than our car.
I gave you the specs on it before we went on our first Kruger trip in this blog post.
It definitely had the advantage of convenience. Everything camping related had a spot on the inside or outside of the camper. We simply plugged the vehicle into one of the electric posts at the rest camp (campground) and recharged it every night. (Not all campsites have electricity, so you do need to check that ahead of time!) We frequently used the blue lighting feature so as not to attract any mosquito or other bugs. We still managed to get a few bites, but that’s owing more to our lack of insect repellant.
It was fairly easy to set up in the evening, and almost as easy to pack up for the day. I say “almost” because we did struggle to get the bed all tucked back in and the side put up in the mornings.
My favorite part was the ease of cooking. A compartment on the exterior expanded to provide a small propane-fueled cookstove, complete with hot water next to it for washing dishes when finished.
While we opted not to wash dishes at the bakkie, since our rest camps had kitchen facilities, it was nice to have for a quick rinse of the hands. We also opted out of using the shower feature, since the rest camp had nice bathrooms and the shower had no privacy feature.
It was a pricey option, but we enjoyed the experience. We also stayed a couple nights in one of the huts at Olifants Rest Camp, cooking dinner in the communal kitchen, eating it on the porch, and enjoying a late night cup of hot chocolate.
For us, though, nothing beats tent camping. Sure our bodies are a little creaky and stiff in the mornings, especially as we age, but we love the feeling of being closer to the sounds and sights of everything just outside our tent.
In Pretorius Kop we arrived early and pitched our tent against the perimeter fence. We were rewarded with sounds we couldn’t identify on the other side of the fence: some shuffling; some scuffling; some snorting; and chewing. We were deliriously tired from each day’s trek around the park, so often we just let the noises go in and out of our slumber.
Occasionally I would wake and enjoy listening to nearby hyenas whooping: a slow-rising “ooooooowep!” that would break off, clipped and descending. I recognized the sound from our first stay in The Kruger, where we heard it each night at Crocodile Bridge and had a game guide identify the sound for us.
Below is a hyena whooping. Feel free to fast-forward to minute 3:45 when it really gets going, if you don’t want to spend 3 minutes just watching a hyena just lying there. (Honestly, I’m grateful people post these videos, but it would be wonderful if posters would just crop it for the portion with whooping only.) It’s a creepy sound the first time you hear it, in the middle of the night in a Rest Camp. You don’t know what it is, or how far away…
Kurt braai’d the first night, with tasty Russians (a type of sausage). I cooked in the communal kitchen for the 2nd and 3rd nights.
Forgetting our chairs, we had dinner each night on a picnic blanket, watching the sunset, watching a distant veld fire, and then just lying back and watching the stars.
It rained the third night, so we used the porch feature of the tent we had borrowed from friends, and made ourselves comfy on the ground inside the overhang, enjoying the cool breeze from the rain and watching the fenceline.
One of our nights in Pretorius Kop we had a herd of elephants come graze along the fence. They had the tiniest babies among them, and most campers were careful to keep torches (flashlights) brief and away from eyes. The torches were so bright though, that even without flash I was able to take many photos.
That night we fell asleep to the sound of breaking branches as the elephants made their way along the perimeter.
We probably won’t go Krugering again until we have a visitor from home who wants to go. We’re hoping that’s sooner, rather than later. 😉