20 Days in Kruger National Park for $30.14/night
I’ve always been under the impression that you’d need to have a minimum $5,000 budget to enjoy Africa. Is that true? How far is Africa anyway? If you fly all the way across the globe to get there, can’t we stay as long as possible? When is the best time of year to go? What airlines fly direct or with the least stops? So many questions and time to get some answers. (Illustration by Kenneth Gitonga)
What Could We See & Do In Africa?
Photo by: Fine Art America
- Kenya: Photograph Flamingos in Lake Nakuru National Park
- Kenya: Search for the Big Five in Masai Mara Game Reserve
- Tanzania: View Wildlife at the Serengeti National Park
- Tanzania: Conquer Africa’s Highest Peak – Kilimanjaro
- Cape Town: Take in Waves and Have Ourselves a Surf Adventure
- Check out the world’s tallest Sand Dunes in the Namibian desert – at Dune 45
- Search for Lemurs on the Island of Madagascar
- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to Admire Mountain Gorillas in their Natural Habitat
This was easy for us to answer:
75% The Big 5 (Safaris) + 25% Victoria Falls
= 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Photo by: DestinationTravels999
What Part of Africa Should We Explore?
We decided on South Africa and specifically: Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, and Victoria Falls area.
Self Guided or Small Group Tour?
20 Days: South Africa, Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe
June 15 – July 1
Tour: $2,700 pp
Airfare: $1,560 pp
Total: $4,260 pp
– Spotting Big Five in Kruger National Park
– Gazing out across Victoria Falls
– Track rhinos in Matobo National Park
– Discover less-visited Zimbabwe
– Experienced Safari Experts
– Gear (just bring a sleeping bag and pillow)
– Nicely Planned Itinerary
*Flight: ~18 to 21 hours
*Tip #1: It was cheaper to fly out of Washington than New York.
*Tip #2: If you can’t travel non-stop, maximize your vacation during your layover (if time and your budget permits, of course). For example instead of a 2-hr layover in London we opted for a flight schedule that had a 13-hr layover so we can enjoy London for the day. I also read the article about the 10 Busiest Airports in the World – and How to Survive a Layover. Peruse through the article! I learned London Heathrow Airport offers massage services and you can even book a room at the Yotel Cabin to lounge at.
27 Days: Self Guided Kruger & Victoria Falls
May 29 – June 26
20 Days in Safari Tents: $602.77 pp
3 Days of Airfare Travel: $1,004.30 pp
4 Days / 3 Nights Victoria Falls: $699.27
4×4 Rental: $500 pp
Total: $2,806.34 pp*
*Extras: Food, Gas, and Excursions (Bush Walks, Evening Game Drives, etc.)
What we gained from planning it all on our own:
– Virgin Atlantic had a 13 hour Layover in London before touching down in Johannesburg – Awesome!
– 7 More Days in Africa
– Flying to Victoria (instead of a drive) gave us more time there and we’re staying in a hotel
– For a Photography-Enthusiast, the Freedom to Explore and take our time in all parts of Kruger National Park (said to be the size of New Jersey at 2,000,000 hectares or 4,942,107 acres) in our 4×4 SUV will be priceless!
** Ultimately, it does help that we’re traveling as a pair.
Tip on Flights to Africa: If you have some flexibility, playing around with dates for airfare can save you $500… like we did. Factor in South Africa’s Public and School Holidays. For example, we initially thought to end our trip at Victoria Falls but the flight from Johannesburg was 2x as expensive closer to the end of June.
June Weather in South Africa: Low 40s to High 60s (bring warm clothes… layer, layer, layer)
Let’s Go Camping
Where Will We Sleep? Safari Tents!
Has the zoo, in your neighborhood, ever enticed you to have a sleepover at the zoo? Their ad says, “Would you like to experience safari camping without having to travel to Africa?” I know they’re really asking kids to ask their parents to make this happen but how about us grown ups?!! I’ve personally only slept in a tent 2x in my life so far. Both times were only overnight and for a surfing adventure – to have the sounds of the waves as you sleep and wake. It was awesome!
We’ve narrowed down 4 Rest Camps within Kruger National Park to rest our heads and hunker down in Safari Tents.
Tip: We’re booking our trip 9 months in advance and some of these Safari Tent options were already sold out for the dates we initially had in mind. Plan and Reserve Early!!! I remember visiting Lonely Planet’s Africa Guide and checking out availability of hotels recommended – those were already sold out… 9 months out!! Wow.
Rest Camp Locations
I created this map to visualize where we’re sleeping, how long it would take to drive from one rest camp to another, and what sights are typically seen in the area of the rest camp. Maybe we can time it perfectly to get in on an evening game drive at the next rest camp?
Compact Car // 4×4 SUV
How will we get around in South Africa?
It’s going to be an adventure in itself driving on the other side of the road and some of the rental cars are manual, too. It’s good both of us know how to drive a stick shift! Now deciding on a compact or SUV 4×4? Compact is more affordable and you don’t have to worry about gas expenses as much. But, an SUV is much taller and can view over high grassy areas while in the park. Plus, the 4×4 aspect allows you to visit parts of the park dedicated only for those with 4×4 capabilities. Hmmmm. Don’t really want to feel like this: