Nelspruit and area
Nelspruit itself does not have many specific attractions but the surrounding area is beautiful and driving around the lowveld is worth it!
- Nelspruit – Botanical gardens is good, local shopping, and good hotels and local wildlife rehabilitation centrums
- Sudwala caves – About an hours drive out Nelspruit the caves feature some of the oldest formations in the area. There is also a crystal tour (guided) into the deeper smaller caves and halls. Right by the caves is also a dinasaur park which is good to do on the same day.
- Kaapshehoop – A small town 30 min drive from nelspruit. Known for it’s hiking and horse trails (you can arrange the horse trails online or when there) There is also a wild horse herd and an albino baboon to spot if you are lucky. Have a pancake in the little historic town.
- God’s window – Most beautiful views over the lowveld, with hiking trails. Waterfalls also in this area.
- Pilgrims rest – Small historic town, known for its authentic apperance kept as in the early days. Also the area where the jock of the bushveld story happened.
- Bourke’s luck potholes – Natural pools carved in stone over years by the water in the area. You can even take a dive into it. Waterfall too.
- Blyde River Canyon – While it is difficult to compare canyons world-wide, Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it’s the largest ‘green canyon’ due to its lush subtropical foliage. Either check it out from the numerous viewpoints or hike the canyon in true adventure style.
In between all the above spots as you are driving you will find many gems like little towns, spectacular views, cute restaurants, and misty nature.
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west.
- I’d say a car is required. You can always arrange a safari at the camp you are staying. But if you feel like the full tourist experience there are some longer safari experiences (3 – 5 days) (Map available here)
- So the kruger park is quite big with many camps where you can overnight between your day trips in the park. The biggest camp is Skukuza and also where the locals stay (there is even a school). The museum is also in this park. So I suggest you stop over there or at least visit in one of your travels.
- Not sure what type of accomodation you are considering – most camps has chalets, tent camps and pre setup tents. The chalets and rooms are top notch and has good wervice with all the required hotel facilities. There are a few smaller camps where only tents / caravans can stay over – you will be able to easily find this on the internet.
- Best time to go is in fact in the winter due to water being scarce and your chances of seeing animals at waterholes are very good. Second reason is that the foilage is very dense in the summer due to raining season – making it animals difficult to spot (specially cause they lie in the shades due to the heat). But with a good guide / keen pair of eyes I’m sure you’ll see what your heart desire in the summer.
- Basic rules in the camp is posted everywhere but to emphasis – don’t get out of your car unless in park or designated area (the good photo is not worth you becoming prey). If there are monkeys or baboons – close all windows (they will come into the car if they see something they want – and they can do quite some damage). Keep to the speed limit.
- I’m more familiar with the southern side of the park (as it is closer to Nelspruit where I used to live) Lower sabie has a magnificent view over the river so you can actually see wildlife coming to the river without even going out of the camp (remeber your binoculars). There are picknic sites and view points all over the park – this is nice to see many animals and in the picknic sites to stretch your legs a bit! (Tshokwane is one of my family’s favourite picknick sites)
- If you are specifically interested in certain animals then keep that in mind in your planning – due to the size of the park animals tend to stay in areas more suitable for their needs (eg. Rhino love bush and scrubs / lions & cheetas like more open fields / leopards need their trees
- Animals (other than the big 5 to look out for):
- Wild dog – Currenlty one of the most difficult to spot in the park and numbers are also declining.
- Giraffe – Sure you will see one, but always interesting to see them use their .5 metre tongue
- Vultures – Their size still amaze me – we usually spot them flying in circles in the air above a possible meal (then head in that direction)
- Snakes and turtles – Always fun to see one of them crossing the road, so keep a look out to ensure you don’t drive over them.
- Hyena’s – Fascinating but ugly!
Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport – There is a close airport by kruger park with flights from Cape Town / Johannesburg. You can rent a car there or I’m sure there would be shuttles to your destination if you have a booked safari. Around the Kruger Park there are also many other private game lodges – these can offer a more personalised experience and even some close up encounters with wildlife (Mabalingwe / Londolozi and many more)