A 3-night visit to Kruger is a wonderful amount of time to spend exploring the park, although be warned – you may still leave wishing you’d had longer!
3-nights gives you options too – you can explore a significant amount of the park by changing camp each night, or delve into understanding the day-to-day rhythms of a more local area by simply staying at one camp for your entire visit.
If you’d like to do the latter, read the detailed rest camp profiles found in this section of the KrugerExplorer App to pick the right one for your interests. The following itineraries are for visitors looking to change camps each night.
Into the Heart of Southern Kruger
Rest camps: Skukuza (1-night), Lower Sabie (1-night), Satara (1-night)
Perfect for… A magical tour of some of Kruger’s premier wildlife viewing areas
This itinerary covers some of the very best of what Kruger has to offer in terms of wildlife density and variety. Expect to tick off an extraordinary number of mammal and bird species in a short space of time. What’s the downside? These rest camps are, with good reason, very popular, so availability can be a challenge and sightings can become quite busy. If you’re looking for solitude, perhaps consider the north of the park, but if you’re looking for an incredible number of wildlife sightings then you are in the right place!
Enter Kruger via one of Paul Kruger Gate, Numbi Gate or Phabeni Gate, all approximately a 4-hour drive from Johannesburg. Search for lions and cheetahs along some of The Great Gates Loop route and visit the outstanding Lake Panic Hide as a last stop before sunset (the best time for photography at this world-famous birding spot). Accommodation is at Skukuza rest camp, the largest in Kruger. Enjoy a braai or visit the excellent Skukuza Cattle Baron restaurant with its stunning views over the Sabie River.
Leaving the rest camp as the gates open at sunrise, today’s Skukuza to Lower Sabie route follows the course of the mighty Sabie River and lets you explore all the habitats and wildlife that are supported by this important perennial water source. Take lunch overlooking a different part of the river at the Lower Sabie rest camp, before exploring the Crocodile Bridge Loop in the afternoon and returning to Lower Sabie for your overnight accommodation.
Today’s direction of travel is northward on the Lower Sabie to Satara route, first climbing through the Nkumbe hills and their astonishing views across the savannah, and before traversing the epic open vistas of the grassveld plains around Satara. A lunch stop-off can be taken at the café at the Tshokwane Picnic Site, and don’t forget to explore the S100 before sunset – one of Kruger’s most famous wildlife sightings roads. Overnight is at Satara rest camp, one of the best to hear nightly quarrels between laughing hyenas and roaring lions…!
You may also want to arrange a night drive here, with many of Kruger’s elusive nocturnal cat species being well represented in the local grassy plains.
The nearest park entrance to Satara is Orpen Gate, so your journey will take you west from the rest camp, but there are plenty of excellent game viewing roads, dams and waterholes along the Satara to Orpen route to explore. If you have more time, and depending on your next destination, you could head north along some of the best big cat roads in Kruger and make your way to Phalaborwa Gate instead.
Discovering Central Kruger
Rest camps: Mopani (1-night), Olifants (1-night), Satara (1-night)
Perfect for… Combining remoteness with outstanding wildlife sightings
While the south of Kruger is the most popular in terms of visitor numbers, the central areas of Kruger offer wide open spaces, huge perennial rivers, outstanding wildlife encounters (particularly big cats) and a bit more tranquillity and sense of escape. This central Kruger itinerary is quite compact in terms of mileage but packed full of some of our favourite Kruger spots to visit!
The first night’s accommodation is at Mopani, so entering the park via the Phalaborwa Gate is the most convenient option. Following the H14 section of the The Phalaborwa Region route, you traverse bush that offers a good amount of elephant, leopard and wild dog sightings, as well as excellent birding and dramatic views into the local river ravine. If you have time, a visit to the Shipandani Hide to see the resident hippo pod, crocodiles and a wide variety of water birdlife is a must. Enjoy a cold drink at the Mopani rest camp restaurant, perched on the hills with spectacular views over the Pioneer Dam down below.
This morning is all about looking for rare species on The Nshawu Plains route to the east of Mopani rest camp; these are some of the best roads in Kruger to find cheetah, roan and tsessebe, as well as many other large mammal species coming into drink on these marshy expanses. Heading south takes you past Letaba rest camp; it’s worth a stop here to see the amazing view of the Letaba River from the restaurant and spot the array of birdlife in the camp’s lush trees. The night is spent at the Olifants rest camp with yet another astonishing view, this time from high over the mighty Olifants River.
Leaving the camp at sunrise and heading south on the Satara Day Loop route takes you over the Olifants River bridge and gives you some of the best chances of seeing big cats in Kruger. We’ve seen lions, leopards and cheetahs in a single drive along the tarred and side roads between the river and Satara rest camp and while there are no guarantees, you give yourself the best chance by being on these roads! After lunch at Satara, the afternoon is for continuing on some Kruger’s best roads, including the famous S100. The last evening of your trip will be spent in the pleasant Satara rest camp.
The nearest park entrance to Satara is Orpen Gate, so your journey will take you west from the rest camp, but there are plenty of excellent game viewing roads, dams and waterholes along the Satara to Orpen route to explore. If you have more time, and depending on your next destination, you could return north and make your way to Phalaborwa Gate instead.
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All of the itineraries are suggested only – they can be reversed, changed or adapted as part of a wider trip depending on availability in each of the rest camps, but they are a great start point.
All enquiries for SANParks accommodation within Kruger National Park are handled by the wonderful team at our excellent and carefully selected partner Safari.com. They will be able to check availability, help with adjusting an itinerary depending on availability and get your reservation confirmed.
Their team can also help with booking SANParks accommodation at any other National Park within South Africa too – just let them know!