The KrugerExplorer App and website are a treasure trove of information for visits to South Africa's Kruger National Park. We are of the view that it is best for visitors to do their own research and work out what is the best route for them, because a 'perfect' experience for one is not necessarily the perfect experience for another - and Kruger offers a lot of different experiences!
Yet we still get lots of emails and Instagram messages asking us for our best itinerary for Kruger National Park! It's an almost impossible question to answer for so many different reasons, but we do understand that the array of options in the park can be overwhelming and so some broad ideas to get people started is no bad thing. We've therefore outlined a few Kruger itineraries here to get you started.
All of the suggested itineraries spend three nights in Kruger National Park. This is our recommended minimum trip length to ensure you see a variety of habitats and to maximise your chances of amazing wildlife sightings. We appreciate you may have less time available or may be looking to do something longer - either way, it offers a start point that you can build on.
It's also worth noting that we reference some of the Routes that are included in the KrugerExplorer App. The App is a superb planning resource and reading through these routes in the App will help you decide whether this itinerary is right for you, or will guide how you should adapt and change it to suit your own interests.
We hope you find this helpful!
Southern Kruger National Park Itinerary
Southern Kruger is the most popular area of the park for several reasons: there are a number of large rest camps in the area, the nearby entrance gates are all relatively short distances from Jo'burg and other major cities and towns, and game densities are high with great opportunities to spot predators.
The downside is that all this means it can get very busy, rather changing the experience of being 'in the wilderness'. It is still a wonderful place to explore but worth being aware of the differences with other areas of Kruger.
- Day 1: Enter Kruger National Park via the gate most convenient to your prior location. If you arrive early, you can spend the day doing the Great Gates Loop route which can offer a huge variety of sightings. Overnight at Skukuza rest camp.
- Day 2: The Big 5 Triangle route is an epic full-day drive that maximises the chances of seeing the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) as well many other mammal and bird species. Overnight at Skukuza rest camp.
- Day 3: Following the first half of the Sabie Waterways route during the morning takes you to Lower Sabie rest camp via intimate roads that offer outstanding sightings but with fewer other visitors. The Crocodile Bridge Loop route is the perfect late afternoon drive and brings you to Sunset Dam for a final flourish of animal activity. Overnight at Lower Sabie rest camp.
- Day 4: You have several choices of exit gate depending on where you need to get to later in the day. Repeat some favourite spots or try a few new roads en route to your departure from what should have been an outstanding few days of self-drive safari and game viewing.
Central Kruger National Park Itinerary
Central Kruger is one of our favourite areas of the park as it offers a variety of different habitats without having to drive huge distances. The stunning grassy plains of Satara are prime lion country, while the savannah and woodlands on the banks of the mighty Olifants and Letaba rivers host large herds of elephant and all manner of game.
Wildlife densities are a little lower in central Kruger compared to the south, but it is rarely as busy and offers more solitude and a remote atmosphere.
- Day 1: Enter Kruger National Park via Orpen Gate (nearest to the town of Hoedspruit). Following the Orpen to Satara route takes you through some superb game viewing territory and will get your safari off to an incredible start. If you have time, you could explore the S100 N'wanetsi River Road route (regarded as one of the best in Kruger) before sunset. Overnight at Satara rest camp.
- Day 2: The App's Into the South route explores the plains between Satara and Orpen Dam, taking you through some of the best big cat game viewing territories in Southern Africa. Finish with another run down the famous S100 just before sunset. Overnight at Satara rest camp.
- Day 3: A morning drive northwards on the Satara to Olifants route offers all sorts of wildlife sighting opportunities and traverses some stunning scenic areas. After lunch overlooking the breathtaking Olifants River, follow the Olifants to Letaba route to explore the high density wildlife between two of Kruger's most important and reliable waterways. Overnight at Letaba rest camp.
- Day 4: If time permits, explore the riverine habitats of the Engelhard Lookout route, before adventuring on the Letaba to Phalaborwa Gate route ahead of your departure from Kruger. We're certain you will have made many life-long memories!
Northern Kruger National Park Itinerary
Northern Kruger offers a very different experience. The game densities are generally lower but this is elephant and buffalo country and huge herds of both can be seen. Predators still follow in good numbers and visitor numbers are considerably lower here - you will travel distances without seeing other vehicles and have some sightings to yourself.
The far north offers unique subtropical and tropical habitats and some of the most spectacular scenery in the park, particularly around Pafuri and Punda Maria.
- Day 1: Enter Kruger National Park via Pafuri Gate. You will have travelled far to reach this northern outpost but it is well worth it and a superb adventure! Take the Pafuri Gate to Punda Maria App route to explore some of the most stunningly beautiful areas of Kruger. Overnight at Punda Maria rest camp.
- Day 2: Follow the Punda Maria to Shingwedzi route to explore prime elephant country - expect to get close to many! The afternoon can be spent on the intimate Red Rocks Road route before sunset over the seasonal Shingwedzi River. Overnight at Shingwedzi rest camp.
- Day 3: Adventuring on the incredible Shingwedzi to Mopani route takes you on an epic drive that is one of our very favourite in the entire Kruger National Park. Expect to see an incredible variety of mammals and birds on this route, including the potential for all the apex predators. Overnight at Mopani rest camp.
- Day 4: Driving the scenic route from Mopani to Phalaborwa Gate is a superb experience and often presents very special sightings as the perfect way to finish your northern Kruger self-drive safari.