Duration: 12 days
From: £ 4,234pp (excluding flights)
The Kruger National Park and its unfenced borders with Africa's finest game reserves is undoubtedly one of Mpumalanga's greatest highlight. Roughly the size of Wales, this is one of the easiest places to spot the 'Big Five' - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. The safari experience is perfected in The Kruger by sophisticated luxurious lodges offering the ultimate in luxury bush hideaways. To the north, the private reserves of Timbavati offer a completely different landscape to the popular Sabi Sands area in the south. Don't overlook Mpumalanga's other great sights: the spectacular Panorama Route, Blyde River Canyon, God's Window and Bourke's Luck Potholes.
Rangers and trackers stay in radio contact to maximise their guests’ chances of sighting the Big Five – along with cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and many others. Most lodges follow a fairly standard but laid-back daily routine, with early-morning and sunset game drives, a guided late-morning walk, lazy afternoons, delicious dinners at the lodge or sometimes in the middle of the bush, weather and predator permitting.
There are three main airports: Hoedspruit, Nelspruit (aka Kruger Mpumalanga International) and smaller Skukuza. Regular flights take just over an hour from Johannesburg; the one daily from Cape Town is about 2.5 hours. Transfers to the lodges can be arranged. Private charters from Johannesburg are also possible, taking you directly onto the reserves’ landing strips. Alternatively, the drive from Johannesburg takes about six hours, passing gorges and waterfalls along decent roads. Mpumalanga, with stellar attractions like Blyde River Canyon, is well worth a stop-off.
Best Time To Visit
While game viewing is sensational year-round, summer’s dense green bush allows animals to hide more easily, and abundant water means they don’t need to head to rivers as often – making spotting them trickier than during dry winter (June-September) months. Daytime temperatures in winter average 22°C, but it can get quite chilly in mornings and evenings. Less so in summer, when the average is nearer 30°C.
21 classic Colonial safari cottages overlook a private waterhole in the Timbavati Game Reserve.
Luxury Game Lodge with 6 beautifully appointed suites and a private residence overlooking Sabi Sand’s largest waterhole.
A delightfully intimate thatched lodge with only 4 suites all with private pools and views of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
Located in the Sabi Sand Reserve this exquisite destination offers an intimate but exhilarating taste of the wild with a five-star touch.
An exclusive bush retreat offering luxury tented accommodation in the Makalali Game Reserve, just outside the Kruger Park.
A luxurious colonial game reserve with 18 individual cottages in the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Resrve.
Six ultra luxurious suites with private plunge pools make this a true safari paradise.
Nestled in a canopy of ancient trees and overlooking the Sabi River, this chic 9 suite Kruger Park offers a very special safari experience.
A beautiful thatched lodge with 20 suites overlooking the river, in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
One of the most established lodges in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, nestled amongst shady trees and over looking the Sand River.
Set next to a waterhole in the private Sabi Sand Game Reserve, this is one of Kruger National Park’s best-value traditional lodges.
A wonderfully rustic, luxury tented camp that specialises in walking safaris.
A small and sophisticated lodge overlooking a river, in an area that is particularly rich in game.
A perfect combination of luxury accommodation and five star hospitality in the superbly well-positioned Sabi Sand reserve.
Experience 5 star luxury, sublime meals and extraordinary game viewing at this romantic African lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve.
One of the longest standing camps in the Sabi Sand Reserve, Bush Lodge’s 25 family friendly suites offer an oasis of refinement in the untamed African bush veld.
Earth Lodge is sculptured into the earth and is inspired by the natural colours and textures of the surrounding area, making it almost invisible in the landscape.
A delightfully intimate hideaway on the banks of a river, in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
Located in the Sabi Sand Reserve, this intimate 8-suite tented camp offers views over the indigenous gardens to the floodlit waterhole.
A small, luxurious lodge with striking African decor and exceptional game viewing in the heart of the Thornybush Nature Reserve.
20 traditional wood and stone lodge with elevated views over the Thornybush Nature Reserve with two family suites with private decks and plunge pools.
Thornybush Waterside Lodge has 20 individual suites and is postitioned on a large natural waterhole, in the heart of the Thornybush Nature Reserve.
A Gourmet Getaway in a country house set in a lush grounds, perfect for families wanting to explore the Kruger National Park, The Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
How to make the most of every moment?
Local knowledge makes a huge difference! When I asked Ash at Best of South Africa to give me some guidance on how to make the most of our trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek wine valley, I felt sure she would be able to send me in the right direction. It never occurred to me that she would organise our ...