This 7 night itinerary is perfect for anyone who wants to combine a stay in one of the leading budget safari lodges in the Kruger area with a few days exploring the spectacular scenery of the Lowveld area that adjoins the Park.
You start your trip with a 2 night safari at Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge which is situated in the vast Balule Nature Reserve. The emphasis here is upon close-up encounters with Africa's spectacular wildlife, and your ranger and tracker will ensure that you have extremely memorable encounters with animals, including the Big 5, as well as the myriad of other creatures in the reserve. Because the reserve is privately owned, your game vehicle can head off the road network into the deep bush, enabling you to find lots more wildlife.
As well as the twice daily game drives (one early in the morning, and one later in the afternoon), guests may also able to join their guide on a walk in the reserve which gives a whole different perspective from what you would get from a seat in the open safari game viewing vehicle.
On your last morning at Mohlabetsi you will have enough time to enjoy the final game drive of your stay and have breakfast back at the lodge before you need to depart for the drive into the Kruger National Park, where you will stay at 2 different rest camps over the next 3 nights, giving you ample time to explore the Park thoroughly at your own pace.
Finally, you will end with 2 nights at Hippo Hollow Country Estate, which is situated outside Hazyview on the Sabie River between the Drakensberg Mountains to the west and the low-lying bushveld to the west. It is the ideal destination from which to access the reserves of the Lowveld and the sights of Mpumalanga. Hippo Hollows is only a short drive from the Kruger National Park and the scenic Panorama Route which includes Pilgrim's Rest, Graskop, Bourkes Luck Potholes, God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, and many fantastic waterfalls.
Holiday Title: Self-Drive In Kruger And The Lowveld
Countries Visited: South Africa
Arrive into Hoedspruit Airport. Collect your luggage, then make your way to the Europcar Car Rental office. Complete the necessary paperwork - you will need to present your driving licence, passport and credit card. The keys to your hire car will then be handed over to you.
8 Day Car Rental: Group R Standard SUV - Toyota Rav or similar (Classic Plus Cover GPS PACKAGE)
Allow about 90 minutes to drive to the Balule Nature Reserve and onto Mohlabetsi Safari Lodge. The 45,000 hectare Balule Nature Reserve forms part of the 2 million hectare Greater Kruger Park ecosystem. This area is home to Africa's Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - as well as other mammals such as cheetah, hippo, zebra and antelope, a dazzling array of birdlife and an amazing variety of reptiles, insects and plants. Morning and afternoon game drives take guests out in specially customised open Land Rovers, and because the land is privately owned, the experienced rangers can leave the dirt tracks behind and follow the wildlife through the bush, giving you an unbelievable opportunity to get very close to nature in its purest form.
Depart after your morning game drive and breakfast for the hour drive to the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park. At the entrance gate, you will be required to pay the Concession Fee for all the nights you will be staying in the Park. Please note too that all visitors are required to produce an identity document (ie passport or driving licence) for scanning in order to enter the Park. Allow about 2 hours to then drive through the Park to reach your first rest camp, watching out for wildlife along the way.
Spend the entire day driving down through the Park to your next rest camp. Inside the Park, there is an excellent infrastructure of roads, some of which are tarred, others gravel. Good, clear signposts help to make the driving experience easy and enjoyable. Visitors must take note of the gate times and plan the travelling time accordingly. Please take note that the maximum speed limit in the Park is 50 km/h on tar roads and 40 km/h on gravel roads. Drivers must remain on the roads at all times, and are NOT allowed to drive off-road or get out of their vehicles, except at designated viewing points, but care should still be exercised even then.
Spend the day exploring the Park until late afternoon, when you will depart for the drive to Hazyview.
Hippo Hollow Country Estate has an 'Out of Africa ' feel about it, and leaves you feeling totally relaxed and refreshed. The restaurant here opens onto an expansive deck, and guests can watch elephants at the neighbouring sanctuary having an afternoon drink from the river, or grazing hippo on the lawns against the backdrop of an African sunset.