When you go to South Africa’s Kruger National Park, make sure you do your own self driven Safari!
Why should you do your own self driven safari instead of joining a tour group?
Because you want the freedom to move and drive at your own pace. Not to mention, driving in South Africa is fun and you get to see amazing landscapes on your way to Kruger park. Not to mention it’s a lot cheaper than joining a safari tour group.
So how exactly do you get started planning your self-driven safari?
Step 1: Rent a car from the Johannesburg Airport
Contrary to popular belief, renting a car in South Africa is perfectly safe. Just make sure to apply some common sense and don’t have any valuables visible in your car. Criminals are opportunist and if you don’t show them any reason to rob you, then you will be okay.
Now in terms of which car rental company to go for, I would personally go with Hertz or Avis. After speaking with the owner of Shoestring Backpackers, he told me to avoid any headaches when returning the car rental and go with a good company. Hertz and Avis were the two company he recommended for me to rent from and I’m glad I took his advice. I rented my car from Hertz and had no problems at all when I returned the vehicle after my road trip.
Most cars in South Africa is manual transmission. Your choice then is to learn how to drive manual before coming to South Africa or rent an automatic transmission. I personally rented an automatic transmission vehicle because I didn’t have time to learn how to drive manual prior to travelling. Just expect to pay more money for an automatic as oppose to if you rented a manual.
Step 2: Drive East of Johannesburg to Kruger National Park
The drive to Kruger should take you about four hours. Honestly, the drive there is one of the most fun I ever had in South Africa. While driving, you will notice how scenic and beautiful the South African landscape truly is. You will also notice the landscape changing to savanna-like to Hawaii-like.
If you get hungry or need gas, you can stop by the many gas stations on the way. The gas stations typically have delicious burgers and fries to eat which me and Karen happily devoured.
Step 3: Find lodging
Kruger National Park offers a wide range of lodging: from tents all the way to luxurious lodges. I personally did some travel hacking and used some of my Marriott hotel points to get two free nights at Protea Gate Hotel (which is right outside Kruger National Park).
Depending on your schedule, you’ll definitely want to stay in the park itself or somewhere very close.
Step 4: Determine your route and start driving!
The number of routing possibilities is endless in Kruger! I personally started in Paul Kruger Gate and made my way to Skukuza, followed by Lower-Sabie, then to Tsokwane and back to Paul Kruger Gate. If you look at my route, it looks like one big triangle.
When you enter the park, you need to pay the visitor’s centre R264 (African Rand). They will also provide you a map of Kruger and it’s up to you how you want to approach your self driven Safari.
One day, I will definitely come back here and stay much longer.
When planning your trip to Kruger, it’s also important to determine which time of the year to make the visit. Rainy season starts from November onwards which is also the beginning of Malaria season. I went during October and didn’t have to worry about taking anti-malaria medication. If you travel starting in November, do make sure you have your anti-Malaria medication. It is important that you prevent yourself from getting sick.
During the middle of the year (June to September), Kruger National Park can get quite cold as it is their Winter season. I went during October and had to wear a jacket to stay warm. Who knew Africa would be cold?
With all the information above, you are now ready to do your self driven safari! For those that loves watching wild animals, you will definitely have a blast!