During our time in Kruger, we stayed at eight of the rest camps. Every camp is completely fenced to protect you from the animals. The gates to the camps open at 5:30 am and they close at 6 pm. Each morning there is a queue waiting for the gates to open so safari goers can head out to find the Big 5.
You must be inside a rest camp or outside an exit gate at closing time. If not, you will face a large fine. How large? I don’t know but every guide I asked said you really don’t want to press that envelope. So, we will assume it’s a pricey ticket.
There are various levels of housing you can select. They have camping spots, tented sites, 2 bed cottages with/without kitchens and large multi family lodges. Every housing option comes with a braai (bbq) because South Africans LOVE to grill on the braai. Electricity is provided but not always consistent and the water in every camp is safe to drink. All camps have a shared outdoor kitchen, laundry, camp store with any cooking supplies you would need, restaurant (breakfast and dinner for both of us cost about $25) and a swimming pool. The Camps are truly a mini village.
Mopani Rest Camp
Mopani was one of my favorite camps. Our rondavel was nestled in the woods on the edge of the river. Each morning the African paradise flycatchers would come through looking for food. These beautiful birds have very long rufous tails. They would soon be followed by many other varieties of birds and some interesting mammals. All the while, you could continually hear the ruh ruh ruh sounds of the hippos in the water below you.
The main lodge and restaurant looked over the dam and reservoir. The water was home to some very large hippos and crocs. Each morning and afternoon large herds of elephants would come to the water. Since we were at the end of the dry season, the water was also an attraction for giraffe, impalas, storks, white faced ducks, fish eagles and various types of kingfishers. One afternoon a maribu stork made an appearance and garnered lots of attention from everyone in the restaurant.
Shingwedzi Rest Camp
Two recent floods happened here, 2000 and 2013. The most recent flooded the camp with 2 meters of surging river. Needless to say the camp has been rebuilt, cleaned up and are the most modern looking.
As with all camps, if your fridge is outside and not enclosed by a cage, you must turn it so the monkeys, baboons and resident honey badger don’t help themselves, leave nothing out (including trash), always close your door. I didn’t one time, I just walked to the car 20ft away, grabbed a map, turned around and I caught a monkey walking into our house! Just 30 seconds is all it took. Of course I haven’t told Denise this – I’m sure she won’t read this post.
Letaba Rest Camp
Another beautiful camp nestled just above the river. We loved walking along the trail that ran along the inside of the fence. we even came face to face with a female kudu and calf. I guess they didn’t realize they were on the wrong side of the fence.
Satara Rest Camp
Oliphants Rest Camp
Definitely the most spectacular view of all camps. High upon an outcropping, the camp looks down upon the Oliphant River and valley. So does the restaurant, and our best waiter of all camps, Collins keeps this well oiled restaurant moving at whatever pace you want/need. Cheers Collins!
Lataba Elephant Hall
Even if you don’t stay at Letaba, you should stop to visit the Elephant Hall. Many of the camps have mini informational sections, but this is a full blown museum.
There is so much information here about the lives of elephants in general, and about the lives of the important “Tuskers” of Kruger.
All camps had a Park Shop. This included momentos, shirts, mugs and zebra hides for your entry floor at home. They also covered nearly all needed foodstuffs: frozen kudu steaks, Braai tongs, batteries, ice cream, cereals, fruit/veggies, beer/wine (have proof of lodging – day trippers can’t buy alcohol), biscuits (translation=cookies), and any dry goods you may need. They even had some basic camping essentials (mosquito repellent, cookware, coolers, etc). Not all stores were identical, some were a little better stocked and a bit bigger. But essentially, they met all of our needs without ever leaving Kruger.