Each morning when I wake up I feel a desire to be in Nature. Some mornings it is more like the far off call of the king of the wild. You hear the call, but not distinctly, wondering to yourself if it was real, and if you can alert others to the possibility that it exists. Other days it is similar to a larger-than-life, up-in-your-face, bigger-than-space elephant in the room.
Today it’s the elephant. Calling to me with its deep subsonic rumbles, tugging at my heart with its trunk, flapping me forward with its big ears.
But today I have to console myself with memories of my last trip. Ben (the newest member of the Papierazzi clan) is only 5 weeks old, and I’ll start considering trips longer than an hour or two when he has had his 6 week immunisation shots. Which is coming up in the next week (so YEAH for exploring again!).
The Great South Western Kruger day loop – Doispane to Napi Road
Starting from Mbombela I usually choose to enter the Park via Phabeni Gate. Not for the scenic beauty of the route, but because the road conditions are better and chances of (of late) stumbling into a protest in the morning is far less.
Also, recently a barista has set up shop, in true African style, just as you enter the Gate and will serve you a delicious cup of joe. Who would not choose this Gate to get a decent cuppa in the morning without any extra effort on your part. Not ME! Throw in the rusks and you’re good to go.
Shortly after entering Phabeni Gate we reach the Albasini ruins. This small thatch roof museum brings tribute to João Albasini, a Portuguese trader, that set up the first trading post in the area.
It’s not much but it will give you a good idea of the life and times that the early pioneers had to face. All while keeping an eye on the park’s four legged residents, since this spot is one of the few where you can alight from your vehicle.
We made a quick dash around the site, drank a second cup of coffee and sprinted back to the car for the rest of the wild adventure.
No roadtrip is complete unless you can feed your face. DIY or take-away is really up to you. You can pack as much or as little snacks as you wish. Personally, I struggle to make the entrance Gate before digging into the foil fillers.
There are a number of water points along the route where you can unpack your picnic basket, or you can have brunch at Skukuza and late afternoon tea at Pretoriuskop.
My favourite stop is Nyamundwa dam. Here we were lucky enough to spot some impala, hippo, fish eagles, elephant, giraffe and crocodile.
This is one of the easiest routes that you can take. No 4×4 needed for this trip. The entire route consists of tar roads unless you decide to take a shortcut via the S65 gravel road or otherwise known as the Waterhole Road.
Years ago I had an experience with a large elephant bull in musth on this road and have not been brave enough to venture this one on my own.
If you are looking for a quick taste of the bush, want a variety of veld and hope for a decent display of animal sightings then this route won’t leave you disappointed.
The best time for this trip? Is there such a thing. For me the best time for this trip is just after waking up. I could do this trip 7 days in succession any month of the year and not get bored, but that might not be for everybody. I’m just wild about Kruger (see what I did there).I was pleasantly surprised with the newly refurbished Pretoriuskop Day Visitor’s area. The wooded area that has been enclosed for the picnic site leaves the visitorwith the sense of being immersed into the bush.
What documentation do you need?
ID / Passport
Unabridged birth certificate for children
Do you have to pre-book?
Usually this is very helpful over long weekends and / or public holidays. An Advanced Booking Fee is applicable if you use this service. Bookings can be made online.
Contact details to keep at hand:
Phabeni Gate: +27 (0)13 735 5890
Numbi Gate: +27 (0)13 735 5133
Pretoriuskop: Tel: +27 (0)13 735 5128/32
Skukuza: Reservations tel: +27 (0)13 735 4265
Persons with a valid SA ID or Passport
R76 – adults
R38 – any child under 18 years
You can also purchase a Wildcard, which is valid for a year and gives you access to the 21 SANParks reserves throughout South Africa. If you visit 4 times during the course of a year, you would have got your money’s worth.