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Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

London, United...
posts: 36
reviews: 1
Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

Cheapest Kruger way?

Hi I am a single guy from Prague CZ just arrived to Johannesburg to stay with a friend who works here. I’d like to see and photograph some big cats in Kruger, but since I don’t have much money I am carefully weighting my options:

1. Buy a budget tour, but the 4500R for 3 days seem like too much.

Pros: No worries, guided tours, night tours, chances of actually seeing anything much better.

Cons: very steep price, maybe too touristy-Disney and shallow

2. Rent a tiny car for 400R a day, drive there myself. Find some cheapest camp where I just rent a space and plug for 200R, sleep in the car. Go for an adventure during the day, and try not to lose myself in there.

Pros: Freedom (and that is a big deal). Maybe I manage to save 1000R or more? Adventure. Can watch anything as long as I like.

Cons: Lot of things to figure out. Long drive there, which I won’t like, since I don’t like driving, and on top of that I have never drove on the left side, so chances of eminent death are high. No guide, so maybe I won’t spot a lion even driving right next to him. No night tours. Kruger park shuts at 5, and no amateurs can stay after that, and most cool animals are night-walkers...

Please tell me, are mu assumptions correct? Any ideas for cheaper tour? I don’t need air-con room, my own shower or even a bed. I would just like to spend as much time as I can in Kruger, and have the most opportunity to see some big animals and take some cool photos... Any advice please?

Thank you e.

posts: 335
reviews: 7
1. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?


My advice is to rent a car and drive to Kruger. The drive from Joburg is about 5 hours depending on where you are staying. Another option is to fly to Nelspruit and rent car from there and drive into Kruger. You won't save too much time and it will be more expensive.

Consider staying in a basic bungalow or tent at Lower Sabie and Satara. I am not sure they will appreciate you sleeping in your car but I have no experience with that. Take a guided day drive and a sunset drive with the Kruger Park. They are allowed to drive at night and you can join them for about R300.

You will not get lost. Buy the Kruger map upon entry and the you will be good. Main roads are tarred and dirt roads are good. Very good signs everywhere.

Whether you are with a guide or not, nothing guarantees seeing big cats -- other than a zoo! This is the wild. However, you will pick things up quickly and fall in love. As you say, there is no price on flexibility and freedom.

I can tell you that the sightings in the Lower Sabie and Satara area are usually very good.

Anyway, take a look at to get you started. http://sanparks.co.za/parks/kruger/

Let us know if we can answer any questions.


Heeten, Owner, Swagat at Kruger Park Lodge, Hazyview/Boston

London, United...
posts: 36
reviews: 1
2. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

This is an excellent answer. Thanks so much!

It sort of confirms of what I was able to figure out so far.

One thing I am hoping is this facebook page, where people do post the sightings.


It seem to be super cool! I love the aspect of social media, technology and nature. My friend have lend me a Cell C

sim card, and I am hoping that there will be some 3G coverage, so I can navigate and receive, and perhaps even send some sightings “pings”, catch a poacher and whatnot :)

Do you think I have a chance?

Lower Sabie or Satara? Which is the closest to Jozi, and is there any difference between them really?

Do you think they will be booked for next week, or can one just show up, and find a place next week, before the Easter starts?

Would you have some advice how to spot a big cat easily? I mean I love to see them, but even if I don’t just the idea that I can maybe, and that I am in such beautiful surroundings, and it’s warm out, and wild out there is enough for me...

Thanks very much again for any tips. I love this world where so many people help each other so much... e.

Charlotte, North...
posts: 1,651
reviews: 34
3. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

Go on www.sanparks.org. The booking function is easy to use. One week out is tight, but you may find something. As far as finding cats, get up early and get on the road. The one place you will not find them is inside the camp. In the evening, do not get stuck too far from camp that they close the gate, but stay out as late as you can. Morning has always been better for us, but evening is the next best. As mentioned above, book the night game drives. Good luck.

posts: 335
reviews: 7
4. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

Download WhatsApp and get on Latest Sighting's WhatsApp group. Very easy. Reception can be spotty so good luck.

The is a major holiday period so book where you can.

If you are looking for close to Joburg, try Berg-en-dal, Lower Sabie, Skukuza and Satara. Satar is north of Skukuza. But all very doable.

Do not show up without a booking. Since you are in Joburg, you may be better off calling or going to one of the satellite offices to see if someone can assist with availability. I think there is one in the Sandton Mall.

I think you will have a great time and see amazing animals. Drive slowly and keep your eyes peeled. Ask around and talk to others. Check out the sightings board at each camp. Be patient and you will be rewarded. My theory with the cats: you do not find them, they find you!

Good luck and let us know it goes.


Heeten, Owner, Swagat at Kruger Park Lodge, Hazyview/Boston

San Jose. Ca.
posts: 108
reviews: 24
5. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

"Whether you are with a guide or not, nothing guarantees seeing big cats -- other than a zoo!"

Or any other of the animals, I just returned from 3 days there and all we saw was the south end of a north bound elephant and zillions of zebra's, lots of birds. We drove over 500 miles of the roads so it was not as if we were not looking for them. So if seeing cats is your goal be forwarned some days you just don't see a thing, big or small.

London, United...
posts: 36
reviews: 1
6. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

Thank you very much. I have done so, got the app, but have no idea how to " get on Latest Sighting's WhatsApp group". I have tried few obvious ways, but since I have no idea what is it, and hot to use it, I have failed miserably. "No match found" How do I do this, and how does this help me to find some cats please?

posts: 335
reviews: 7
7. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

I guess you could use the app or the FB sight to see the same thing.

Check their website and email Ossen and ask about the WhatsApp group. Otherwise the Latest Sightings App should also work.

Moses2: Sorry to hear you had such low sightings driving over 500 miles. No impalas, warthogs, buffaloes, kudus, giraffes, crocs, hippos??

Cheers, Heeten

Gold Coast
Destination Expert
for Kruger National Park
posts: 3,380
reviews: 22
8. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

Hi there.

Hate to be a wet blanket but you need to be aware of a few things....

Agree with what everyone has said you cannot just turn up to stay in the park with no booking. At the gate you will be classed as a day visitor. At this late stage you will have very limited availabilty in the camps but people do cancel so you should check online straight away.

The animal sightings app does not guarantee you will see something and in fact is a little controversial among Kruger purists because it has caused an increase in speeding on the park roads, resulting in several incidences animals being killed or injured. A sighting report could be many miles away and the chances of you getting there to see it would be very slim as animals are usually on the move and you are only allowed to drive very slowly. If it is a good sighting you may make it there and not see anything because there will be a traffic jam blocking the view. So the app is only good for a sighting that happens to be close to where you are at that time.

As for big cats if this is all you are looking for you could be setting yourself up for disappointment, I know people who have driven through the gates and come across a leopard on the road withing 5 minutes. One time we left Satara camp on the first morning to find a magnificent lion warming himself on the road. On the last trip we had 2 magnificent male lions all to ouselves early in the morning BUT we had already been in the park for a week before that first cat sighting ! A magnificent cheetah in our second week BUT some people have been going to the park for many years and never seen a single cheetah. Can you see what I am saying ? Hopefully you will get lucky as many do but unless you have the budget for a private concession/lodge you cannot be guaranteed big cat sightings. We sat watching a huge buffalo herd one day, it wasnt till we were about to leave when some one said there was a pride of lions under the tree stalking the buffs, we almost didnt even see them, they just disappear when laying in the grass.

But if you are interested in other animals apart from big cats you will have a great time, in that first week we had amazing sighting of wild dog, rhino, elephant, giraffe, antelope, birds, and much more,

The other advantage of driving is that you can go all day, be flexible and spend as long as you want watching an animal, some outside guides rush their guests around the park and barely stop unless its a member of the big 5.

Of course the longer you stay the more you will see, and if you have an apreciation for the bush and wildlife I am sure you will just love Kruger.

Ficksburg, South...
posts: 744
reviews: 99
9. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

Once you are in the park, all parks have a board with the latest animal sightings. Although its not always a guarantee, it does give you an idea of what's you might be lucky to see. In addition, ask the rangers , and talk to people at a the camps when you stop for a drink or something to eat. People are more than happy to point you in the right direction.

San Jose. Ca.
posts: 108
reviews: 24
10. Re: Cheapest Kruger way? How to see some big cats?

a few impalas that was it. Just bad luck we did see some of those animals high up in the rocks but even 20x zoom lens could hardly pick them up. As I said we did see lots of birds and some I have never seen before so while it was a loss it was not total.