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“A great place in northern Kruger” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Punda Maria Restcamp

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Punda Maria Restcamp
Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Kent
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
43 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
“A great place in northern Kruger”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2012

The north of Kruger is a must for birdwatchers to the park. The scenery, habitat and the birdlife are different enough from the rest of the Park to add another dimension to the experience and well worth including in the itinerary. Punda Maria Restcamp is a great place to settle for some days to take in all the trails locally, the Mahonie loop and the Pafuri picnic spot being highlights. However the grounds of the rest-camp with the lovely forest walk: the Kingfisher trail, the shady gardens planted with fruit trees and the lower level with its hide overlooking the water-hole are an experience in their own right. The restaurant is rather small for the size of the camp. Advance booking is essential if you hope for dinner there. The rooms are basic but comfortable having formerly been the game rangers’ quarters.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
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English first
Paris, France
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2012

The advantage of Punda Maria camp is that it is very close to the Punda Maria Entrance Gate - so ideal for a first or last night in the Park if you are going through that gate. But one sees very little game there in comparison with further south in the Park. We were luckily to see three very young (days-old) impala lambs together with their mothers on the loop road round the camp, but saw very little else of interest in the area. Not even a single elephant. Our night at Punda was the last of five days travelling up through the Park from Crocodile Bridge and we detoured via Pafuri before getting to Punda Maria - and that IS worth it, there was much more game up there than closer to Punda Maria. But it had been VERY dry around Punda Maria for months (although the long awaited rain finally arrived the evening we got there) - so perhaps that partially explains the lack of game. Or maybe we were just unlucky (our luck had to run out sometime, we had been exceptionally fortunate in our game-viewing further south). Having said that, my last visit to Punda Maria had been about 25 years earlier, as a student, and did not see much at Punda Maria then either...

The Accomodation at Punda Maria is very good - certainly the most modern and recently renovated chalets of the five camps we stayed in during this visit. However, a big downside is that the chalets are very close together and although one can sit outside on the chairs provided for each chalet, one is virtually sitting in the pathway leading to the other chalets. Plus the close proximity of the chalets means that there are no barbecue sites at each chalet (as was the case for all the other restcamps we stayed in). Rather, one can cook one's meat at a communal barbecue area further away from the accommodation. Not quite the same... Not that we were planning to barbecue anyway....
Although the chalets have been upgraded and modernised since my visit of 25 years ago, the shop and the restaurant certainly have not. The shop is miniscule and very poorly stocked - had difficulty in finding sufficient provisions for breakfast. Bread rolls about a month old. Since the rains had not yet arrived, it was very hot and sticky that evening but although the chalets do have good air conditioning, the restaurant does not. Only a couple of archaic ceiling fans that did little to combat the oppressive heat. On this, our final night in Kruger, by now heartily sick of the identical, limited-choice menu that is found at all the restcamps. Were there any pies available in the restaurant? Yes, replies the waiter, and rattles off the names of three different flavours of pie. We both order the same type of pie, but have to modify our order when he returns a few minutes later to inform us that he only has one of each kind available... The restaurant freezer seems to as equally poorly provisioned as is the Punda Maria shop...
Would only stay at Punda Maria again if it made sense to spend the first or final night of a Kruger Park trip there.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Estcourt, South Africa
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2012

We love Punda Maria and will strongly recommend this camp, especially if you are a bird lover. The trees in the Punda Maria/Pafuri area are exquisite and that alone is enough reason to drive so far north. The water hole at the fence is an added bonus and, if you are lucky enough to find a site close to the water hole, you could spend the day in camp and see an abundance of wild life. During peak times the ablution blocks are inadequate, so try to avoid the June/July rush. We also found that the shop was last in line to receive stock and days would go by without basics like bread.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, PA
Top Contributor
477 reviews 477 reviews
317 hotel reviews
Reviews in 316 cities Reviews in 316 cities
650 helpful votes 650 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

Like a previous reviewer, our family had one of the two 3-bedroom cabins reserved. These are probably the most comfortable family cabins in Kruger: huge, with a nice indoor living room, kitchen, plenty of bathrooms, etc. Even satellite TV, if you want it. And the setting is very nice too, just up the hill from the office and other accomodations. In other words, peaceful, with civets joining you outside for your braai!

As also previously mentioned, make sure you stop by the waterhole at the camp ground for the ever-changing wildlife show. And, at least during our winter visit, the wildlife is just as easy to see in the north as in the south (perhaps because the animals gravitate to the waterholes in dry season). Touring the north is also quite pleasant, due to the nice scenery and low number of visitors.

We did not eat in the restaurant, which is small and not scenic (unlike other camp restaurants). The store has basic supplies; if you want something fancy to braai, bring it with you.

The swimming pool looked nice, but was too cold to swim in during winter. The promised laundry room was also broken, but the maids cheerfully did our laundry for a few dollars.

One world of caution on the "regular" accomodations. They look "atmospheric," but are also old and cramped. Nothing like our "fancy" 3-bedroom house. Just know what you're getting into.

I'd also note one oddity: there was no way to lock up our cabin. All the locks were broken, and we weren't given any keys. I know the locals probably think that's safe but, as a foreign visitor, I want to at least be able to lock my cabin at night. If management is reading, I'd fix the locks and give out keys.

Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2012

This was not our first time at Punda Maria Camp, it is one of our favourites in the Kruger. It is a smaller very peaceful camp in a beautiful setting. The busiest place being the caravan & camping area but as we were there "out of season" this was also not very busy at all. The hide & the waterhole in front of the caravan park are terrific and an abundance of game frequents it during the day, and each evening a herd of elephants which were fun to watch with all their antics.

Our last day here was the first day of school holidays & then I have to say I was grateful to be leaving as the kids running around screaming & shouting just spoils the solitude which we come to the bush to enjoy!

We booked a 3 bed bungalow BD3 - No 22, they are very neat & tidy and as always clean. We had a bit of a "hiccup" when the geyser valve blew one morning at around 3am, we thought it was pouring with rain & when my husband got up to check out the rain he climbed out of bed into 2 inches of water covering the entire bungalow. The duty manager was brilliant and this was cleaned up & fixed by the time we returned from our early morning drive, with the added bonus of our towels etc that got dreanched having been laundered for us & returned fluffly & clean. Thanks to Anna the lady who cleaned our section of bungalows for looking after us so well!

We had one dinner at the restaurant on our last night & found as always the service great, the staff freindly & helpful and the meal was super.

We did a "Sunrise Game Drive" with Thomas who was really amazing. He is passionate about what he does and we found him so knowledgeable & interesting & again a great sense of humour & we had a fabulous drive with him with the added bonus of great sightings including lion. The fallacy of there being no game in the North is just that, a fallacy.

We went up to Pafuri Picnic spot & Crooks Corner on two occasions and thorughly enjoyed it seeing a lot of varied game & birds.

Again a super stay at Punda Maria

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johannesburg
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
62 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2012

Punda Maria is a quiet relaxing camp with efficient staff members. There is never a problem when we request certain units, unlike with Lower Sabie and Letaba camps! We were at Punda for three nights and there were a number of leopard, lion and cheetah sightings around the camp and on the main Pafuri- Punda road. We enjoy the night animals - bush babies, civets and genets that come out after the sun has set. The tents are in the process of being renovated and we stayed in number 2 that was complete - nicely varnished and the top extended by 3 meters to stop rain and wind.

Room Tip: We enjoy the tents as the nocturnal animals visit us to catch insects that are attracted by the ligh...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Farnham, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2012

This was the first of nine camps we stayed on our recent family trip to the Kruger and, by popular consent, the best. Very good service by very nice people, the facilities were basic but clean and in good order and exactly as advertised. The camp was very safe (no locks necessary) and really relaxed and close to nature. The staff were fab and the pool was good and I have no hesitation in recommending Punda Maria for those that want to experience the Kruger for what it is

Room Tip: Go on a sunset drive - its the best of both worlds (daylight & nocturnal)
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Punda Maria Restcamp

Address: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 13 hotels in Kruger National Park

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