We are going to be traveling to South Africa in early or mid July and we want to visit mainly Kruger National Park and Cape Town. Overall, I think we're looking at 9/10 nights in SA. The breakdown would be 6 nights in Kruger, 2 in Cape Town, with the rest left for some flexibility here and there which we would fill up once our plans are set.
As a family, we are very much into wildlife, and not just big 5 (which we would of course definitely like to see) but other things like Wild Dog, Hippo, Cheetah, and even smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles. We also however want a place that's comfortable and relatively "nice."
We have a few questions though. From the research we've done, it is generally understood that private game reserves are much more flexible, versatile, and give better opportunities to see wildlife than staying in the main park.
Is there any benefit to staying in the main park? Can certain species, like Cheetah and Hippo, only be seen in certain areas?
We are considering Sabi Sands, which definitely has a high price tag, but from the reviews it seems it is worth it. Since it is so expensive though, we're looking to split the 6 nights in Kruger between Selati and somewhere preferably cheaper. I've read Selati isn't the best place for Cheetah, and I haven't seen any mention of Hippo, so I was wondering if someone could recommend me another place (either in Kruger or in a private reserve) that would be both not so costly and have a different palette of wildlife.
We also need to find a good tour operator that can preferably give us a deal on the whole thing, including Cape Town, but there are so many so it's hard to find one. Could someone recommend a good tour operator through which we can see Cape Town and also potentially give us a deal on Kruger?
Any other comments or suggestions regarding our prospective itinerary? Any other tips?
All responses are welcome and desired! Thank you!