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Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

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Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve


We are planning to rent a car in Johannesburg in November next year, drive to Tuli block in Botswana (Mashatu game reserve), stay a couple of days, then drive to Sabi Sand game reserve. I have a few questions regarding the drive -

1. Is it possible to enter Kruger Park in northern end and drive down to Sabi Sand while in the Park and into the private reserve? Or are you better off staying on the "main road" and enter the private reserve gates from this end (west).

2. Can you drive youself (on designated roads) between say two of the private game lodges/camps in the Sabi Sand area (then park the car obviously and continue with game drives offered by the lodges)

Furthermore, we would then like to cross into Mozambique.

3. I understand we can go via the Kruger Park and drive out on the other side? Where should we enter the park again if we are in Sabi sand reserve?

In Mozambique we will spend about ten days along the coast up to the Bazaruto before returning and drive to Durban (and a little further south for more diving), return car at international airport and fly back.

4. Suggestions to which roads to take would be very helpful, and where to have a stop-over (sleep) inside the Kruger Park (on the way to Sabi Sand and on the way to Mozambique -we don´t mind detours, e.g to see other areas of the park) - and I know I am not being very helful since we haven´t booked any of the lodges yet. There isn´t really a time-limit, but I´m thinking we will probably stay 5 -7 days in the Kruger area (incl Sabi Sand)

Hope this initiary makes sense and doable and not just all in my head:) I would be very grateful for any input.

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1. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

AFAIK you will need to exit Kruger National Park and re-enter Sabi Sand via whichever gate is appropriate for the lodge you book with. When you have booked you will be able to enquire with the lodge as to what is the easiest directions to get there. You can still enter Kruger at one of the northern gates if you are coming from Tuli Block and make your way down through the park, staying in park accommodation for a night or two. Note that if you want to enter Mozambique through the Kruger/Limpopo park at Giriyondo Border Post you must stay in one of the parks for at least one night. Stay in Mopani camp the night prior to accessing the border post. Also note that depending on where you want to go in Moz. you may need 4x4. Most beach areas require a 4x4 to access and many roads have terrible potholes. Also note that the northern areas of Mozambique are really not safe to travel at the moment and things may get worse in the coming year. Renamo and Frelimo have ended the Peace Agreement and there have already been attacks on civilian convoys travelling in the north including fatalities recently. You need to keep up to date with developments there in the coming months. If you want to go into Moz. I would go from Sabi Sand via Komatipoort and stick with the southern and central beach areas.

Your itinerary is quite convoluted. The Mozambique section is a lot of driving whichever way you do it and with the current situation I would be more inclined to spend that time at beaches In KZN. Don't underestimate how much time it takes to travel in some areas. What looks like a straightforward trip on a map nearly always take much longer than anticipated due to bad roads, numerous villages with restricted speed limits, road works in progress, border crossings etc. Allow half as much time again as what you think you need.

Edited: 9:55 pm, November 06, 2013
Port Elizabeth
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2. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

Pafuri Gate to Kruger Gate is 392km at the maximum speed of 40km/h (gravel) and 50km/h (tar), this would be 8 and 1/2 hours. At a more real speed and allowing for hold ups or animals, breaks for food and toilets, it would be 12 to 16 hours. So even if you arrived at Pafuri Gate at gate opening time, you couldn't exit by gate closing.


Paris, France
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3. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

It's been a few years since we were at Mashatu but I am sure things are still the same there. When you leave you are not taken to the border where your car will be in South Africa until about 11.OO to 11.30 in the morning, so your journey won't start until then. There is also flood damage to roads in the area ad detours need to be taken on gravel roads Considering all this you should aim to rather stay outside the park for the night before you enter the Kruger. My suggestion would be Hoedspruit entering the next morning at the Orpen Gate which would make it a more reasonable drive to the Sabisand area.

Pretoria, South...
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4. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

The advice given above is absolutely spot-on.

The best of my knowledge, the road from Pontdrif (Mashatu) to Musina remains closed due to flood damage. They haven't even started repairing it from a year ago, and I don't know if they'll start by next November. At the moment, travellers are using private farm roads (with gates) to detour past the area (and it's unlikely that farmers will allow that indefinitely).

I believe that it's necessary to drive via Alldays, and from there to Kruger via Louis Trichardt or Polokwane. I seriously don't believe that it's then worth going back up north to explore Northern Kruger. Louis Trichardt is well-known for its corrupt police, who usually target tourists for bribes (often with false charges or fictitious speed readings - beware!)

Northern Kruger tends to be a bit of a specialist destination for regular Kruger visitors rather than for first-time visitors. With the exception of the far north, most of that area is "Mopaneveld", and generally offers quite poor game-viewing (Mopane is a kind of tree that dominates massive areas of northern KNP, and is not particularly favoured by most browsers). Even in November (Spring), wildlife diversity is poor (in my experience).

You cannot cross from any of the private reserves into Kruger (as mentioned) - you'd have to drive round. Those roads are generally not in great condition, and tend to be high-density rural areas, so cows, goats, pedestrians and corrupt police are hazards.

I'm not sure if the Giriyondo border post is a good option at the moment. It seems to be one of the poaching hotspots and increased police presence and more difficult border crossings are becoming more common. I've heard of a number of visitors been harassed or threatened on the Mozambican side. I would definitely stick to the Komatipoort border crossing, or, even better, the Namaacha crossing from Swaziland.

The warnings about increased conflict in the central regions should be taken seriously. Try to avoid any areas in Mozambique off the main beaten track, stick to where there are plenty of tourists. Check the situation very carefully before you visit. The conflict is also more likely to escalate rather than dissipate.

I don't think you'll be able to get direct from Maputo to Durban with a normal car; I think the direct route is 4X4 only in thick sand (I'm open to correction). You'd probably have to go through Swaziland if you're in a standard hired car.

As Tryhard has mentioned, your routing is extremely convoluted, and, I believe, a little ambitious. Driving in Southern Africa can be quite challenging and I think your route needs to be optimised a bit :-).

Just my thoughts ... :-)

Edited: 11:34 am, November 07, 2013
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5. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

Thank you all for such wonderful feedback! I will definetly keep reading and reconsider, part of it as suggested. For now you have provioded some excellent points that needs to be taken into the equation, and I am sure I will be back with an update (read: questions) before November next year :)

Adelaide, Australia
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6. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

Great advice so far. I would think about engaging a local agent to plan out this trip, as tryhard says the route is complex - an agent could really give some great advice as to whether this is doable and perhaps some alternatives to make it easier.

It sounds like a great adventure. Have you done a trip like this before? If its your first time in africa I think it would be a bit ambitious on your own.

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7. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

I will be sure to chekc-in on the situation in Mozambique, and we are only planning to visit the costal, hence touristy areas. We go mainly for the diving, and it has been on our to-do-list for many years. We are planning on travelling for 8-9 weeks in total, and I think we will have to allow more time for Mozambique, perhaps 16 days, starting over crossing Komatipoort after Kruger, and going back via Swaziland as suggested. We´re planning to do a few dives south of Durban, and then return car and fly out of Durban to Madagascar (via Johannesburg by the look of things) - we´ll hire a driver here so not to worry. Last leg of the trip is to be spent in Uganda, highlight being gorilla tracking at Bwindi (no self-drive here either).

LKK01 - While it´s our first time to southern Africa, we have been to Gambia/Senegal, and in general we are a well-travelled couple who love the freedom of renting a car and being on the road, spening a few nights here and there, and research thoroughly ahead of the trip.. Some places we have hired a driver (like Sri Lanka where the roads and traffic is absolutely mayhem), but I was really hoping we would be able to pull-off driving this route I proposed:)

8. Re: Drive Tuli block to Sabi Sand private reserve

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