I was not thrilled to be going back to Kruger after an absence of several decades. Tales of hordes of overseas visitors who show no regard for animal rights, noisy goings-on at camps at nite, and over-crowding on the roads had put us off. But an overseas visitor insisted that was where she wanted to go, so I was very lucky to get accommodation at the small Orpen Camp, just inside the Park at Orpen Gate. The Camp is right there on the edge of the plains where Satara visitors go to view the herds of game in the area.
The biggest change I noticed from twenty odd years ago, is that the nearby petrol station and the camp are now run by the most charming ladies who do an excellent job of welcoming visitors and being most helpful.
There are no more than 14 bungalows neatly arranged around a beautifully laid out garden with many trees. At the fence is a sparkling swimming pool on the visitors' side, and on the other side a watering hole for the animals, so while lazing in the pool one may observe the animals passing by! How cool is that.
The problems of the marauding honey badgers have been solved with a sturdy cage built around the fridge on the Kitchen terrace, and provided you close that at nite, and have put all your food inside, there should be no problem. The huts are well kept and are neat and tidy with excellent mosquito nets that seal the windows. There certainly was a safe in the cupboard for those who need that.
Within a 10 km range of the camp, we were lucky enough to see cerval cat, magnificent lion, elephant and a black rhino. The visitors using the camp were there to see animals and were off at first light - they also observed the camp rules and the place was most peaceful and quiet in the evenings. Accommodation costs a fraction of the newly built more private camps, and yet provides the kind of pleasant cosy atmosphere that those camps offer.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Orpen Rest Camp is situated centrally on the western border of the Kruger National Park. It is a small camp that derived its name from the surname of the donor of the land, Eileen Orpen. The scattered trees and wide-open plains covered by sweet grass attract many browsers. This in turn, attracts the eye-catching cheetah, lion and leopard. Well known for its diversity of habitat and wildlife, Orpen offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience close encounters with elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard in a natural environment. Wild dog, cheetah, zebra and giraffe are also indigenous to this area, a paradise for the wildlife enthusiast. ... more less