This was our first ever visit to Kruger National Park and we knew we were in for a treat the moment we entered the park at Orpen Gate and found ourselves among a herd of Buffalo. We had arrived late (you can arrive after the gate closing time if you pre-arrange and pay an additional fee), so it was already dark out and our teensy rental car was the only thing that protected us from these awesome, massive animals. Fortunately they were pretty disinterested in us and moved out of the way as our vehicle approached, but wow! Our hearts were pounding.
We arrived at the camp gate - the camps are fully fenced to prevent any animals from entering - and were met by one of the employees. He provided us with our room key and led us to our bungalow. There was parking right there next to the bungalow, so we didn't have to carry our bags very far at all. The bungalow had an outdoor kitchen, covered with a roof but otherwise open to the outdoors. Inside the bungalow we had a double/queen bed, a couple nightstands, a fan overhead, and a nice full bathroom with natural stone flooring. The decor was nothing flashy - muted, natural shades and simple comfort. Just the basics, which is all we needed!
The kitchen was fully stocked with plates, bowls, cups, silverware, pots & pans, some small appliances, a decent size refrigerator and other things. Everything we needed to self-cater during our 3 day/2 night stay. The braai (BBQ) facilities were just off the deck of the bungalow and wood/briquettes and starting fuel were available at the camp's on-site shop. If you're arriving late, plan ahead as the shop wasn't open when we arrived so we had a simple dinner with the snacks we had on hand. There was a nice little table on the deck/breezeway also, which was perfect for al fresco dining to the eerie sounds of the park at night!
The shop was great, the employees were some of the most jovial characters we encountered during our time at the park. They were so fun and upbeat; the guys at the coffee shop and camp store greeted everybody enthusiastically and were eager to engage in conversation. I loved that the camp was relatively small - especially after visiting some of the larger ones - everything was within walking distance and it never felt crowded. There was even a lit up watering hole on the other side of the fence, although we never noticed any night life (although you could hear it!)
Besides the animals, the camp itself gets pretty quiet once the sun goes down, probably because the morning safaris begin so early (meeting times were around 4 a.m. for us!). Orpen Rest Camp was such a quaint, intimate little camp with good access to many driving routes in the mid section of the park. It was by far our favorite camp in the park and we hope to return again some day!
- 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