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“A great first impression of KNP!”
Review of Orpen Rest Camp

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Orpen Rest Camp
Fairfax, Virginia
Level Contributor
41 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“A great first impression of KNP!”
Reviewed March 14, 2013

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!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Maruru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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61 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
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English first
London
Level Contributor
113 reviews
58 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed August 27, 2012

Small and quiet camp (15 bungalows) with a pool. Accommodation was good although outdoor kitchen needed locking up due to monkeys and honey badgers. The water hole by the camp was lit at night but didn't attract much game when we were there. Tip – good for first/last night if need to be near the gate.

Room Tip: Not much difference between rooms apart from size.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank JenLUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norfolk, UK
Level Contributor
167 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
Reviewed July 23, 2012

Orpen was I think the smallest camp we stayed in with only 15 bungalows. There is a shop but no restaurant here, so you will have to self-cater. They had well stocked kitchen facilities with crockery, cutlery and cooking pots and pans. There was a two-ring hob to cook on and an outside dining area. The only nasty surprise was when we opened the cupboard to get out a pan and the people before us had just put the dirty frying pan and spatula full of food in the cupboard and left it. It smelt disgusting and was annoying as it was the one piece of equipment we wanted to use! It had obviously been missed by cleaning staff, but other than the inconsiderate last guests, that was my only complaint.

The room was nice and clean with a nice bedspread. I didn't quite like the look of the pillowcase, it was a bit grubby and had another person's hair on the underside, but I had brought one from home for such an occasion. There was an ensuite. The room was a little cold, and though there seemed to be a heating option on the airconditioning unit, I couldn't seem to get it to function.

There is a resident honey badger, so all of the cupboards are bolted shut and the fridge has a cage over it. I found it odd then that the bin didn't even have a lid on it. The guests next door warned us about the badger, saying they had left food in the bin the night before and it had pulled it all out and knocked over all the bins in camp. He did come and visit, evidenced by the bin knocked over the next morning, but he didn't pull anything out. There are more secure rubbish and recycling bins if you prefer to be more badger-proof.

All of the camps provide hand and bath towels and a soap for each guest, and the kitchen had washing up liquid, a dish cloth and a tea towel, so you don't need to worry about bringing any of those things.

There is no petrol station at Orpen, but we were told there was one just outside the park about 400m away. You will need to bear this in mind if you need petrol when you get here that you leave time to get some before the gates close for the night if you want an early start in the morning.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank SamB77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
39 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2012

I experienced very bad service at Satara and drove to Orpen to get the items I was looking for. What a difference! Friendly fast service and with a smile. You will see me again, but not at Satara.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Cornelis S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
146 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 135 helpful votes
Reviewed December 27, 2011

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.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Hirene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southampton
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed August 30, 2010

We stayed in a bungalow at Orpen for 3 nights earlier this month. The accommodation was clean, pleasant and spacious and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. The facilities were good and the camp was quiet. There is a swimming pool and shop available. Be aware though that there is no safe available in the bungalow, and that the doors only lock from the inside so you cannot lock your room when leaving the accommodation. Although this was a worry to us it was safe and none of our belongings were taken.
The highlight of Orpen is the view from the accommodation of the watering hole (about 150m away) was spectacular and we had breathtaking experiences of watching game, and many elephants so close, it was wonderful! There was also many birds on the site. We had wonderful experiences of the game at Orpen, and found it a good place to begin game drives from. There were also activities, for example night drive, accessible from Orpen.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank naomivictoria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wichita, Kansas
Level Contributor
16 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed July 2, 2008

Would recommend this if you plan to drive into orpen Gate late pm or drive out of Orpen gate early am. Thats exactly what we did-since we had just driven 5hr from Jo'berg, we used this camp to stretch. Also, Orpen is a great place to stay if you intend to self drive the Timbavati route inside Kruger NP. Its a phenomenal game drive midway between Orpen and Satara camp. We followed the Timbavati river from Orpen and its just filled with wildlife.
Orpen is a very small rest camp in the middle of wilderness.The bungalow was clean and comfortable-nothing fancy. It had a small balcony with outdoor kitchen and grill. A honeybadger had built a home next to our room-so we were forewarned about storing food. There is a small store with snacks, packaged food and water which closes at 6pm. There is no cafeteria. The store reopens only 8am- so its a problem if you plan not to use the kitchen.
We took the night drive from the rest camp- it was okay. After having been on private game drives, Kruger drives are very ordinary but they are value for money. We saw a hyena, a civet, some buffaloes.

Stayed May 2008
Helpful?
2 Thank YpsiRt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Orpen Rest Camp

Property: Orpen Rest Camp
Address: Orpen Gate, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park
Amenities:
Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #128 of 171 Specialty Lodging in Kruger National Park
Number of rooms: 15
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 

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