TRIP COACH

'We're Going to South Africa and We'd Like to Do it All'

Thirty years after serving in the Peace Corps in Africa, Sean Sullivan is heading back with his wife and friends

An hour's travel farther is the Crocodile Bridge gate of Kruger National Park. This park, roughly the size of Massachusetts, is the world's premier do-it-yourself game reserve for the Big Five (elephants, lions, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos). Private reserves nearby charge at least $200 per night, but Kruger gets tourists close to the same animals in 14 motel-style rest camps for less than $50. The camps sell groceries, they're staffed with knowledgeable rangers, and electrified fencing keeps out predators.

We suggested a few strategies for the couples in Kruger. First, don't stay at the same camp twice, since backtracking diminishes the chances of seeing fresh animal groups. Second, avoid the most popular camps (Skukuza, with its own airport, is the busiest)--tourists stampede out each morning, making sightings rarer. Finally, drive at least halfway up the 257-mile-long park, since the topography and fauna vary along the way. We charted a course up Kruger's spine from Lower Sabie camp (near hippos and crocs) to Satara (in lion country) to Olifants (above a dramatic escarpment where elephants roam).

Sean's thirst for adventure still wasn't quenched. "Do you think that then we could fly to Victoria Falls in Zambia?" Yes, they could--Nationwide Airlines flies there from Joburg for $200 each way--but after a two-week whirlwind, the couples should probably think about taking it easy. Besides, they'll have saved so much money on this trip, there can always be a next time.

South Africa

Lodging

  • Portfolio Collection 011-27/21-689-4020, portfoliocollection.com
  • De Waterkant Lodge & Cottages 20 Loader St., Cape Town, 011-27/21-419-1097, dewaterkant.co.za, cottages for two from $183
  • Foresters Arms Hotel Mhlambanyati, Swaziland 011-268/467-4377, visitswazi.com/foresters/index.html, from $55
  • Transportation

  • Hertz 800/654-3001, hertz.com
  • Avis 800/230-4898, avis.com
  • Nationwide Airlines 866/686-6558, flynationwide.co.za
  • Kulula 011-27/11-921-0111, kulula.com
  • Attractions

  • Kruger National Park 011-27/12-428-9111, SANParks.org, double huts from $24
  • Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park 011-27/33-845-1000, kznwildlife.com, $10 per day, Hilltop Camp double chalets from $65 per adult
  • Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park 011-27/33-845-1000, kznwildlife.com, free
  • Beautiful Cape Town Exclusive Tours users.iafrica.com/r/ro/robair/tours.htm , tours from $200 per car
  • Resources

  • South African Tourism 212/730-2929, southafrica.net
  • Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com


    Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
     

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