Practical tips

Airfares Amsterdam – South Africa (round trips)

Only KLM offers daytime direct flights to South Africa. All other airlines fly in the evening or night to Johannesburg or Cape Town. All, including KLM, return to the Netherlands at night. With the exception of KLM flights, most flights include one transfer in Paris, London, Munich, Rome, Zurich, Caïro or other cities. The journey takes about 11 hours with a direct flight and between 13 and 16 hours with a connecting flight. Airfares to South Africa are not cheap; anticipate between € 700 and € 1000 per ticket for the intercontinental flight.

From Johannesburg or Cape Town, you can book a domestic flight to one of the three airports serving Kruger Park. This is perhaps a good option to avoid driving the extra 500 kilometres between Johannesburg and Kruger Park. Yet, if you travel to South Africa in a larger group and want a slower paced journey to Kruger Park, traveling by car can have advantages. Especially if you intend to visit multiple parks in the north of the country.

Day Schedule

Game drives and other activities run usually twice a day. Just after sunrise (between 6 am and 10:30 am) and from about 4 in the afternoon until sunset (5:30 pm to 6 pm). Depending on the chosen activity, you get up between thirty minutes and one hour prior to departure to have breakfast with tea/coffee. We usually also take along some food during the morning safari.

After an active morning you can enjoy free time within the rest camp or -in the Elephant program to explore your question in more detail. Most camps provide benches to sit back and revel in the views. You can spot wildlife in a riverbed just outside the camp fence or go ‘birding’ in the camp itself. Birdwatching is a key hobby in South Africa. You can also simply relax at your cottage or rondavel, can do some work regarding your question and grab some lunch. In larger rest camps you can enjoy a meal at the restaurant / cafeteria and browse in the camp’s shop. After the afternoon safari activities, it’s time to enjoy dinner (in the restaurant or at your own braai at the cottage) and to share stories of the day with others guests. These are full days in the bush which usually send you early to bed, around 9 or 10 pm.

Best time to go on your journey

South Africa and Kruger Park are on the other side of the equator. Seasons there are exactly the opposite of those of the Northern hemisphere including the Netherlands. The best time to visit Kruger National Park is during our summer, hence the local South African winter and dry season (end of May to early October). There is little to no rainfall in that period and thus vegetation is less dense, facilitating animal spotting. The sun shines almost every day and temperatures reach about 22-25C. At night the temperature drops to between 6 and 12 degrees. This period is also ideal to enjoy the great vistas of the Panoramic Route. During the rainy season of the South African summer (especially February), dense morning fog can obstruct the views. The European summer Daylight Savings Time zone is the same as the Standard Time zone observed in South Africa.

Packing list

You are required to travel with a valid passport to South Africa. Your passport must be valid until at least 30 days after the date on which you leave the country. An identity card is not an accepted travel document to visit South Africa! Immigration ruling from 01 June 2015 requires parents travelling to South Africa with children (under 18) to present unabridged and certified international birth certificates. Also, make sure to bring a list of important phone numbers and paper copies of insurance policies, credit cards, passports, travel documents, etc. Check before you travel that your credit / debit card is accepted in South Africa. In many countries, credit card payments require your personal identification number (PIN).
I recommend using a strong but flexible travel bag instead of a suitcase, which will be more practical. And if your journey includes a domestic flight in South Africa, keep in mind that the maximum luggage allowance is 20 kg per bag per person. Luggage weight restrictions are being strictly adhered to!

You do not need any special clothing for a safari. However, avoid wearing bright-coloured clothes that can disrupt the wildlife (and other guests). Choose instead light khaki, green, or brown clothes. Long-sleeved shirts, trousers and socks are advisable to protect against mosquitoes (active at sunset) and sharp thorns while out on bush walks. Sturdy hiking shoes with socks are preferred for walking safaris. Also bring along a warm sweater, a fleece scarf and a hat as mornings and evenings can get quite chilly. This certainly applies if you plan to go on evening game drives.

Other indispensables: sunglasses, headgear (cap or hat), sunscreen (with a minimum SPF of 15 to 30), insect repellent containing DEET (at least 50%), some insecticide remover, a smaller backpack for the car and for walking safaris (for water, food, sweater, etc). And finally, Malaria Prophylactic medication (malaria tablets) in case you visit Kruger Park during the highest risk period between October and April. To determine which tablets are appropriate for you, visit your local community health service office.

Bring a flashlight (very useful) and extra batteries from home because they are pretty expensive in South Africa. A pair of binoculars for every safari participant is a must. No one wants to miss out on the spectacle as it happens! Make sure to bring along your photographic and /or video camera to “capture” memorable wildlife images. Also, telephoto lenses come in very handy since animals (including birds of prey) might not always appear right next to the safari vehicle. Don’t forget to take a portable charger, extra batteries and additional memory cards. Pack an alarm clock (if not setting the one on your phone) to make sure you wake up on time for your safari.

For all your electricity needs in charging your electronic equipment and mobile devices you will need a Type M 3 Pin travel adapter plug for South Africa. Tip: bring a power strip or extension cord to have multiple power outlets in one go. The voltage and frequency are the same as in the Netherlands: 230V, 50HZ. There is virtually no internet available in the Kruger Park. In some of the rest camps you can buy a voucher for 30 minutes of internet. You will need to have your own tablet or laptop with you. Mobile network coverage is limited to within the rest camps and unavailable in the rest of the park and bush camps. If you intend on frequently using your mobile phone to call or send text messages, it is advisable to buy a Vodacom B4IGO (before I go) SIM card at the airport (see https://b4i.travel/south-africa-sim/).

I‘ll carry a bird and mammal field guide. It’s always satisfying when you can identify what you’re seeing.