Camps and bungalows in the Kruger, Kgalagadi, Pilanesberg and Etosha Parks are unique and have their own character and charm. Some animals can be found throughout the parks while others stick to a certain area, meaning that in order to see them you will need to ensure that your choice of camps and bungalows is correct depending on the habitat of the animals you most want to see.
Most visitors to these parks obviously want to see mammals and birds so we will provide our sightings in each camp area to give you an idea of what animals are where and also which camps and bungalows (as well as tents) provide good views to see the animals.
As you will see from our sightings map below (these are all our big five plus cheetah and wild dog sightings in the Kruger Park over the past 16 years) animals are found throughout the park but some species are easier to find in certain areas than others.
Lions, elephants and buffalos are found all through the park but cheetah and wild dog hot spots are Crocodile Bridge, Skukuza and Olifants, while rhinos are found predominantly in the south of the park (our four black rhino sightings were twice on the Salitjie Road near Lower Sabie, one from Nkumbe hill and on the S145 near Orpen Camp).
Our leopard hot spots are Shingwedzi, Olifants, Berg en Dal and the Crocodile Bridge / Lower Sabie areas - all the riverine areas. The only river that has not provided us with leopard sightings, so far, has been the Luvuvu river - but all the more reason to visit again!
To download a high-res PDF of our Kruger Park sightings map please click on the map below...
Camps and bungalows in the Kruger are superb in terms of where they are situated, they are well maintained and all bungalows have braai facilities.
Berg-en-Dal – None of the bungalows have good views in terms of photography as the fence is too high. If you do not want to take photographs but just want to watch passing game or birds then there are quite a few good bungalows. Bungalows 22 -33 on the eastern corner have nice views of the river and in the dry season many animals pass by – our favorites, however, are family cottage number 26 and bungalows 28, 30, 31 and 32 (3-bed).
In addition, bungalows 60, 79, 80, 90 and 91 as well as family cottages 82 and 92 on the western side of the camp are private, face the veld and provide very good bird sightings and some mammal sightings.
The camp also has provided us with some great insect photographs in summer. You can also visit the dam wall where you are able to photograph game coming down to drink - the one year we saw a leopard from this spot!
Crocodile Bridge – most of the bungalows face either the Crocodile River (numbers 1 - 9) or the veld (9 – 18). Our favorite is bungalow number 9 as it on the corner of the L-shaped row of perimeter bungalows and gives you the best of both the river and veld and it is also the most private bungalow.
Thereafter bungalows 1 – 8 are good for birding as they are surrounded by trees, number 6 being very good as it has four trees directly in front of it. The veld-facing bungalows (10 – 18) can provide some sightings of mammals coming down to drink at the Crocodile River.
Letaba – Most of the river facing bungalows have views - the family huts from 101 -110 are the most secluded (110 is our favorite) and safari tent number 20, being at the end of the row, is the more secluded (but not much view).
Bungalows number 17 to the west of the restaurant and numbers 32 and 33 to the east of the restaurant have good views of the Letaba River. All the other ‘river-view’ bungalows have views that are obscured by trees and bush.
Lower Sabie – All the river-view bungalows, numbers 3 -22 and 75 -96 (with number 3 being the most private) have a nice view of the Sabie River but if you want to photograph animals you will have the fence in front of you.
We love the river-view tents as they are raised above the fence and give an unrestricted view of the river. Depending on the seasons we have found tents 20 - 22 and 27 – 29 to have the best views and are relatively private with 27 having the most panoramic view.
Keep in mind that in summer the bush gets thick so may obstruct part of your view depending on which tent you have but you can always request at reception that some of the bush be trimmed. We have found the staff at Lower Sabie to be most obliging. (Tent number 16 is very private, has a nice river view and you also get to see the animals that walk next to the fence to and from the river.
Mopani - Bungalows 49 and 102 and family cottage 45 normally have great views of Pioneer Dam. Bungalows 3 – 12, 44 – 54 and 99 – 102 all face the dam but for most of the year have thick bush covering the view.
Olifants - bungalows 1 – 16 have good river views (number 9 used to be the best view as it juts out further than all the other bungalows and you can see the Lebombo Mountains, the Olifants River and the western veldt but the fence was raised and it now spoils the view).
Our favorites are number 14 (family cottage) and bungalows numbers 16 and 13 as these are on the corner and you get to see both the river and the vast plains beneath the hill that Olifants Camp is built on.
Bungalows 97 – 99 have a good view of the Lebombo mountains and part of the river (number 99 is the most private) as well as bungalows 106 -111. And then there are also the two guest houses that have good views - each one has four bedrooms. The guest houses are more expensive than standard bungalows but for four families they are cheaper than the four families taking four bungalows.
Orpen – All the bungalows have been renovated and are in a row facing the flood-lit waterhole. The waterhole is a bit too far for good photos and you are looking through the fence. Bungalows 1 – 12 sleep two people and numbers 13 – 15 are family cottage with number 15 being the most private and closest to the fence.
Pretoriuskop – Bungalows 115 – 134 are most private. None of them have a good view but the birdlife is good at these bungalows. The rest of the bungalows are in laager-like circles facing one another – not great for privacy so reed screens have been placed between most of these bungalows.
Punda Maria – All seven tents have good views and are private but tent numbers 3 or 4 are by far the best for photographing night-life. Number 4 is closest to the fence but if you are shooting the night life you may get the fence in the background so we would suggest number 3 as there are rocks for the Genets to sit on and natural bush for the backdrop. The two family cottages could have a good view but the bush tends to be too thick most of the year.
Satara - All the perimeter huts (numbers 161 – 179) are nice, looking out over the veldt. Bungalow number 168 has a good position as it's in the middle of two half-moons of bungalows but situated in such a way that when sitting on the veranda you aren’t aware of the other bungalows. It's also the closest one to the fence. Numbers 161, 167, 169 and 179 are also good as they are on the ends of the half-moons and closer to the fence. The rest of the bungalows are in laager-like circles facing one another – not great for privacy so reed screens have been erected between most bungalows.
Shingwedzi – The old whitewashed family bungalows (numbers 27 – 29) by the eastern gate are the best. They are close to the fence and animals tend to walk past the fence going to and from the Shingwedzi River. We have seen elephants, hyenas and even a Leopard here! The rest of the bungalows are in laager-like circles facing one another – not great for privacy hence reed screens have been put between most bungalows.
Skukuza - River view bungalows (numbers 85 – 96) to the west of the restaurant have the best views. We would not recommend the ones on the ends as 85 is too far back so the view is spoilt and 96 is too close to the restaurant and the car park area so tends to be noisy – so rather ask for numbers 86 – 95.
Family cottages number 222 – 217 to the east of the restaurant all have nice views – our favorite is number 222 as you have good views of the river and the old bridge (nearly every evening baboons walk across the bridge and this makes for interesting pictures! The large guest cottages that have 4 to 6 bedrooms, such as Waterkant, ABSA and Nyathi, all have good views. Tents 320, 314, 315, 316 are positioned close to the fence.
Tamboti – All the tents face the riverbed but luxury tent number 40 is the most private and provides a good view across and down the riverbed as well as of the veld.
We have divided our sightings map into the three Kruger Park regions to make it easier for you to see our sightings when planning your stays at the camps.
The coloured pins denote the following animals:
Red = Lion, yellow = leopard, white = elephant, blue = buffalo, pink = wild dog, purple = cheetah and green = rhino (both black and white rhinos. Our Black rhino sightings have been few and the hotspot for us is the Salitjie Road and around Nkumbe.)
Our hot-spot camp in the north is Punda Maria with Shingwedzi coming in second.
Our central Kruger hot-spot camp is definitely Olifants camp.
In the south the Crocodile Bridge to Lower Sabie road is the most productive. We have never travelled this route without seeing something interesting!
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Bushveld Camps and Bungalows in the Kruger are peaceful and secluded - each one a true oasis!
Bateleur – Cottage number 1 is the most private and is close to the hide. All the other cottages also face the fence (and the normally dry river bed) but birdlife is good at all of them. Cottages 6 and 7 have some view of the veld.
Biyamiti – Some cottages have good views (numbers 1 – 9) while others have virtually no view (numbers 10 – 15) as they are further away from the (normally dry) river and have thick bush in front of them. Cottages 6 and 7 are our favorite as they tend to have the better views
Shimuwini - All the bungalows face the river but numbers 1 – 3 have large tress in front of them as well as the bird hide so the views are not that good. Number 1, however, is very private and has a nice view of the veldt to the east of the camp. Bungalows 4 – 15 have great views of the river with number 15 being the most private and also having a view of the veldt to the west of the camp. The Shimuwini area is a hot-spot for leopard sightings - we spent from 07h30 to 17h00 with these two cubs one day in June 2009...
Sirheni – All the bungalows face the river or the dam but we have found that bungalows number 1 and 15 (at each end of the row of bungalows) have the best views and are most private. Bungalow 15 faces the dam and the veldt while number 1 looks over the river.
Talamati – All the bungalows face the river (which is dry for most of the year) but bungalow number 1 tends to have the most open view of the dry riverbed. It is higher than the fence so you are able to take photographs of animals that may walk past.
Bungalows 11 - 15 face east, so if you like waking up to a magnificent African sunrise then these are the bungalows you should ask for when making your booking.
Boulders - is situated about six kilometers south of Mopani camp. We love it at Boulders - it is value for money and is kept spotlessly clean. There are five bungalows, four bungalows face the waterhole and one faces away from the waterhole (number three). The camp sleeps up to 12 people with bungalow number five having two bedrooms.
The four main bungalows face north so photographic conditions are not ideal - early morning and late afternoon are the best times for shooting activity at the waterhole.
Roodewal - is situated between Satara and Olifants camps. There are four bungalows facing the Timbavati river and the camp, like Boulders, must be reserved in its entirety. Roodewal sleeps 18 people so is ideal for family groups.
Three bungalows have two en-suite bedrooms and can sleep four in each while one bungalow can sleep six people.
Camps and Bungalows in the Kalahari are old but well maintained and recently renovated.
Twee Rivieren – bungalows 1 – 15 (to the east of the reception) have a better view than the rest of the bungalows as they face the veld and dunes while the rest of the bungalows look onto the camp site and entrance gate.
Mata Mata – None of the old bungalows have great views but the camp has a nice hide that guests can sit at and the eight new river-facing chalets offer good views of the Auob river.
Nossob – These bungalows also do not have great views but the hide can be rewarding day or night.
Rooiputs and Polentswa Lodges are situated on the Botswana side of the park and both provide an up-market safari experience with great views.
!Xaus Lodge is situated on a concession inside the South African part of the park.
Wilderness Camps and Bungalows in the Kalahari are all unique and have their own characters.
Bitterpan There are four cabins connected by a wooden walkway, very similar to Urikaruus but with communal kitchen and braai area. The two ends ones provide the better views.
Gharagab Wilderness Camp There are four log cabins – the two end ones have more privacy but number two has the best view of the waterhole.
Kalahari Tented Camp – the honeymoon tent is the best as it is situated at the end of the row of bungalows and faces away from them so providing you with a sense of being totally alone in the bush. The view of the waterhole isn’t the best but you will see the animals walking down the dry riverbed going to or leaving the waterhole. Another plus is that the honeymoon tent is larger than the other tents.
Urikaruus Wilderness Camp – either cabin numbers 1 or 2 are good, but our favorite is number 1 as it has an unobstructed view up the dry Auob river bed as well as a good view of the water hole.
Grootkolk There are four cabins in a row facing the waterhole. All have views of the waterhole but the cabins on both ends are more private and provide a wider view of the surrounding area therefore providing better game viewing. The waterhole at Grootkolk isn't the greatest.
Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp - dune cabin number 4 is good for privacy and game viewing and it is higher than the other cabins.
Pilanesberg Camps and Bungalows are not in the park but outside on the perimeter of the game reserve.
Bakubung – most of the bungalows form part of a semi-circle that face the waterhole.
Bakgatla – There are some veld-facing bungalows on the perimeter of the camp. We have seen elephant from our bungalow while other guests have seen wild dog but sightings from camp tend to be rare.
Manyane – Most of the family bungalows face outwards towards the veld but are too far from the fence for guests to see animals.
Pilanesberg Tented Camp is inside Manyane and provides a wonderful glamping experience.
Kwa Maritane – most of the rooms face the veld but sightings from the camp are rare. The underground hide, however, is very good.
Please keep in mind that the above accommodation is timeshare so owners get preference and therefore it would be difficult for you to request a specific bungalow.
There are, however, other lodges in Pilanesberg that are not timeshare, such as Ivory Tree, Tshukudu and Shepherds Tree and the lodges in Black Rhino Reserve, such as Pilanesberg Private Lodge.
Tshukudu Bush Lodge is the only lodge within the park and is one of our favorites.
There are five camps inside Etosha:
Halalai is our favorite camp. Most of the bungalows and rooms are private but our favorites are the ones on the western side of the camp as they are away from the entrance, reception, shop, restaurant and petrol station. The restaurant had excellent food as they had a German chef – dinners were a superb experience! The flood-lit waterhole is very nice and provides animal activity during the day and night.
Okaukuejo can get noisy as it is busy so we would suggest bungalows away from the camping area. The luxury waterhole-facing chalets are nice but they are expensive. The flood-lit waterhole in the camp must be the most productive waterhole in the whole of Africa! There is nearly always something drinking here whether it’s morning, noon or night.
Namutoni is our least favorite camp. The staff that we encountered on three visits (reception staff and a ranger) were very unfriendly. On our last visit, in 2010, the friendliness had improved somewhat. The rooms in the fort were better than the chalets but since the revamp there are no longer rooms in the fort - there are only expensive chalets. The fort now contains the restaurant, shops and a viewing platform. There is also a waterhole in the camp but it not nearly as frequently visited by animals as the ones at Halali and Okaukuejo.
Onkoshi is an upmarket camp but we don't feel it is worth the extra cost. It is great for landscapes so one night should be sufficient here.
Dolomite is a superb camp perched up on a dolomite hill in western Etosha. It is worth spending a few days here.
So there you have it - our experiences of the camps and bungalows at the four parks that will hopefully benefit you when making your booking.
For information on the lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve please visit our Madikwe page..
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"It's 764 pages of the most amazing information. It consists of, well, everything really. Photography info...area info...hidden roads..special places....what they have seen almost road by road. Where to stay just outside the Park...camp information. It takes quite a lot to impress me but I really feel that this book, which was 7 years in the making, is exceptional." - Janey Coetzee, South Africa
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