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3-Day Kruger Safari Tours

4.5/5  –  382 Kruger Reviews

The Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s great safari destinations. Extending over 19,485km²/7,523mi², it is one of the largest national parks anywhere on the continent, and home to 150 mammal and more than 500 bird species. When it comes to the Big Five, Kruger is a key stronghold for both species of African rhino, and it also supports immense herds of elephant and buffalo, and some unusually relaxed big cats. A 3-day Kruger safari provides a great opportunity to get a good look at South Africa’s most popular national park, and to enjoy a sampling of its varied wildlife. Be warned, however, that once you have visited Kruger and caught the safari bug, you may well want to return one day for a longer safari.

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6 Questions About 3-Day Kruger Safaris


6 Questions About 3-Day Kruger Safaris

Answered by Philip Briggs

Is 3 days enough time for a trip in Kruger National Park?

“Absolutely. Three days is sufficient to get a decent feel for Kruger’s landscapes and to see a good selection of its wildlife, though it will restrict you to exploring one small area of this vast park. That said, if it is possible to spend longer than 3 days in Kruger, I would give it serious consideration. Additional time in the park will allow you to explore it more thoroughly, and every extra game drive improves the odds of seeing elusive species, such as leopard, cheetah, African wild dog and rhino.”


Is it better to fly or go overland to Kruger?

“As a rule, it’s more efficient to fly, especially for a short safari. Kruger is about five hours’ drive from Gauteng (which includes Johannesburg, Pretoria and O.R. Tambo International Airport), so the return drive will eat into your safari time. That said, many Kruger tours do start and end in Gauteng, and this has its advantages too. Driving is generally cheaper, and you will see some interesting countryside en route. And, with an early start, you’ll be in Kruger for lunch. Kruger is further from seaside destinations such as Durban, Cape Town or the Garden Route, so traveling overland isn’t a realistic option unless you’ve enough spare days to treat it as a road trip. One situation where driving into Kruger is clearly preferable is if you’re already staying close by, for instance in Mbombela, Hazyview or Hoedspruit. It also makes sense to drive if your Kruger safari is part of a longer road trip through the likes of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) or northern KwaZulu-Natal. If you decide to fly, several different airports service Kruger, and your best choice will be influenced by where you’ll be staying. The busiest flight hub is Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, which lies outside the national park, but offers good access to southern Kruger via Numbi Gate (40km/25mi) or Phabeni Gate (60km/36mi). Useful alternatives include Skukuza Airport, which stands inside the park close to Skukuza Rest Camp, and Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport, which is near central Kruger’s Orpen Gate.”


What accommodation can I expect?

“Accommodation options are wide open on a 3-day tour to Kruger. More than a dozen rest camps offer the choice of camping or staying in a comfortable self-catering bungalow. Some safaris stay outside the park, at one of several lodges that lie close to an entrance gate. These accommodation options include simple backpacker lodges, smart chain hotels and owner-managed boutique properties. In terms of pure value for money, accommodation options outside the park are generally preferable. Personally, given the choice, however, I would always stay within the park. This allows you to enjoy the memorable experience of being in the bush at night. It also leaves you better placed for game drives in the early morning, when carnivores are most active. At the top end of the range, several private game lodges stand in concessions within Kruger, and many more can be found in the various private reserves that share open boundaries with the national park. These all-inclusive lodges tend to be small and luxurious, and to place a strong emphasis on quality wining and dining. In private reserves and concessions, guided game drives in open 4x4s are the norm, and you’re likely to enjoy better big cat sightings than you would on public roads.”


Which animals am I likely to see on a 3-day Kruger safari?

“On any tour to Kruger, you stand a good chance of seeing all the Big Five and many other iconic African savannah creatures. Elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, warthog and hippo are all but certain, together with a varied selection of antelope including wildebeest, greater kudu and impala. On a 3-day safari, lions are very likely, as are spotted hyenas and jackals, but leopard and cheetah are a little less likely. Kruger is an important stronghold for both rhino species: the larger and more placid white rhino is common and very likely to be seen over the course of 3 days, but you would be very lucky to see the more scarce and secretive black rhino. Kruger supports excellent and varied birdlife and you can expect to see heavyweights, such as ostrich, southern ground hornbill, saddle-billed stork and various vultures and eagles.”


How do I avoid the crowds in the park?

“The best way to dodge the crowds in Kruger is to avoid the public area south of the Sabie River. The majority of rest camps are concentrated in this southern sector, and it’s also the main area utilized by day safaris. The payoff is that southern Kruger offers the most reliable wildlife viewing in the park, and your best chance of spotting all the Big Five on a 3-day safari. Within Kruger’s southern sector, traffic is heaviest around Skukuza, the largest rest camp, so a good compromise is to stay at smaller rest camps such as Lower Sabie, Crocodile Bridge or Malelane. Another good compromise would be to stay in central Kruger, staying at a rest camp such as Satara, Olifants or Letaba. Central Kruger also offers good wildlife viewing, but it is seldom as crowded as the far south. The area north of Letaba is even less crowded, but wildlife viewing tends to be slow, so it is not recommended for first-time visitors. If you are not restricted by budget, think about staying at a private reserve bordering Kruger (for instance MalaMala Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve or Klaserie Nature Reserve), or a concession lodge within southern Kruger (these include Shishangeni, Lukimbi and Rhino Post safari lodges). These exclusive variations on the Kruger experience take guests on guided 4x4 safaris through areas that are rich in wildlife but closed to the general public. Kruger attracts a high volume of domestic visitors, so it’s best to avoid long weekends and local school holidays.”


How much does a 3-day safari in Kruger National Park cost?

“The price of a 3-day Kruger safari depends on whether you stay inside or outside the reserve, and whether you camp, stay in budget rest camps, or go for more luxurious accommodation. Typically you will be looking at around US$650 per person at the lower end of the price scale, US$900 to US$1,000 in the mid-range, and US$1,200 to US$1,600 or upwards for a more luxurious and exclusive experience in a concession lodge or private reserve. Kruger is also well suited to self-drive visits, which usually work out more cheaply than guided safaris. The negative of self-driving is that you’re unlikely to see as much wildlife as you would with an expert guide, but it does offer a greater sense of autonomy.”


Kruger Reviews

4.5/5 382 Reviews
Lizzie Williams  –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s flagship park with excellent facilities and unrivalled game-viewing

South Africa’s largest park most certainly fulfils most visitors’ expectations of seeing magnificent herds of game roaming across acacia-studded savannah. After countless visits at different times of the year, I have found it can get a...

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Mike Unwin  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award-winning wildlife writer, former editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Africa’s Best DIY Safari

South Africa’s premier wildlife reserve divides opinion. Some who’ve visited supposedly ‘wilder’ parks argue that the Kruger’s developed infrastructure, complete with paved roads and large public camps, undermines the wilderness...

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Patricia Drew  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Mar 14, 2024

The parks we visited during our stay were varied. The first evening safari we didn’t see the animals we hoped. However the full day drive the following day made up for this. We saw everything we hoped to, mainly the Hippis and Giraffes....

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Ian Matthews  –  
Australia AU
Reviewed: Feb 25, 2024

It is everything that thousands of others have experienced. It is soo big that it would take weeks to discover each region, but we were thankful for seeing the best that we could in a limited timeframe.

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Zandi  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Jan 12, 2024

Brilliant glamping experience. The safari tour guide was knowledgeable and we managed to spot the animals. The glamping staff were friendly and they kept the facilities clean. This was a girls trip and we felt safe throughout our stay....

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Yvonne Schmidt  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: Jan 6, 2024
Once in a life time unforgetable experiance . All staff members were very helpful +HIGHLY capiable.

Viva Safaris kept to their programme, Bushwalk, Great Kruger Safaris with very well trained, friendly guides, Sunrise and Sundown safaris (Bush Braai was unbelievable crowned with an Amarula Liquer Toast). The safari jeeps accomodated very...

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