Home / Africa Blog / How to travel to Kruger National Park on a budget

How to travel to Kruger National Park on a budget

South Africa’s flagship game reserve, Kruger National Park, which at 2.5 million hectares is nearly the same size as Belgium, offers the quintessential safari experience: abundant wildlife, diverse landscapes, from savanna to the Lebombo Mountains, thick forests to dramatic gorges and those perfect sunsets.

In Kruger you’ll find Africa’s iconic wildlife that you’ve dreamed of seeing: lion, leopard, rhino, hippo, zebra, cheetah, buffalo, giraffe and elephant in sixteen ecozones, which are also home to 500 bird species and 140 other mammal species. The wildlife spotting is so easy that many people spot most of the Big Five in just one day of driving around the park. Even if you aren’t that lucky, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed with a trip to magical Kruger. It’s the kind of place that can start a life-long addiction to the African bush!

The Kruger National Park on a budget

Lion at the Kruger National Park

Cheaper Entrance Fees

Unlike some of Africa’s other famous parks, such as the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Kruger National Park is a budget-friendly destination. It’s fairly easy to get to (a five-hour drive from Johannesburg or a short drive from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport near Nelspruit), and with a rental car (which costs about $15 a day) you are able to drive yourself around the park on an excellent and extensive network of roads. Entrance fees are also much lower than in some other parks – around $20 a day for international visitors.

Campgrounds in the Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park has no shortage of budget accommodation choices in several rest camps spread around the park, with the cheapest option being the campgrounds – a campsite sleeping six costs around $20 a night – where you bring your own tent and cook your own food over barbecue grids.

Book Accommodation in Advance

Booking your accommodation in advance is an excellent way to save money on your Kruger National Park trip. There are many lodges and campsites available, and by booking in advance, you can take advantage of early bird rates and discounts. You can also compare prices and find the best deals to suit your budget.

There are many affordable accommodation options in and around Kruger National Park, including camping sites, self-catering chalets, and budget lodges.

Plan Your Own Meals

Eating out can be a bit expensive in Kruger National Park, especially if you’re on a budget. To save money, plan your meals and bring along some food and snacks. You can cook your meals at your accommodation and do grocery shops in the surrounding towns or use the communal braai areas available in the park. This way, you can enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank.

Book a Budget Kruger Tour

While Kruger National Park is a great option for independent travellers, the easiest and most budget-friendly way to see the park is on an overland tour. On our budget Kruger Park tours, which range in length from four days to several weeks (as part of a longer overland trip through Africa) you travel through the park in a 4×4 open-top game drive vehicle or an overland truck, with your guide pointing out plants and animals, and camp at night as a group in one of the park’s campsites.

Our Top Budget Kruger Safaris

  • Tour Length 17 days
    Group Size Max 12
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Cape Town
    Countries South Africa, Swaziland
    Overview This is a popular accommodated small group tour (max 12) exploring the colourful Rainbow Nation. Hiking, game viewing and multi-cultural experiences will enchant you throughout the country of South Africa. The accommodation on tour is a mixture of guest houses, chalets, lodges or permanent tented camps. The accommodation we use is graded 2 to 3 star and is comfortable, clean and on a twin share bases (en-suites with occasional shared bathrooms). All linen and bedding is provided. Most meals are provided by the guides around the fire or on the roadside during travel days (the truck has a fully kitted kitchen). Should you be a single traveller you will be roomed up with another same gender traveller unless you prefer a single supplement (limited to 2 travellers). The tour is a limited participation safari tour where your tour leaders will do all the meal preparation but we do ask travellers to help (on rotation) with the washing up. There are some long travel days which require early morning starts, to gain the most of our day in Africa.

    Price from

    R51,780

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    South Africa Tour (Comfort/Inclusive)- Great Guides

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  • Tour Length 5 days
    Group Size Max 16
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Johannesburg
    Countries South Africa
    Overview Calling all intrepid adventurers! If you’re looking for a hands-on African adventure, this is it. Wildlife, wilderness, and wow-worthy campouts are at the forefront of this classic safari. This trip takes you straight into the heart of Kruger where you’ll get to experience story-book Africa. Surreal nature walks and night time game drives introduce you to scenes that will blow your mind, as you pause at waterholes and stunning viewpoints, to catch a glimpse at Africa’s iconic species in action.
    • The tour requires participation from all group members. This entails assisting with the food preparation, washing of dishes and keeping the truck clean. Please keep in mind that flexibility and an open mind is needed on the trip. Your guide is registered with the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA)

    Price from

    R17,870

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    5 Day Kruger Safari on a Budget (Inclusive) Comfort

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    R17870
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  • Tour Length 5 days
    Group Size Min 2-12
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Johannesburg
    Countries South Africa
    Overview Spend a great deal of time exploring the Kruger National Park during our five-day safari. The safaris will provide an opportunity to see more of the Kruger and a wider variety of areas as opposed to the shorter safaris that are restricted to staying close to the camps, resulting in the same areas being seen on every safari. The guides frequently stop at rest camps and lookout points during a full day of exploration in the Kruger National Park. As we traverse different grasslands and ecological zones, our chances of seeing more wildlife are increased. Enjoy a sunset/night safari, a full day open safari vehicle safari, a full day panoramic safari in a closed vehicle, and two morning safaris in the Kruger Park. Tours depart every Monday – Wednesday – Saturdays

    Price from

    R20,830

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    Budget Kruger Safari Tour (Comfort) (5 Days)

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    24 Feb 2024 → 28 Feb 2024

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  • Tour Length 4 days
    Group Size Min 2
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Johannesburg
    Countries South Africa
    Overview An exciting 4 Day Kruger Park safari from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park enjoying daily game drives and activities. Safari in the famous Kruger Park with the Big Five Wildlife while on a budget. Explore diverse landscapes and game spotting. Departs every Monday – Wednesday – Saturdays

    Price from

    R17,000

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    4 Day Kruger Safari (Comfort) Tour

    Tour start → end dates Price Enquire
    24 Feb 2024 → 27 Feb 2024

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  • Tour Length 4 days
    Group Size Max 20
    Starts & Ends Starts: Johannesburg Ends: Johannesburg
    Countries South Africa
    Overview This is a short, but rewarding safari where you will stay in the heart of the Kruger National Park at a lovely resort where you can go on early morning, afternoon and sundowner games drives.

    Price from

    R19,650

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    4 Day Budget Kruger Park Safari – Comfort

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What to do on a budget Kruger National Park safari

people on a walking safari in kruger national park

Self-driving

The main thing you’re going to be doing is seeing wildlife and lots of it! If you’re driving yourself around the park, it’s best to get up early and hit the road just after sunrise for a good chance of spotting animals. Follow the map to find waterholes, where you can park yourself off and wait for wildlife to show up. Otherwise just drive slowly around the park, taking in all the majestic scenery and bird life.

Walking safari in Kruger National Park

Walking safaris are a great way of seeing the bush from another perspective, and there are many on offer in Kruger, from short walks of just a few hours from the bush camps to multi-day wilderness trails, where you camp out in the wild. There are also lots of archaeological sites scattered around the park, which are well worth a visit to learn about the fascinating history of the area.

If you want to splurge, you can do an elephant-back safari or a hot air balloon flight over the park.

When to go on a Kruger National Park safari

The best time of year to visit Kruger National Park is during South Africa’s winter months, from May to September. This is the driest time of year, which means the animals tend to congregate around waterholes. That, coupled with the fact that the vegetation is drier and sparser, makes the animals easy to spot! If you can’t make it to Kruger in winter – don’t worry!

Go in the Off Season

This is also the high season which runs from June to September, and during this time, prices for accommodation and activities are generally higher. If you want to save money, consider visiting during the low season from October to May. During this time, prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists, meaning that you’ll have a more peaceful and enjoyable experience.

  • Dry season (May-October): This is the peak season for safaris in Kruger, as the dry weather makes it easier to spot wildlife gathering around waterholes and rivers. Vegetation is also less dense during this time, making it easier to see animals. However, it can be quite cold in the mornings and evenings, so be sure to pack warm clothing.
  • Wet season (November-April): This is the low season for safaris in Kruger, as the rains make it harder to spot wildlife and some roads may be impassable. However, the park is lush and green during this time, and it’s a great time to see baby animals. The wet season is also a good time for bird watching.
  • Shoulder season (April-May and September-October): These months are considered the best times to visit Kruger, as the weather is mild and wildlife viewing is still good. This is also a quieter time in the park, as it falls between the peak and low seasons.

Overall, the best time to go on a Kruger National Park safari depends on your preferences and interests. Consider the weather, wildlife sightings, and crowds when planning your trip. No matter what time of year you go, you are sure to have an unforgettable safari experience in one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations.

What Animals can I see in Kruger?

Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations, home to an incredible array of animal species. Here are some of the top animals to look out for on a Kruger safari:

  • African Elephant: Kruger is home to an estimated 12,000 elephants, making it one of the best places to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
  • Lion: Known as the king of the jungle, lions are one of the most sought-after animals to spot on a Kruger safari. With an estimated 1,800 lions in the park, your chances of seeing these majestic predators are high.
  • Leopard: Despite being notoriously elusive, Kruger is one of the best places to spot leopards in the wild. These elusive predators can be spotted lounging in trees or on the prowl at night.
  • African Buffalo: Also known as Cape buffalo, these massive herbivores can be seen grazing in large herds across the park. They are known for their impressive horns and tough demeanour.
  • Rhino: Kruger is home to both black and white rhinos, with a total population of around 6,000. These magnificent creatures are highly endangered, making spotting them in the wild a truly special experience.
  • Cheetah: The fastest land animal in the world, cheetahs can be spotted on the open savannahs of Kruger as they hunt for prey.
  • Wild Dogs: Also known as painted dogs, these highly social and endangered animals are a rare sight in the wild. Kruger is one of the best places to spot them, especially during the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Giraffes: With their long necks and distinctive markings, giraffes are one of the most iconic animals of Africa. In Kruger, they can be spotted munching on trees and towering over other wildlife.
  • Hippopotamus: Found in rivers and waterholes across the park, hippos are known for their massive size and fearsome demeanour.
  • Crocodile: These prehistoric reptiles can be seen basking in the sun along the banks of Kruger’s rivers and waterholes, waiting for their next meal to come along.

How to Get To Kruger

Kruger National Park is located in northeastern South Africa, and there are several ways to get there. Here are some of the best options:

  1. Fly: The easiest way to get to Kruger is to fly to one of the nearby airports, such as Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport or Hoedspruit Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to the park.
  2. Drive to Kruger: If you’re coming from Johannesburg, you can rent a car and drive to Kruger. The drive takes about 4-5 hours, depending on your starting point and the route you take. You can also drive from other parts of South Africa, but keep in mind that the distances can be quite far.
  3. Bus to Kruger: There are several bus companies that offer service to Kruger, including Intercape and Greyhound. This is a good option if you don’t want to drive, but keep in mind that it can take longer than flying or driving.
  4. Organized tours: If you don’t want to plan your own transportation, you can book an organized tour that includes transportation to and from Kruger. Many tour companies offer packages that include transportation, accommodations, and guided safaris.

No matter how you choose to get to Kruger, be sure to plan ahead and book your transportation in advance, especially during peak season. This will ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable trip to one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations.

In conclusion

Travelling to Kruger National Park on a budget is possible with some planning and preparation. Choose affordable accommodation, go on a self-drive safari, bring your food and drinks, join a budget tour, and book in advance. By following these tips, you can have a fantastic safari experience in Kruger National Park without breaking the bank.

Inspired to plan a Kruger National Park trip? Check out our Kruger budget safaris to start planning your safari holiday!

About Sarah Duff

Documentary filmmaker/ travel writer/ photographer - www.sarahduff.com
Article by: Sarah Duff
on April 27, 2023
Filed under  Africa Blog 
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