Kruger Park is huge: one of the largest game parks in Africa, it covers over 19,000 sq kilometers, and it has almost 40 different accommodation options. We visited Kruger National Park for 5 days in December, and stayed in a different camp each of 5 nights. Each one was quite different from the previous, and we enjoyed all of them! Here’s where we stayed our first night in the park and what it’s like to stay in Punda Maria Rest Camp.
Getting to Kruger pArk
We made Kruger Park our first stop in South Africa, so flew to Johannesburg Airport where we rented a car for the drive to the park. You can get to the park quite quickly as it is so large. However, we planned our trip from the north to the south of Kruger, so it was supposed to be a 7 hour drive. Factoring in holiday traffic, it’s a slog. But worth it because Kruger Park is a bucket-list destination.
Booking Kruger park Accommodations
We booked our rooms in advance through the Kruger Park website. We booked in August for our Christmas stay, and some of the places were already full, but we still got good rooms for each night. Christmas is a busy time at Kruger: a lot of South Africans spend their holidays there and plan well in advance. If you can book earlier in the year, do so.
Options range throughout the park – from north to south, you can camp out or stay in fancier places.
This is the first post about our accommodations in Kruger Park.
Punda Maria Rest Camp location
We entered through the Punda Maria Gate, near the north end of Kruger Park, so booked our first night’s stay at the nearest camp, Punda Maria. We knew it was a few hours from our Airbnb and we’d have to buy supplies (food, etc) on the drive, so this made sense for night one. Despite it’s proximity to “the real world,” we still didn’t have cell phone signals in this park. Good way to start the vacation with a break from the grid.
Even though Punda Maria Camp is quite close to the gate, it still took us a while to get there because as soon as we saw animals, we had to stop and take photos. Little did we know that these would be the first of many impalas we’d see in the park. They are pretty much like coffee shops in Toronto – ubiquitous! But they’re so cute! I like this one with the guy photo-bombing from behind the bushes.
The camp itself has a lot of amenities: a little shop and restaurant included.
We stayed in a cute bungalow which was outfitted with a bedroom, bathroom, air conditioning, a refrigerator, kettle and, of course, a brai. Every single place we stayed in South Africa had a brai. That is their version of a BBQ. You can use either wood or coal and they are ingenious. South Africans like grilled meat. And so do we!
things we liked AT PUNDA MARIA REST CAMP
One of the nice things about Punda Maria is there was a small wood near our hut where we could walk and see birds and vervet monkeys! The place also has a pool which made it popular with families. Finally, we got to go on a night guided drive at Punda Maria. You can sign up for guided tours at some – not all – of the campsites in advance. This one was in a jeep.
Nice place to stay the night, and the accommodations only got better from here!
Overall, all of the camps we booked were clean, well maintained and affordable. We were so impressed by the rooms at Kruger Park. There are so many more options too (if you book in advance)! Everywhere we stayed was peaceful and calm, even the bigger camps. People go to sleep with the sun and wake up with the birds, because the better time to spot the animals is with the dawn before it gets too hot. Easy sleeping everywhere. Two thumbs up!