Kruger National Park, ZA
A rooftop tent camping safari through Africa
Welcome to Bolt’s version of an African safari: a 1,000 kilometer, 8 day expedition north from Johannesburg, through National and Provincial Parks, including 3 days in Kruger National Park and 5 days in two private reserves. We traveled in a caravan of 4x4-equipped, rooftop-tented Land Rovers. The vehicles were self-driven (ie. members drove throughout) over rugged four wheeling trails. We mixed 3 nights of staying in comfortable safari lodges with four nights of wild camping in the bush - a perfect blend of roughing it with some creature comforts along the way.
Led by an expert guide piloting his own vehicle, Bolt members drove trucks across varied landscapes (or hung back in the passenger seat, for those who preferred). In some spots, distances were short, but the roads were rugged, and we stopped to assess the situation frequently before proceeding. This was a perfect opportunity to learn the ins and outs of offroad driving, with plenty of chances to drive through challenging terrain.
This trip wasn’t not for the faint of heart, and it was important to understand it was different from a typical guided safari. We traveled through private reserves, camping in areas without fences, amongst the Big 5. Across Kruger National Park, Letaba Ranch, and Makuya Reserve, we looked for the classic African “Big 5”: lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. Morning and late afternoon are optimal for viewing animals, so early made for full days of exploration. The journey was the destination.
Bolt’s self-driven safari built in the best parts of a more typical safari in Kruger National Park, while adding 5 additional days of out-there adventure, ranging over private reserves and rooftop-tent camping. We met our guides and started our exploration with two nights at a lodge inside of Kruger National Park, enjoying game drives in the morning and evening, returning to comfortable beds and delicious dinners.
Our third morning, we headed for the North Gate at Phalaborwa, exiting Kruger and entering the Letaba Ranch. These private reserves are unfenced, and the animals have free movement, so we looked for them, rather than the other way around. This was when our safari turned into an overlanding expedition - an old-school South African safari at its best.
After leaving the gates of Kruger National Park on Day 3, we’ll enter less trafficked private reserves - perfect for more intimate encounters with wildlife, both from our vehicles and on foot. Driving through the reserves, stopping at sightings, and staking out waterholes, where the animals congregate.
For four consecutive nights, we camped in the bush, unpacking and assembling the rooftop tents and equipment for a night in the wild. The area around our camps was ripe for exploration, so we stretched our legs and headed out on hikes and into river swimming holes for relaxation. Upon our return, it was time to eat delicious food, listen to a bit of music, discuss the day’s sightings, and enjoy the unique connections that build over a week of exploring somewhere new with an intimate group of fellow travelers.
Departing from Hoedspruit, ZA, we drove a loop of approximately 1000 kilometers, arriving in Phalaborwa to end the adventure.
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