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Are three days enough for a safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa? It certainly is a short time to see all the vast park has to offer in wildlife and sceneries, but if you are short on time, it may be just enough if you know beforehand what you can expect on a 3-day Kruger safari.
On a 3-day safari in Kruger, you will have a busy schedule depending on which side of the park’s boundaries you are staying. You can choose would you want to spend one or two days on game drives inside Kruger National Park and one day on the iconic Panorama Route. And you can also leave the Panorama Route off the schedule if you like, but it will offer a nicely different experience.
The Panorama Route Is One of the Highlights of South Africa
The Panorama Route is a classic car route in South Africa. It guides you through various, beautiful attractions such as the Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window, and the Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
You’ll go through some small towns like Graskop, where you should stop for legendary Harrie’s Pancakes, to have a taste of these said-to-be-delicious pancakes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to make a pitstop here, but maybe next time.
The Bourke’s Luck Potholes are impressive formations of nature and a place you should definitely visit.
But the most spectacular sight is the Blyde River Canyon, which may be the world’s largest “green canyon.” Blyde River Canyon is the world’s third largest canyon which on a clear day offers kilometers of magnificent views over this nature’s wonder.
You can see all the main attractions of the Panorama Route in a day, but if you have more time, spend it – you will enjoy the sceneries even more.
Seeing the Iconic Safari Animals: The Big 5 on a Kruger Park Safari
The classic “Big Five” animals are the elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and the buffalo. But would you guess which one of them is the most dangerous? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the lion! If you don’t know, take your guess and I will tell you the correct answer at the end of this post.
Seeing any one of these animals in the wild is exhilarating and even addicting experience. When you are sitting on an open vehicle, and the animals can be only a few meters away from you, you will feel the excitement in your spine.
But don’t worry, you won’t be in any danger. The animals can’t see individual people; they only see the vehicle and its shape. But this is why you will always have to comply with the rules: never reach outside of your car to take pictures, etc.! Then it can get dangerous, the animals will then see you and not the vehicle, and you may become a target. So, always listen to your guide!
Young elephants having a bath in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
What is Enough Time for Kruger National Park Safari?
You could spend an endless amount of time on a Kruger Park safari if you have the time and money. Every day is different and every day will be a surprise on what you will see and what you will experience. When you only have three days for your Kruger National Park safari, you have to accept that what you will see will be much down to luck. 3-day Kruger safari is a short one, indeed, but it will always be better than not going at all and missing out on the opportunity to see wild animals.
However, I cannot guarantee that you’ll see lions, rhinos, elephants, or other big game animals on any specific game drive. They are called game drives for a reason – its always like a game to go out and trying to find wild animals in their natural habitat. I’ve been on game drives on which I’ve seen all of the Big Five and a whole lot more on one game drive only and then on ones which I haven’t seen much at all.
Lion brothers resting in the bush after eating in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
The safari guides will communicate through two-way radios and inform each other when and where they see the big game animals. But the distances are so vast in Kruger National Park that even that won’t guarantee that your guide will, for example, go after lions if they’re too far away from where you are.
But don’t let that discourage you! Kruger National Park is an icon, and it’s always worth the visit – even if you will have only one day at the park. The main roads are paved, and it’ll be easy to drive around. Off-roading is prohibited, but you wouldn’t even need to do that. You can see animals just at the side of the road sometimes.
Wild elephant bull in its natural habitat in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Private Game Reserves in Greater Kruger Area or Just Kruger National Park Itself?
An area called the Greater Kruger surrounds the Kruger National Park. It’s formed by private game reserves like Klaserie, Timbavati, Balule, and such, and there are some grand private game lodges with excellent game viewing available.
These safari lodges range from budget-friendly to quite expensive, and you are not allowed to drive yourself inside the private reserves so the lodges will provide all the game drives, too. The guides are not allowed to cross borders to another private game reserve’s area, so you’re restricted to the one area on which you’re staying. This has some pros and cons.
We were able to see, for example, two honey badgers and one aardvark at one evening in one private game reserve! Aardvarks are extremely rare to see – even our guide who had worked for several years in that reserve hadn’t seen one before.
Then on another occasion, we saw a few wild dogs, but only as a short glimpse because they crossed the road which marked the border between two different private reserves and we couldn’t cross the border and follow them to the other side.
However, if you have the opportunity, visit both a private game reserve and the Kruger National Park itself. They are quite different worlds, and you will have an excellent overview of the area and its wildlife.
A herd of buffalo in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
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We had an action-packed and extremely informative 3-day Kruger National Park safari with Shinzelle Safaris. They have a lovely place to stay in Hazyview, and the drive to the gates of Kruger National Park took no more than about 45 minutes.
We also had the privilege to get a private safari, Niina and I had the car all by ourselves. When our Kruger Park safari day was at hand, it started at the first lights of the day when we headed straight towards the Kruger National Park. Even though we’ve been on many safaris already during recent years, every time, we are still as excited as if it were our first time.
Having A Good Guide On Your Kruger Safari is Vital
Kyro, our guide, had an extensive knowledge ranging from the millipedes and flora to the elephants and the environment in general and he eagerly shared his experience and expertise with us during our Kruger Park safari.
He told us things which we hadn’t ever heard before and his guiding style was remarkably different from the majority of safari guides with whom we’ve been on game drives before. His approach to guiding makes sure that you will get a very comprehensive safari experience.
The new cottage of Shinzelle Safaris at the Windmill Country Retreat, Hazyview, South Africa.
As to borrow Kyro’s words, he doesn’t like to do “Ferrari safaris” – a term which is said about a game drive on which the guide takes the guests from one big game sighting to another, no matter how far they are apart, driving very fast as they go.
Some people will like that, as their priority is, for example, only to see the big cats like lions, leopards, and such. But then you will miss all the other, smaller animals and the environment which are also all worth to see.
Of course, you will always have the possibility to tell your guide what you’d like to see and do. It’s also a matter of your preference, especially if you have your private guide and vehicle.
But I’d like to suggest that at least sometime, let the guide show his or her professional skills and you will get a thorough and authentic experience of the bushveld. The bush is, after all, so much more than just the lions, rhinos, and elephants. However, if some of the Big Five is only a reasonable way away, you’ll drive to see them anyway.
What Wildlife Do We Saw on Our 3-Day Kruger Safari?
On our game drive day in the Kruger National Park, we saw lions on a kill, numerous elephants eating and bathing, along with countless different antelopes, and other small mammals. I had many photo opportunities, particularly of elephants which I especially love observing.
And after our exciting day, just before the gates of the Kruger National Park closed at 5.30pm, we drove back to the peaceful location of the Windmill Country Retreat in Hazyview to eat a three-course candlelight dinner while watching small dik-diks walk just in front of our porch. Doesn’t that sound like an ideal day or what?!
We had the privilege to visit at the Windmill Country Retreat in December 2018 with Shinzelle Safaris, and after our visit, the several, brand new cottages with magnificent views have been completed. So, do yourself a favor and book your relaxing stay with them. You will get excellent value for your money. The service was also friendly and impeccable. Our experience with the Shinzelle Safaris was overall excellent and unique. And most of all, your Kruger National Park safari will be an expert-level experience.
And last, but not least, I promised to answer the question which animal of the Big 5 is the most dangerous. It is the buffalo! Did you know that?
*We were hosted on a 3-day Kruger Safari by Shinzelle Safaris, though all our opinions expressed in this post are totally our own, honest experiences.
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