What would you say is the very best, most iconic South African holiday destination?
The truth is that no one place can represent an entire country. But if there's one place that showcases SA's most prized natural resources, together with our world-class hospitality (in all levels of luxury) as well as our true South African spirit and culture, the Kruger National Park pretty much hits the spot.
It's a place where South Africans from all walks of life and all demographics go to enjoy - together - what our country has to offer. And nine times out of 10, the experience is so profound that we go back time and again to experience that special magic of the Kruger.
I had my first Kruger experience in 2016 only - shocking considering that many of my friends have been doing an annual Kruger crawl since they can remember.
SEE: Ultimate SA Camping: Into the heart of Kruger's Mafunyane 4x4 eco-trail
I only understand their obsession with this annual South African travel MUST now. And agree with journo Brian Jackman who once wrote that “Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all.”
My advice to first-time Kruger visitors is to jump right in and let the Kruger bug bite. If anyone can tell you it's worth it, it's the 73 000 members of the official SANParks - Kruger National Park Facebook group.
Traveller24 Tip: Join this Facebook group now. It's not only a great resource where vital information is shared, but it also makes you part of a global Kruger-loving community - with members sharing incredible photographs and experiences.
In a bid to find the favourite Kruger spots for first-time visitors, we also recently asked the group to name their favourite Kruger Rest Camps.
As recommended by the true Kruger fanatics, these are the Top 5 Main Rest camps to check into in the Park -
Twitchers, listen up. Satara is a well-wooded camp with prolific bird-life. The camp is also great for big game - with hyena, lion and giraffe roaming about in abundance.
If you don't get to see the King of the Jungle in the area by day, you'll certainly hear his roar from your tent at night...
What's available - Campsites with power point, bungalows, guest cottages and guest house accommodation.
Contact Satara - 013 735 6306/7 or 082 802 1209
Backed by the Lebombo Mountains, Lower Sabie graces the banks of the Sabie River, one of the few perennial rivers to flow through the Kruger National Park.
While the camp is a base from where to explore the abundant wildlife - including leopard and lion - watching the animals coming to drink at the Sabie River is reason enough to check into this popular camp.
What's available - Campsites with power points, huts, safari tents bungalows, family bungalows as well as guest house accommodation.
Contact Lower Sabie - 013 735 6056/7 or 082 888 6562
Shingwedzi lies in the northern part of the Kruger National Park in the heart of mopane country - a quieter retreat compared to Satara and Lower Sabie.
A scenic game drive along the Shingwedzi River in a south-easterly direction towards the Kanniedood Dam is one of the most rewarding drives in the Park. Waterbuck, nyala, kudu and elephant are often seen here and the bird life is prolific.
The rustic camp carries the essence of the bush.
What's available - Campsites with power points, huts, bungalows, cottages and guest house accommodation.
Contact Shingwedzi - 013 735 6806/7 or 082 889 4376
The idyllic Letaba Rest Camp is situated on a sweeping bend of the Letaba River, midway between the southern and northern boundaries of the Park.
The name means “river of sand”, and the sandy riverbed is an excellent location for game viewing, particularly elephant, which thrive in the area.
The camp is also home to the Letaba Elephant Hall, which is a great destination for families.
What's available - Campsites with power points, huts, safari tents, bungalows, guest cottages as well as guest house accommodation.
Contact Letaba - 013 735 6636 / 7 or 082 802 1255
Guess what you'll see in abundance at Olifants Rest Camp - Elephants!
The camp is situated a top a hill which towers several hundred feet over the Olifants river, with views from the lookout platforms allowing endless opportunities.
Apart from the elephant, keep your eyes peeled for lion, crocs and hippo, as well as the beautiful Martial Eagle - the largest eagle on the continent.
What's available - Bungalows and guest house accommodation.
Contact Olifants - 013 735 6606/7 or 082 888 6563
NOTE: The Kruger National Park official website is very comprehensive and gives detailed information on all camps and accommodation in the park.
If you're planning your first trip to the Kruger, here's a Quick Guide to help you know where to go, what to pack and what rules to remember -
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