I can honestly say that this has been one of my absolute favourite experiences travelling thus far. The staff were incredible and the range of activities were perfect, we had enough down time to still feel like a vacation but were always looking forward to something. The accommodations were comfortable and the food was a great balance of flavours and substance - the staff even accommodated the Celiac, Vegetarian and Vegan requests of the large group. We were fortunate to meet some incredible people along the way too!
For those of you considering booking this tour, you absolutely should!! I’ll explain why below. (I titled it to make it an easier read).
The six day tour is perfect because you loose a lot of the first and last day to travel, with Kruger being roughly a 5-6 hour journey from Johannesburg where you get picked up. There’s still time for an activity and a meal either side while on safari: but it means the rest of the time isn’t too rushed. It also means you get to do just about everything they offer!!
THE AREAS YOU VISIT:
Being able to visit their private game reserves, as well as Kruger park, means you get the best of everything.
Staying on their reserves allow for quicker access to animals in a closer area. The fences have been removed, but animals still frequent the waterholes and areas they know closer to the lodges. The roads are more off-roading and weave in and out, so it’s easier to get closer to passing animals.
Kruger is further away and the roads through are paved or graded, which is great when your covering ground. Though animals may be further away than on the game reserves.
We wanted to attend the Rehabilitation Centre, another plus of the 6 day. Which was a really eye opening experience. Something that allowed us to learn a lot and get a true understanding of the size and habits of the animals. It’s tough to see them housed in a centre, though you learn what brought each of the animals to the centre and why they keep them as educational ambassadors or would be unable to put them back in the wild.
Our first night was at Tresimsana. The accommodation at the Lodge was stunning, so plush and fancy considering how far you travelled to be in the bush. The showers were great and the pool area is stunning to hang out by. The area you eat in overlooked the surrounding reserve so you could see the warthogs and monkeys an occasional giraffe wander past.
The remainder of our stay was the Tents at Marks Camp. The tents are modest (we did book the Budget Tour) but comfy and secure. Ours was actually a hut with stick walls, a locking door and a tent roof. The sides are open to allow the geckos to come in and keep the bugs at bay. The beds were comfy and came with mosquito netting and a fan and I had no issues with bugs sharing my bed or mosquitos.
All the meals are served buffet style; with many different options and fruit that we opted to take with us for the days adventures. There is more than enough, everything (including the bread) is cooked in house and there’s many different options.
There were two days where our lunches were included because we were at the lodge around that time and every meal was hearty and different from the last. So you didn’t get bored.
The soups they made as the first course for dinner nightly, out of this world. Everyone looked forward to them!!
They also have drinks that were priced to match the other backpackers and pubs we had visited while travelling the Cape and Garden Route. You could run a tab and settle it on the last night, or pay cash each time.
The tents are a bit of a walk from the lodge and wind next to the river that flows through the reserve; I woke up one morning to a giraffe that was grazing 10 meters from our tent!
I would suggest the 6 day because it gave us the best chance to enjoy every aspects of yours they offer.
2 morning Bush Walks, which we got to see animals on and also learn so much about the area and the way people use to live off the land.
1 afternoon game drive on the private reserve so you could see animals moving around in a densely vegetated area.
1 day at the Rehabilitation Centre.
1 morning at the Blyde River Canyon - a shocking beautiful place !
2 sunset drives in the private reserves, where it appears easier for the guides to track the animals movements. The animals are likely to be more active at night as well.
2 chances to hang out by the pool and just relax or review the 1000 photos you took that day.
2 full day drives in Kruger, so if you didn’t get to see much on one of them you have the second day to see more. It’s a hot day and windy being in the open sided Jeep. As long as you bring a jacket, wear shorts and bring your hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and water bottle then you will be perfect.
The Kruger area is amazing and larger than life. They also have very large herds of animals traveling together, so if you are lucky enough to see them then it’s incredible.
They are all such incredible people who are so knowledgeable about the area, it’s animals and it’s history. Each of them are so willing to engage with you and sit down during meals to hang out.
I left feeling like I had made new friends that I hope to keep in touch with.
THE ANIMALS WE SAW:
Giraffe • Elephants • Zebras • Lion’s • Hyena • Impalas • Hippos • Rhino • Vultures • Mongoose • Kudus • So many birds • Dung Beetle • Warthogs • Monkeys • Baboons • Leopard • Wilder-Beast • Buffalo •
We have been told that we were luckier than most with our multiple animal sightings and how close and frequent they were. As every game drive is a gamble, you can’t tell the animals where you want them to be and to keep them wild they are not wearing fracking devises or fed by humans to lure them.
But we got to see the BIG 5 - twice over!!
If you made it to the bottom of this review - you MUST book with Viva Safaris!