For most travelers, there are a few trips considered bucket list must-dos: seeing the northern lights, sleeping in a tropical over-water bungalow, and walking through Times Square in New York City are just a few. And for many, one of those dream trips is also taking an African safari.
Fortunately, many reserves and national parks in Africa are well-suited to visitors, and one of the easiest to visit is Kruger National Park. The large park is in South Africa and is just a few hours by car from Johannesburg, though there are also smaller airports near the park. Many of the Kruger National Park lodges in the area offer safaris as part of the room price, and considering they can also arrange transportation from you from area airports, visiting doesn’t need to be stressful.
Of course, you can also just book a Kruger National Park safari package, which will usually include everything you need to visit: transportation from the airport, lodging, meals, and all your activities. All you have to do is show up, and you’re good to go. A single-day safari will usually run around $70-$90 with a tour operator, though you can also book them directly with the park (assuming you have your own transportation to the meeting point).
If you’re thinking about booking any Kruger National Park lodges or Kruger National Park safari packages, read on for 19 amazing lodges, packages, and hotels, ranging from affordable hotels to five-star safari adventures.
We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
Kingfisher Creek Lodge is an absolutely steal of a property, with starting rates below $100 (and below $80 in the off-season). All rooms at the small Kruger hotel have balconies or patios, outdoor showers, and Wi-Fi, and the hotel can arrange your pickup from any area airport. Shared amenities include a bar a pool with sun loungers, plus a bush-view firepit perfect for evening sundowners. Safaris are not included, but breakfast is included in all rates, and dinner in most. When you book on Expedia.com, it’ll list exactly what is and isn’t included before you reserve.
The lodge is inside the Guernsey Private Nature Reserve, and while it takes about 45 minutes to drive to Kruger, wildlife sightings are common along the entire drive from the lodge to the park’s Orpen Gate (and on the lodge property).
If you’ve been dreaming of staying in one of the more expensive tented Kruger National Park lodges but aren’t stoked on spending hundreds of night, Kingfisher Creek Lodge is a fantastic option — it’s actually a bit surprising that it isn’t more expensive.
Pestana Lodge is a modern hotel that includes all your meals and safari drives — and it starts under $150 per night even in the busy season, which is probably why it’s well-known for being a fantastic place to stay near Kruger National Park. Even if you could afford something more expensive, you may just want to stay at Pestana Lodge, anyway. It’s just a five-minute walk to the Kruger National Park gate (ideal if you booked safaris through the park directly) and rooms are bright and airy, each themed after one of Africa’s “Big Five” animals. And breakfast is included.
Tours and activities aren’t included, however. But there’s an on-site tour booking desk, so you can decide every day what you want to do the next day. It’s a good hotel for Kruger National Park family vacations, as you can book game drives through the park (cheaper!) and stay in a family suite or cottage, rather than booking multiple separate rooms.
Grand Kruger Lodge really seems like one of those “too good to be true” Kruger National Park lodges. It starts at under $100 per person, per night, but looks and feels as luxurious as a hotel that costs three times as much. The only real downside to the rooms is that most of the affordable rooms don’t have private outdoor spaces, but the lodge has so much shared relaxation space that it won’t be hard to find a place to yourself. There are multiple decks, an outdoor pool, open-air dining areas, and plenty of space to relax with a glass of wine while you look for animals.
Also great about the Grand Kruger Lodge and Spa is how close it is to the park. The drive takes less than 20 minutes, so its easy to be one of the first in the park in the mornings, or book a nighttime safari, which is a reasonable $50 per person when booked through the lodge. Safaris in the lodge’s own wildlife reserve (which is divided from Kruger by the Crocodile River) are even cheaper at just $27 per person.
When booking Grand Kruger Lodge, you can book room and breakfast only, or book packages that include breakfast, dinner, and a few safari-related activities.
Stay at Timbavati Safari Lodge if you want to book a stay that gives back to local communities. The bright and traditionally styled lodge is a huge supporter of the nearby Sihleksi Primary School, hosting fundraisers, collecting supplies, and providing educational and work opportunities for students and their families.
However, it’s one of the best affordable Kruger National Park lodges even if you don’t make travel decisions based on community sustainability. Most of the rooms are traditional rondawels (round cabins) with art from the local Ndebele tribe. Every room has an ensuite bathroom and veranda and walk-in shower, and some have semi-divided walls to accommodate more than two guests.
What makes Timbavati even cooler, however, is that it has high-end glamping tents that are still extremely budget-friendly. Glamping tents with breakfast and dinner included start at a shockingly low r560 per person (around $31).
Whether you book the glamping tents or a traditional cabin, you’ll have access to the lodge’s pool, outdoor dining area, and various shared decks and lawns. It’s about a 20-minute drive to the park, making it one of the closest budget lodges in the area.
Baluleni Safari Lodge is a bit unique as far as affordable Kruger National Park loges go. Sure, it’s not the cheapest, but it’s pretty budget-friendly when you factor in the fact that two safari drives per day are included at a sub-$300 rate for two people (in the lodge’s private game reserve, not technically in Kruger). And that rate also includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The rate is the same whether you prefer a tented retreat or a traditional cabin, and the luxury suites aren’t too much more, starting in the low $300s.
But what is even more unique about Baluleni Safari Lodge is the fact that it’s not fenced in like most lodges. That means wild animals can wander right up to the property, so, yes, you may have an elephant join you while you’re relaxing by the pool. The rooms and cabins are spread out throughout the property, so it feels very private even if the hotel is full. Dinners are served outdoors nightly, and the highly-praised staff can arrange any add-ons you’d like, including Kruger visits, bush walks, hikes, and visits to the Cheetah Rehabilitation Center.
Khaya Ndlovu Safari Manor is a heck of a pretty safari lodge about 50 minutes away from Kruger National Park — but if you’re worried that’s too far for your morning safaris, don’t be. The lodge sits on a large expanse in a private game area that borders Kruger National Park (Rietspruit Game Reserve), giving guests the option of booking safaris in Kruger or doing safaris straight from the lodge gates. And since Kruger’s animals can roam freely between the park and all the surrounding reserves, the lodge safaris are a good way to see the park’s iconic species with fewer fellow Jeeps nearby. You can also do a walking safari, if you’d rather be a bit more active.
When you’re not on a game drive, guests can make use of the manor home’s vintage-inspired library and common areas, the outdoor living area and pool, or the on-site spa. Rooms are quite large and ornate, in the style of a late-1800s country estate. Game drives are not included in the base price for the hotel (which is per person, based on two people per room), but you can book packages that include them, if you know for sure that’s how you want to spend your days. Otherwise, you can book just the room with lunch and dinner. If you’re a guest of the hotel, safaris are pretty cheap, starting at about $120 for a full-day tour.
Price-conscious travelers should ask the hotel about package deals, as it offers some pretty good ones. Currently, traveling duos can book a five-night stay that includes one massage and three game drives per person for $1,447, which breaks down to just $144 per person per night for your lodging and activities.
Mjejane River Lodge does an excellent job of striking the balance between affordable and luxurious. All guests are treated to two game drives per day in the surrounding game reserve, or you can book safaris at nearby Kruger National Park, which is only about 20 minutes away. The lodge has only 17 rooms, all of which have private patios overlooking the animal-filled crocodile river. The lodge has a huge yard with a pool overlooking bushland, and on-property wildlife sightings are common — especially since there aren’t any fences seperating the Mjejane Reserve and the actual park.
Penzulu Treehouse Lodge offers guests the opportunity to wildlife watch from the elevated luxury of their private decks. Each suite is built in a thicket of trees roughly 15 feet above the ground. As the hotel describes it, you can “view game passing by, or look at a giraffe eye-to-eye.”
Each of the treehouses is a little different. Some have thatched roofs and swinging outdoor loungers, while others have sliding glass doors or multiple bedrooms. All of them, however, have outdoor showers and tons of outdoor space.
The lodge also has a viewing deck for on-property game watching, and serves three-course dinners outdoors under the stars. There’s also a pretty outdoor pool and the option for doing game drives from the property within Thorneybush Game Reserve, if it feels like Kruger National Park is too crowded. This is also one of the best affordable Kruger National Park lodges for honeymooners, with several suites perfect for couples (including one with a two-person soaking tub looking out on the game reserve).
Kambaku River Lodge is one of the most elegant Kruger National Park lodges you’ll find in the mid-range category. The hotel is only a 15-minute drive to one of the park’s southern entrances, and because it sits on a river, you can often see crocodiles, hippos, and elephants from your room. Rooms are like little cabins, each with private patio areas, and some with kitchen or a private pool. The lodge has a capacity of just 16 people, so service is very personalized, and you can even opt to have your made-to-order breakfast delivered to your room each morning.
Activities are not included in the price of your stay, but you can add all meals for a relatively modest price increase. The lodge definitely has a luxury feel, catering to travelers looking for a little something extra while visiting Kruger.
Little Africa Safari Lodge should be on your radar if you want a tented glamping experience with all the luxury you can imagine, but need to keep the price on the low end of high. It sits in a private reserve near Hoedspruit, and rates are inclusive of all food and drink, plus daily game drives. And don’t worry — sundowners and snacks are served while on safari, giving you the perfect opportunity for sunset giraffe photos will sipping a fresh gin and tonic.
Tents have cool details like tree-trunk tables and large private decks, and with a max capacity of 14 people per night, it’s very easy to find time to chat with the on-site naturalists or snag a photo expert to ride along with you on a photo-focused game drive.
Jock Safari Lodge is the quintessential Kruger National Park lodge and looks exactly how you’d expect a luxury safari lodge to look. Imagine a bush-view pool, a multi-level and open-air dining area lit by candlelight (or a campfire), and big terraces where guests are invited to relax each evening for sunset cocktails.
The rooms, however, are where it really gets high-end. Every one of the 12 suites has a huge outdoor patio with a private plunge pool and relaxing daybed, as well as outdoor showers and turn-of-the-century-themed furniture and decor. The lodge only holds a small number of guests, so the service and privacy are top-notch, and every stay includes not just two game drives per day, but also all your food and drink, afternoon high tea, and as many guided game walks as you’d like. Jock Safari Lodge is in Kruger, so you’ll need to work with the hotel to make sure you arrive during daytime hours when the gates are open.
Kruger Shalati Train Lodge is one of the most unique places to stay near Kruger National Park. Most of its rooms are in a train carriage perched on a historic bridge used by visitors to tje park a century ago. The lodge is themed in the spirit of a 1920’s safari by train and harkens back to the days of steamship travel, when visiting a national park would be a month-long, once-in-a-lifetime experience reserved only for the ultra-rich.
Unfortunately, you still need to be pretty rich to visit, as the starting rate is high compared to other Kruger National Park lodges — and rooms perched on the bridge itself start closer to $550 per person, per night. But the big price tag comes with quite a lot, including all your food and drink, daily safaris, and access to the resort’s custom swimming pool built above the river, so you can watch elephants cross the water while lazing on a pool floatie.
Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and bathtubs with views of the river. Everything at the hotel is high-end, and there’s no limit to what the staff can arrange to make your safari dreams a reality.
If your budget truly knows no bounds, check out Makumu Private Game Lodge, well known as one of the most luxurious Kruger National Park lodges. Rooms are extremely high end, and all are large with huge bathtubs overlooking the bush, private decks, and decorated in the color scheme of local tribes. Common areas at the property include a a raised pool, a “boma” (dining, campfire, and social area) lofted above the bush, and a photography bunker (with coffee, tea, and couches) near the lodge’s watering hole so you can snag the perfect photo without scaring away the animals.
Spring for this hotel, and there’s no need to book any Kruger National Park safari packages, as Makumu includes two game drives per day for guests. Safari drives are in the resort’s private Klaserie Private Nature Reserve and are on your schedule, so you can leave later, stay late if you want to do a longer drive, or stop for an extended coffee break by a river. And all your meals at the lodge are included (and gourmet, by the way). It’s very personalized and very exclusive.
There are two ways to book safari packages (well, three, if you count booking directly through the park). The first is to book a single-day safari package. That could be one all-day safari, or two half-day safaris. If you go that route, make sure to pick a company based near your hotel to ensure they’ll pick you up in the morning.
The second type of Kruger National Park safari packages are those that include lodging, and usually transportation from an area airport. These range from overnight to multi-week safaris. So when you’re looking at Kruger National Park safari packages, it’s best to consider the cost on a per-day basis. You should estimate to spend around $120 per person for a basic, full-day safari through a tour operator. Add on meals, lodging, and extra activities, and they can start getting into the $300+ per day range.
Kruger National Park safari packages under $200 a day
This $45 half-day safari is just about the cheapest of any Kruger National Park safari packages. But since the animals don’t care if you’re on a budget safari or staying at a luxury lodge, you’re just as likely to have a great experience as anyone else. The morning safari last for about six hours and gets an early start (around 5 AM). Vehicles are all open-air Jeeps, and there are even USB charging ports on board — helpful if you’re the type to kill your phone battery with non-stop safari videos.
This awesome overnight safari is focused on finding the most difficult of the Big Five: leopards. Not only are they very shy and very camouflaged, but they’re most active in the early morning and late night, which makes things even harder. This two-day trip includes lodging and is loaded with multiple safaris, plus a traditional South African BBQ. And reviewers say the guide is a pro when it comes to spotting big cats from hundreds of yards away.
If you want an easy, stress-free, and somewhat budget-friendly trip, consider this week-long trip with highly rated Viva Safaris. It’s one of the best Kruger National Park safari packages for anyone who wants an extended, comfortable trip, but doesn’t want to spend thousands per person. It includes bush walks and game drives, evening safari drives, a safari in nearby Balule Nature Reserve, and visits to a few attractions near the park you won’t want to miss. Lodging is at Tremisana Game Lodge, a highly-rated lodge with a pool, Wi-Fi, and more than a few on-site wildlife sightings.
For a twist on your standard sunset drive, consider this sunset dinner safari in nearby Sabi Sands Reserve, which backs to Kruger. If you’re booking other Kruger National Park safari packages in the park for your morning tours, consider booking this one in the evening, as it also includes dinner and sundowner drinks in the bush. If the idea of spotting endangered cats while you enjoy a sunset dinner under the stars sounds good, book it as soon as you reserve your hotel. The company can pick you up from any Hazyview-area hotel.
Includes pick-up from: Kruger National Park airports
Number of days: 10
If you care more about getting the perfect shot than staying at super-high-end hotels, spend your extra dough on this photography-focused Kruger National Park safari package. In addition to full- and half-day game drives, you’ll be accompanied by a wildlife photography expert the entire time — and even the drivers are avid photogs.
You’ll stay in “rest camps,” which are the park’s term for three-star accommodations in the park. Some are cabins and some are canvas safari tents (and many have pools), so they’re pretty cool. But what’s extra-special about them for photogs is they’re scattered throughout the park and give you unparalleled access to astrophotography, early morning wildlife shooting, and chances for sunset and night time animal encounters.
The trip is run by B1 Photo Safaris, which runs photography classes and trips around southern Africa. They can also help you arrange gear rentals, though it may be worth springing for a professional, compact DSLR camera and a long lens so you can master how to use it before arriving.
Includes pick-up from: Kruger National Park airports
Number of days: 7
If you’re ready to go all-out — perhaps for a honeymoon or big special occasion trip — consider this enviable week-long adventure with National Geographic. The seven-day tour is round trip from Johannesburg and includes everything you’d expect from luxury Kruger national Park safari packages, like game drives, rooms at various lodges and tented bush camps, and all your meals. But what sets this one apart is the fact that some of your safaris will be with a NatGeo-sponsored researcher from the Cheetah Metapopulation Project — and if there’s anyone who knows how to spot big cats hiding in the brush, it’s a professional cheetah researcher.
As far as Nat Geo Expeditions go, it’s actually somewhat reasonable, priced between $2,400 and $3,400 per person, depending on what dates you pick.
FAQ: Kruger National Park safari packages vs. lodges vs. direct booking
Knowledgable and experienced guides can be the difference between whether or not you see the leopard hiding on a tree branch. Photo: Expedia
Kruger National Park is quite large, and it’s incredibly popular, so you have lots and lots of options for how exactly to structure your trip.
While it’s probably the least-popular option, you can actually book a safari directly with the park, without the use of a guiding company or services of a lodge. This is also the cheapest option, but it comes with the added step of needing to somehow get yourself to the appropriate park gate at the departure time. If you don’t have a car, that can be a challenge, though some Kruger National Park lodges near the gates may be able to give you a lift if you ask in advance. This Kruger guide has all the details, costs, and links to book via the park website. You can also book lodging at the park’s rest camps yourself at the same time, if you prefer a more basic (and budget) trip.
The next most popular way to visit is by staying at one of the many Kruger National Park lodges that either include safari drives as part of the cost, or can add them on or arrange them for you. This is an excellent option if you value convenience and flexibility above all else, as you can choose each day if you’d like to do both safaris, just one, or none. It’s also very easy — and involves the latest wake-up call possible — as your safari vehicle will pick you up from your front door. Even the most basic Kruger National Park lodges can recommend and arrange daily game drives.
The last option, and perhaps the best for anyone who wants to take the stress and logistics of planning, is to book a multi-day Kruger National Park safari package. There are hundreds online, ranging from five-star, private luxury trips to quick and reasonably priced group safaris. Whether you pay $1,000 a day or $100 a day won’t impact whether animals are around or not, though springing for a trip that includes a naturalist or guide (which most do) can give you a leg up on spotting wildlife from afar. Most Kruger National Park safari packages include pick-up from either a Kruger-area airport or Johannesburg, so you don’t need to rent a car or worry at all about transportation if you select this option.
Tips for planning a Kruger National Park safari vacation
Many packages include sundowners: cocktails served in the park around sunset. Photo: fokke baarssen/Shutterstock
Planning a vacation to Kruger National Park isn’t very difficult; in fact, it’s one of the easiest places to go on safari in Africa. However, there are some logistics to keep in mind that can impact your enjoyment and overall cost. You’ll want to consider whether you’re willing to visit in the rainy season or not, whether you want to only see Kruger or are open to visiting surrounding game reserves, and whether you care about private game drives or are willing to share, among other factors. Matador’slonger guide to Kruger National Park safari packages and logistics is a great page to bookmark to help aid the trip-planning process.