Classic Kruger Safari: Three Camps in One Week

A 8 day trip to South Africa 
5 out of 5 stars
9 reviews

The Kruger ecosystem stretches evocatively across northeastern South Africa, offering a complete suite of safari experiences. This classic itinerary blends the activities and reserves, offering a rounded experience in the fabled Kruger landscape. Luxury and charm in Sabi Sands, inspiring scale in the main Kruger park, then intimacy and thrills in Mala Mala. It's complemented by some of Africa's finest safari accommodations; picture treehouse villas and private pools with sweeping views of the landscape.

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General Information

Hippos in South Africa.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

South Africa, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Mala Mala Private Game Reserve

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Sabi Sands – Luxury Safari Welcomes

Touch down in Sabi Sands and you can smell the animals. It's certainly an intriguing smell. A lingering waft of the wild, an enticing breeze of clean air that confirms you're hundreds of miles from the world of cities and pollution. It only takes a few minutes before the animals confirm their attendance. Two white rhinos slowly wander past; elegance personified as their horns point skyward in defiance. An elephant bashes his rump against an acacia, and then a whole herd seems to copy. Zebras watch you pass before an alerted female initiates a short gallop across the savannah. Buffalo, springbok, giraffe, eland, baboons; it's easy to tick more than ten off the list just on the journey from the airstrip to the lodge.

Sabi Sands provides the quintessential first-time experience, the landscape's two permanent rivers attracting huge wildlife numbers to a comparatively compact area. Everyone arrives on a safari with feverish anticipation, expecting to find all the four-legged characters from the documentaries. One game drive in Sabi Sands, and you'll have encountered a large majority of the popular favorites. Head out in the afternoon, winding along the Sabie River, following the rhythmic cycle of life. And when you return to the lodge, the encounters continue, a great cast of animals drinking from the river below. Diversity and ease make Sabi Sands so special, ensuring you're quickly immersed in all the fabled wonders of an African safari. Close your eyes at night and you can hear the herds munching nearby.

What's Included: accommodation at Lions Sands Narina Lodge, airport transfer, afternoon game drive, dinner and selected drinks

Day 2: Sabi Sands – Classic Game Drives Through the Savannah

Dawn. It's still along the Sabie River. A leopard furtively wanders through the grass, the spots appearing and disappearing as she stalks a drinking kudu. As a soft layer of mist ripples across the horizon, you spot an elephant herd on the move. Giraffes poke their head above the trees, watching the leopard as it continues the hunt. These morning times are when the Kruger is at its most active and a morning game drive is imbued with thrill. Head out in the open-sided safari vehicle and there's action everywhere. Ten minutes later, you find the final stages of a hunt, lion cubs crunching into a zebra carcass, black and white fur ripping away from the bone. You'll return to the lodge around mid-morning, where you have a few hours of quiet time as the midday sun passes.

Your treehouse villa is perched in an ancient canopy, set apart from the other villas and connected by raised wooden walkways. You're in the landscape, surrounded by the chirps of monkeys and overlooking a sweeping bend of the Sabie River. Animals often wander directly beneath, bringing pleasant moments of charm as you lounge on the private treehouse verandah. Lions Sands Narina Lodge offers classic safari luxury and a serene degree of exclusivity. Intimate and interactive, it also provides a connection with the landscape you've come to explore. Rather than feel separate from the realm of the wildlife, you really feel like you're part of it. All meals and safari activities are included. Today, in the mid-afternoon, you head out for the day's second inspiring game drive.

What's Included: accommodation at Lions Sands Narina Lodge, game drives, all meals and selected drinks

Day 3: Sabi Sands – Walking Through the Wild in Kruger

Rhinos snort their path across the bush. Springbok skip in the sunset light. Elephant herds clash beneath the moonlit river. You've already encountered so many revered safari sights. A walking safari reveals more. With an armed ranger and local tracker, you traverse the same landscape that the animals inhabit. The tracker's astonishing skill keeps you clear of the big cats, instead focusing on astonishing encounters with the ungulates and antelopes. Zebra, eland, kudu, impala, even buffalo; they often skip away when a vehicle approaches. But they won't move when you approach on foot. Get closer and admire their size, feeling the awe stretch out through your body. Put the camera down, watch the goosebumps raise. Marvel at that moment of recognition, when it's just you and one zebra facing each other, each trying to decipher the other.

At Lions Sands, you follow a classic safari program, so the morning activity is followed by the downtime at the lodge. Particularly after a long intercontinental flight, this relaxed approach helps you reenergize and fully appreciate every activity. But safari never stops in Kruger. After a sumptuous lunch, you lounge on the private treehouse verandah, glancing out at the procession of wildlife that slowly comes to drink. In the afternoon, you have a choice of a game drive or second walking safari, then it's an evening of enchantment, the wild soundtrack of Kruger continuing through the night.

What's Included: accommodation at Lions Sands Narina Lodge, walking safari, all meals and selected drinks

Day 4: Kruger National Park – Exploring the Gargantuan Scale of Kruger

On the first days of game drives, you follow short loops, slowly connecting the favored realms of each of the revered animals. Without you knowing, the guides take you to places where certain species are almost guaranteed to be hanging out. Today, as you enter the wider Kruger National Park, there are no such guarantees. Instead, you're struck by the scale. Travel slowly, winding along the remote dusty roads, the sightings never stopping. 12 rhinos by a waterhole. Another six rhino in a small clearing. One elephant herd, two more, five more roaming together. A lion slumbering on a rocky outcrop. Now a whole pride drinking from a river that's dominated by hippos. The day's private drive takes you from the west to the east of Kruger, with a stop halfway for a picnic overlooking the river. It's an expressive and unforgettable impression of Kruger's scale. So many turns, so many miles, and the wilderness never ends.

Singita Sweni Game Lodge elevates the emotions further. Like the park, there's an endearing sense of seclusion and being alone with nature. It feels like Kruger is putting on a theatrical show just for you, every encounter a thrilling storyline from a production without a script. Your luxury suite has floor-to-ceiling windows for sublime views of the riverine forest. Just 12 guests are accommodated in the stylish lodge, and a spotlight helps illuminate what roams nearby at night. You'll arrive around mid to late afternoon; just sit back and watch nature's show continue. Attentive service delivers drinks and meals to your suite, so there's never an interruption.

What's Included: accommodation at Singita Sweni Game Lodge, full-day game drive, all meals and selected drinks

Day 5: Kruger National Park – More Evocative Impressions in One of Africa's Largest Parks

Not many visitors make it out to the eastern fringes of Kruger, and it's very rare to see another safari vehicle. This is another great Kruger appeal, the park's gargantuan size ensuring that tourists are spread thinly. Today's itinerary is completely flexible, offering a range of activities that further enhances your immersion in the remote wilderness. Game drives and walking safaris can be enjoyed, plus there's the rare chance to go on mountain biking safari. These are all private experiences. And while you may be away from the more famous Sabi Sands, this part of Kruger is equally abundant. Expect to encounter the full big five, particularly vast numbers of rhino. And as you'll have come to learn, these famous five are always just the start. Every safari activity brings a cherished memory with Africa's great cast.

What's Included: accommodation at Singita Sweni Game Lodge, all safari activities, all meals and selected drinks

Day 6: Mala Mala – Enhancing the Intimacy at an Exclusive Private Reserve

Cut across Kruger at dawn, sunrise illuminating the drama of the wild. A melancholy elephant bull wandering lonely along the river. A cheetah and her young playing in the high grasses of the interior. Now a huge buffalo herd that refuses to stop, marching onwards with an inspiring power. Your destination is Mala Mala, the largest of Kruger's private reserves and arguably the finest private reserve on the continent. Stretching along the Sand River, its a haven for a remarkable abundance of life. Ecosystems blur here, their distinctive appeal attracting the four-legged wanderers from many miles around. And best of all, this profusion of life is only accessible to the handful of guests staying at one of the four Mala Mala camps.

Exclusive and evocative, Mala Mala provides a fitting safari inclusion. When in the reserve, your driver doesn't need to stick to traditional safari rules. Spot a leopard munching on a carcass and you can drive off the road until you're just meters from the scene. Cut across the grass to find the ultimate angle of hippos out of the water. Drive beneath the trees and surround yourself in the antics of huge monkey troops. Mala Mala intensifies the intimacy, delivering a continual reel of personal snapshots that could grace any wildlife documentary. Today, you arrive at the reserve in the morning and continue the game drive before lunch and some tranquil time at the camp. An afternoon game drive brings more and more iconic safari scenes.

What's Included: accommodation at Mala Mala Sable Camp, game drives, all meals and selected drinks

Day 7: Mala Mala – Getting Closer than Ever at Mala Mala

The Sable Camp stands majestically over the Sand River, chic and spacious suites offering one of Kruger's most magical vistas. Sit back on your private wooden verandah, sipping coffee as a herd of elephants rumbles by. The landscape slowly comes alive, rhinos coming out of silhouette as you finish off your breakfast. Mala Mala Sable Camp has only five suites, so the contemporary luxury is complemented by a feeling of being in touch with pure African nature. It's small and intimate, hardly interrupting a landscape that's inhabited by all the revered mammals.

Spend the day in classic Kruger style, with two game drives revealing thrills and charms. Wind past waterholes and watch hyena packs battle with circling vultures. Admire the trunk-swinging antics of baby elephants, comparing them to the serene movements of a young giraffe. Spot the rhinos at the river, a leopard in the tree, and the ungulates fearfully grazing on the grass. As the day rolls into evening, you stay out on your afternoon game drive. Dusk brings the savannah into a frenzy, some animals searching for their evening home and others emerging in the nocturnal coolness. Then it's black, the intensity of the darkness enveloping everything. Yet the sounds continue. Life continues. The cycle continues. And when your guide flicks on the spotlight, you encounter the most dramatic of scenes. While a nighttime game drive obviously doesn't provide the same views, it offers safari's most intimate experiences, making it an ideal final piece of the classic Kruger itinerary.

What's Included: accommodation at Lions Sands Narina Lodge, game drives, nighttime game drive, all meals and selected drinks

Day 8: Mala Mala – Final Game Drive and Departure

A final morning, a final game drive, and a final set of memories to take from Kruger. Perhaps a lion pride on the hunt, maybe a rhino making its methodical walk, or a buffalo that meets your eye with a look of recognition. Return to the lodge for a second breakfast before flying from Mala Mala back to Johannesburg, where you connect with your international departure.

What's Included: morning game drive, domestic flight, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.