Five of Kruger National Park’s best picnic sites

Posted by Lauren Dold on 14 June 2022

There are 12 picnic sites spread out throughout the Kruger Park, and all of them are lovely. Popular and familiar favourites stick out, like the Timbavati picnic site and Tshokwane, but there are some lesser-known spots that are equally delightful.

Picnic sites are some of the only spots in the park where visitors are permitted to get out of their vehicles, so they’re a good place to stop for a leg stretch and a loo break, and of course to spend some time lunching in the wild. Skottels are available at all of the below picnic spots for a rental fee of R30, and each has toilets (some with plumbing, others are long drops).

The southern region is the busiest section of Kruger National Park, in terms of game and in terms of people. The picnic sites down south can get crowded, so it’s best to go outside of the brunch rush-hour times.

1. Nkuhlu

Photo: Flickr/ Chris Eason

25 km east of Skukuza on H4-1 and 23 kms west of Lower Sabie River on H4-1.

Nkuhlu is the Xitsonga name of a Natal Mahogany, trees which dominate this picnic spot. Nkhulu overlooks the Sabie River, which usually means visitors to the picnic site can spot hippos and other animals near the water. Gas skottels are available for hire for R30 and there is also a small tuckshop for snacks and drinks. 

The picnic tables are laid out on different levels, and it’s best to get a spot on a lower level where you’ll have eye-level views of the river.

2. Nhlanguleni

Photo: Kelly-Jane Mardon

Nhlanguleni is one of the smallest and quietest picnic sites in the park, mid-way between Skukuza and Orpen on the S36.

Nhlanguleni is a basic site, with long drops and a handful of tables, and apart from Mudzanzeni picnic site further north, it is the only place to stop for a comfort break on the S36. It’s about a 3km drive from Lugmag Dam. The veld in this region is quite dry, but the general game is good. Sightings of curious dwarf mongoose at the picnic site are guaranteed!

3. Mlondozi

Photo: Flickr/Bernard Dupont

Overlooking Mlondozi Dam, about 15 kM from Lower Sabie camp on the S29.

Mlondozi picnic site is located on top of a koppie, with views of the Mlondozi River and dam, the wide plains below and the Lebombo Mountains in the background. From the elevated position, sightings of Buffalo and Elephant are usually good.

Thatched umbrellas provide shade over the picnic tables, with benches on the edge of the building for good visibility and photography.

There is no shop but there are skottels for hire.

4. Makhadzi

Photo: Flickr/ Johann Du Preez

On H-15, north-east of Letaba Rest Camp.

Makhadzi picnic site is in a quiet region of the park, on the way to Giryondo border post, close to Malopenya waterhole. Few tourists wander this far off the main road, so it’s a good spot for those wishing for some peace and quiet. While Giryondo border remains closed, Makhadzi is closed to the public.

Interestingly, before the Kruger National Park was officially proclaimed it was a an important post in the Anglo-Boer war. British forces were stationed there to prevent ammunition from Portuguese East Africa from reaching Boer commandos.

The toilets are decent (for long drops) and there are skottels available to hire.

5. Babalala

Photo: Lauren Dold

Babalala is about halfway between Shingwedzi and Punda Maria camp in northern Kruger on the H1-7.

This lesser-known picnic spot is the best spot to stop after a morning on the Mphongolo loop, one of the most scenic roads in Kruger.

A huge sycamore fig is the centre of the picnic spot, with a thatched lapa around it. Babalala is a lovely shady spot to stop on a hot day. The site is often visited by elephant bulls and is in a great birding region of the park.

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