Kruger accommodation review – Skukuza Rest Camp

Posted by Adel Groenewald on 6 May 2013

I’m in the Kruger National Park on assignment for Getaway visiting all the campsites, lodges and accommodation options in the park. It’s a big job, but by the end of it I’ll have a list of all them (see them all here: Kruger accommodation reviews) and, more importantly, an idea of what you can expect to find there in terms of accommodation, food, amenities, animals, mobile reception and highlights. My fourth stop is Skukuza Rest Camp.

Skukuza Rest Camp

Serving as the administrative headquarters for the entire park, Skukuza Rest Camp is the largest of all the camps. This can be both a good and a bad thing. It wouldn’t have been this popular if it wasn’t a great place to see animals, but it can get a little crowded, especially during the busy season. During the quieter months, the large public areas might have an eerie feel to them, but what’s great about Skukuza is that you have choice when it comes to dining out and you have all the facilities you might need close by.

You’ll be able to catch up on all your admin – and even buy lottery tickets – while staying at Skukuza

The accommodation at Skukuza Rest Camp

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation at Skukuza and you’ll also have the chance to enjoy a touch more luxury. Bungalows are all self-catering, some with two single beds and some with three. Some have their own kitchens on the porch (without microwaves) while others have communal kitchens. The semi-luxury units, however, have double beds and added extras like a writing desk and television with limited channels.

There is loads of camping and caravanning space, but you wouldn’t notice this after you’ve settled in your little nook under a big tree. All the campsites have electricity and there’s a great road network running in between them.

The bungalows are much closer together at Skukuza, but it gives a social feel to the camp.

You should easily find a shaded corner at the camping and caravanning area or you can choose a more open one if you want to get to know your neighbours

The best spots

Huts 85-96, 206-209 and 222-217 are situated at the edge of the camp, giving you a nice stretch of grass and the banks of the Sabie River as a front garden.

When walking from your room to the restaurant, take the walkway that runs beside the Sabie River and see if you can spot drinking animals on the opposite banks.

The animals at Skukuza

Due to the large amount of traffic in the area, the animals that live in this region have become much more accustomed to cars than in some of the more remote regions. This means that they’ll come closer to the roads. Lions are regularly spotted along the tar roads surrounding the camp in the early mornings, and so are wild dogs.

Seeing as the camp overlooks the Sabie River, you should be able to spot hippos and crocodiles in the river. Also keep a lookout for animals that come down to drink on the opposite banks. It’s a good idea to keep those binoculars handy when you go for lunch or drinks at the restaurant that overlooks the river.

The deck at the Jackalberry Tree Restaurant is great place to enjoy a leisurely buffet breakfast after you morning game drive.

The food

While the Wooden Banana restaurant has the standard Kruger menu, sitdown or takeaway, the Jackalberry Tree Restaurant will give you a bit of a larger choice in food that is also a touch more sophisticated. The outside deck is very special as it offers great views over the Sabie River. The Selati Restaurant is also a treat. Open for dinner only, you can find it at the far end of the camp in the old train station. Enjoy drinks inside one of the old carriages or sit down to delicious steaks, grills and pizza on the old platform. All the bungalows and campsites have braai areas and you can use your own, or the communal, two-plate stoves to cook whatever it is you can’t throw on the coals.

The Wooden Banana Restaurant has takeaways and quick sit down meals, but be sure to try the burgers, pap and wors at the barbecue area.

Take a step back in time when you dine on the old station platform at Selati Grillhouse in Skukuza Camp. Open to overnight guests only.

The bar area at Selati Grillhouse is inside one of the old train carriages. Perfect for a night cap

Highlights

You’ll find Lake Panic Hide about five kilometres from the camp and it’s worth driving out here in the afternoons, whether you’re an avid bird watcher or not. The hide stands on stilts and literally hangs over the calm waters of the lake, disturbed only by bathing hippos and frolicking birds.

Follow the H1-1 south for 10 km and you’ll find the turnoff to Mathekanyane viewpoint. The 500 metre steep incline leads you up a massive boulder-koppie where you can get out and enjoy the most magnificent sunsets over the bush.

There are many interesting things to explore around the camp itself, like the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Museum. Also be sure to stop at the Little Heroe’s Acre. This is where the dogs that have accompanied rangers in the past are commemorated – a very touching little graveyard.

Over the years, rangers have been known to have dogs as companions in the bush. These died while protecting their masters

Getting to Skukuza Rest Camp

Skukuza is 10 km from the Paul Kruger Gate, the main entrance to the park (Kruger National Park: day visitors and entrance gates) and you can access it via tar road. They accept late arrivals (as long as you arrange this prior to your arrival).  From the Paul Kruger Gate it’s about 40 km to Hazyview, the closest town, where you’ll find a large shopping mall.

Meet the park’s three founding fathers at the reception area of Skukuza

Being such a big camp, there are lots of activities and people milling about, especially in the late afternoons when the bush walks, game drives and bush braais depart.

Nitty gritty

ATMs: yes, First National Bank ATMs and full banking services
Credit card facilities: yes
Mobile reception: great
Doctor: Yes, Skukuza is the only camp where you can see a doctor

Book a stay at Skukuza Rest Camp

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