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12-day Panorama Route, Kruger Park & Venda Safari (Self-drive)

This is going to be a stunning self drive. Just shy of a fortnight, you’ll head to the heart of the Kruger National Park before taking the famous Panorama Route, along the way experiencing the spectacles of God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, the Three Rondavels and Bourke's Luck Potholes. Your route is set, your budget planned, your car ready to journey the open road.

Price from USD 3,279 pps
Duration 12 days
Tour Type Self-drive
Highlights Kruger National Park, Gauteng
Includes
  • Accommodation
  • Meals (details on request)
  • 6 x Game drives/walks per person at Jock Safari Lodge and Pafuri Camp
  • 11 days car rental - Group B (VW Polo Hatch or similar) including unlimited km and maximum insurance
  • Welcome service
  • Airport transfers
  • 24-hour support
  • Comprehensive tour file with detailed itinerary, map, route descriptions, booking vouchers, contact numbers and useful information
Excludes
  • International flights
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Entry visas
  • Fuel
  • Park entry fees
  • Staff gratuities

You begin in Johannesburg before heading to the Kruger National Park for 3 nights. Then you’ll head to Hazyview, the gateway to the Panorama Route. There’s no point in over selling the views here, they speak for themselves and are surely the definition of epic and breathtaking. You’ll travel this route from south to north before nipping back to the Kruger through Phalaborwa Gate to enjoy the northern section of this great reserve now. Once you’re as north as you can go, you’ll stay for 3 nights. Then, get back behind the wheel and drive through the rural former homeland, Venda, deep in the Soutpansberg Mountains. And that’s the trip done. A mixed bag of wildlife and stunning views. You will now head to the airport in Johannesburg.

Itinerary Details

Johannesburg. Your first stop. A pit stop really - depending what time you land.

On the way:
You’ll land at OR Tambo International Airport. Take the shuttle to the hotel. It’s about 10 minutes away.

When you're there:
The hotel has a gym where you can literally stretch your limbs, it overlooks the outdoor pool so you can swim there too. There’s a restaurant for dinner or just order room service.

Standard Accommodation

So, let’s get this holiday on the road. You’re off to the Kruger today. Music on, turn the ignition and begin the first leg of your great adventure.

On the way:
The rental car will be delivered to your hotel after breakfast. You’ve got a five hour drive ahead of you, 430km. Aim to arrive in time to join your first safari.

When you're there:
The Kruger National Park is a 2 million hectare home to many species including The Big Five - elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Talking of the latter, there are 10,000 roaming wild here, along with many other animals.

You’ll be staying at Jock Safari Lodge for 3 nights. This is a lodge in the south western corner of the Kruger. They have 6,000 hectares of natural landscape and offer guests one of the best game viewing experiences in South Africa. Why? Because they have exclusive rights to cross the river. Here, the Mitomeni and Biyamiti rivers flow as one. And wildlife love it.

Hang your car keys up, as the lodge will drive you around in covered 4×4 Land Cruisers. You’ll be taken on morning and evening drives with highly experienced rangers. Elephant herds, lion prides, and the brilliantly named ‘obstinancy’ of buffalo. They’re everywhere. At dusk, a vantage point is chosen to overlook one of the many views of the Kruger National Park before you have sundowners. Listen to bush tales, learn about the history of Jock and the cultural heritage of the Bushveld. When you drive back look out for the nocturnal leopard, hyena, lion.

In the morning, after breakfast, you can go on a Wilderness Walk. Stroll through the veld and enjoy the diversity of fauna and flora. Qualified walking guides mean you get the opportunity to experience the thrill of the bush by foot.

After that, head back to the lodge. There’s a marvellous sounding place called The Relaxation Retreat which has a steam room, sauna and hydrotherapy bath.

Luxury Accommodation
Kruger National Park slideshow image 5d91d98538e0f

You’ll have time for one more morning drive followed by breakfast. Then pack up and head to Hazyview. It’s Description a lush, green sub-tropical farming town in Mpumalanga, renowned for its banana and nuts. They grow stacks of the stuff here. Hazyview is known as the gateway to the Panoramic Route, one of the continent’s greatest natural wonders and one of the world’s most beautiful driving routes.

On the way:
It’s not a long drive, in fact it’ll take a couple of hours at most. It’s approximately 70km away.

When you're there:
You’ll be staying at Rissington Inn. From here you’re only a 10-minute drive from the Phabeni Gate of the Kruger National Park. Lie in the pool, walk down the valley, go bird watching.
If you have time there’s a a lot to do in Hazyview. Golf, tennis, bowls, horse-riding, squash, river-rafting, hiking, mountain biking, history tours and game viewing.

Head to the in-house restaurant for dinner (not included).

Standard Accommodation
Hazyview, Kruger National Park slideshow image 5d91d99b8bcc6

From today, you’ll be exploring the Panorama Route from south to north.

On the way:
You’ve got a 2-3 hour drive ahead of you, there’s 170km between Hazyview and Phalaborwa. And what a drive it is.

The most popular stretch is the R532 that winds from the town of Sabie via waterfalls called Sabie, Bridal Veil and Mac Mac Falls all the way to God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, the three Rondawels and Bourke's Luck Potholes.
Then stop at the famous Lowveld View. It’s less than 5 km north of Bourke's Luck Potholes and looks out over the canyon, a thousand metres above sea level. Look down and see the Blyde River cutting its way through the valleys, the Blydepoort Dam in the distance. It’s unspeakably beautiful.

You could also take the R533 between the historical mining village of Pilgrim's Rest and the town of Graskop. Check out the gorge and mountain forest - you can actually whizz down 51m in a Glass Lift. It’s the latest and most innovative attraction in the area. Think ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’, with vegetation rather than chocolate. Continue over the Abel Erasmus Pass and revel in those views.

When you're there:
You’re staying the night at Sefapane Lodge, this place is a green oasis set in 9 hectares of tropical gardens and only 1km from the Kruger National Park.

Standard Accommodation
Phalaborwa, Kruger National Park slideshow image 5d91d9aa719dd

You’re off to the most northern part of the Kruger National Park now. Switch off the engine, you’ll have 3 nights here.

On the way:
Phalaborwa to the Kruger Park north is 230km and will take you about 3 hours. Enter through Phalaborwa Gate and drive north vis Shingwedzi. Once you’re as far north as you can go, you’re there. This is your base, Pafuri Camp.

When you're there:
You should arrive in time to join the afternoon game drive. By the way, this is considered the best birding region of the whole Kruger Park. It’s also the largest private concession. It’s a fantastic location too, on the banks of the Luvhuvhu River. It’s all luxury safari tents with en suite bathrooms and outside showers. A swimming pool and a boma. You’ll have morning and afternoon game drives in open 4x4 vehicles. Or go on a walking safari. Visit Lanner Gorge, Crook’s Corner and the Fever Tree Forest. The Limpopo River is right there too and you know what that means? Zimbabwe. It’s right there.

Luxury Accommodation
Kruger National Park slideshow image 5d91d9bb5520c

Squeeze in a final morning safari, plus breakfast, then pack up the car and leave via the Punda Maria Gate. It’s time to drive to the mountains now.

On the way:
You’ll travel through the former homeland Venda. Venda was a Bantustan, a rural place set aside for black people as part of the apartheid. It is now part of the Limpopo province. It’s 220km away so you’re looking at a 3 hour drive. Head towards Makhado and look out for your accommodation, Madi a Thavha Mountain Farm. Know where you are? Deep in the Soutpansberg Mountains.

When you're there:
The lodge is known for the art gallery and local sewing projects where they produce work using bright local Venda fabrics. The lodge has local guides who will show you the area. Wile away some time exploring the Ribolla Art Route. You’ll see artists making jewellery, textiles, wood sculptures, pots and more.

The lodge has luxury suites with mountain views. They’re decorated in the vibrant colours of rural Limpopo. You can swim, hike, bird watch and go on village tours. Or visit the sacred Lake Fundudzi and listen to the legends... Fundudzi is one of the few true inland lakes in South Africa. Mysteriously, with no obvious outlet, it never overflows. According to the Venda people a sacred python dwells beneath the waters. A lusty reptile, they say... which sounds rather ghastly. After dinner, head to the Boma to end your day.

Standard Accommodation
Venda, Kruger National Park slideshow image 5d91d9cd917fc

So, the big day 12 has loomed. Time is up. It’s a drive back to Joburg Airport today. Drop off your rental car. Gather up your things, gather up your memories. And if you did listen to music on this self drive, months even years down the line, when you hear one of your tracks, you'll have a lovely flashback. This, we hope, was a great, great vacation.


Prices

Guests Accommodation Season (2019) Amount
2 Standard Low Season USD 3,279 pps
  • As a rough guide Low Season throughout the region is from 1 January to 30 June and High Season is from 1 July to 31 December. The exception is South Africa, which has a mish-mash of seasons and sub-seasons depending where in that vast land you go.
  • We give indicative Low and High Season rates on our website and exact prices in your quote when your travel dates are set.
  • These prices are based on two adults sharing accommodation unless otherwise stated.
  • Please treat all pricing as a guide only. Read more about our pricing.
  • Contact us for a personalised quote now.

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About Us

Staff party photo from 2019 showing all staff smiling
  • Wilmari Wilmari
  • Bianca Bianca
  • Ulrike Ulrike
  • Chantelle Chantelle
  • Ashlee Ashlee
  • Bonique Bonique
  • Tessa Tessa
  • Janine Janine
  • Carmen Carmen
  • Anja Anja
  • Kirsti Kirsti
  • Petra Petra
  • Leandrie Leandrie
  • Jessica Jessica

“NTS was AMAZING! Special thanks to Wilmari for the best trip we have ever taken. 100% recommend!”

“This was a "bucket list" trip for us. It could not have been better. HIGHLY recommend you ask for Bianca.”

Ulrike helped us plan our safari for 2 years... patience of a saint and the insight and knowledge of a true local.”

“Ask for Chantelle, a true legend of patience, availability and efficiency. Will highly recommend.”

“I cannot say enough about this great company and Ashlee herself... best honeymoon we could have wished for!”

Bonique's recommendations were perfectly tailored to our needs with foresight and local knowledge... flawless.”

“The service and help we got from Tessa was fantastic, as a result we had a tremendous trip.”

Janine proposed us a great trip and it was nice to meet with her in Swakop. Definitely recommend!”

“I have no words to express my gratitude to Carmen and the NTS team for their excellent work.”

“Our family would like to thank Anja and everyone at NTS for organising such an incredible trip for us.”

Kirsti arranged the best family holiday we have ever had... highly recommended.”

“We worked with Petra and everything went flawlessly... can't recommend NTS highly enough!”

Leandrie was very patient listening to my needs and catering to my budget... Everything worked perfectly!”

Jessica was AMAZING and so helpful with all of our concerns and questions - we had the most amazing trip.”