Valley of Olifants Tour
Valley of Olifants Tour
Arrival: Shuttle transfer from Phalaborwa Airport or from one of the lodges / guest houses in Phalaborwa is included.
Accommodation: Depending on your flight itinerary and your budget / preferences, we can recommend you a guest house, B&B or lodge near Hoedspruit, or in Phalaborwa where our tour will start in the morning. All other nights are spent inside Kruger National Park in one of the rest camps or at Shipandani Sleepover Hide. In the rest camp the accommodation is a classic bungalow style hut; if you prefer to spend the night in a tent on the camp site or in one of the classic Safari Tents we will be happy to check availabilities for you.
Included: 3 night’s accommodation, all daytime game drives, packed lunch day 2, braai / barbecue day 4, park and historic villages entrance fees, pick up from lodge / B&B.
Not included: Overnight stays outside the park, any other meals at restaurants in rest camp; alcoholic drinks, additional sunset or night drives, transfers to and from airport if other than Phalaborwa Airport (we can arrange that at an extra cost).
Suggestion: Combine this tour with our Classical Tour to experience the difference between the northern and the southern part of the park.
What is special about this tour?
Our tour takes you to the northern part of Kruger National Park, to the Valley of Olifants. This area of the park is very different from the southern part in that it is more remote and therefore much quieter. Wildlife in the North includes the Big 5 and especially large bull elephants (Elephant Museum at Letaba) and Wild Dog, but also it is a perfect place for bird watching and for taking the time to observe small and large wildlife away from the crowds. The landscape is diverse and ranges from the famous Mopane veld with impressive, eroded hills (“koppies”) to lush riverine forests nourished by the Olifants River. North of the Tropic of the Capricorn the flora changes from subtropical to tropical – it is here that you can see the first of the impressive Baobab trees with their distinctive shape.
Apart from the wildlife, a focus of our tour lies on historical, often overlooked sights which are abundant in Kruger Park and which tell the rich history of its people from long before it became a National Park. Masorini Village is situated a few kilometres from Phalaborwa gate and is an ancient Sotho settlement, bearing testimony of the Stone Age to late Iron Age period in this region.
Thulamela Hill is a stone walled ancient settlement giving an insight into the international trade and iron industry of the Zimbabwe Culture, and is regarded as one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in South Africa. The “Thulamela Trail” starts from Punda Maria at 7AM in the morning – don’t forget your hiking boots.
Shipandani Hide close to Mopani Rest Camp is an animal observatory during the day which is open to the public, and doubles as a fenced, rustic bush camp at night with foldable beds, a fire place and a toilet (no running water or electricity!). At 6 PM we lock the gate of the enclosure and no-one is allowed to stray outside after dusk. For dinner it’s braai (traditional South African barbecue) at the campfire, watching the stars and listening to the sounds of the night in the bush. During the night, we have a very good chance of excellent animal sightings as the hide is situated right next to a river.
(If you prefer to stay in a bungalow, we can check availabilities in the main rest camp of Mopani for you upon request.)
We pick you up early after breakfast and drive to Phalaborwa Gate. After entering the park we visit the Masorini historic site, where we later have lunch at a picnic spot. Our afternoon game takes us to Letaba Rest Camp (visit of the elephant museum) and further north to Mopani Rest Camp, where we spend the night.
Today we drive even further north, and after an exciting day of game viewing we overnight at Punda Maria Rest Camp. (Optional: morning walk or sunset drive)
In the morning we visit Thulamela Hill (Thulamela Trails), followed by a game drive back south towards Mopani Rest Camp where you can have a shower or even take a dip at the swimming pool (if time allows) before we overnight at the Shipandani hide.
After an early breakfast at Mopani we drive back south and leave the Park from Phalaborwa Gate – transfer back to the airport or overnight at one of the lodges if your flight is the next morning.