• ROUTE: Phalaborwa Gate / Olifants Camp area / Phalaborwa Gate
  • TIME: Half a day with animal sightings traveling at 30 km/h
  • DISTANCE: 186 km
  • BIG 5?: Rhino may be difficult to spot

As we go further north in the game reserve the animal sightings can be a bit infrequent, especially in summer… Part 7 of our Kruger Park maps is a good route to do as it gives you an opportunity to try and spot the big herds of grazers near Phalaborwa and the predator area near Olifants!

Go in through Phalaborwa gate and travel along the H-9 for about 7km until you get to the S51 Sable dam turn off to your right. This area is great for lion, leopard and wild dog! There is a sleep over hide at Sable Dam which I can thoroughly recommend! You can book it at Phalaborwa gate and it sleeps 9 people. Carry on along the S51 until you reach the H-9 again.

The H-9 meanders for another 40km until you reach the H1-5 turn off to your right. This is an easy going road, but can be quiet and rather busy on weekends, so pick up a bit of speed…

As this is a rather long route, maybe make a day of it and visit Letaba which is an extra 1km… Grab a snack and visit the Elephant Museum which is built in honour of Kruger’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ tuskers. If it is winter, maybe even try to visit Engelhard Dam which is an extra 15km east of Letaba. It is not the best place for photography, but it is a game magnet during the dry season!

From Letaba carry on along the H1-5 for 23km until you reach the H8. This route takes you more into predator country. This section of road can be rather quiet, moving through shrub mopane area, keep a look out for elephant and buffalo though!

Turn left onto the H8. From here the bush changes a bit into Olifants rugged veld and starts the best game viewing area since Sable Dam. Carry on for about 5km until you reach the S92 turn off to your right. Again, from here you may want to carry on the H8 for about 3 km, climbing up towards Olifants Rest Camp. This camp is great! The views are simply stunning and the game viewing in the area is sweet!

The S92 / S91 loop is honestly the best place in the area to see lion! I prefer to carry on onto the S90 and drive about 4km passed Balule Camp until the S89 turn off as I have seen many kills in this area, but you can play around here… Concentrate on these roads including the S91 as this will be your best opportunity to spot the big 4.

If after all of this you have an extra hour or so until you have to make your way back to Phalaborwa gate, make a turn down the S39, which is directly across from the west entrance of the S89. Drive towards the Goedgegun waterhole and just past it on the right there is a small, narrow dirt track that leads off the main road. In my mind, the most amazing, accessible ‘secret’ waterhole in Kruger exists there! I have not seen too much here, but judging by the tracks elephant, rhino and leopard drink here regularly and is a great place to stop and relax with a cool drink away from the crowds.

Right, now for the long journey home. Turn left out of the ‘secret’ road and carry on until the H1-5. Turn left and make your way back to the gate along the same route you came in on.

FYI my little adventurers, from that turn off it is 83km to Phalaborwa gate. However, if you carry on from the ‘secret’ waterhole on the S39 until you reach the H7 and then turn right and go out Orpen gate it is only an extra 5km, plus the game viewing should be better as you traverse through the Southern rolling hills region which is renowned for predators and a favourite on our safaris. Beware of your timing though, the fines for being late are high!

Enjoy and keep me posted on your sightings!