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IIf you don't mind roughing it – and can handle the cold in winter and the heat and mosquitos of summer – then stay in one of two overnight hides in the Kruger National Park.
The Kruger National Park has accommodation suitable for all budgets, from camping to extreme luxury, but now there’s the wonderful opportunity to camp out in one of the park's overnight hides.
You can only book the hide for one night (they may be basic, but they’re very popular). Collect the keys from the relevant gate or camp to unlock your beds from the interior hide wall. Be sure you are equipped with food, drinking water, wood, cutlery and plenty of insect repellent (very important!). When you book in you’ll pick up bedding, a lamp (there’s no electricity), a braai grid and water bottle.
You can fold down your beds 30 minutes before gate-closing time in the afternoon, and you must be out of the hide 30 minutes before the camp gates open in the morning.
The beds are at the exact height of the hide windows, so you can snooze or read, but at the same time keep an eye on any activity at the waterhole.
The experience is not for people who are afraid of insects, bats or lions roaring outside the window, but if these don’t bother you, then a night in a bush hide in one of the greatest game parks in the world is an unforgettable experience.
The Sabie Hide, which sleeps 9 people, is near the Phalaborwa Gate next to Sabie Dam. Expect to hear hippos snorting and splashing, with a backing chorus of frogs and nocturnal birds, elephants, crocodiles and who knows what else.
Shipandani Hide, which sleeps 6, lies south of the Mopani Camp and is excellent for birding. However, because of the steep bank on the other side of the waterhole, it isn’t as reliable for game spotting as the Sabie Hide.
But, in the bush, always expect the unexpected, so keep your ears and eyes open.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
South African National Parks Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Best time to visit
It can get very, very hot in summer and extremely cold in winter, so spring (September and October) and autumn (March and April) are the best months.
Things to do
There’s nothing to be done! You stay within the hide or in your enclosed braai area. Never go outside the hide at night.
What to pack
Food, drinking water, cutlery, braai wood, torch, insect repellent. In winter you may want to bring extra warm clothes and blankets.