Malelane and Kruger Park, why the two together? Because Malelane is one of the gates to the Kruger Park, it is fairly unknown by the majority of people, and because it has great and affordable accommodation.
And because Kruger Park is a fascinating destination that we all should put on our bucket list.
Renamed in 2007 to Malalane, is a small town in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, circa 50km from the border with Mozambique, where I live. Therefore, I go there often and surprisingly I never wrote about it.
The city itself does not have much to do, the city center is small, however, due to its location on the N4 (the highway connecting South Africa to Mozambique), closeness to Crocodile River and the Malelane gate of Kruger National Park, it is quite a nice place for an overnight (or more) stay.
I love stopping there, at Hamilton’s Lodge and Restaurant https://hamiltonslodge.co.za/ for a nice meal, on my way to other spots in Mpumalanga. The place is beautiful, relaxing, and above all the food is great.
I go to Malelane often when I travel to South Africa, either to just stop and have an amazing meal at Hamilton’s, to stay for one or two nights just to relax, or to stay over on my way to Malelane and Kruger Park.
Whenever I travel, affordable is my middle name, and I always try to find an option that has a high cost/benefit ratio.
Certainly accommodation in Malelane covers all tastes and budgets. From big hotels, to private game reserves, Bed & Breakfasts, Lodges, Guest houses, etc. Prices can start as high as 1000 USD per night, and be as low as 60USD per night.
So, in this post I am leaving you with two examples of accommodation options, from my recent trips to Malelane: River House Lodge and Rio Vista Lodge .
River House Lodge
Combines Malelane and Kruger Park. River House Lodge is located right on the banks of Crocodile River, bordering Kruger National Park, consequently you will most certainly see wildlife during your stay.
The lodge is beautiful, and offers old fashioned hospitality with a very welcoming crew. It is a place to relax, and enjoy the stunning views.
Wake up early and see the resident hippos with babies, as well as other wildlife, including elephants crossing the stunning African landscape, on the other side of the river.
The lodge also has a nice pool, a very large deck, and the sunsets are spectacular.
The only draw back for me was the limited offer for gluten free people, apart from the traditional English breakfast. I managed to eat roasted chicken and salad, but the menus are fixed.
Therefore, be prepared to either inform in advance that you have dietary restrictions or when there, try to know in advance the menu, and if needed buy some food to complement the meal, at a nearby supermarket.
Rio Vista Lodge
Also combines Malelane and Kruger Park. Rio Vista Lodge (https://riovista.co.za/) is located close to River House Lodge, but the setting differs, which made the whole difference for my stay. Here I did not have the chance to see much wildlife.
It is not as cozy as the other, and the accommodations are not so “rustic”, conveying a more hotel like vibe.
On the other hand, the restaurant, has an A La Carte option, with several dishes, from traditional South African Food, to hamburgers, ribs, etc, so, it makes it easier for people with dietary restrictions, to enjoy a nice meal.
The sunsets are also stunning, the swimming pool is large and on the river front, and the restaurant deck offers great views of Crocodile River.
Kruger National Park
KNP is a National Park in South Africa and one of the largest game reserves in Africa, with an area of 19,485 km2.
It became the first national park in South Africa in 1926. The park is part of an area designated by UNESCO as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve.
How to get there
Coming by air, you can fly on SAA (South African Airways) from the main SA airports (Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town) linking to Europe/Asia/Americas, and land straight at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Nelspruit.
- The park has 9 gates, from South to North, a great diversity of habitats and vegetation, and therefore each region offers different experiences as well as wildlife species.
- The closest gates to Mpumalanga Airport are Numbi, Phabeni and Paul Kruger gates
- The closest gate to Mozambique is Crocodile River
- The gates more handy to visit the Panorama Route are Numbi, Phabeni and Paul Kruger
Time to visit and fees
- Although you can visit the park throughout the year, the dry season or winter season (summer in the northern hemisphere) is the best for game viewing
- The entrance fee differs if you are: South African (ZAR100), SADC national (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Congo, Swaziland, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) – ZAR200, $14; or foreign national ($27, ZAR400, €25, BRL85.5).
How to move and where to stay
- To move inside the park you have several options: renting a car (preferred), buying a tour, or staying in the park and doing the park safaris (no tour agent), during the day and / or at night.
- There is accommodation at the park, private game reserves surrounding the park, and hotels/guest houses/B&B’s outside the park
- There are restaurants at the main camps, and all accommodations inside the park have self catering facilities, including a braai (for more info check here http://www.krugerpark.co.za/Kruger_Park_Travel_Advisory-travel/restaurant-facilities-kruger-park.html)
- All camps have convenience stores, mini markets, stores selling souvenirs (for more info check this link https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/tourism/facilities.php)
Did I make you want to see Malelane and Kruger Park? Guess what? My female solo small group tour (with a low carb component for lowcarb/keto followers) is coming!
And it will include Mpumalanga (Kruger, Malelane, Nelspruit, Panorama, Graskop, Waterfalls, Blyde Canyon).
Are you afraid of traveling solo? Do not be, because I got you covered. Check these two posts and come along: https://heelsandspices.com/2018/06/solo-traveling-how-to-start/ and https://heelsandspices.com/2018/05/being-a-solo-traveler-and-a-woman-overcoming-the-fear-of-flying/