1. BERG-EN-DAL REST CAMP
CLOSEST GATE Malelane SITES 82 BEST FEATURES Family-friendly and beautiful hilly surrounds SPECIAL SIGHTINGS Elephants, leopard tortoises, klipspringers The south can get really crowded. Despite being a big camp, Berg-en-Dal is ringed by lovely natural scenery in a mountainous environment and feels quite chilled out. On the northern and southern sides, dry riverbeds border the camp, with large trees alongside. The best sites are along the fence with views over these and green koppies and of big mammals (elephants and rhinos are commonly seen through the wire). These spots get snapped up quickly, though. If you’re here for a weekend, get to the camp early to secure a spot, then go out for your drive. (All the good ones were taken by the time I arrived at 5pm.) Also, not all sites are level so I was grateful for my little tent with its small footprint. The calls of lively woodland kingfishers and the more eerie spookvoël echo through the trees, and it’s a paradise for children who can escape to the pool or chase each other around the jungle gym. It’s an easy camping experience with ample ablution blocks, clothes lines, electric urns for hot water and two-plate stoves if you’re sick of braaiing (or it’s raining). It’s an older camp and needs some love, but there’s a good dam in front of the restaurant and a boundary trail that winds its way around the camp. Leopards and wild dogs are found regularly in the area; lions are usually seen in the lower plains on the roads to Skukuza and Crocodile Bridge. DO THIS Meander to Afsaal picnic site via the scenic Matjulu Loop on the S110 and S120 roads – it weaves through granite koppies with excellent views. Pack eggs and bacon to fire up a skottel (rent one for R25 for half an hour) at the picnic site, and look out for the resident hyena that lurks in the nearby riverbed. Cheetah and lion sightings in the area are fairly common too; chat to other picnickers for tips on where to go after breakfast.
Some of the park shops now have water dispensers to fill up your own bottle instead of buying yet another plastic one