There’s almost no better place in the world to see a lion, a leopard, an elephant, a rhino, or a buffalo than in Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
An old and very developed place, full of restaurants, hotels, and natural landmarks, it provides a perfect chance for a safe and exciting safari.
But where should you stay when you visit this storied park? Don’t worry — we’ve got all you need to know below. Let us be your guide!
The Best Places to Stay in Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is surrounded by small villages and cities on all sides, many of them specializing in tourism. We had a rough time choosing between the myriad of great places, but here are the “our” five best parts of Kruger National Park.
- Marloth Park: This small city, located to the south of the park and on the banks of the Crocodile River, is probably the best choice for visitors looking for cheap accommodation.
- Mbombela: The largest city near Kruger National Park, it’s an obvious choice for city dwellers and everybody looking for something more expensive and luxurious.
- Sabie and Graskop: Two small, formerly gold-mining cities, which provide a great opportunity for nature lovers and history aficionados.
- Skukuza: The seat of the administrative center of the park and its largest rest park, it’s the obvious choice for first-time visitors to Kruger National Park.
- Phalaborwa: A small and calm city located to the north of the park, right on the banks of Olifants River, it’s the best option for romantic trips or a relaxed vacation with your family.
Where to Stay in Kruger National Park
The main way to stay inside Kruger National Park is to position yourself in one of the numerous so-called “rest camps” scattered around its vast territory.
With the exception of Skukuza, which boasts both the largest rest camp in the park and is practically a small city with plenty of accommodation, your other choice is to stay in one of the small cities and villages around Kruger National Park.
If you’re looking for something cheap or even mid-range, you may settle for any city in our guide — starting from Marloth Park in the south to Phalaborwa in the far north. All of them boast plenty of budget and mid-range hotels and apartments, suitable for anybody’s wallet.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something more expensive or even luxurious, your best option is the largest city in our guide, namely, Mbombela.
To be frank, every place in the guide has at least a couple of four-star accommodation options, but the largest concentration of upscale hotels are to be found in Mbombela.
1. Marloth Park
Kruger National Park, as we mentioned earlier, covers a gigantic area, practically the size of an average European country. That in itself is simply great — with only one problem: where to start your adventure in a place that’s the size of a country?
We chose to begin our story with the small yet charming and very popular town called Marloth Park, located near the southeast entrance of the park, close to South Africa’s border with Mozambique and Eswatini.
As the southern parts of the park are usually recommended for first-time visitors, Marloth Park sounds like a really prudent choice. Located on the banks of the aptly named Crocodile River, it was founded in 1972 as a holiday town.
It’s mostly famous both for providing easy access to Kruger and the preservation efforts of the surrounding countryside.
Marloth Park is separated from Kruger Park in two ways: by a large and safe fence on one side and by the natural forces of the Crocodile River on the other side.
The city covers a huge space of around 3,000 hectares and provides a remarkable freedom of movement, which means that visitors can either walk or ride a bike to the uncultivated parts (called “African bush”) and feel the atmosphere on their own.
The wildlife, even here, on the brink of Kruger National Park, is pretty amazing and unbelievably different. Lions are known to roam from Kruger into Marloth Park regularly, and you won’t need much luck to spot a giraffe, a wildebeest, a zebra, or a baboon.
To cap things off, both the accommodation options and the restaurants in Marloth Park are more than satisfying. There’s a wide variety of both cheap and expensive hotels, as well as a decent number of restaurants, mainly offering meat, barbecue, and drinks.
Marloth Park Budget Hotels
- Kruger Cottage is a relatively cheap three-star accommodation that’s mostly suitable for families or other group visits to Kruger National Park. There are three bedrooms, a large common area, a garden in front of the premises, and a nice swimming pool.
- HomeBase Kruger is another very cheap three-star accommodation located in the northern part of Marloth Park, relatively close to Kruger National Park. The rooms are equipped with bunk beds, and the hotel offers — among other things — an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant on the premises.
Marloth Park Mid-Range Hotels
- Kruger Eden Lodge is a beautiful four-star hotel that offers a lot more than your typical mid-range accommodation. Every room in the hotel has a private bathroom, air-conditioning, and a fridge, but some of them also have fully equipped kitchens. Finally, there’s a fitness center and a restaurant on the premises.
- Crocodile Kruger Safari Lodge is yet another great four-star hotel that offers numerous things at a much lower price. There’s a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool on the premises, as well as rooms with African decor, private bathrooms, and flat-screen TVs.
Marloth Park Luxury Hotels
- Kruger Riverside Lodge – De Chatillion Collection is a gorgeous and very expensive four-star accommodation — the perfect option if you’re looking for something luxurious. Overlooking the Crocodile River and the park, it also has a nice garden and a swimming pool.
- Grace of Africa, Kruger Safari Lodge is another four-star accommodation and probably the best option for couples in Marloth Park. This luxurious accommodation offers an infinity pool, a gorgeous interior, bicycle rentals, room service, and a restaurant on the premises.
2. Mbombela (Nelspruit)
Mbombela, formerly known as Nelspruit — the city officially changed its name in 2014 — is probably the largest town near Kruger National Park. A popular tourist location, it’s considered one of the most urban and developed stopping points around the park.
Aside from the close proximity to the most important attraction in the area, it also offers a couple of interesting attractions by itself.
The name Mbombela means — in translation from Siswati — “many people together in a small space.”
The city was founded during the last years of the tumultuous 19th century and even served, for a time, as the capital of the short-lived Boer Republic (also known as the South African Republic), which lasted until the Second Boer War in the early 20th century.
In recent times, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Mbombela was one of the host cities, and thanks to that, it boasts an imposing stadium.
As we mentioned earlier, what mostly attracts visitors to Mbombela is the close proximity to Kruger National Park but also to Mozambique, whose citizens usually visit the city before heading north to the park.
One of the entrances to the park is located around 30 kilometers from Mbombela, and since both the infrastructure and the transport options are quite developed, you can reach it in about an hour.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already visited the park and you’re looking for something different, make sure to visit the beautiful 154-hectare Botanical Garden in the city or the Sudwala Caves, which are some of the oldest caves in the world.
Mbombela is not a small city, with a population of roughly 110,000 people. Thanks to its size, it boasts numerous accommodation options, restaurants, cafes, and shopping options. There are both decent budget options and quite upscale, luxurious hotels in the city.
Mbombela (Nelspruit) Budget Hotels
- Nelspruit Emhlangeni Guest House is a very cheap three-star hotel, perfect for anybody who’s looking for something cheap close to Kruger National Park. The hotel, quite surprisingly, boasts a charming outdoor swimming pool and rooms with private bathrooms, showers, and a view of the pool.
- Coyotes Hotel & Conference Centre is another great but very cheap three-star hotel that comes at an unbelievably low price. It has an outdoor swimming pool and a bar on the premises and provides free airport shuttle services and facilities for disabled guests. The hotel is usually frequented by couples.
Mbombela (Nelspruit) Mid-Range Hotels
- Mercure Hotel Nelspruit is a slightly more expensive three-star hotel located on the northern outskirts of Mbombela. Offering a truly welcoming atmosphere and a lush garden on the premises, it also has an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and a nice breakfast. There are also five conference rooms.
- Protea Hotel by Marriott Nelspruit is a truly gorgeous yet surprisingly cheap four-star hotel that’s part of the famous Marriott chain of hotels. The hotel has everything: stylish minimalist decor, large rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant and bar, and very tasty breakfast.
Mbombela (Nelspruit) Luxury Hotels
- Torburnlea Homestead Luxury Accommodation is a gorgeous five-star accommodation located on the outskirts of Mbombela, in Mataffin Macadamia Village. Aside from the beautiful garden on the premises, it has nicely furnished rooms with flat-screen TV and a nice bar.
- Francolin Lodge is a beautiful five-star accommodation located in the absolute center of the city with a beautiful outdoor swimming pool. It also boasts a spa and wellness center where you can relax, as well as a bar, room service, and tasty breakfast in the morning. Orange Restaurant on the premises of the hotel serves all the South African specialties.
3. Sabie and Graskop
Sabie and Graskop are two former gold-mining cities founded in the late 19th century. Today, they’re both accessible and tourist-friendly to the west of Kruger National Park.
They’re packed with numerous accommodation options — mostly of the budget and mid-range type — and tasty African restaurants. Surrounded by lush forests, both towns are also close to plenty of natural landmarks, sublime waterfalls, scenic roads, and panoramic viewpoints.
Lovers of the outdoors should look no further: both Sabie and Graskop are probably the best choices in the area for hikers and bikers. Sabie today is a major tourist destination located around 1,066 meters above sea level.
It has a pretty rough climate with strong rain during the winter and very hot and dry days (with prevalent forest fires) during the summer.
The city is usually visited for its proximity to many beautiful waterfalls — Lone Creek Falls being the most famous — attractive hiking trails, and exciting options for mountain biking.
Around 17 miles to the north of Sabie lies Graskop, another former mining colony that transformed itself into an attractive tourist destination.
It’s mostly famous for one particular natural landmark — the scenic viewpoint aptly named God’s Window. A high point on a bunch of ramparts of cliffs, it provides an incredible Eden-like view (hence the name) of the Lowveld expanse and the forests.
That said, probably the best thing you can do while staying in one of these two charming cities is take the Panorama Route, which is probably one of the most famous scenic routes in the world.
Traversing the Long Tom Pass, the Lowveld, and ending near the Echo Caves in the Limpopo province, it runs through or near Lydenburg, Sabie, Graskop, Pilgrim’s Rest, and Ohrigstad. There’s no better way to get to know these parts of South Africa than taking this drive.
Sabie and Graskop: Budget Hotels
- The Woodsman Bed and Breakfast is a very cheap three-star hotel in Sabie, located near the waterfall and plenty of other outdoor landmarks. It offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, a restaurant, a bar, and barbeque facilities on the premises. Every room has a private bathroom, satellite TV, and a fantastic view of the mountains.
- Autumn Breeze Manor Guest House is another even cheaper accommodation option in Graskop, great for couples who prefer a weekend of peace and quiet. Located just a 10-minute drive from God’s Window, the hotel offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, and a restaurant on the premises.
Sabie and Graskop: Mid-Range Hotels
- Blyde Lodge is a relatively cheap but very beautiful three-star hotel in Graskop. Located near all of the major natural landmarks in the area, the hotel also boasts an outdoor swimming pool, large family rooms with all the amenities, quick room service, and a tasty breakfast in the morning.
- Misty Mountain is a mid-range three-star hotel located on the scenic Panorama Route. A beautiful hotel with an excellent view of the surrounding nature, it offers — among other things — an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a children’s playground on the premises. The place is also great for bird-watching, hiking, and mountain biking.
Sabie and Graskop: Luxury Hotels
- Porcupine Ridge Guest House is a beautiful four-star hotel located in Sabie. Set on a forested hillside and right in the middle of the Panorama Route, it offers beautiful wood-furnished rooms with satellite TVs and private bathrooms. The veranda on the premises offers an excellent view of the surrounding nature and the small game.
- Angels View Hotel is probably the most beautiful and luxurious hotel near Kruger National Park. A four-star hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises, it’s particularly suitable for couples who are looking for a romantic and relaxing vacation amidst the trees.
Welcome to Skukuza, the largest and most developed rest camp in Kruger National Park. It’s not your usual rest camp, as it’s the official administrative center of the park and boasts a population of around 1,500 people, along with numerous institutions.
Aside from that, it’s a fairly developed tourist center, with plenty of hotels and restaurants that have been receiving tourists from all around the world for quite some time.
Because of that — and many other different reasons — it’s probably the best and most reliable option for first-time comers to Kruger National Park. For instance, Skukuza is the premier destination for game viewing in all of Africa.
The tourists don’t even have to leave the city to see some of the big five, as there are usually leopards, cheetahs, and lions all around — even in the middle of Skukuza’s golf course.
Sometimes, all you need to do is book a table at the Cattle Baron restaurant and wait for the main actors to get on the stage.
Next to Skukuza flows the beautiful Sabie River, usually frequented by all kinds of animals, such as elephants, hippos, and crocodiles, while the trees around the city are populated by different types of monkeys, including chacma baboons and vervet monkeys.
It’s very likely that as you’re falling asleep, you’ll hear the unique call of the greater galagos. Finally, you’ll probably notice some of Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bats hanging from the roofs of the houses.
Around three miles from Skukuza, you’ll find Lake Panic, famous for its bird hide. Going here is usually designated as “birding the easy way” because of the large number of birds you can see around the lake.
Again, elephants usually visit the lake during hot days to have a few gulps of water, while the lake is permanently inhabited by hippos, crocodiles, and plenty of interesting fish. Simply put, staying in Skukuza is like sleeping in a huge and completely natural zoo.
Skukuza Budget Hotels
- SleepOver Kruger Gate is a very cheap accommodation option located near Kruger Gate and nearly ten miles from Skukuza. The hotel is particularly suitable for families, and it provides large and decently furnished rooms with all the amenities, as well as airport shuttle services and free parking and Wi-Fi on the premises.
- Yebo Safaris,Lower Sabie Rest Camp is another relatively cheap and conveniently located lodging that’ll provide you with almost instant access to the beauty of Kruger National Park and its fauna. Aside from that, it offers a charming outdoor swimming pool and a decent restaurant on the premises.
Skukuza Mid-Range Hotels
- Rixile Kruger Lodge is a decent mid-range accommodation option located less than a mile from Kruger Gate. Particularly suitable for couples and adults, it provides furnished rooms with private bathrooms and flat-screen TVs, as well as a swimming pool and a barbeque on the premises.
- Kruger Gate Hotel is another hotel with instant access to Kruger National Park, located near Kruger Gate. A beautiful four-star hotel, it provides no less than two swimming pools, three restaurants, and a fitness center on the premises. Although more expensive than your usual mid-range hotel, its price is really not that high when you consider the amenities and the location it offers.
Skukuza Luxury Hotels
- Kruger Shalati – Train on The Bridge & Garden Suites is one of the two most expensive and most luxurious accommodations in Skukuza. Located on a bridge, it provides a unique and interesting experience, very close to Kruger National Park. Aside from the attractive location, it provides two swimming pools, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises.
- Kruger Untamed – Tshokwane River Camp is the perfect choice if you want a true outdoor and authentic yet luxurious accommodation inside Kruger National Park. The price is completely worth it since Kruger Untamed provides a truly unforgettable experience. The hotel boasts a swimming pool and bar on the premises as, well as a nice, nourishing breakfast in the morning.
Finally, we made a half circle from Marloth Park — the first city in our guide — and we reached Phalaborwa, located to the north of Kruger National Park. This small city with a population of no more than 13,000 people is another popular option for staying near the park.
Located in the famous Limpopo province, on the confluence of the Ga-Selati River and the Olifants River, it provides direct access to both Kruger National Park and the state of Mozambique.
Interestingly enough, Phalaborwa is mostly known for another completely different thing, apart from the proximity to the park. You have to admit that it’s not an everyday experience to look at a 1.2-mile wide and 450-meter deep hole in the ground that’s also visible from space.
Near the city, you’ll find the abandoned copper mine (closed in 2002), which is both the biggest copper mine and the largest man-made hole in Africa.
We recommend you to visit the Mine View Point and to witness this interesting and quite unique landmark. Aside from the abandoned mine, Phalaborwa is a quite conventional and even romantic city that’s usually frequented by couples who are celebrating their honeymoons.
It has plenty of beautiful hotels, numerous tasty restaurants (especially for meat and grilled food), and tour guides that’ll guide you through the specific flora and fauna of the region.
Don’t worry: you’ll get plenty of chances to see the big five and take hundreds of pictures to show to your friends.
There’s one activity that’s particularly special, especially if you’re traveling with your loved one or with your family — pack your picnic goods and travel to the mighty Olifants River. This is one of the most popular destinations in South Africa for a reason.
The waters of the river are calm, the tour on the boat lasts around three hours, and you’ll be surrounded by different animals and the lush nature of Kruger National Park.
Phalaborwa Budget Hotels
- Bothabelo Bed and Breakfast is a three-star hotel that comes at a really low price, located around a mile from the Phalaborwa Gate entrance to Kruger National Park. Every room in the hotel has a mosquito net, a private entrance, and a private bathroom.
- A Traveller’s Palm is another very cheap three-star accommodation located in the heart of Phalaborwa, around a mile from Kruger National Park. Every room in the hotel has a private bathroom, satellite TV, and coffee and tea-making facilities. The breakfast in the morning is particularly tasty and popular with tourists.
Phalaborwa Mid-Range Hotels
- Sunbird Lodge is a beautiful and decently priced three-star hotel located near the center of Phalaborwa and around a mile from the entrance of Kruger National Park. The family-owned lodge provides an outdoor swimming pool, lush tropical gardens, and a nice breakfast in the morning. Every room in the hotel has satellite TV and a private bathroom.
- Kaia Tani Exclusive Guesthouse is a slightly more expensive and more luxurious four-star hotel with a fantastic outdoor swimming pool. The premises of the hotel are furnished in a unique African style, and the hotel provides constant game tours. Moreover, it’s really close to a great golf course. Finally, there’s a nice breakfast in the morning and professional room service.
Phalaborwa Luxury Hotels
- Villa Danamara is the perfect choice for someone who is looking for both privacy and luxury at the same time. A large holiday home with three bedrooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a patio, and a charming outdoor fireplace. It’s a perfect starting location for hiking or cycling.
- Bushveld Terrace – Hotel on Kruger is a gorgeous and very luxurious five-star hotel located just around 300 meters from Kruger National Park’s Phalaborwa Gate. The restaurant has an outdoor swimming pool, a sun terrace, and a restaurant. Every room in the hotel, on the other hand, has a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, and a small refrigerator.
Book Your Trip to Kruger National Park Today!
Finally, we arrived at the end of the country-sized Kruger National Park. Now, before we leave the park for good and let you explore it at your own discretion, let’s do a quick recap of the five best places in Kruger National Park.
|💰 Most Budget-Friendly||Marloth Park|
|👑 Most Luxurious||Mbombela|
|🏛️ Great for History Buffs||Sabie and Graskop|
|🏆 Best for First Timers||Skukuza|
|👪 Best for Families||Phalaborwa|
So, with so much to see and do, and countless opportunities to spot rare wildlife, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that this storied park has to offer. Happy travels!