Thanks to Skukuza Airport you can now breeze into the Kruger National Park for a weekend getaway. Here’s what to pack for luggage that is light enough so you don’t even have to check it in. By Dianne Tipping-Woods
There was a time when a trip to the Kruger National Park meant packing the car in the pre-dawn light with cooler boxes of groceries, packs of padkos and a pile of kids. Now though, with the convenience of affordable flights straight into Skukuza and the option of a transfer, car hire or fully guided activities once you arrive, you can head to the bush for the weekend with just your carry-on luggage.
Here’s my list of tips about what to pack and what to leave behind for a weekend at Skukuza, especially if you’re a first-time visitor.
- Flip flops, pumps and walking shoes. Wear the pumps on the plane and pack the other two in your bag for use around the pool or out on a bush walk. Don’t forget your cotton socks if you plan to walk. And always wear shoes when walking around at night.
- Sun protection. A stylish hat with a broad brim is a good option, as is sunscreen and sunglasses to help you enjoy Skukuza’s generally sunny environs without damaging your eyes or your skin.
- Light scarf. This can be an elegant accessory for dinner time worn around your neck and can double as a way of keeping your hair under control on a game drive. Buffs work well too.
- Insect repellent. Use this to keep the bugs from biting. When outdoors at night or in areas not screened from mosquitoes, apply repellents like Tabard and Peaceful Sleep to all exposed skin. Citronella based repellents are not as effective, according to the experts.
- A light jacket or cardigan. Nights and night drives can be cool. Adjust per season, with a heavier jacket and body warmer for winter or a break that coincides with a cold spell. Remember, guided activities involve open game drive vehicles. If you have space, you may want to include a light rain cover when travelling in the rainy season, in case you get caught out in a storm.
- Swimming costume and sarong. You need these to make the most of Skukuza’s two pools.
- Clothes. With hot days, a sundress or shorts and cami top are perfect, while long pants that cover your ankles are good for bush walks. Cotton and breathable fabrics in neutral colours or patterns are best, especially for walking, when you want to blend in with the bush. Dinners can be casual sit downs around a fire, or you may want to dress up a little with some earrings or beads if dining at the Cattle Baron restaurant. Adjust according to season.
- Toiletries. Keep make-up and scents to a minimum; you’re here to relax and on hot days, your skin will thank you. Moisturising lip balm is a must (open vehicles can dry your skin) and biodegradable soaps and shampoos are a nice touch. Remember, water is a precious resource. If you feel like some pampering, book into the Skukuza AM Spa.
- Books. There’s plenty of down time and pretty places to read in the camp. If you have a field guide, you can bring it with, but you can also pick up a map with all the basics included at the camp. Or you can download an app on your phone to help you identify birds, animals and trees that you see.
- Binoculars and a camera. If it’s a first visit, bring these if you have them. Otherwise cellphones take great shots too and if you like the experience, you can kit yourself out further. Bring your own adapters for chargers for any electronic devices. Car chargers are a great idea too, as is a little power bank if you have one.
- A pen and notebook. It can be nice to record your sightings if you’re old school like that, otherwise, you can list things on your phone.
- A tote bag. Bring a biggish tote or handbag where you can store your sunscreen, insect repellent, a chocolate bar, your scarf, cardigan and binos as well as other paraphernalia for easy access.
- Torch. This is important for when you’re moving around at night.
- Small first aid kit. Bring things like allergy medicine, anti-itch cream, some oral rehydrate and a few other basics. There is a well-equipped doctor at the camp for emergencies.
- Cooler bag. If you can squeeze in a small cooler bag to keep a few drinks and snacks cool while on a game drive, do it. You can buy ice at the shops. A small Tupperware or lunch box is also handy for snacks or if you’re self-catering.
- Cash and cards. The camp takes cards and has an ATM, but rather be prepared and draw some cash to bring along.
You can self-cater for the weekend, just remember to check what cutlery and crockery your accommodation is equipped with when planning. Otherwise, the Skukuza Park Shop has everything you need, from a variety of meat, drinks, vegetables, fruit, bread and dry goods to luxury jewellery, gifts, nature books, cameras and branded merchandise. A popular option is to enjoy a mix of self-catering, deli takeaways and restaurant meals from the Cattle Baron. You may also visit other camps with different restaurant facilities.