Tag Archives: Malelane Rest Camp

Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

Nestled along the Matjulu Spruit, in the mountainous south-western corner of the Kruger National Park, just 12km from the Malelane Gate, lies the aptly named and very popular Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp (Afrikaans for “Mountain-and-Valley”).

When it opened in February 1984, Berg-en-Dal’s face-brick architecture was a considerable departure from the “traditional” appearance of other Kruger camps. The camp’s buildings blend in perfectly with the mountainous surroundings and the small dam at the central visitor complex is a popular attraction to visitors who enjoy quietly watching a wide variety of game and birds come to the water.

The camp covers an area of approximately 24 hectares, in which the natural vegetation has been preserved as far as possible, providing both privacy and a closeness with nature to Berg-en-Dal’s guests. The camping area has space for up to 70 caravans and tents, and accommodation is available in 69 bungalows, 23 cottages and two luxury guest houses. Facilities available include a restaurant and take-away kiosk, shop, fuel station, conference facilities, laundromat, swimming pool and amphitheatre in which wildlife films are shown in the evenings. Guided game-viewing drives and bush walks (the only way to see some of the San rock art found in the area if you are not booked on the three-night Bushman Wilderness Trail) can be booked in advance or at reception. In the reception building, the information centre provides fascinating insights into the biology and conservation of the black and white rhino. A new picnic facility for day visitors has recently been opened just a short distance from the camp, on the way to Malelane Gate.

The Rhino Trail meanders from the dam at the restaurant along the camp’s fence for a total distance of over 2km, exposing guests to a wide variety of aromatic bushes and trees with frequent sightings of Berg-en-Dal’s avian inhabitants and sometimes even encounters with big game, safely on the other side of the electrified perimeter fence. The first part of the trail, about 600m in length, is made accessible to visually impaired nature enthusiasts by a guide rope linking displays and braille information boards.

Malelane is a small camp just 3km from the entrance gate with the same name, and 9km from Berg-en-Dal. The name means “out-of-sight”, referring to the outpost of warriors posted here to protect Swazi interests in the area in pre-colonial days. Agricultural and industrial development across the Crocodile River, which forms the southern border of the Kruger Park, unfortunately do detract from the visitor experience at this otherwise lovely camp and was a deciding factor in the National Parks Board opting to build Berg-en-Dal in the hills nearby. The Malelane of today is much smaller than the original camp, offering five bungalows and 15 campsites compared to the original camp of 25 huts and 30 camping sites, and does not offer any of the other amenities available at Berg-en-Dal.

Game-viewing in the scenic surroundings of Malelane and Berg-en-Dal can be a richly rewarding experience. Lion and hyena are often seen, but it is leopards and wild dogs that the area is renowned for. Kudu, giraffe and impala, being browsing animals, are frequently encountered, while elephant and buffalo are attracted to the area by the relative abundance of water. A firm favourite (late afternoon) destination with many visitors is the Matjulu waterhole just 4km from Berg-en-Dal, where they while away the last minutes of sunlight before heading back to camp before the gates close for the night. Further afield the H3 main road through to Afsaal picnic site, and the gravel roads to the east of it linking up with the gravel S114-road to the Biyamiti causeway (and onwards to Skukuza) and the S25 that leads to Crocodile Bridge, seldom fails to deliver something exciting.

Kruger National Park, October 2012

As close to a wild lion as you can get!

Less than a month has passed since our previous visit, and the early spring rains have transformed the southern regions of the Kruger National Park into a lush green paradise. Animals abound – the reason why many of the Kruger-faithful refers to the south of the Park as “the zoo” – and a lot of the migratory birds that call South Africa home during our hot summer months have already made their appearance, joining the large number of bird species that are resident throughout the year.

We always lament the fact that a trip to the Kruger National Park seems to fly past in a heartbeat, and our three night visit (staying over in Skukuza and Crocodile Bridge Rest Camps) was no different. But this time Kruger kept the best for last – our parting gift, on the way to Malelane Gate, was a pride of about fifteen lions lazing around in and next to the road, delaying our exit by almost an hour (not that we’d ever complain!) before they decided to march right past our vehicle – a breathtaking experience that will remain in our memories for ever.

We’re happy to have been able to share some more pictures of our latest adventure with you (we’ve already published two images from this trip in weekly photo challenges – “Foreign” and “Escape“) in the hope that you’d be inspired by our natural heritage as much as we are!

Foreign

We took this photograph this morning as we were driving to the Malelane Gate to exit the Kruger National Park, another wonderful trip over far too quickly (more on this latest trip to follow soon!). I was struck just how out of place we, the gawking tourists in our metal cocoons, are when confronted with the raw primeval power of Africa’s big cats – to them, we must seem decidedly “foreign”.

Lions meet Tourists, Kruger National Park