This is the best time of my year – our annual family trip to The Kruger National Park. After returning home from our trip last year I don’t think we had been home 24 hours and we had booked our trip for this year, and we also decided to book for camping! After talking about it for years we would finally become the camping family we wanted to be. All the money we would be saving on the trip, (because we weren’t staying in chalets) we put towards getting kitted out as campers. We had the whole year to get ready. Right? Well, in true Pratt style after months and months of research and talking about a little reccie trip we would do before the Kruger, I walked into Makro 3 days before we left and bought all our camping stuff: a torch, a table, a tent and some blow up mattresses. We would figure everything out when we got there 🙂 I’ll spare you the day by day details but here are a few tips I thought I would share about camping with kids and camping for beginners which we most definitely are:
- If the tent says it will take 45 mins to put up, they haven’t taken into account two super eager kids who want in on the action. It’s tough . You want them to enjoy and get involved but wow, putting up a tent in 3o degree heat with a 3 year old and 7 year old wanting to help really tests your patience! In saying that, I haven’t put up a tent in years!! They have made it so idiot-proof nowadays, unless it was just our tent. The 9 man tent from campmaster is the bomb! So much space and the kids loved having there own “house”. Back to my point, although the tent was designed for easy building, it still took us at least two hours with the “help” of the kids. 😉
- Sweep the area before putting up a tent especially if you are camping under Acacia trees. This becomes even more important when your super excited son runs and jumps on the blow up mattresses you have worked up a sweat pumping and pops it because an Acacia thorn was hiding underneath and went right through it. We only figured this out in the middle of the night when I woke up to Duncan trying to blow the mattress up again. Thankfully the mattresses come with repair kits.
- This brings me to my next point. An electric pump is a must and so is a groundsheet!
- Did you know there was such a thing as a universal plug? I waved this off when a family member told me about it but I should’ve listened. The camp’s shops sell them but I am sure we paid triple what we would’ve at a normal shop. Get one before you head off.
- Make sure you have a LONG extension chord. This really helps when you are picking camping sites and they don’t happen to be within 5 metres of a plug point. May have saved us a blow up mattress 😉
- Invest in some good torches and headlamps for the kids. The kids in the campsites all make friends, which is awesome, and they continue running around at night while you’re trying to chill around the campsite. If they have a headlamp they can carry on running around and it’s a great way to spot them in the dark. A good torch that can see far into the bush makes evening walks around the fence way more fun.
The above are for camping in general but here are a few Kruger related trips for travelling with kids:
- I’m like a child in the Kruger. I want to be in the car almost all day, as I get serious FOMO when in the camp, and this has been a bit of an adjustment since we started to go to the Kruger with the kids. My husband has to keep reminding me that this is the kids holiday too and not just mine. We put them through at least 6 hours in the car in the morning and about 3 hours in the afternoon. That’s a long day in the car for them. Take colouring in books, snacks, field guides (for kids) and anything you think they would enjoy doing in the car. We leave the camp at 5.30 every morning, carefully lifting them from their beds and make them super comfortable in the car so they stay asleep as long as possible for the morning drive until we see something that is worth waking them up for. And when you do come across that lion kill that you are like 2 metres away from at 8am, all mothering instincts go out the window and a bowl of smarties comes out so they will sit still so you can take photos and watch and enjoy this amazing sight in front of you!
- The swimming pools are loads of fun. My own childhood memories of Kruger are being in camp swimming pools and making whirlpools with everyone in the pool. Once it is strong enough you lift your feet and just let the water take you round and round. Braden loved this this year and it is so special watching your child doing something you remember loving so much. I have a pic below of the whirlpool everyone was making at Satara camp. Tip: If you are there in Summer try make sure you stay at a camp where there is a pool, most of the camps do and if you staying at one of the smaller ones that don’t you are allowed to go swim at a nearby camp as long as you are staying overnight in the park.
- Break up morning drives with breaks at picnic sites. Kids can’t hold it in for very long so after their morning milo or juice on the road, there needs to be a plan to get to the toilet along the route. It’s also great for releasing some energy.
- The Elephant Hall at Letaba is awesome and so worth a visit!
Hope this information helps in some small way. I hired a 70 – 400mm from A Lens for Hire in JHB. So glad that I did, but, as I learnt on my last trip with the kids, there is nothing more challenging trying to manage a long lense with a 3 year old climbing all over you or when the two of them are climbing around making a tent with a blanket and playing house and shaking the car constantly while trying to keep quiet. I think the funniest though is not only are they playing hide and seek in the back seat, but actually counting to 100 for the other one to hide! They crack me up.
Now that I have shared my words, please enjoy some of my favourites scenes from the Kruger National Park, The Best Place on Earth!