If you’ve never stayed at Tsendze Rustic Camp Site in the Kruger National Park, then you’ve never experienced just how great camping can be. Last year I raved about this camp, about 7km from the much larger Mopani, and nothing has changed: I’m raving about it again this year. Here’s why.
2. Each site is carved out of the natural bush. This gives you some privacy a sense of being ‘in the wild’ even though there is a perimeter fence for security. Many of the sites are along the fence, so you don’t have to miss out on passing hyenas or elephants. But unlike other camps that also have perimeter sites, here you don’t have sacrifice your personal space just so you can enjoy front-row seats.
4. The rustic nature of the camp means there are no power points at the sites, but you still have solar/gas power for the ablutions and kitchen. (Don’t fret, there are communal gas freezers for those who don’t come equipped with their own battery-powered fridges.)
5. Some people like all the bells and whistles of electricity, shops, restaurants and fuel stations, but I prefer the peace that comes from their absence at Tsendze.
6. Three cheers for Rodgers Hobyane and Elina Mona, who look after the camp. They’re high up on the list of reasons to love the place, friendly and helpful in a way that has won them numerous hospitality awards. They come around as you sit at your braai in the evening to check everything is okay, or perhaps to share the secret hiding place of a scops owl. They’ll go out of their way to help you – even at their own expense, as when Rodgers offered the use of his own newly-acquired car so visitors could get the part they needed from Phalaborwa.
8. The same care and cleanliness can be found in the thatched ablutions and kitchens. For me, this is the difference between a camp that's just okay and one that's fab.
9. A nice touch is outdoor showers for a spot of star-gazing while you wash away the heat of the day. For traditionalists or cold-snap visitors, there are standard indoor versions too.
11. You won’t be plagued at your campsite by thieving vervet monkeys or baboons because there are none here. You may, however, have some excitement when an elephant decides to try to push down the fence!
12. There are some fab game viewing points in the area, like the Nshawu waterholes and Tihongonyeni on the Capricorn Loop.
You can still go on an early morning bushwalk or sunset drive from Tsendze; a guide from Mopani will pick you up from the entrance gate to Tsendze and drop you off again.
Two things I hate about Tsendze
- On one of the nights we were there, our nearest neighbours were a couple with a small toddler and a baby. The toddler was into screaming, the baby into crying. Don’t shoot me, but I think children under 10 or 12 shouldn’t be allowed at Tsendze, so as to maintain the special atmosphere of peace in what SANParks itself calls a ‘low noise impact’ camp. Duty managers are aware of any disturbances but they’re not always easy to resolve tactfully and peaceably. Let me know in the comments below whether you agree or disagree.
- But the thing I hate most is having to leave Tsendze behind until our next Kruger trip.
More about Kruger National Park
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